Papaw’s Voyage

Our friend Kevin, who owns Santa's Candy Castle here in town, emailed us this great story about a recent visit:

Last Saturday (7/12) my wife had her family's annual family reunion here in Spencer County. The day after the reunion, we took a group of out-of-town relatives to Holiday World for the day. It was mostly families with young children, but my wife’s 82-year-old grandfather ("Papaw") also came along. As we went into each section of the park, my wife, kids and I (who all have season passes) took Papaw to the gift shops, shows, and free drink stations, so that the rest of the group could enjoy as much ride time as possible.

After a fair amount of time at the park without riding very much, Papaw really enjoyed it when we took him on the Gobbler Getaway. He had such a good time, he decided that he was going to start going on all the rides with the rest of the group. Well, the next ride everyone was heading to was, of course, The Voyage! I seriously questioned the wisdom of sending an 82-year-old man (who’s probably about 5’6” and 100 lbs.) on the world’s number-one-rated wooden roller coaster. But after more than 15 minutes of trying to talk him out of riding The Voyage, it became apparent that no one was going to stop him.

So we headed to the Voyage and got in line. I could hear the buzz about Papaw building as he made his way closer to the front. ("Wow, look over there!" "Is he really going to ride?"). The way the lines worked out, Papaw boarded The Voyage with his son-in-law in the train that departed before me. As I watched from the station, I couldn't help but think we’d made a grave mistake as I watched the train ascending the gigantic lift hill.

The lone little white head of hair seemed ominously out of place among the other riders. We watched nervously as the train reached the peak and disappeared over the other side. I know that the ride takes about 3 minutes – but it seemed like about 3 hours. From the station, we could hear the train approaching as it was getting ready to make a high-speed pass back past the station. We watched closely, hoping to see how Papaw was doing. As the train flew past and we could see dozens of riders smiling/screaming with their hands raised above their heads—and among them was one rider whose head was lowered and whose face wasn't visible — all that could be seen of him was a little white head of hair.

This was obviously a huge mistake.

Papaw rides The VoyageAfter what seemed like an eternity, the train finally made it back to the station. All of the riders quickly departed from the train, leaving Papaw sitting there looking dazed and bewildered. His son-in-law and a few ride attendants helped him out of the car, and held him up for a minute as he was clearly not able to stand under his own power.

The station was quiet and tense. Was he going to be okay? After a short while, someone who was attended to him asked if he was okay, and Papaw gave a little smile and a nod and immediately the entire station erupted into the loudest round of applause I've ever heard. I overheard a teenager near me say, "I hope I still rock like him when I'm that old!" The whole scene was just unbelievable.

Of course we had to buy the ride picture to remember the experience. The only thing whiter than Papaw’s white head of hair in the picture were his white knuckles. I've always heard that expression, but this is the first time that I truly understood it.

We tried to buy Papaw an "I conquered the Voyage" t-shirt, but they only had Large sizes in stock (Papaw is most definitely a "Small"). So my wife and I are going to keep an eye out for some new inventory of shirts to come in before the season's over. But in the meantime we bought him all the Voyage postcards so that he could do a little bragging about what he did on his trip down to Southern Indiana.

At the end of the day, Papaw was a bit exhausted and overwhelmed from the experience, but was perfectly fine. He did go home shortly after riding and spent the next couple days recuperating. I’m not sure if he is the oldest person ever to ride The Voyage, but his journey was certainly a memorable experience for everyone who was there.

Sorry for such a long story, but I though you might enjoy it. We really enjoy the luxury of having such a wonderful park right here in our backyard and really appreciate the great job that everyone at the park does.

So … is Papaw the record holder, or does anyone know of a Voyage rider who's been around even a tad longer?

“Is it too late to call this off?”

Contest-winner Brandon told me yesterday that he and Gary had just about made up their minds to blow off The Voyage and head for Frightful Falls when John (our marketing director) helpfully pushed down their lapbars and wished them a happy ride.

Colts' Gary Brackett rides The Voyage

Sure, they're smiling. But it looks like they're talking through the smiles.

Meanwhile, here's a wonderful article from today's Evansville paper.

Three little words

Gary Brackett rides Voyage…texted to me following Brandon Phillips' ride with Gary Brackett a few hours ago:

"It was awe- some."

'Nuff said.

Brandon told me after- wards that both he and Gary's eyes were streaming (from riding in the front car — yeah, right) and they were frantically wiping away the tears before they got near the end of the ride when the camera goes off.

Here's a photo of the full car. That's Brandon's wife, Abby, sitting in the back with his step-brother Mitch.

Here's a little more info about Brandon: Mitch, Abby, and I are life long Colts fans, have season tickets (looking forward to the new stadium), and my step-brother and I host a sports talk radio show in our spare time that is online Wednesday nights. My son Cole was born the week before the Colts won the Super Bowl, and we actually came home from the hospital the day of the Super Bowl (he really wanted to watch from home). I was so nervous about the games that we didn’t allow anyone to come over during the playoffs or the Super Bowl, and actually had a Super Bowl party several months later and watched the game again on TIVO. Knowing the outcome allowed me to enjoy the party much more, ha! My wife and I are from Spencer County, went to South Spencer High School, and now reside in Bowling Green, Ky.

Everything in its place

Guest from HaitiJoan from Rockport sent us a great story about bringing a visiting priest (from Haiti) to Holiday World.

Here's Fr. Phechner (in the middle) getting ready to take a spin on the Scarecrow Scrambler.

Joan writes: The Scrambler was as daring as he wanted to be on the rides. Concerning the roller coasters, he said to me, "My heart has a place and my stomach has a place, and I want them to stay there."

Making an impact

It's so nice to meet a celebrity and feel you've met a friend.

There are certainly plenty of sports figures with egos larger than a football field.

But not Gary Brackett.

Gary Brackett at Holiday World

…he's as down-to-earth as a (please pause patiently as I search frantically for a football metaphor) … uh, cleat.

Gary was warm and chatty as he signed autographs and talked with fans this morning.

He even found time to pose for photos with a few hard-working painters.

Gary Brackett with Tommy and Tim from our painters crew

And we snapped a shot of a local girl who is now a Colts cheerleader.

That's Abbey on the right; she's from Ferdinand.

Gary Brackett

…and that's Lauren on the left; she's from New Palestine.

But the best photo of the day is this one:

Gary Brackett's IMPACT Foundation

That's Gary with the children of the families from all over Indiana here for a two- day visit as part of Gary Brackett's IMPACT Foundation's "Field of Dreams" program.

And tomorrow … Gary rides The Voyage with eBay charity auction winner Brandon Phillips from Bowling Green, Kentucky. Neither of the two claims to be a coaster enthusiast, so we'll be sure to get a copy of the on-ride photo.

Coasters, Colts, and….well, Cash

For years, I've reacted obnoxiously whenever the topic of sports comes up around here.

I groan when Mike (that's Sales Director Mike) starts off a marketing meeting with, "What about them Hoosiers?!" or when John whines about "his" Bears and Cubs. And as a Notre Dame alum, Will is sure to keep us up to date about the Fighting Irish.


But today, even I'm a fan. Because we're raising money for a wonderful charity.

Recognize this fellow?

He's Gary Brackett. I don't really know what this means, but I'm told that he's the Defensive Captain for the Indianapolis Colts. He's also something called a linebacker. He was part of the Super Bowl-winning Colts team in '06.

And even though I haven't met Gary yet, I can categorically state that he's a sweet guy.

He raises money to help children affected by cancer. And we want to help in that effort.

So when Gary visits the park on Friday, he'll be available to ride The Voyage and have lunch with the top bidder of this eBay auction.

The top bidder receives three admission tickets to Holiday World & Splashin' Safari for this Friday. We'll get you together with Gary for your ride on The Voyage (you and two friends) and then head over to the Plymouth Rock Cafe for lunch with the big guy.

Your winning bid goes straight to Gary Brackett's IMPACT Foundation, so please dig deep and bid high.

Heck, I'll even feature you on the HoliBlog. That's got to be worth something, right?

This is just a three-day auction, though, so please hurry over to post your bid by early afternoon on Wednesday.

So if you win, who decides whether you grab the front seat or the back seat at The Voyage, you or Gary? Maybe you can arm wrestle for it…

Photo i.d.

Santa Claus Land boat rideIt's always a delight when someone emails an old photo asking if it was taken at Holiday World.

…or, in this case, Santa Claus Land:

Indeed, this ride was in the Pleasureland section of Santa Claus Land (in the area where Rudolph's Reindeer Ranch now exists).


“I’m out of my comfort zone”

Poor Mike.

He got dragged into a TV interview the other day. Not exactly kicking and screaming, but he did solemnly tell me, "Paula, I'm out of my comfort zone."

Mike talks about coaster maintenance

…but Mike gamely slapped on a pleasant smile and talked about, what else, roller coasters.

This is for an upcoming episode of "The Weekly Special," a TV show produced in Bloomington, Indiana. The host, Ann Shea, promises they'll post the show online after it airs next Thursday and Friday. (It's embedded at the end of this blog post.)

Their focus while in the park was the coaster maintenance crew at Holiday World.

Coaster Cat Sean took them with him on his morning Voyage walk.

Coaster Cat Sean

Okay, so what is Sean telling the cameraman (who, coincidentally, is Eric from

Here's my offering: Ever since I started this gig, my cuticles have needed extra attention.

Now it's your turn…click on "comments" and give us your best shot.

Meanwhile, I'm heading back to the safety of my comfort zone. Sean's a really nice guy, but he's got power tools and he knows how to use them.