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.

Play Day 2013

As our Dispatch called "park is clear" on our two-way radios this afternoon, the first clap of thunder boomed.

Perfect timing.

All the darling children we saw today were returning to school safe in their buses and dry as a bone.

Well, almost all …

Maddy on Play Day

Maddy, from Boonville, and some friends took advantage of the sunny weather and played in the fountains at Holidog's FunTown.

Today is Play Day – our twenty-first annual. Each year, our friends at Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center in Evansville invite 2,500 children with disabilities along with their teachers and chaperones. And we all have one heck of a good time together.

We donate the discounted admissions proceeds to the Rehab Center – this year to benefit the Milestones Child Development Center and to underwrite children's therapy. Over the past two decades, that donation has topped $300,000.

It was a beautiful day filled with beautiful laughter and smiles.

It's our favorite day all season.

Who will laugh last?

Surely you've heard that old chestnut: "He who laughs last, laughs best."

Well, we're not concerned with who goes last, we want to know which one of these four finalists amuses you the most.

That's right, we chose four finalists, instead of three, for our "Laugh Like A Hyena" contest.

Let's start with where we go from here. Because you can help determine who wins the grand prize of two nights in a cozy Christmas Cabin at Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort plus tickets for a family of four to visit Holiday World & Splashin' Safari for two days! Second place receives four tickets to Holiday World & Splashin' Safari and third- and fourth-place winners will each get a pair of tickets.

We had hundreds and hundreds of great entries – thanks to everyone who had so much fun with this.

It wasn't easy for our panel of judges to choose our favorites, but we agreed on these as our Funny Final Four.

Let's drop in our poll right here, so after you check out the finalists, you can come back and vote:

You can vote more than once if you like (on different browsers and different computers, phones, tablets, etc.). Just be sure to vote by Monday, May 13, at 2pm CT.


Here they are, in no particular order:

Googly Eyes Video


Hyena Falls Tickles My Belly

Laugh Like A Hyena Contest finalist

Hyena Laugh Video


Hyena Falls Drawing

Laugh Like A Hyena Contest finalist

Now that you've reviewed the finalists, please be sure to scroll back up and vote.

And may the best laughter win!