Will joins Walt in the Theme Park Hall of Fame





When our dear friend Will Koch passed away unexpectedly in June, the outpouring of love and support was amazing.

"He was the next Walt Disney" we heard over and over.

Indeed, Will's wife, Lori, had long ago given him a wonderful portrait of Walt Disney (with a shadow of Mickey) which hung in his office throughout the two decades he was our leader.

She told me recently she knew how inspired Will was by Disney, and she wanted her husband to always feel his presence as he made decisions and plans.

This morning, Will joined Mr. Disney in the Theme Park Hall of Fame.

This tremendous honor was bestowed upon him this morning in Orlando, at the start of the gigantic trade show, called the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions (IAAPA) Expo. With more that 25,000 industry members on hand this week to plan for the future of fun, we all paused for a moment to honor our friend Will.

Here's a video that was shot from the audience of the packed hall.

One veteran’s story

Thank you to all the veterans whose devotion to our country has kept us safe and free over the centuries.

In 1914, this young Navy man helped plan a ship-board Christmas party at the Brooklyn Shipyard for underprivileged children.

Since he liked to talk about being from a town near Santa Claus, Indiana, he was asked to play Santa for the children.

After experiencing the love and hope in those children’s eyes, young Jim Yellig made a promise to God, "If you get me through this war, I will forever be Santa Claus."

And of course, he kept his promise…

Santa’s always in fashion

You’ve probably heard they we’re getting ready to give the iconic Santa statue here in town a little touch-up work. After all, the big guy turns 75 next month.

…but a few wrinkles didn’t hold the Man in Red back when the talent scouts came to town.

The folks with the maurices women’s fashion stores were putting together their holiday ad campaign and chose three Christmas-themed towns for their "Hometown Holidays" fashion shoot.

Thing is, you have to back-time this sort of thing.

So the lovely models were bundling up in sweaters, scarves and mittens … in August.

Here they are, on a blistering hot day. Those poor models! Some even had ice packs down the backs of their wooly sweaters.

The second the photographer finished taking shots at a certain angle, he’d bellow, "SHADE!" and a grip would dash over to hold a fashionable parasol over the model’s head.

It was such a neat trick, I went ahead and tried it.

"SHADE!"

Nothing.

Sigh. Was worth a try, though.

The crew was great and the models friendly and patient. They quickly moved around town to capture the Santa’s Great Big LED Tree of Lights, Frosty’s Fun Center, Santa’s Candy Castle and Santa’s Lodge.

And look what was mailed out to 2.2 million fashionistas this week:

The maurices chain is in 44 states, with more than 750 stores.

Here’s another portion of the direct-mail flyer:

"Gosh it's hot here in Santa Claus!"

Meanwhile, the Santa statue will get a two-month restoration next summer. Not exactly a face lift or tummy tuck, but his "procedures" will be sure to keep him standing proud here in town for another 75 years.

 

Move over, test dummies…

…it’s time for the humans to take a ride!

Join William Koch and Mike Graham as they take the first “human ride” on the new Timberliner train on The Voyage.

And yes, it’s really cold out!

A berry by any other name…

Okay, so I Googled "holly berry" so I could correctly state if they grow on a tree or a bush.

Guess what’s listed first?

Or actually, "who"?

Well, of course.

The lovely and talented actress Halle Berry.

Have you even noticed the pretty holly trees (or bushes … I never did finish my research) on either side of the steps into Rudolph’s Reindeer Ranch?

They’re particularly pretty right now.

One smart cookie!

Ryan is amazing.

He's only three years old and he's already been in the paper.

And he's about to be HoliBlogged.

According to the Evansville Courier & Press, Ryan and his folks were finishing up their meal at a Chinese restaurant.

When it was Ryan's turn to break apart his cookie and "read" his fortune, he was prepared:

Mine says we need to go to Holiday World!

Here's a photo of Ryan and his pal Holidog. (Thanks, Ryan's mom, for sending it!)

A noisy start to November

There’s a chill in the air.

The last of the leaves are swirling.

And it’s remarkably noisy up at our Front Gate.

No, Clark Griswold isn’t up there waving a firearm.

We’re expanding: