A birthday card

Punster Kevin made my day:

Happy 60th Birthday!

What a Voyage it has been. The park is a real Legend in the amusement park world. I just can't stop Raven about you. There are so many parks that Watubee just like you. If I could be at the park today, I would start The Wave in your honor.

You deserve a Pat on the back for all you have become, and I am sure the next 60 Will be even greater.

Good for the soul

…confession, that is.

Will just called me from Evansville.

He just got off the air following a live interview on WTVW's morning news show.

Went well, but he had to tell me something.

"I sort of hinted at what's new for next season."

Oh, Will!

"I couldn't resist; I've signed both contracts, so I went ahead and said we're getting something new for each park."

That's it?!

Gosh, we've even named both … things … and he managed to keep that information in the vault.

For spilling the beans, he certainly didn't make much of a mess.

But what do you expect from the oldest son of the Queen of Clean?

Adding to our lexicon

Crazy busy last week.

Spent one day with a crew from the Canadian Travel Channel.

"We'll be oot and aboot the park all day," I told everyone. One ride operator's eyes nearly popped out when I whispered, "They're from Canada. They don't speak English."

That little joke got old very quickly, especially when I fessed up that the crew was a freelance team from Louisville.

The show they're working on is called Uberguide: Extreme Thrill Rides.

Uber.

Not sure we've ever been affiliated with anything with the word "uber" in it.

The show will present 10 of the world's top thrill rides, including coasters from some huge corporate parks, some European parks…

Oh, and The Voyage at Holiday World.

Ubercool.

At one point while shooting general park footage, it hit us no one was doing the usual "Hi, Mom!" thing to the camera.

No jumping in front of the cameraman. No waving wildly or doing that rabbit-ear thingy behind the unsuspecting little brother.

Are we suddenly invisible?

The bubble was broken a moment later; the invisibility cloak lifted.

"Hey, cameraman! Get me!"

"Is this for the news? Awesome!"

"Talk to me! Hi, Mom!"

"Will this be on tonight?"

Rob, the cameraman, told me his stock solution in such circumstances is to loudly command through gritted teeth, "Git!" to the non-camera-shy youth.

I managed to convince him that wouldn't be a good idea here. (He'd done it the day before while shooting footage in a cemetery. Don't ask.)

Rule of thumb: If you want to end up "on camera," act as if you don't see it. The crazy antics are energetic certainly, but they almost always end up on the proverbial cutting-room floor.

Eventually, we headed out of the park proper, to the bottom of The Voyage's second hill for an interview with Will.

Will does a great job in interviews. Especially about his beloved coasters.

He has that engineer's-brain thing going for him, plus a talent for making complicated concepts understandable.

He's good.

Ubergood.

Then came the question about theming.

After explaining that we put our development money into the ride and not so much the theming, Will went on to talk about the decor at The Voyage's station.

"Since we're recreating the pilgrims' storm-tossed voyage across the Atlantic, the station is dockish and wharfish."

Dockish?

Wharfish?

The sky suddenly got prettier, so the crew asked to re-shoot that answer.

Whew! Surely he'll say nautical this time.

Again with the wharfish.

(Perchance I misunderstood. Maybe he was saying "war fish" … you know, first cousin to the Portuguese Man O' War?)

After the interview had concluded I couldn't contain myself.

"Will … wharfish?"

He looked surprised.

Wharfish? What are you talking about?

"Wharfish. You said the station was wharfish."

Wharfish? Did I say that? Really? What does that mean?

He laughed.

It's nice to have a good-natured boss.

Ubernice.

It’s so easy being green

Larry and Korey from The Gravity Group are here today to ride The Voyage.

… with another park’s owner.

Anyone else around here feel a slight tinge of jealousy?

It’s so easy being green.

Doesn’t it hurt just a bit? After all, we’ve meant to each other over the past two years …

Planning an incredible future for both parties.

Sharing wonderful photos.

Taking countless long, freezing-cold-to-the-point-of-being-miserable walks in the woods.

Carefully examining our highs and our lows, hoping against hope to finally achieve perfection.

Celebrating together when our goal was met.

And now … so soon … they’re moving on to a new conquest.

Sigh!

If that other park has a blog, I won’t be able to look. It would be too painful.

I guess we always knew this day would come. Just not so soon. And when the hurt fades and we’re not feeling so green, we’ll wish them well.

Maybe.

At least we’ll always have … The Voyage.
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365 days ago …

Hard to believe, but 365 days ago, we announced The Voyage.

Ah, the memories.

From the Snowy White Gravel Road (that name has caught on around here, by the way) …

… to the increasingly annoying HoliHints

… to the scramble to help our friends overseas early that morning …

… and, of course, so many folks tuning in to stream the announcement that we crashed WEHT’s server.

Months and months of construction.

A Discovery Channel show that has yet to air in the U.S.

And a perfect launch:

Voyage's opening day

That’s launch, not lunch!

That’s Mrs. Koch and, well, Mrs. Koch (Will’s wife, Lori) launching The Voyage on May 4. Those bottles were so delicate we opted out of filling them with liquid. Thank goodness we had extras!

My, my, the many happy, surprised, and delighted faces we’ve seen each day since then.

The Voyage

It has been a fantastic Voyage, indeed.
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Yum, yum, yum!

Santa selling Jell-o and cereal

Anyone else out there a cornball who loves to listen to old radio shows from the ’40s?

I grew up hearing my folks talk about Fibber McGee‘s closet, Jack Benny‘s squeaky violin, and Baby Snooks’ antics.

Thanks to satellite radio those shows are available again, 60 years later.

And the commercials are a hoot

Either the plugs are non-too-subtly inserted into the script or the cracky, nasally voice of Henry Aldrich belts out a jingle.

Tums for the tummy. And Jell-O, yum, yum, yum!

A Kraft Foods employee emailed the other day. He was so pleased to see this photo of Santa.

Long ago, during our Santa Claus Land days, Santa posed for an advertisement with a variety of products, including Jell-O.

Santa selling Jell-o and cereal

Upon closer inspection, it appears that it was Jell-O pie filling.

Lemon pie filling to be exact.

Santa Jim and Jell-o

We sent the Kraft Foods gentleman a copy of the photo to display in his office. Talk about connections!
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Star Spangled banter

If you’ve ever stayed in Splashin’ Safari till closing time, you may have noticed the chair thing.

Fireworks at Holiday WorldAs the supervisors walk from water ride to water ride, they straighten the chairs. Lined up evenly, they’re ready for the next day. This is done rather subtly prior to closing and then they really go to town. All the chairs are lined up, ready for the opening, when they’ll all be rearranged again. (Will refuses to call them chairs; they’re “towel holders” in his book.)

On Tuesday, we reopened a portion of Splashin’ Safari just before the 4th of July fireworks got underway.

Lori, the director for Splashin’ Safari, stood out on the island by the entrance to Congo River.

Waiting.

Those chairs. Freshly straightened, they would soon be grabbed and rearranged all over the island.

She joked to another employee, “Would you go over and ask everyone to please remember exactly where they got their chairs and be sure to return them after the fireworks?”

The fireworks were great. The oooohs and ahhhhs were outweighed only by the cheers and applause. Hearts were swelling with patriotism and emotion.

But for Lori, the most emotional moment came when she turned to start dragging scores of chairs back to their places.

Every last Guest, without being asked, took his or her chair back to its place of origin on the island. All lined up, neat as a pin. Ready to go for July 5.

God bless America!
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Hitting the big Times

Will Koch and The Voyage

My folks live in Madison, Connecticut.

They have a subscription to the New York Times.

I probably need to send them a box of Band-Aids and a tube of Neosporin for all the paper cuts they’ve surely endured the past week.

Because the New York Times interviewed Will for a business article a few weeks back.

And then they sent a photographer. With a very big lens. It was fun walking around the park with Dan, as he asked folks he’d just photographed for their names and hometowns.

“I’m from the New York Times… ”

But this was an “evergreen” story. That means it’s not breaking news and will be just as fresh tomorrow as it was yesterday.

Evergreen stories tend to get bumped. And I explained this to Mom and Dad once word came that the article was in the chute, scheduled to run … sooner or later.

Undaunted, they dutifully scoured every inch of the paper for days.

Happily, only a few bumps occurred.

And today the article appeared on page 3 of the business section (sorry, it’s no longer available online).

Here’s my favorite quote from Will: “When I need to make a decision I call my brother and sister and they say, ‘O.K.'”

Will Koch and The Voyage

He’s going pay for that comment once Dan and Natalie see it!

(Thanks to Dan Patmore for the “extra” photo.)
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Rhymes with “perky”

Do you reserve a certain tone of voice for select words?

Like perky?

Can’t help but add a rather sarcastic punch to the first syllable and a higher-than-normal pitch.

I find I do that same thing with quirky. Do you?

The reason we ask:

SmarterTravel.com says we’re quirky

Are we?

I just don’t know.

Quirky rhymes with turkey, too.

One of the definitions is strikingly unconventional. Guess we can’t argue with that.

I mean, when you do things like free soft drinks, that’s sort of quirky, right?

SmarterTravel.com also says we’re an “alternative to major theme parks.”

Got that right. Makes us feel downright perky, in fact! 

Here’s the full article.
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Father and son

The Raven

With the majority of our State (not to mention Louisville and Cincinnati) on “fast time” and our portion of Indiana on “slow time,” there are a number of people who arrive at the park, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, a little on the early side.

I pulled into my parking space a little before 8am CDT. The sprinkling of cars in the Raven Lot were surely families who lived on Eastern Daylight Time.

Sometimes people grumble, “Stupid Hoosiers … can’t get their time straight.” We smile sympathetically and nod.

A few claim it says EDT on our website. No one has managed to show us exactly where, though …

This morning, a father and son wandered their way up to the admissions area. The son looked to be seven or eight years old. He and dad were ready for a big day together. They might have 90 minutes to wait for the gates to open, but they weren’t going to waste that time sitting in their car.

Still in my car, I saw them both suddenly freeze. Neither one moved. They were standing with their backs to me, so I couldn’t tell what was going on.

The Raven And then I heard it: Click, click, click …

The coaster maintenance crew was finishing up with the morning’s check of The Raven. They always send it around the track empty as part of their work.

Father and son’s heads rose in harmony as they watched the red train ascend the lift hill.

Spellbound.

As the train crested the hill and charged down that first drop and into the woods, the guys turned to each other, huge grins on their faces.

Dad held out his hand and Junior leaped into the air to complete the high-five.

Welcome to Holiday World, guys.
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