Who says turkeys can’t fly?

Good question!

There were several flying around these here parts yesterday.


And yes, we put our toys away for the winter months – and out they fly in the spring, ready for the new season.

Watch out – here comes another one!

Turkey Whirl set-up at Holiday World

And another:

Turkey Whirl set-up at Holiday World

Then safely secured in place by Tom and Anthony, Turkey Whirl is nearly ready for riders, starting May 3.

It's Turkey Whirl time!

Tram-o-rama

After the winter we’ve had, Spring Fever has definitely struck all of us here at the park. The first glimpse of sunshine and temperatures above freezing sends just about everyone heading for the outdoors.

And when you step outside of the office on these days, you never know what you might discover!

Thursday just happened to be one of those beautiful days, and as I was heading out to get lunch, I noticed something was happening in the Raven Parking Lot. After getting into my car, I had a better look at the situation. There it was … the Tram!

Tram training at Holiday World

After returning with my lunch, I ate quickly hoping the Tram would still be there, grabbed my camera and headed toward the parking lot. You can imagine my excitement when I passed through the gate and it was still there. As I got closer, I noticed there were two people sitting inside the cab. The first was Rides Lori, and she was with Tram Driver-trainee Stephanie. I had only planned on taking a few photos and heading back to my windowless office, but when Lori asked if I wanted to hop on board for a “spin,” it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

The first trip around the empty parking lot, Lori drove and reviewed all the “Do’s and Don’ts” of driving the Tram.

Then it was Stephanie’s turn.

She navigated the turn-around by the front gate and headed down tram pathway. She practiced making all the necessary stops through the empty lot, but then came the hard part: the turn around the circle at Stop 3.

Stephanie listened intently as Lori gave her instructions on how to master that circle. As she began to make the turn, I held my breath half expecting to hear the thump of the back part of the tram hit the curb, but as we continued around the circle, that sound never came. Lori looked back in amazement as she said, “I think you are the first person I have trained who didn’t hop the curb on their first try!”

Tram driver training at Holiday World

Stephanie smiled and finished the route flawlessly before letting me back off at the front gate.

Great job, Stephanie!

Stephanie won’t be our only Tram Driver this season; we hire 35 to 40 each spring. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and have worked at the park for at least one season. After completing classroom training and passing the written test, it’s time to hit the road (er, tram lane …) before becoming an official Holiday World Tram Driver.

Interested in becoming a Tram Driver or learning about other opportunities with our Rides Department? Be sure to visit our Jobs page!

Behind the water curtain

Words to describe our industry:

  • Friendly
  • Helpful
  • Outgoing
  • Nosy

Nosy? Oh, heck yes! We just love to visit each other for a peek behind the scenes.

Or, in this case, our friends from Raging Waves Waterpark near Chicago, took a peek behind the water curtain.

Raging Waves Waterpark staff on a visit to Splashin' Safari

That’s our water-park attractions director, Lori, on the right. She says we should have busted out our free sunscreen – everyone was a bit sun-kissed by the end of the day.

It’s so nice to see blue skies again – opening day is less than eight weeks away!

The name game

The “name game” sounds like loads of fun, doesn’t it?

Believe it or not, it can be an agonizing process!

You start out with the theme of the park section, add details about the ride or slide (or, in this case, restaurant), and then start churning out ideas.

You generate long lists and then start to cull.

You search online to make sure this isn’t a name already in use. Does it rhyme with a naughty word – or if it can be shortened, is the nickname G-rated? Will it sound good in commercials and will park Guests remember the name?

Splashin’ Safari names have been particularly interesting, as we try to stay with a safari theme. We’ve used safari references (such as Jungle Racer and Hyena Falls), Swahili words (such as Bakuli, Bahari and Zinga) and we even made up a word: Watubee.

The safari animal name Wildebeest was tossed on the table year after year. By me. Time after time, it was scratched off the list early on in the process. It got to be sort of a joke; whenever we needed to name anything (including staff members’ children and grandchildren), someone would suggest Wildebeest and everyone would have a good laugh.

As you know, eventually everyone else warmed up to Wildebeest and our first water coaster was named after that stampeding safari animal. (Which, looking back, was even more fitting than we could have dreamed; have you ever seen the stampede toward Wildebeest when we “drop the ropes” at park opening each morning? Lori (our water-park attractions director) and her staff had to institute a “pace car” entry to keep eager riders from running and pushing.)

Wildebeest debuted in 2010. Fast-forward to present day and F&B Jason challenged his management team to come up with a few good names for Splashin’ Safari’s new restaurant.

Since Wildebeest was the late Will Koch’s final ride project, Jason suggested the water coaster as a starting point for ideas.

There were some great suggestions: Wildebeest Feast and WildeFeast. Then Wildebeest Bistro.

Suddenly, Katie S. came up with a combo:

Katie names WildebeestroWell done, Katie!

Well done … just like the Philly Steak & Cheese sandwich planned for Wildebeestro.

And what else will be on the menu, you ask?

Wraps! We’ll have a Chicken Bacon Ranch Wrap, a Hummus Wrap and a Black & Blue Wrap (that’s foodie code for roast beef and blue cheese – I got to sample one last week – scrumptious!).

And, let’s see: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Salads, Popcorn Shrimp, Hot Dogs, Giant Turkey Legs. And more. (The full menu will be posted on our website in early April.)

Side dishes will include Corn on the Cob, Fresh Fruit Cups, and Steak Fries.

Desserts? Oh, my. Yogurt Cups, Whole Grain Jungle Animal Crackers, Butterfinger Pie, Giant Cookies, and more.

And, yes … brewed sweet tea as part of our free soft drinks offering.

And what will Wildebeestro look like? Here’s the designer’s rendering:

Wildebeestro design

Here’s a closer look at the wildebeest carvings on the posts out front:

Wildebeest carving

And here’s a side view:

Side view of Wildebeestro design

And exactly where in Splashin’ Safari is Wildebeestro located?

Follow the magic blue arrow:

Wildebeestro construction (location)

We sure hope you’re as excited as we are about the new restaurant and new menu items. We expect Wildebeestro to open in time for the Memorial Day Weekend.

And if you’d like to help us with another naming project, be sure to enter this contest by Tuesday, March 11 at 10am CDT.

First sign of Spring?

After the kind of winter we’ve had around here, everyone is pretty desperate for that First Sign of Spring.

We found it!

Tram tug getting ready for training

Okay, so you have to ignore that big pile of snow in the foreground.

But look in the center of the photo and see Billy from maintenance driving “tug” down the shoulder of Christmas Boulevard.

Tug is getting all prettied up, inside and out, in anticipation of upcoming Tram Driver Training.

And Tram Driver Training is a very good sign that Spring is on the way!

Word play

Did you know it was National Grammar Day on Tuesday?

March 4.

March 4th. March forth with good grammar.

Some reacted to the news with, “Oh, I just hate it when people add extra apostrophes!”

To which I replied, “Indeed, it’s tragic. But that’s punctuation, not grammar.”

Yes, it’s obnoxious; I know. But I just can’t help myself.

My crusade for proper use of the language extends to pronunciation.

Seeing the news of Carl Kasell’s impending retirement brought back the memory of once emailing him about his on-air mispronunciation of the word “complex.”

When it’s a noun, it’s COM-plex; when it’s an adjective, it’s com-PLEX.

Looking back, I wonder how I had the nerve to email the NPR luminary all those years ago. I hoped the man with the wonderful voice (and – who knew? – delightful sense of humor) would accept the note in the helpful spirit in which it was meant.

Imagine how stunned I was to hear back from Mr. Kasell within minutes, with his grateful and friendly response.

Wow. That’s how it should work. It’s nothing personal.We’re all in this together.

Word geeks have a mission; they intend no harm, ill will or condemnation.  To misquote Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own, “There’s no crying in grammar!”

And so the good fight continues today here around the office, where teasing sometimes blurs the lines of proper speech.

Exhibit A: The phrase “Have a HoliDAY.” Matt says this all the time.

It’s a nice nod to our park’s name. But my inner Sheldon cries out, “We’re not HoliDAY World – we’re HOLiday World!”

Marketing Jennifer, new to our staff, doesn’t help the situation. She just breaks out into a chant of “Holla! Holla!” She has a little hand dance, too.

And so I could do nothing but tweet in reaction to Matt’s latest yesterday evening:

Oh, and don’t even get me started on our ongoing “icing versus frosting” debate!

From across the pond: A reminder of home

Well isn’t this something!

Deep-fried question: Fabulous or flop?

Deep-fried PB&J

It’s no secret that we do lots of tasting-testing this time of the year. And with a new restaurant opening this season, we’re trying out possible new menu items on a daily basis.

Really.

Deep-fried PB&J

Andrea and Michael, from our Food & Beverage Department, called for volunteers to try out an old favorite with a new twist.

A deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Honest.

Just like funnel cakes and deep-fried Oreos, they get a dusting of powdered sugar on top and are served warm.

Our staff’s reaction?

Uh, mixed.

Like so many things in life, some were thrilled and others just didn’t get it.

It looks pretty yummy, though, don’t you think?

Deep-fried PB&J

Matt’s reaction?

Matt takes a bite“Really? I can’t believe you’d take a picture of me with my mouth full of deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich!”

Matt has three children in grade-school. I bet they’ll be doing some lobbying at home tonight.

With the differing opinions at today’s tasting (harrumph! some of us were in meetings and missed the deep-fried invitation), we’re still not sure if this taste treat has tipped the scales in favor of being added to our menu.

Foods Director Jason asked us to take the question to you for your thoughts. So what do you think: sticky thumbs up or thumbs down?

Simply click below to send us your opinion:

[poll id=”3″]
Thanks, in advance, for your “vote” in this non-binding poll.

Please post any comments below – along with your ideas for toppings.