Once in a while there’s a tweet … with a photo … that just has to be HoliBlogged.

And Cooper, you cutie pie, this is one of those times!

A bird’s eye view

The downside of visiting the Thunderbird construction site on a Sunday, there’s just isn’t much going on …

The upside, of course, is you can take a photo like this:

Thunderbird's brake run

Above? Well that’s Thunderbird’s brake run.

Thunderbird's brake run

Here’s another view:

It’s amazing to see so many pieces of bright orange track scattered around the staging area, knowing that in just a few months there will be loops and dives and crossovers galore.

For now, though, we have a field of corn separating much of the steel track and supports from the construction site.

The track that’s being put in place right now is in the area where Thunderbird’s station will go – that’s the building you’ll go in right before you ride.

You are planning to ride this beauty, right?

The horizon will soon take on such a different look and a different color.

Steel field, corn field, construtcion

The brake run is ready to be hoisted in place very soon. You might even catch the action live on our Thunderbird ConstructionCam this week.

Here’s VP James with an update in our latest edition of the Hard Hat Chronicles:

A Day in the Life of an ‘Artist Runner’

When you work at a theme park, job titles and job descriptions can change rapidly on any given day. Normally, my title is Communications Coordinator, but last Saturday it was “Artist Runner” during our annual Rock the World event.

When I agreed to be an artist runner earlier this month, I was told my job would be to run errands for the artists and their crews throughout the day.

So basically my day would include:

  • Driving artists and their crews
  • Enjoying the Rock the World Main Stage Concerts
  • And having access to the catering tent throughout the day

Sounded like a great day to me! And my initial thought was not wrong ….

My morning consisted of running the bus drivers, who had been driving through the night, to their hotels so they could get some rest. Nothing too crazy.

The real excitement began just as the storm started to move in late in the afternoon. Along with one of my fellow artist runners, Scott, I was given the task to take TobyMac and a couple of his band members to Kringle’s Banquet Hall for his Meet & Greet session.

They just managed to hop in the Jeep right as the rain decided to let loose. From the moment he got in the car, Toby chatted with us about his son’s football game which he had attended earlier in the day. I could tell immediately he was quite the Proud Poppa … especially when he told everyone in the car his son’s team had won.

My favorite moment of this short trip came right before we dropped him off at the door to the Meet & Greet. Of course, talking about his son’s football game led the discussion further into favorite NFL teams. Being from Nashville, he is Titans fan (rivals of the Indianapolis Colts – our favorite team). And as he got out of the Jeep, he ended our discussion with a funny crack at us being Colts fans.

Look at that grin – he’s probably still chuckling about his joke!

TobyMac Meet & Greet

 I guess all that talk about football worked up an appetite for him and his crew because shortly after we returned from the Meet & Greet, I received a message that two of us needed to deliver some pizza to TobyMac and his crew.

When we picked up the order, I was amazed when we were handed nine huge pizzas plus an order of hot wings – enough food to feed 80 people. Boy, those crew members sure can eat!

Guess it gave them the extra boost of energy they needed to rock the show!

TobyMac on Stage

The best part of my day came during TobyMac’s last song of the night when a couple dozen park employees were asked to go up on stage and toss glow-in-the-dark beach balls into the crowd.

When it came time for me to throw my ball into the crowd, I moved to the front of the stage and gave it my best volleyball serve.

As I turned to move back, TobyMac stuck his arm out for me to take and we did a dance around the stage. It was definitely the highlight of my “artist running” experience!

What an amazing day!

Together, all of us Rocked the World!

Do you have suggestions for which Christian Rock artists you’d like to see headline our Rock the World main stage on August 22, 2015? Please provide your ideas and feedback by completing our quick Rock the World survey by September 10. Thanks!

Inside one family’s car

You just never know what Google Alerts will toss into your Inbox.

Or when.

This video was posted last summer but only recently showed up as one of my scores of daily Google Alerts.

It’s too cute not to share (with Daddy’s permission):

Those lovable girls (from Fishers, Indiana) are Kailey on the left and Jenna on the right. And they had no idea where their Daddy and Mommy were taking them one fine morning in 2013.

Want to win tickets? Answer this simple question …

Congratulations to Nathan F. from Atlanta, Georgia, who both provided the correct answer and provided the link to the page on our website with our Downton Abbey-esque photo faux pas.

You see, a few weeks ago, Downton Abbey released some publicity photos and one in particular quickly hit the “bloopers” circuit, because a modern prop was included:

Downton Abbey blooper

Do you see the water bottle on the mantel? Oops.

And so, while updating the information on our website’s Happy Halloween Weekends page, this photo was oddly familiar:

Graveyard Smash at Happy Halloween Weekends

Oh, my. Time to crop that photo – but we had to poke a little fun at ourselves first.

Thanks to all who entered – and congratulations to Nathan, who receives two one-day tickets for this season.

Well, maybe it’s not all that simply, but here goes: “How is Holiday World like Downton Abbey?”

The answer is somewhere here on our website. Simply post your answer as a comment to this HoliBlog post and you could win a pair of tickets.

A few rules:

  • You must be at least 18 years old to enter.
  • Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari employees (and the immediate family members of employees) are not eligible to enter.
  • Have you won tickets from us in the past six months? Please wait half a year before entering again – let’s give others a chance to win, too.
  • There is one very specific correct answer to this question (hint: it’s not in a news release or in any other textual content). You’re welcome to enter more than once.
  • Did you know you can subscribe to our HoliBlog so that you receive all of our posts (including contests) by email? If you’re using a desktop computer or tablet, look for the “Subscribe to Blog” sidebar at the top-right corner of this page. On a smartphone? Just scroll down a tiny bit more to find it.

How to enter? Click on “Leave a comment,” below, and post the correct (and specific) answer plus the page of our website that provided you with the answer. The first person to correctly answer wins a pair of one-day tickets to use in 2014. (Please don’t include any personal information, we’ll email you if you win.)

By the way, our blog comments are moderated – but as long as your guess is HoliFriendly, it will appear soon.

… and, we’ll add a hint each day until someone wins.

Good luck to all!

Orange is the New Track

On July 24, while our Thunderbird announcement was still underway, there it was on Twitter: Orange is the New Track.

I’d gladly give credit to the clever person who tweeted that witty phrase within seconds of seeing our Thunderbird animation, but alas, Twitter won’t give me access that far back in our “notification” history. (We have been tweeted-at a lot lately!)

Whoever you are – bravo!

Because suddenly, we all love orange.

Matt, of course, he’s always been an orange fan.

In fact, he insists it’s his favorite color.

Orange is the new Matt

Orange is the new Matt?

No, no, no … sorry.

If you look just behind Matt, you’ll notice more even orange.

Ah, the first piece of track.

Today’s the day.

VP James paced like an expectant father.

In his orange hard hat, of course.

James watches the first piece of track take off

But then it was time for everyone to step back.

It was time for that first piece of Thunderbird track …

… to fly!

Thunderbird track

The first piece of track goes inside the coaster station … which doesn’t exist yet, because the track needs to be in place first. And then Thunderbird’s station will be built.

Got it?

First piece of Thunderbird track

Ah, there we go! That first beautiful piece of orange track is now in place.

… watched over carefully by all the other parental units who have been waiting years for this proud day.

Let’s see, here are the backs of our newlyweds, Lauren and Michael … and you already know Matt and James.

First piece of track

And there you have it. One piece of track in place …

… just 76 more to go.

First piece of Thunderbird track

Thunderbird will take flight on April 25. And if you join us on opening day, brace yourself: more than a few of us will probably ask, “Orange you glad we built this?”




Our Ice Bucket Challenge

If you’ve spent much time on Facebook recently, you’ve seen all sorts of crazy videos involving people dumping buckets of ice on themselves.

Gasping for air, the thoroughly chilled subject then shouts out a challenge for others to do the same.

All in the name of ALS Research.

Although the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge started out as a donate-big-and-escape-the-ice fundraiser, it seems most give what they can and still make a challenge video to help keep up the momentum.

And so, when Leah was challenged recently, she made her own video and came to work the next day to issue an even bigger challenge:

In case you missed it in the video, take a look at this photo – even Holidog got in on the fun!

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge at Holiday World

Since the 1,200-gallon bucket at Kima Bay would be filled with water (and no ice), we individually added ice (mostly packed into hard hats) just as the water cascaded from above.

Our monetary donation is three-fold; individual staff-member donations will be matched by the park, plus the Koch family is contributing on behalf of the staff.

We thank everyone who has responded enthusiastically to our video and to those who are now committed to make a donation, too.

Many families have been touched by ALS – or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, as it’s more commonly known. If you’d like to help raise money for research or make a donation, please learn more at ALSA.org.

“A crummy commercial …”

Come on, you recognize that line, right?

It’s Ralphie from “A Christmas Story,” crestfallen when he discovers his Little Orphan Annie Decoder Ring uncovers nothing more than “a crummy commercial,” there in the Parker family’s one bathroom (with Randy pounding on the door).

Love that movie!

And so, I tried to soften this tweeted “crummy commercial” with a cool rendering of Thunderbird.

You’ve heard of Thunderbird, right? It’s our huge new steel coaster for 2015. The nation’s first launched wing coaster.

With plenty of “near misses”:

We’ve tried, through tweets and Facebook posts, plus our e-newsletter, to spread the work that the best Easy Pay deal expires at midnight tonight (Friday, August 15, 2014). This is our final effort, through the good ol’ HoliBlog.

We’re adding perks for our Season Pass Holders, such as a Thunderbird preview the night before we open for the season next April.

Also, if you purchase your 2015 Season Passes this fall and have them processed while we’re still open for the 2014 season, you’ll get a free Bring A Friend admission during Happy Halloween Weekends, plus a free Thunderbird cup.

Too bad we don’t have a Thunderbird Decoder Ring. I don’t think Ralphie would mind decoding this message: Be-sure-to-ride-the-nation’s-first-launched-wing-coaster-at-Holiday-World-in-2015.

Broadway bound

We get asked every year about our entertainers, past and present – do any of them turn their fun summer gig into a career?

Sure! We have lots of success stories to tell from over the years.

And one more HoliStar will twinkle on Broadway tonight.

That’s right – Nick Burroughs opens on Broadway tonight.

Yes, Broadway.

As in New York City.

In the Tony Award-winning smash hit Kinky Boots.

Nick is understudy to Billy Porter (the lead) and Billy gets tonight off.

Do you remember Nick from our “Vinyl Daze” cast from 2012?

Nick in Vinyl Daze

Here he is with the full ensembles two years ago:

Nick Burroughs, center

And my favorite photo:

Nick performing at Holiday World

In 2012, Nick was nominated for Entertainer of the Year for the entire theme park industry and was one of three finalists. Here’s the nomination reel:

Congratulations to all of our entertainers from over the years – whether you’re opening on Broadway, singing and dancing on a cruise ship, directing community theater, teaching music to others, or singing a sweet lullaby to your child (or grandchild) tonight, you’ve touched many lives with your talent.

And Nick – from all of us – Break a Leg tonight!