Remembering our heroes

You don't have to be a history nut to be a fan of our 16th President.

Abraham Lincoln, who was raised on a farm just four miles west of this park, appeals to just about everyone.

Did you know we have a Lincoln collection in the building that also houses Mrs. Klaus' Kitchen and the Bavarian Glassblowers?

A local man named Ora V. Brown assembled the collection lovingly over the years, and passed it along to Santa Claus Land (now Holiday World) upon his death in 1966.

And what a collection it is …

Lincoln exhibit at Holiday World

This display case, above, is located toward the end of the exhibit. We first see artifacts from Kentucky, then Indiana, and then Illinois. We see what Abraham did with his life before becoming President Lincoln.

Lincoln exhibitIf you enjoyed Steven Spielberg's epic film Lincoln, you won't want to miss what we call the Lincoln Classroom. It includes such rare artifacts as:

  • Lincoln handwriting, dating back to his days as a young student;
  • Earliest known published image of Abraham Lincoln;
  • Several presidential signatures;
  • Cordial case owned by the Lincolns and used for entertaining at the White House;
  • Mourning card acknowledging President Lincoln’s death, with mourning ribbon and Lincoln’s photograph; and
  • Ceremonial pen used by President Kennedy to sign the bill creating the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in Lincoln City, Indiana, the state’s first national park.

Mr. Lincoln is surely our country's most famous fallen hero. And this weekend we honor and remember all who have given their best for their nation's safety and freedom.

God bless them all.

Hydration station

I'll never forget back in the fall of 1999, when our staff of directors got to vote on whether to take a step no other park had dared to try.

Free soft drinks.

I remember like it was yesterday, because it was a dramatic moment. (For me, anyway.)

Right before we voted, Will made sure we all understood: "This is for keeps. If we do this, we can't ever take it back."

Inside, I did a happy dance. Knowing we wouldn't pull the plug a few years after offering such an amazing perk put me at ease.

The vote, as I recall, was unanimous. And the room was very quiet.

The next month, at our annual theme park trade show, lots of park CEOs got in Will's face and asked with great emphasis, "Are you NUTS?!"

That was our Will.


Like a fox.

A year later at that same expo, Will was given an award for what amounted  to the industry's "best new idea."

That's not to say we haven't tweaked around on the program from year to year.

First we added more diet soft drinks. Then Gatorade. And this year a yummy no-calorie peachy green tea.

Free unlimited soft drinks

Here's the full offering you'll find around the parks:

  • Pepsi
  • Caffeine-Free Diet Pepsi
  • Mountain Dew
  • Diet Mountain Dew
  • Caffeine-Free Root Beer
  • Orange Crush
  • Pink Lemonade
  • Caffeine-Free Sierra Mist
  • Dr Pepper*
  • Diet Dr Pepper
  • Fruit Punch Gatorade
  • Orange Gatorade
  • Diet Peach Green Tea
  • Water

*A little punctuation trivia: Dr Pepper does not have a period after the "Dr"; really.

Additionally, we have brewed tea (sweet and unsweet) at Kringle’s Kafé, Alamo, and Plymouth Rock Café plus coffee at Kringle’s Kafé and Mrs. Klaus’ Kitchen.

And what is our most popular beverage? That would be … Gatorade.

Please stay hydrated this summer – and don't forget to use our free sunscreen. We want you to be safe, comfortable, and happy during your visit.

Helping Oklahoma

Did anyone else just stop and cry the other night when the news came on about the devastation in Oklahoma?

The thought of so many children and other family members lost in that tornado is just heartbreaking.

We've put together an online HoliAuction to help raise funds for the American Red Cross's relief efforts.

We started with the practical stuff: eight one-day admission tickets, a private cabana for a day, lunch served in your cabana and supper (plus a tour) in Plymouth Rock Cafe.

And then there are some one-of-a-kind items:

Coaster Art

This is an example of customized Coaster Art. You can choose the coaster photo and we'll transfer it onto a piece of Raven track wood. We add a decoupage-esque finish and you'll have your own piece of Coaster Art.

We'll give you the first ride of the day on Mammoth (or the ride of your choice) and we'll take your family's photo on that ride (we'll even post it on our Facebook page if you'd like).

There's a retired hard hat signed by all of our Coaster Cats. And three flags from The Voyage plus the park-logoed flags from the front gate.

Oh, and coaster patches:

Coaster patches

Let's see, we tossed in a Holiday World trunk organizer, a 60th anniversary park throw, and two Mammoth beach towels.

And a sweet Holidog Christmas ornament.

The HoliAuction will end on Tuesday, May 28, at 12noon CDT. Here's where to see the full list of items, read the rules and regulations, and bid on all the goodies.

Thanks to all the good people who are helping in the various relief efforts. Our employees are pitching in what they can, too, which will be matched by the park.

And we're all hugging our children a little more tightly tonight.

Middle of nowhere? I think not!

Admit it. You've probably said it, too. Or at least thought it:

"Holiday World? That park's in the middle of nowhere!"

Well sure, we're not in a major metropolitan area, but we like to think we're somewhere special.

And just think about it for a second; we're:

  • three hours from Indianapolis
  • three hours from Nashville, Tenn.
  • three hours from St. Louis
  • three hours from Cincinnati

That sort of make us a hub, doesn't it?

Speaking of St. Louis, Matt headed there earlier this week to appear on Fox 2 for their "Free Trip Tuesday" promotion.

Matt and Margie on Fox 2

Here's their chat about all the fun things to do in Santa Claus, Indiana:

Wherever you're located, we sure hope you'll set your sights on Santa Claus, Indiana, for your family's fun getaway this summer!

Canine caption contest – winners

Thanks to everyone who entered our "Canine caption contest" – it was a howling good time!

We ended up choosing two favorites. Each winner receives two one-day tickets:

I double dog dare u to ring the bell! from Robin C. from Indianapolis

Pavlov never could have predicted this! Lisa P. from Goshen, Kentucky

Congratulations to Robin and Lisa! We hope everyone enjoyed playing.


This is one of those photos that just screams "Caption Contest!"

And so …

Canine Caption Contest

This is a new game at Holidog's FunTown. Stun us with your wit and you could win two one-day tickets.

A few rules:

1. Must be 13 or older to enter.

2. Must not be an employee of Holiday World & Splashin' Safari (or that employee's immediate family member).

3. Just one guess per email address, please. (No multiple entries this time around.)

4. If you've won tickets from one of our contests within the past six months, you're not elegible to win this one. If it's been more than six months – have at it!

5. Judges' decision is final. It always is.

6. Deadline is Friday at noon. That's 5/24/13 at 12 noon CDT. We'll notify the winner by email.

7. To enter, post your crazy, funny, clever caption as a "comment" here on this HoliBlog post. Don't include your address or phone number, we'll notify the winner by email. (Remember, our comments are moderated – so keep the captions family-friendly. If your post doesn't show up right away, that means we're in a meeting or sleeping or eating or, you know, in the bathroom. Please be patient.)

8. And yes, if you win you can use your tickets this weekend. Good luck!


The shirts say it all

When the parade of JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) Walkers comes through our front gate each year, it's an emotional time.

There are lots of excited smiles and delighted laughter.

JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes

And team shirts all the colors of the rainbow with messages to make you think:

JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes

… and smile:

JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes

… and even shed a quiet tear.

2013 JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes

Victoria's godfather told me she passed away just a few years ago and her family walks in her memory each year.

This next photo is from our 2009 Walk. That's the late Will Koch on the right. A diabetic, Will started our annual Walk in 2006. Since then, we've helped raise more than $2.5 million for JDRF

Will Koch in 2009

This good looking bunch is Team Josh. "Who's Josh?" I asked. Ah, there's Josh in front, holding our brochure. What a great smile!

JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes

Today's event was made up of about 1,300 walkers, each determined to do exactly what it says on these ladies' shirts.

2013 JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes


Who’s laughing now?

Well, I can't tell exactly who it is laughing in this photo – but those blue feet sure make me chuckle. (And no, the water's not that cold – he's wearing swim colorful shoes!)

Hyena Falls

See how this slide is named "Chuckles"? That because there are four slides and they are not in the same order on the bottom (at the finish) as at the top (where you start).

So if there's a specific slide you want to be sure to experience, take a look at the bottom and choose from Chuckles, Giggles, Laughs or … Tee Hee.

That's right. We have a slide named Tee Hee.

Take a look:

Both parks are now open daily.

Laughing not optional.

As we grow, so does Caleb

Remember Caleb? He's appeared on the HoliBlog a few times over the years.

Lori invited Caleb over for a closer look at Hyena Falls last week. The skies were gloomy, but that didn't keep their spirits down.

Lori and Caleb at Hyena Falls

One of the best perks about working here is watching as the younger park fans grow up enjoying each new ride.

And the lasting friendships we form.

One of the great mysteries of life

We truly enjoy reading the tweets that mention us.

We get to peek in at the preparations being made for an upcoming visit, detailing the nightly ritual of measuring a child who's nearly tall enough to ride our roller coasters.

Sometimes the tweet is simply a plaintive wail: "Somebody take me to Holiday World!"

This week, apparently one high school senior class had their trip cancelled due to too many "senior skip" pranks the previous week. Oh, my – can't repeat some of those comments.

This tweet made me laugh out loud this morning:

Ah, if only we could bottle the stuff …

Indiana Tourism’s highest honor

Did you know the highest honor in Indiana's tourism industry is the Will Koch Indiana Tourism Leadership Award?

This award was established in 2011, in memory of our late president, who passed away suddenly in 2010. Will had been a leader in the tourism industry for so many years that our state's Lieutenant Governor's office and the Indiana Office of Tourism Development decided to create a special award.

And this year's recipient is John Livengood. He's pictured below (from left) with his wife, Leslie, daughter Kat, Lori Koch and Indiana Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann.

2013 Will Koch Indiana Tourism Leadership Award recipient, John Livengood

Quoting from a news release: He currently serves as president of the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association, the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers and the Indiana Hospitality and Tourism Foundation. Continuing the spirit of the award’s namesake, he has been a top advocate for the Indiana hospitality and tourism industry throughout his career.

I joked that it looks like they gave John a flatscreen TV for his upcoming retirement. Indeed, if you look closely you'll see one of Will's signatures – a roller coaster – etched in the "screen."

And John kidded that although he greatly enjoyed working with Will over the years, "the only time I told him 'no' was when he asked me to ride his roller coasters with him."

Here's the video that was shown at the award presentation:

Thank you, John, for your dedication to Indiana Tourism. We're all better because of it.