Hints and misses

Can’t deny it’s been a fun week.

We announced our 66DaysAtSea.com microsite on Monday, and the reaction has been tremendous.

In case you’re not one of the group of people we affectionately refer to as “the coaster crazies,” you may not know where to look for extra clues and analysis.

Here’s your Pilgrim’s Primer:

1. Visit 66DaysAtSea.com and read the daily entries, examining all photos, sketches and videos.

2. Sit quietly for a minute and go, “Hmmmmm…”

3. Next, read this “Are we there yet?” HoliBlog post. Oh, and enter our sweepstakes while you’re there. Daily.

4. Get ready to delve into the mindset of a theme park super-fan.

5. Check out all the notes on our Screamscape page.

6. Read through the reckonings on CoasterBuzz.com’s forum.

7. ThemeParkReview.com has many musings.

8. This zany blog and podcast group went way beyond the call of duty. (Don’t you people have jobs?!)

9. And finally, we’re getting a kick out of this blogger’s daily analysis of each of our 66 Days at Sea.


10. For an explanation of “why 66?” and “why is the announcement on July 24?” take a look at our news release.

We hope you have fun with us and let your imaginations run wild during these next two months. And be sure to join us, if you can, on July 24. We plan to party like it’s 1620!


Are we there yet?

66 Days at Sea

Have you ever wondered where that phrase originated?

Are we there yet?!

Could it have been … on board the Mayflower?

It was, after all, a 66-day trip, crossing the Atlantic Ocean to the New World.

Our story begins with a little event we threw for members of the roller coaster enthusiast clubs we call our “partner clubs.”

Loose Lips Sink Ships event

Late last week, we had about 150 enthusiasts gathered from all over – including Texas, Seattle, and London.

And we’re not talking London, Kentucky.

One of the perks of these events is a little something called a “walk back.”

A photo walk back. Video, too. Up close and personal with The Voyage.

All will be explained eventually, but after the group had trudged up the hill toward Voyage’s spaghetti bowl, an Ohio lad named Lee spotted something unusual near The Voyage’s underground tunnel.

We called Safety Craig to investigate.

Lee decided we should allow Safety Craig exactly one minute to answer the call. It sure was handy that Lee carries an egg timer in his pocket.

Leah and Lauren were able to talk Lee into giving Craig an extra minute. Thanks, Lee.

The red arrow in the photo points to what Lee saw with his seven-year-old eyes.

Impressive, no?

Leah, Lee and Lauren, waiting for Safety Craig

Safety Craig arrived with several grains of sand to spare and invited Lee to accompany him to the excavation site.

The enthusiasts gathered ’round, enthralled.

Watching Lee and Craig

Craig dug.

Lee supervised.

Lee and Craig

As they pulled a very old wooden box out of the ground, Lee and Craig were joined by Leah, Lauren and Matt.

Clearly Leah has watched one too many late-night horror movie reruns.

Leah, Lauren, Lee, Matt and Safety Craig

Matt carried the mysterious box back to Plymouth Rock Cafe, so its contents could be revealed.

And inside was …

66 Days At Sea journal

… a very, very old journal.

Later, when the enthusiasts returned from their extra rides on The Voyage, even scraps of paper were documented.


Those scraps of paper that were discovered with the journal contained the following URL: 66DaysAtSea.com

And so we begin.

Day by day, we reveal journal entries written long ago by a mother on board the Mayflower.

Here’s her first day’s entry:

66DaysAtSea.com journal entry Day 1

Please follow along with us as we experience those 66 days and learn just a bit about that incredible voyage back in 1620.

At the end of the 66 days, we will announce what we have in store for 2015. It will be worth the wait.

As you read each day’s entry, you just might get a hunch or two about what we’re planning for Thanksgiving next year. Want to take a guess?

Meanwhile, if you’re curious about these coaster enthusiasts and their clubs, take a look at the HoliWood Nights page on our website – you just might want to join us!

Either way, we’re not tipping our hand (or our ship) before July 24.
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A park with a Street View

Google Street View Trekker

When you have a parking spot in the same tiny lot as a fellow named Santa Claus, not much surprises you.

But this vehicle certainly caught some attention this morning:

Here’s our “trekker,” Alberto, right before heading out to capture Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari for Google Street View.

We’re told it will take up to six months to see the results. We’ll be sure to let you know!

Meanwhile, as of today both parks are open daily.

Loose lips sink ships


They don’t make you any friends, but an innocent one can certainly make for a lot of fun.

We’ve all done it—kept a little secret for the sake of fun. I mean, how boring would Christmas morning be without the promise of those wonderful secrets wrapped in shiny paper?

Our home was always filled with extra secrets I was not allowed to know, which was rather frustrating because my dad kept the coolest secrets in the world (in my humble opinion).

He seemed to have some trust issues with my siblings and me. I don’t know why. It’s not like I once gave away my mom’s surprise birthday party without even knowing about said party (which I actually did … apparently I used to get giggly in the face of ambiguity).

It took years for Dad to finally relinquish some of the secrets he held over to us. I think the first big Holiday World secret I got to hold was in 2005 when the Voyage/Thanksgiving expansion was coming.

For the first time, I was on the other side. When coworkers tried to guess what we were building and I responded, “I don’t know. Nobody ever tells me anything,” it wasn’t the truth!

The best part was that my dad finally thought I was ready to be trusted with the biggest secret the park had to date.

Loose lips sink shipsNow, I’m holding (and even creating) more secrets than ever. And they’re bigger than ever.

And the pressure is building.

It’s not easy. There are some days I want to burst with excitement, others I want to lock myself in my office so I don’t blab anything.

Mostly, I’m loving getting to respond to people the same way my dad always did to me: with a sly smile and an innocent, “Just wait and see.”

And as 2015 rolls closer …

Oh no, have I said too much?

(You’ve found this blog post because you heard – no doubt in hushed and whispered tones – that there’s an http://66DaysAtSea.com microsite set to go live on 5.19.14; you were redirected here in the meantime. Please check back on Monday. You won’t be sorry.)

Friday: Both parks open daily

All the scrubbing and filling and training is just about complete, as Splashin’ Safari opens for the season on Friday!

When in doubt, look it up

Anyone else having trouble keeping up with the latest lingo?

Our social media pages keep me up to date most of the time.

But not always.

Here in Communications, we’ve been working on a project and I sent a photo over for Eric and Leah to see.

Thing is, I didn’t know if Eric’s response indicated a thumbs up or down.

A text with the boss

Eric texted back that he appreciated the laugh.

It’s nice to have a boss with a sense of humor.

… even though he talks like a girl.



Christmas in May

We just spent a fun day with a crew from the Travel Channel.

They’re here in town for three days as part of an assignment to create a two-part special called Christmastown.

During the day, there were interviews with park Guests, including Evan (who quoted more stats about Voyage than we have on our website) and a young man from St. Louis who dreams of some day being a Santa’s Helper (he insisted his older brother not stare at him during the interview).

Next was Matt. We got a charge out of the digital clapboard.

And yes, I volunteered that Matt has a nice singing voice. Let’s see if his rousing rendition of Jingle Bells makes the final cut.

Leah talked about her family’s love of Christmas and dedication to keeping Santa’s home a place for believers – young and old – to visit.

And then there’s this guy:

Santa’s echoing shouts of “ho-ho-ho!” will no doubt continue to ring through the hills of Voyage’s path for days to come.

Scaredy Cat confidential

Lauren, William, and Leah with the Cat in the Hat

Take a moment with me, and try to think of the most ironic things that could happen to the child of a theme park president.

What if you hated funnel cake or soft pretzels? It’d be a total waste of being born into such a cool circumstance, right?

Now imagine you were afraid of rides. All of the rides.

Crazy, right? It’s absolutely absurd!

Except I actually lived that.

My maiden flight on The Raven may have scarred me a bit. I was four (and tall) when The Raven opened, so I was allowed to ride, according to the design engineers. While riding with my dad, I got a bit spooked, and cowered down in my seat. He changed the height limit after that ride, which was okay by me because I had no desire ever to ride anything ever again. (So an apology to those kiddos just shy of the 48 inch mark: Sorry about ruining your chances to ride earlier in life—it’s for your safety.)

Leah and siblings visited lots of parks growing up.

William, Lauren and Leah (rockin’ that fanny pack!) with zombie friends at Islands of Adventure park.

Anyway, I spent probably five years of my life maxing out my time on the kiddie rides (though that time was up too soon for my liking), then playing Skeeball. If I could only convey the amount of money my parents “invested” in my Skeeball career …

Then one life-changing day when I was about six, my parents persuaded me to ride the Tower of Terror at Walt Disney World’s (then) MGM Studios.

I hated it.

With a deep and burning passion.

It took me forever to stop crying.

On the bright side, Mom got me a commemorative Tower of Terror t-shirt as a badge of honor. On the back it said “I suggest you take the stairs.”

I meant every word of that, and told my friends to take the stairs when they went (as though they were all heading over to Florida the very next week).

It wasn’t until somewhere around the age of ten years old that I finally broke my fear.

At Universal’s Islands of Adventure, I rode Ice on (then) Dueling Dragons (which is now part of the Dragon Challenge –I cannot express the joy when my first steel coaster ever was converted to be part of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter—it was only a lifetime dream come true).

Non-scaredy-cats all.

Lauren, William and Leah with the Cat in the Hat. Not a Scaredy Cat in the bunch!

I loved it.

It’s hard to say what changed, but I was so proud of myself for overcoming that fear, and did it riding the outside, which my sister swears is way scarier because you know what’s coming (I thought it was less scary for the same reason).

It was also pretty fun to get to finally ride coasters with my family—and it prepared me for my first ride ever on The Legend with my dad.

So to all you scaredy-cats like me (or parents with scaredy-cat kids), hold on. It could be a bumpy ride getting there, but there’s hope.

I promise.


Also, if you’re considering riding the Tower of Terror anytime soon, I no longer suggest you take the stairs.

Opening Day twitters

Opening Day Twitters

Thanks to everyone who sailed through the front gate this morning.

Here are just a few of the many, many wonderful tweets we saw today:

Our self-proclaimed first fan to hit the ship!

Another happy Pilgrim:

And the foodies checked in:

And finally, a new #CoasterSelfie trend?

Your tweets keep us smiling – we hope to see them all season long!