Have a holly Jolley Christmas …

When you work in a town named Santa Claus, you never know who might stop by … but some days we're all just amazed.

We've been asked so many times if anyone famous has ever visited us that we've started a "famous visitors" tag here on the HoliBlog plus a "Famous Visitors" board on Pinterest.

And we just added to them, thanks to Twitter:

If you're an American Idol fan, you know Paul Jolley was a finalist this season.

I did my best to HoliStalk him for a while yesterday, but never managed to catch up with the Jolley man. Guess I was just a fool to think I'd track him down in our 125 acres of fun.

Surely he was never alone, though, as fans recognized him – and were blown away by what a nice guy he is.

Lindsay from Nashville, Illinois, tweeted this great pic yesterday evening.

American Idol finalist Paul Jolley visits Holiday World

Since I never did catch up with Paul yesterday (despite his tweeted promise to sing "Hey, Hey Paula" to me), I didn't get to ask, "don't you wanna stay?"

Apparently, the invitation was still heard. His brother tweeted this morning that they're back for another day of family fun.

Indeed, they'll have a Jolley day.

(Postscript: In case you didn't catch this season's American Idol, the song titles of many of Paul Jolley performances are in italics in this post.)

Dads just want to have fun, too!

Congrats to our three winners: Dana T. from Evansville, Indiana; Mallory P. from Bloomfield Kentucky, and Ashley B. from Owensboro, Kentucky. Thanks to everyone who entered!


What do you get for the Dad who has just about everything? Father's Day is on Sunday, after all …

How about this: A Day of Fun with his #1 Kid?

Father's Day sweepstakes

Yes, of course! We offer discounted tickets here on our website, and we're also providing three chances to win a pair of tickets.

First, a few rules:

  • Must be at least 13 years of age to enter.
  • Employees of Holiday World & Splashin' Safari and their immediate family members are not eligible to enter.
  • By entering our contest you agree to be added to our e-newsletter list. (If you don't want to hear from us, you may unsubscribe at any time by following the directions in your email. But we'll probably tell Santa on you …)
  • Winners receive a pair of tickets which may be used any one day during the 2013 season.

Here's how to enter (and hurry – we'll pick three winners at random this Saturday afternoon).

Good luck – and Happy Father's Day!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Yin and yang

The peaceful relaxation of Bahari River.

And the rush of a back-seat ride on The Voyage.


Bahari River and Voyage

All aboard!

With a toot-toot and a clang-clang-clang, Holidog Express train ride made its first run around Holidog’s FunTown on Friday afternoon.

There were smiles all around.

Holidog Express

Here’s a video of that first ride:

We still ride through Mother Goose Land and visit with old friends such as Humpty Dumpty …

Holidog Express and Humpty Dumpty

… Little Miss Muffet and that beyond huge spider that sat down beside her …

Holidog Express

… and Tom Tom the Piper’s Son. (Years ago, the travel editor at the Indianapolis Star remarked, “he looks a bit like a young Ronald Reagan, doesn’t he?”)

Holidog Express at Holiday World

Click back to this earlier HoliBlog post if you’d like to know more about the Freedom Train.

Meanwhile, another happy trainload of children enjoys the charming tradition that has delighted generations since our first season.

Holidog Express



Still diving after all these years

There's something just too delicious about a cool dollop of whipped cream on a steaming cup of cocoa.

Or a drizzle of hot fudge on vanilla ice cream.

Sweet and sour. Salty and sweet.

Yin and yang.

Silly and serious.

Dive! show

Our Dive! show is back again this year.

They've got new digs, including a big new pool, tall new dive tower and lots more seating for the audience.


Wave hello to the nice diver!

High dive

Everyone gets in on the act!


Well, then again, there's nearly always someone clowning around …

Dive! antics

One minute, hilarous antics, and then …


We hope you enjoy this show as much as we do, with chuckles one minute and breath-holding Olympic dives the next.

And no matter what this dive team is up to, we all know how each dive will end – with a great big splash!

Dive! splash

Blimey – the British are here!

It was a day filled with proclamations of "Brilliant – just brilliant!"

There's nothing like the Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain to guarantee a cheer-i-o day!

We started at not quite 5 o'clock in the morning with a television news crew.

Early morning news coverage at Mammoth

That's right; the sun wasn't up yet.

But we were!

And yes, we had a little breakfast set out.

Tea bags for the Brits

Club founder Andy and his fellow countrymen and -women were delighted with the choice of hot beverage.

Two of our Food & Beverage crew members quietly admitted to me they'd had bad dreams about somehow creating an international incident by purchasing the wrong brand of tea bags. (Yes, we tend to sweat the small things.)

After several satisfying cups of tea and breakfast muffins (chocolate-chocolate chip seemed to be the most popular selection, interestingly enough), Andy hopped in a Mammoth boat with four members of his club plus Nicole, our guess-I-should-have-worn-waterproof-mascara reporter:

Riding Mammoth early in the morning

They had a wild ride! I think they woke up all the campers next door:

Riding Mammoth

Andy's such a pro – he wrapped his towel in such a way that the Mammoth logo shows on camera.

He enthusiastically chatted with Nicole about why his club chose to visit Holiday World to help celebrate their 25th anniversary.

Andy Hine

Nicole and Kirk  from 14 WFIE-TV played right along with the early fun:

Voyage magnetAfter a walk-back tour of our roller coasters, the full tour group of 66 took their first official ride of the day … on Voyage.

There were quite a few chuckles when they saw their little "Keep Calm and Ride Voyage" refrigerator magnet momento.

Truth be told, we were hoping they wouldn't proclaim us "cheeky" for changing the wording of the iconic 1939 British safety poster.

"Brilliant!" was the first reaction and we rebellious Americans breathed a sigh of relief.

The joke was on all of us, though; we served the group lunch in our 4th of July section. There was no mention of hard feelings regarding that revolution thing – in fact several club members took a spin on the ride which boasts that proud name.

But the ride that got them cheering the loudest was our Voyage:

Brits riding Voyage

Andy had a good chuckle with Lauren Koch, especially when he insisted that her fiance take a "walk of shame" after riding Voyage hands-down.

Hands-down. And clutching the grab bar.

Lauren Koch and Andy Hine

One last ride and then our friends were off to the next park on their 17-day itinerary.

Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain

Wait! One final trainload to go … who could resist those smiles?

And those accents.

Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain rides Voyage"What accents?" Andy quipped.

"It's all of you who speak with an accent."

Residents from both sides of the pond agreed, however, that a lovely chap from Wales might occasionally need subtitles.

Or maybe always.


Keeping track of the coaster crazies

When we started building The Raven back in 1994, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into …

… and how many friendships would be forged.

The roller coaster enthusiasts are like one big, happy, enthusiastic family.

And last weekend was their family reunion.

Taking photos of The Voyage

Just as with any family reunion, they take lots of photos.

Not necessarily of each other, though; they like the artform that is a roller coaster.

Me, I just get a kick out of the the enthusiasts and their voracious appetite for riding coasters, talking about coasters, and photographing coasters …

We'll just call this the Coaster Paparazzi:

Coaster Paparazzi

The two pretty girls all front and center? They first appeared in our blog five years ago.

See? Family.

Truth be told, in addition to riding coasters and taking pictures of coasters, this bunch also likes to eat. Here they are, walking through the chilly sprinkles early Saturday morning for breakfast and rides on … water coasters.

It was amazing to see the gleeful expressions on their faces as they rode Wildebeest and Mammoth, even before the sun broke through the clouds and warmed us up.

Breakfast with the enthusiasts

Later in the day, when we provided an escorted tour around The Voyage, it was another opportunity for snack-time.

HoliWood Nights

And as the sun set each evening (thanks for the use of your cool photo, Brian F.) of our two-day HoliWood Nights event, it was time for the enthusiasts to buckle down and ride like they meant it. After all, many had traveled a thousand miles or more, from New Zealand, Germany, Washington State.

The Raven during HoliWood Nights

Sounds like fun? We post information about this annual event (and others) on the Coaster Clubs page of our website.

And until then, be sure to …

Keep Calm and Ride Voyage



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.