Praise for the praise

For several years, I’ve received a wonderful e-newsletter from Debra Schmidt, “The Loyalty Leader.” The ongoing theme of the communique is how to provide outstanding customer service.

I especially enjoy the newsletter in that it’s not only practical, down-to-earth and free, it always ends with a story about Debra’s son, Dave. Those nuggets of youthful insight from Dave add that personal touch that, you guessed it, builds loyalty.

Well, it seems The Loyalty Leader likes the idea of our “What Our Guests Are Saying” blog. She touts it in one of her articles this week.

As an aside, young James and I just returned from our annual trip to Connecticut to spend Halloween with my folks. Unfortunately, I got to witness how one airline handles difficult situations with their soon-not-to-be loyal customers. At one point, a supervisor hollered, “I’ve got an Irate for you to handle over here.” Please note, I was not the customer she was referring to; it was somewhat horrifying and a tiny bit amusing, though, to hear their not-so-secret code word for a problem customer is “An Irate.” That was heading out. Returning yesterday, I was downright disgusted to hear (again a supervisor) bellow, “Who wants to get the wheelchair?” The bad part is that there was a perfectly able-eared woman sitting in the wheelchair waiting for help. A bit later, when someone came to help, he didn’t even say hello to the lady, but just came up behind the wheelchair and pushed. What a difference just a few kind words would have made…

“So what do you do in the off-season?”

Do you get laid-off till spring?


We really do get asked that.

A lot.

It’s sort of annoying…

Like we mothball the place and go sleep by the fire for six months.

Not hardly.

Within days of the park closing for the season, the dismantling begins.

It goes on all over the park and takes place quickly.

The trains are lifted from the track and taken to maintenance, for all sorts of off-season TLC.

Gets a bit cluttered for a while.

…but eventually everything gets put away for the winter months.

Signs come down.

And I don’t know what this is all about.

Too bad my budget is shot for the season. Otherwise we could rent a helicopter for an aerial shot, just in case the trash cans spell out a hint for, oh … 2009 or something.

Going, going, gone!

The directive from Will was to “clean house.”

And we did.

So now we’re hosting an auction.

Wonder who had this rattling around in the back of his closet…

Here’s what’s caught my eye so far:

  • Popcorn cart
  • Assortment of arcade games
  • Disco ball
  • Corn roaster
  • 300 lounge chairs
  • Small children’?s ball crawl and crawl-through train
  • Snow-making machine
  • Spinning wheel, steam whistles and other antiques
  • Construction supplies (roll-up doors, vinyl siding, shutters, etc.)
  • Ditch Witch trencher
  • 40′ x 60′ tent top/canopy
  • 19 wall-mounted porcelain urinals

    Here’s the corn roaster in all its glory:

Okay, so if the amount of emails I’ve received is any indication, those 19 porcelain urinals are going to be the hot item on Saturday.

It’ll be such a relief to see them go.

(Sorry. After those puns, I’m flushed with shame.)

Rachel and Joe put their heads together and assembled the requested list of items, as it now stands. (Many thanks to them both.)

Here is the list of auction items, in no particular order.

  • Popcorn Wagon
  • Plush Animals
  • Wacky Wire games (3)
  • Dead Man’s Curve games (2)
  • Tic Tac Toe arcade games (3)
  • Bowler Roller games (5)
  • Coin Changers (4)
  • Assortment of Roll-up Doors with Track
  • Steam whistles and other antiques
  • Disco ball
  • Spinning Wheel

  • Large Brass Horn (like a megaphone with no mouth piece, nearly five feet tall)
  • Assortment of 3’x5′ American Flags (from the Avenue of Flags)
  • Gas-Fired Caramel Corn Kettle
  • Gas-Fired Candy Apple Stove, no kettle
  • Miniature Woodworking Shop (collector’s piece)
  • Large Indiana flag (all wool; at least 10’x12′)
  • Large amount of poly garland (some new, some used)
  • Large Copper Kettle (at least 100 years old)

  • Holstein Corn Roaster, trailor-mounted ($3,000 reserve)
  • Ditch Witch Trencher
  • Exhaust System
  • Electric motor 100 h.p. (from The Raven)
  • Children’s crawl-through train
  • 2 Roller Racers, new used
  • Miscellaneous vinyl siding
  • Assortment of Food Service Equipment
  • Tiller
  • Assortment of electrical supplies including some fixtures
  • Large amount of primitive tools (over 100 years old)

  • Wooden shoes and patterns
  • Oil painting by Wylie Rigsby
  • Assortment of track lighting
  • Ceiling Fans
  • Lark Motor Scooters, battery-operated with chargers (5)
  • 80 lounge chairs
  • Headless Horseman costume
  • Snow-making machine
  • Toddler ball crawl
  • 220 sand chairs
  • Broasters (2)
  • Flav-R-Savor Cabinet
  • Taylor Softech Ice Cream Machines (2)
  • Wooden Desks (2)
  • 40’x60′ Tent with poles ($6,000 Reserve)
  • Miscellaneous roofing
  • Porcelain urinals (19)
  • Hand sinks (4)
  • Turnstiles (2)
  • Washing Machines (2)
  • Singer Industrial Sewing Machine (may be used for embroidery and on leather and upholstery; used only 2 or 3 hours)

  • Tascan 4 Track Reel to Reel Recorder
  • Pioneer 4 Track Reel to Reel Recorder
  • 2 DC Power supplies
  • Light Sculpture (2)
  • Base for Lava Lamp
  • Solar System Mobile
  • Rotating Police Light, red
  • Teal 2 well cassette deck
  • Approximately 200 light bulb bases, plastic/ceramic
  • Teatronics Tech Director Light Board (Channels 1- 12 work, others unknown)
  • Tapco 6 channel Audio Mixer
  • 6 Channel Teatronics Lighting Dimmer, needs work
  • Indoor Ceiling Light Fixture (in box)
  • 3 DC Car Effects Lights
  • 2 Channel Bolen Audio Amp, operational unknown
  • 7 Channel Teatronics Control Board
  • Lighting Controller, Superstar
  • 2 Yamaho 1602 16 channel sound boards
  • Colortran Encore 24/48 Digital Light Board
  • Saluin Moon Beam Lighting Effect Unit/Controller
  • 3 Color R-40 Boarder Lights (5)

    The auction is this Saturday, October 21, at the Lakeside Picnic Shelter (use the Raven parking lot) at 10:30 am CDT.


Rest or No Rest?

We're closed for the season, right?

And just when you think you can come up for air, Hollywood calls again.

Here's a news release we just sent out:


SANTA CLAUS, IN—–Just a few weeks after the departure of the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" television production crew from Spencer County, the producers of the popular NBC primetime game show "Deal or No Deal" are planning to visit the town of Santa Claus this weekend.

"We just got the call this morning and are working with businesses and attractions throughout Santa Claus to get ready," says Melissa Miller, the director of the Spencer County Visitors Bureau. "It's a little bit crazy, but we're all frantically trying to decorate for Christmas before the TV crew arrives Saturday morning."

Santa Claus resident Skip Allen received word this week that he was selected to be a contestant on "Deal or No Deal," which is hosted by Howie Mandel. Allen, who is the general manager of Santa's Lodge, auditioned twice for the show, first in Evansville and then in Metropolis. He and his family will be flown to Hollywood later this month for the taping of the show, which will air on Christmas Day.

"We're encouraging everyone in Santa Claus to go over the top with their Christmas spirit this weekend," says Miller. "Since this show will air on Christmas, it will feature a 'day in the life' of the town, so just about anyone might end up on TV!"

By the way, the Extreme Makeover show that was shot in Spencer County will air on November 12.

In case you lost count

Surely, you've all memorized the stats for The Voyage by now, so you know about it being the world's top air-time wooden coaster.

A reporter just emailed to ask how many "moments" of negative-g riders experienced with each lap this season. (He admitted to losing count after 21.)

Checked in with Korey Kiepert of The Gravity Group and here is his response:

When looking through the airtime numbers for The Voyage, we had previously used a criteria that anything less than 0.25 Gs would be considered airtime. Using that same criteria, there are 24 locations of airtime no matter whether you sit (the front, middle, or back of the train).

Time to check the turkey

The folks at Sellner are still working on those birds.

They’re located in Minnesota.

Gives a new meaning to cold turkey, eh?

Please excuse the view, but if you’d like to take a gander at the tail feathers, here they are:

That slogan shows a lot of pluck: “Whirling since 1926.”

Wow. Eighty years of dizziness.

Finally, here’s how the still-in-the-design-phase bird looks.

Turkey carving

Okay, so we’re not building some huge coaster this year.

But that doesn’t mean there won’t be interesting construction photos to share.

Sort of looks like one of those creations from the recipe section of a woman’s magazine. You know the type: Quick and Easy Bread Recipe with Tips for Kneading and Shaping Your Favorite Farm Animal in 73 Easy Steps!

Indeed, this is the “what do you think” photo from the folks at Sellner Manufacturing. They’re creating our new Turkey Whirl for ’07.

Fear not: that’s not the car that will actually be used (pink is not your standard Thanksgiving color, last I checked). And that’s not the final version of the turkey head.

Remember, we’re still in the mock-up phase.

Watch Will Thursday on “Colbert”

Emily from The Colbert Report just called to confirm that the “Santa vs. Lincoln” segment is slated to air tomorrow evening.

As you may remember, this started out as a satellite interview on September. It didn’t air that night, as the-powers-that-be decided to send a crew out to shoot more interviews and footage of our area.

But there’s no putting it off any longer. The time has come. Tune in to Comedy Central at 10:30 pm CDT on Thursday

…and to think we’d never ever heard of the guy until a month ago.

Extreme secret

Today is September 25.

You know what that means, don’t you?

Just three months till Christmas!

Time for the keeping of secrets.

And stashing of surprises.

Speaking of which, we kept a big old secret for the last week back at the far end of the Snowy White Gravel Road.

Here’s a photo from halfway up the Jungle Racer tower.

That’s the side of Bahari on the right.

And to the left, that’s back-of-the-house.

A temporary parking lot for…


Quite a few trucks.

Why are they here … and why are they hidden?

Some sort of secret?

When we sneaked the trucks back there on September 17, it was easy to see what this was all about.

But before leaving the vehicles behind for the week, the drivers slapped on a little electrical tape to almost completely hide the answer to all those questions.

Any ideas?

Just about all of Southern Indiana has been in on the secret as we prepared to help out one very special family in St. Meinrad, a tiny town about 10 miles from here.

And early this morning, this young family awoke to the sound of a bus pulling up in front of their house, and an energetic fellow named Ty greeting them through his megaphone from their front yard.

“Good morning, Farina family!”

Yes, the big secret is ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is here in Spencer County. They’re helping out a family that has done so much for Relay for Life.

And now that family is in need.

Today is the “Door Knock” day (although maybe it should be called the “Megaphone Day”).

The Farina family, Steve and Shawna plus three lovely children, are being whisked off for a week-long cruise.

Then their belongings will be packed up and stored for the week.

And watch out on Wednesday, when the “Braveheart” scene takes place. This house, plus a building next door, will be demolished and a wonderful new one built just for them by hundreds of generous and caring locals:

I felt like a criminal taking this photo last week. But I was a block away, under some trees, and no one saw me. I quickly skulked away.

As much as I’d like to present the day-to-day “inside scoop” about this, I do want to respect the confidentiality the producers ask for, after all it’s their lovely story to tell (a Sunday evening in November).

But there will be some information made public and we’ll pass that along as the week progresses.

A learning experience

Abraham Lincoln, it is said of his formative years in Indiana, learned by “littles.”

On Saturday, unfortunately, I learned by … um, biggles.

Lesson Learned: A digital camera (ours, anyway) requires a memory card in order to capture the fabulous photos of the Colbert Report crew that visited our county.


Here’s a photo from earlier in the week, which will just have to do. It was taken in Mrs. Koch’s office and sort of sets the tone for the segment.

The crew from The Colbert Report consisted of three persons.

Nicole is an associate field producer. She really enjoys her job with The Colbert Report and all the interesting (if obscure) places it takes her. She flew in from New York on Friday night and headed back the following evening.

What a life.

Nicole was joined by a freelance video/sound crew out of Louisville. After spending the morning in Lincoln City, they joined us for lunch (“Elf Burgers all around!”) and a walk around our Christmas section.

Never before have I seen a TV crew pay so much attention to a restroom building (the one next to the Holiday theater). But since there’s a graphic of Santa next to the Men’s Room entrance and a graphic of Mrs. Claus next to the Women’s Room entrance … it did make sense.
Except for the poor woman who nearly fainted when she walked out of the restroom and saw the TV camera aimed in her direction.

I took an exceptional photo of her shocked expression, but … well, you know …

Will was great sport, doing take after take: “Welcome to Holiday World! Welcome to Holiday World!”

Give us a little more, Will.

Okay, pull back some, Will.

Tone it down just a little bit more, Will.

Okay, now give it all you’ve got, Will.

The looks on the faces of the park visitors walking by was priceless.

I checked with Nicole a bit ago and she reported they’re working on the piece, and it isn’t slated to air yet, but she’ll let us know.

Meanwhile, we better keep this under our hats:

Meet Papa Bear.

He, along with his wife (Mama Bear) and their child, Baby Bear, used to hang out in Holiday World.

As you may know, Stephen Colbert isn’t fond of bears. In fact, he can’t bear them.

Tyler, from Effingham, Illinois, sent this photo, taken on July 10, 1989. That rascal was home from college for the weekend and sent in this picture (that’s Hilary, his sister, in the shot with him) wondering if indeed this was a photo from that long ago visit to the park.

Indeed, those three bears used to freely roam the hills here. Alas, it seems they’ve gone the way of the Banshee and Virginia Reel.

No wonder Colbert sent Nicole out here all by herself.

A very telling move on his part.

She was so gracious in her praise regarding the assistance provided by the park and our county’s visitors bureau.

“No one ever offers to help us on these shoots,” Nicole told us. “Usually we have to just sneak around.”