Conquering Bert

If you haven’t already caught on to the Bert craze, we highly recommend it.

He’s a nut.

Bert the Conqueror describes himself as the grown-up version of that kid who could never say "no" to a dare.

Bert the Conquereor

(Photo courtesy Travel Channel.)

My favorite line from last night’s episode was, "I’ve never felt like less of a man."

As you may have heard, Bert is heading our way next month and we’re looking for extras to ride with him and cheer him on.

You can audition by email or by video (details here).

Here’s a fun one:

The deadline to audition is just a few days away. Oh, and please don’t be intimidated by this funny video; a sincere email and photo will do just as well. Good luck!

Crossing the “T’

Last week we dotted the eyes (ha!), so this week for "Where Are We? Wednesday," we came across a "T."

Did you get it right?

More than 500 people submitted entries for this week's "Where Are We? Wednesday" contest and we finally have all our winners.

Nearly everyone thought it was an arched entryway sign in one of the areas of Holiday World. Some of the more popular guesses included the Lewis & Clark Trail, Holidog's FunTown and the HallowSwings.

For those of you thinking fall leaves and spooky pumpkins, you were spot on with the area of the park we found ourselves in this week. More specifically, this week's photo was of the bottom of the "T" in the wrought-iron archway over the entrance to The Raven roller coaster in our Halloween section.


Our winners are:

– Angelica C. of Mt. Carmel, Illinois

– Erin W. of Maryville, Illinois

– Andrea J. of Evansville, Ind.

Thank you so much for all of your entries! If you haven't already, be sure to sign up for our e-newsletter in time for next Wednesday's installment of 'Where Are We?' for another chance to win tickets to Holiday World & Splashin' Safari.


Back on track

Our president, Dan Koch, is fond of saying, "the train is ready to leave the station!" when he talks excitedly about the new season starting up in just a few weeks.

Well, this week, one of the trains made it back into the station.

Here we are at The Raven, hoisting one car at a time back on the track.

This season, we'll have two six-car trains on the track.

Don't they look happy to be home?

A few days later, and it's time for the first test rides of the new season.

Here are some coaster maintenance crew members, ride operators, and a few dummies taking some rather quiet test rides on a gloomy afternoon.

All agreed afterwards, by the way, that Raven is flying smoother than ever!

Joking in the boys room

On Saturday, Mrs. Koch was conducting a site inspection to make sure everything was ready for the next new-hires Orientation session.

Nathan happened by, heard her voice, and stood poised, ready to snap her picture when she came out…

Mrs. Koch, following a rest-room inspection …of the Mens Room!

She's smiling, so that must mean the restrooms were clean to her satisfaction.


Years ago, Mrs. Koch told me she sees this park as an extension of her home.

Could you imagine inviting friends over and not checking first to make sure the bathroom was properly picked up, stocked up, and, um … non-stinky?

I had a call today from a TV station pitching an idea for "sweeps week" and automatically thought of Mrs. Koch and her broom. Not sure that was what the caller was referring to, though…

As the clock ticks closer to Opening Day, we are getting so excited about seeing so many old friends (and making new ones).

One last thought … don't forget to send us an email or video pitch about why you and your family should be chosen to join us for one (or both) of the Travel Channel shoots for the "Bert the Conqueror" episode that are coming up next month. All the details are here on an earlier HoliBlog post.

Good luck!





Would you like to be on The Travel Channel?

This may sound a bit braggadocious, but this is just too delicious not to share: The producers of The Travel Channel's "Bert the Conqueror" told me last week that we were the "most asked for — no, the most demanded park" for Bert to visit during his second season.

Okay, so let's start off by thanking everyone who asked for us (or demanded us) to be an episode this season. We really appreciate it!

Next, we'll answer the question you're most likely thinking: Who gets to be on the show with Bert? He's not going to ride alone, is he?

(Photo courtesy Travel Channel)

Indeed, we'll need "extras" to be part of the fun: Fun-loving, thrill-seeking, crazy, noisy families.

Does that sound like you?

If so, we'd like you to "audition." First, please watch our silly video with Dan and Mrs. Koch:

Next, please carefully read through these instructions:

  • Deadline to audition is Wednesday, April 20, at 10 am CDT. You may audition to ride The Voyage (Friday, May 6) or Wildebeest (Saturday, May 7). If you wish to be considered for both days, please submit an audition video or email for each ride.
  • Your family may audition by video or by email. (A "family" is whatever you want it to be — we won't ask for birth certificates. There's not a maximum or minimum number of family members.)
  • To audition by video, record a video that's less than a minute long on YouTube and email the link to with the subject line of either "Bert – Voyage" or "Bert – Wildebeest." The video should include all the family members who would attend that day if your family is chosen. Be sure and tell us how many people are in the group you will bring if you are chosen.
  • To audition by email, send us a photo and an essay no longer than 175 words to with the subject line of either "Bert – Voyage" or "Bert – Wildebeest." The photo should include all the family members who would attend that day if your family is chosen. Be sure and tell us how many people are in the group you will bring if you are chosen.
  • Before auditioning, please be sure that all family members are available on the day(s) of the Travel Channel shoot. Please note that all members of your family or group must be at least 48" tall (for Friday's shoot) or 42" tall (for Saturday's shoot) and all must be ready, willing and able to ride repeatedly.
  • Although children are welcome (as long as they're tall enough and eager to ride), they must be accompanied by riding parents or adult guardians.
  • I'm being Ms. Obvious here, but yes, if you are part of the Wildebeest shoot, you must ride in your swimsuit.
  • Although we don't expect the shoots to take all day, we do need auditioning families to be available all day, in case we need you.
  • And yes, all families who help us out during the shoot receive free tickets (one per family member) to return another day.
  • Exactly what do we need from you? Enthusiastically tell us your story on video or in an email: Why should you be chosen to take part in a "Bert the Conqueror" shoot at Holiday World or Splashin' Safari? Be funny! Be clever!
  • Just this once, employees of the park are welcome to enter. We know you have families, too!
  • The producers are asking us to line up "newbies"; sorry, but if you've appeared in a previous episode (even in the background), please don't "audition."
  • Good luck! Remember, the deadline is April 20 at 10 am CDT. We'll let the winners know just a few days after that.

And then everyone can tune in to watch Bert conquer Holiday World & Splashin' Safari in June!

Santa gets a facelift, but no tummy tuck!

Since December 22, 1935, a 22-foot Santa Claus statue has become a rather iconic symbol of the tiny town of Santa Claus, Indiana.

One newspaper article in our archives even referred to the Santa statue as "heroic."

Well, even a hero needs a little help sometime!

Restoration work on this Depression-era statue begins next month and should take about two months.

Mrs. Koch is delighted:




The “eyes” have it…

Did you catch a look at the funky picture Nathan took for the first week of our "Where-Are-We? Wednesday" contest?

Funky cropping, actually.

Here's the photo. Look familiar?

Crazily-cropped photo

The challenge was to quickly identify and email us with the name of what the heck that is, along with where it is in the park.

We very quickly received more than 500 entries, many of them incorrect (sorry, this is not one of the birds at Eagle's Flight — but good guess!).

Other top guesses were the Star Spangled Carousel and the Udderly Blue Ice Cream stand.

The entries came from states as varied as Iowa, Mississippi and Michigan, plus Canada.

But the winners (the first three correct answers) were from states we know quite well. Congrats to:

  • Katharine S. of Murphysboro, Illinois
  • Korri I. of Union, Kentucky
  • Jennifer B. of Springport, Indiana

Congratulations to Katharine, Korri and Jennifer, who each knew this week's photo was a cropped seahorse eyeball:

Dasher's Seahorses

This is the Dasher's Seahorses ride from Rudolph's Reindeer Ranch in our Christmas section.

This week's winners each receive two one-day tickets to use this season.

If you'd like to play, too, please sign up for our free newsletter. We'll send out another fun photo next Wednesday.

Like threading a needle…

It's one thing to expect employees to be capable of operating equipment as befitting their job descriptions.

…but Gary had quite a "driving test" lined up for him last week.

As you may recall, we're adding a shade structure to the Wildebeest queue this season.

Crews are pouring the cement footers for the shade supports, but few jobs come without a challenge. Because of the remote location of the work, concrete is having to be ferried by the bucketful (or rather, front-end-loader-ful) around the Bahari Wave Pool and up into the queue at Wildebeest.

Witnessing Gary's steady hand coaxing the Bobcat up the ramp and down again in reverse was like watching someone thread a giant needle without even squinting. There was no spilled concrete and not even a scratch on the Wildebeest queue.

Wonder if he can parallel park that thing?

There’s one in every crowd

We've all done it while posing for a group photo.

Someone has to be the clown, right?

Whether it's the fingers-in-a-V behind your brother's head or crossing your eyes, you've done it, too, haven't you?

 Here's a long-ago photo from a friend in Indiana tourism (Jan, you haven't changed one little bit!).

Jeff & Jan

Jan tells this story about this photo with her brother, Jeff:

Jan!I think I was five … so this would have been 1966 and we traveled from Angola, Indiana, to Santa Claus.

My mom thought this would be our Christmas card photo that year.

My parents watched us take the picture and never saw me stick my tongue out (until the photo arrived back in Angola). Needless to say, my mom had to stage a new picture.

This has provided us with lots of laughs over the years and I thought you guys would get a kick out of it.

Do you have a favorite photo and story from a visit to Santa Claus Land or Holiday World & Splashin' Safari? We'd love to hear it — and maybe even feature it here on our HoliBlog.

Please send to or post on our Facebook page.

We’re diggin’ it

You know how you have to prepare the earth when you plant a new tree or shrub?

We sort of have to do the same thing for a new ride…

Our crews are busy creating a landing spot where Rudolph’s Round-Up will call home. The work required some very loud excavation work.


Don’t worry… Santa, his reindeer, and sleighs are relaxing on the other side of the park; their big debut is May 7!