My fiancé and I have both fallen victim to our ever struggling economy. While I have a job locked in health care, my fiancé has fallen on hard times at his place of employment. Often times he’s sent home after only working 2 hours a day. He’s the "bread winner" of our house, so our financial support is seventy percent based on him. Our paydays are now stressful and extremely negative as we struggle to figure out who gets what bill that month. Our house payment continues to rise with the taxes, and at times, we find ourselves struggling to even cope with having that happen.
Needless to say, our 3 year old daughter never gets to enjoy the perks of having 2 working parents. While she has everything she needs, I know deep down there are things she also wants as well. What little 3 year old girl wouldn’t want? She would watch Disney World commercials on TV and ask when she could visit. She would point out amusement parks in magazines and ask about them, etc.
Remembering who we were supporting first, we started a small fund to take our daughter to a theme park. We deemed her old enough to understand what goes on and also old enough to ride the rides. Finally, our goal, however small to others was much larger to us, was met.
We had heard so much praise from friends and family about how affordable and how much fun Holiday World was. I can remember riding the sea horses and bumper boats when I was just a tot myself. We figured it would be the best place to go being only 2 hours away.
July 12-14 we stayed in an RV at Lake Rudolph. The 12th and the 13th we ventured to Holiday World. Before even entering the park my daughter saw the giant Holiday World tower as we drove past and became excited. I remember her eyes lighting up as she said, “Mommy! I think we’re here!"
When we entered the park, she continued the excitement. After getting her picture taken with the statue of Santa at the very beginning of the day, she looked at my fiancé and me and said with a smile, "Mommy, this is the best place I’ve ever been!" She hadn’t even been more than one hundred feet inside the place.
To our surprise, we were thrilled to see how family-oriented this place really is. And I’m not just saying that to be cliché, this is an honest opinion. I have never seen prices as low as Holiday World had. We had only a small amount of money to use for games and food, but that money nearly doubled when we saw the prices. I couldn’t believe my daughter could have a meal for under $4.
The Pepsi Oasis’ were amazing. I could not believe that we were walking in and out of places only to get free drinks. I could not believe that there was a theme park that honored this and I was so taken away by this simple act! Not only that; but the free tanning lotion. This park met our needs in every aspect we needed. When we were famished, we found ourselves in an air conditioned building or stopping for a free drink. When we were tired of walking, at every turn was a place to sit. This park was just so comfortable and accommodated everything we could have eventually complained about.
The rides were just as great as I remember. This was the first time my daughter had ever rode any amusement rides and needless to say she hasn’t stopped talking about them. At perfect height, she could ride things such as the Turkey Whirl (which she tells us was her favorite), Scarecrow Scrambler, Frightful Falls, the Raging Rapid ride, etc. When they first started, her face was priceless. She wasn’t sure whether she should be terrified or be having a good time. After she realized what goes on, the giggles were burned into our memories forever. She had such a great time. As the Turkey Whirl spun, my fiancé stood beside the ride staying with the stroller. I rode the ride with my daughter and as we went around I could hear her laughing hysterically and calling out for her daddy. It nearly melted my heart to see how much joy she had.
Walking into the HoliDazzle show, our daughter had just awoken from a nap after the Splashin’ Safari. From the moment "Sparkle" walked out our daughter’s eyes were fixated. She smiled, danced, laughed, sang, and just had a great time. We couldn’t leave without her getting to say hi to her new favorite fictional character.
I felt like I needed to just extend my gratitude to the staff at Holiday World for making our first family adventure such a positive one at such negative times for us. I also just want to personally thank Pat Koch for keeping this park in amazing condition and remembering who it’s for; the families. Holiday World made our vacation possible and I can guarantee I couldn’t have said that about any other theme park. We couldn’t have afforded to venture to another one.
I’ve never been to a theme park where I’ve walked in and seen the owner walking around asking people if they’re doing ok, etc. Pat Koch, to me, is an amazing person, inspiring even. I’ve never been so taken back by someone in my life, and her amazing kindness at her park nearly had me in tears as we left and I saw her standing there smiling to everyone and giving a kind wave to a group of small children. I was in awe to the fact that she is so hands on. It takes a special someone to do the kind of simple, yet meaningful things she does.
Call me hormonal, but as I write this, I’m also tearing up. It’s just so great to see someone so selfless and putting the needs of others as her priority. I hope she inspires others to follow in her footsteps and I praise her for everything she has accomplished and will accomplish. I know she’s inspired me and I look forward to returning to the park next year.
I just never thought one of the most selfless acts I’d ever see was through an owner of an amusement park.
From our family, a million thanks.
Amanda, Josh and Payton B.