Sleeping on the job

With today marking the start of the four-month countdown to Christmas (yes, really…), let's take a look back at this sweet HoliBlog post from several years ago.

This email arrived recently from Natalee and Chris G., from Memphis, Tennessee:

I want to tell you about the most precious moment this weekend.

By Saturday afternoon, our little Caroline was exhausted! My job was to get her to sleep in her stroller. This was very easy as the morning in the water park had worn her out! I wanted to find some place cool so I decided to shop in the Christmas store.

When what to my wondering eyes did appear – but Santa coming back from lunch! I told him I was glad Caroline was asleep as she did not like him one bit. I went on to explain that she loved him in theory. She calls him "Ho Ho" and will point him out anytime she sees him, but being close enough to touch him is a whole other story!

Santa asked me if she was a good sleeper. I said yes – she was "out" and would not wake up for a while. We decided to try to see if Caroline would sleep in Santa's arms for one picture. Sure enough, she never budged. Santa even pretended to nap with her. He also gave her a little "Ho Ho" to hold during the picture. He told me that when she woke up, show her the picture and she would know it was from him.

Sleepy Santa

Definitely the most precious picture I have in my whole collection of Caroline pictures – and as our only child, I assure you our pictures are numerous!

An hour or so later, Caroline woke up. Her new little "Ho Ho" was in her arms. She looked at me as if to say, "where did this come from?" I showed her the picture. I think – even at one year old – she understood that the REAL "Ho Ho" had given her the new toy.

I guess she enjoyed that nap in Santa's arms with little "Ho Ho." She has played with that little stuffed Santa and even took a few more naps with him since we have been home.

Please tell Santa thanks for helping to make our vacation so memorable!

Originally posted 6/4/09


Blast from the past

Mrs. Koch remembers with great fondness the year we added our first big ride.

It was in 1984, the same year we changed our name from Santa Claus Land to Holiday World.

The big new ride was Frightful Falls.

"Oh, we thought we'd really arrived," she says with a smile.

It's dwarfed now, by the likes of Pilgrims Plunge and ZOOMbabwe, but it's still a well-loved ride.

Thought you'd get a kick out of this old Frightful Falls logo:

1984l Frightful Falls billboard

Rick, our graphic artist, says the best he can remember (it was 28 years ago, after all) this graphic was hand-painted on the original Frightful Falls billboard.

A cast of thousands

Mrs. Koch was chuckling over this encounter from the other day.

Man in park: How many of you are there?

Mrs. Koch: Oh, gosh…I think we have hired about 1,700 seasonal hosts and hostesses this year. Isn't that incredible?

Man in park: No, that's not what I meant. How many of you are there?

Mrs. Koch: Full-time? Oh, we have close to 80 year-round staff members.

Man in park: No, no, no. You! How many of you are there? First I saw you at the front gate and then you were running a ride. At lunch I saw you in the kitchen cutting a pizza. And now it's time to go home and you're here at the front gate saying good-bye to everyone. How many of YOU are there?

Well, that just tickled Mrs. Koch no end.

(The above was first posted on 8/7/08)  Flash-forward to August of 2011 and we finally figured out a way to clone Mrs. Koch.

Sort of.

We've joked for years about creating a Pat Koch bobblehead.

And this year, we finally did it!

 Bobble bodies

In the spirit of The Legend, we start by showing you the headless version of the Pat Koch bobble, above.

Since she's our Queen of Clean, we modeled the bobblehead after a photo of Mrs. Koch sweeping up around the park.

Want to see the heads?

(Spoiler: It's more than a little creepy.)

A basket of Pat Koch heads

Two heads are better than one, right?

Oh, how Mrs. Koch laughed when she saw this basket full of her unpainted … um, heads.

When the head is added to the body, there's a little packing-foam scarf added, to keep each work of art scratch-free.

Painted Pat Koch bobbleheads

Although it took nearly the entire summer to get through each approval step in the BobblePat-creation process (we hope to have them on the shelves by Labor Day weekend), we did get an early model to auction at our HoliWood Nights event for coaster enthusiasts.

We were raising money for the Santa Claus Museum and offered not only the very first BobblePat, but also a tongue-in-cheek Certificate of Authenticity, to the highest bidder.

The auction was lively, with howls of laughter from Mrs. Koch encouraging the generous crowd.

In the end, Aaron from the great state of Washington won the auction, our gratitude, plus a big hug from the real-life Pat Koch.

Aaron and Pat

Not to worry if you aren't planning to visit us again this season, we have BobblePat available here in our online HoliShop.

Cooking with Mrs. Koch

During the summer months, Mrs. Koch … well, she really doesn’t cook.

She helps out a lot in our restaurants, though. The other day, right before her 80th birthday, she was helping in the kitchen at Kringle’s Kafe. Until, that is, she saw a Guest waving frantically to catch her attention.

As Mrs. Koch approached the front line, holding her gloved hands high (not unlike a surgeon after scrubbing up for an operation), she could hear the Guest’s urgent question:

Mrs. Koch – we have to know! You look so young – what brand of face cream do you use?

Without missing a beat, our octogenarian replied simply: “I just get whatever’s on sale.”

Just because she’s not home stirring the pots this time of year, doesn’t mean she couldn’t produce a yummy recipe when asked a few years ago…

The following was originally posted to the HoliBlog on 10/8/08

Following a tweet about a magazine requesting a recipe from Mrs. Koch, we were asked to post it here.

Santa’s Daughter’s Christmas Citrus Chicken and Rice

Cook time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1-3/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup uncooked regular long-grain white rice
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsleySautéed orange slices.

1. Cook chicken in medium nonstick skillet over medium high heat for 10 minutes or until browned. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.
2. Add the broth, orange juice, onion and rice. Heat to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.
3. Return chicken to skillet. Cover and cook 10 more minutes or until the chicken and the rice are cooked. Stir in parsley.
4. For appearance, sauté orange slices in a hot nonstick skillet until lightly browned.
5. Garnish chicken with orange slices.I’m rather stunned the recipe didn’t include one more step:
6. Clean up the kitchen … and the rest of the house while you’re at it.


Mr. Dan’s (and Nathan’s) Wild Ride

I won’t lie.

Transitioning from a career in buttoned-up, corporate TV news to the world of coasters and khaki shorts has been one wild “voyage.”

My first few weeks here in early spring were filled with that Christmas morning-like excitement you felt as a kid.

Walking amongst coasters, games and the ever so jovial Santa statues can leave a corporate-minded person like me pinching myself. I wondered on a daily basis if this place was real. Was this really my new career to work in a place where people are having the time of their life?

To-do lists in TV news were pretty much non-existent. The people and places were changing on a daily basis but the task at hand wasn’t. At Holiday World, a place filled with projects years in the making, there is plenty of new stuff that pops up on the to-do list. Imagine my boisterous laugh through slurps of my morning coffee as I reviewed one of my latest tasks to be sprung on me a couple weeks ago: Ride those rides! Where else is it your job to go hop on some of the world’s top-rated rides so you know how to describe them?

Voyage was conquered early in the season. I started with the biggest, best wooden coaster and worked my way backwards, hitting Legend and Raven a couple of mornings before the park opened.

One ride that was still lingering for me to jump on was Wildebeest. I do happen to work at the #1 water park in the nation (thanks, TripAdvisor) but contrary to popular belief, I don’t have swim trunks in a desk drawer (although I probably should from here on out). It took me awhile to get around to Wildebeest and when I finally did, we decided I would throw Dan on and shoot video of him on his favorite attraction.

Dan and Nathan's wild ride

Wouldn’t you know it, just to make sure we got good video we rode Wildebeest about six times back to back. I can now officially vouch for the fact that Wildebeest is one amazing ride and I can’t wait until it’s time for ride testing and video shooting on the new Mammoth water coaster. Everybody keeps telling me I have one rough job.

To see for yourself, check out Dan’s Wild Ride on Wildebeest!

Santa Claus Land forward: 65 years in 2 minutes

Wednesday was a big anniversary for us. Sixty-five years ago, on August 3, 1946, Louis J. Koch opened his park, Santa Claus Land.

It was his retirement project, conceived before World War II and opened a year – nearly to the day – after turning over that first shovel of dirt.

As part of our anniversary celebration on Wednesday, our a cappella singers, Legacy, performed the song "Have a Holiday" while the packed house enjoyed watching this retrospective of our history.

65th anniversary video

That's Santa Jim – the quintessential Santa – up on the screen.

And here's the video:

“Where can you get a good stake around here?”

If you've enjoyed the prime rib at Plymouth Rock Cafe this season, you have Mrs. Koch to thank.

… plus the many folks who've asked her "where can you get a good steak around here?" over the years.

As we prepared for the start of this season, Mrs. Koch was determined she'd be able to answer "right here!" when asked about steak.

A good stake, here in Santa ClausOver the next two days, she may be asked about the location of some other "good stakes." Vertical stakes of the wooden kind.

And that's because we're getting ready to announce our new ride for 2012. And it's so hard to be patient.

This will be the biggest single-ride investment we've ever made. And by "ever" we mean 65 years.

It's no coincidence that our announcement is on our 65th anniversary. On August 3, 1946, we opened Santa Claus Land and on August 3, 2011, we'll talk about this $9 million monstrosity we're building for next year.

If you're here in the park on Wednesday, please join us in the Holiday Theater (in the Christmas section) at 11am CDT as we celebrate our past and look excitedly toward our future.

Who knows, we might even have cake!

If you're not able to be with us in person, please join us via our UStream Channel . Air-time (couldn't resist the pun) is 11am CDT. Of course, we'll also post the ride information and some very cool animation on the Holiday World & Splashin' Safari website.

By the way, thanks to all who have participated in the wild speculation on our Facebook Wall and via Twitter. It's been a blast!