Carved for attention

When asked to carve a pumpkin this week, I was borderline inappropriately excited. It’s probably been ten years since my last pumpkin-carving, which is far too long.

Pumpkins carved by Will Koch

There’s nothing like carving a pumpkin to get you in the Halloween spirit. (This is coming from a girl who just spent the last six weekends dressing up in full costume and makeup to be a ghost)

And when I found out I was going to be carving my sister coaster’s logo, I was especially pumped.

As we gathered to begin carving, Lauren and I started on a trip down memory lane. Especially when Paula mentioned that Halloween used to be her most nervous time of the year … because of my father.

Lauren and Leah, ready to carve

Dad had an unfortunate habit of cutting himself at some point in the carving process. Generally during the cutting-the-pumpkin-top phase (rarely while carving intricate designs).

Band-aids were just part of his fall “look.”

He even had to get stitches a few times.

Bottom line, though, Dad had a knack for carving one heck of a pumpkin.

As children, we used to pick out the stencils for him to carve. And we totally picked out the hardest ones we could find, just to see if he could do it.

He’d accept the challenge and we’d all get to work. My siblings and I worked on very simple ones (though as I got older I started to try my hand at the more advanced ones — and wasn’t half bad, if I do say so myself).

So, when we arrived to carve our pumpkins earlier this week, I had high hopes of honoring my father’s proud tradition.

Instead I was met with a challenge far beyond my skill set. (Seriously! Look at The Legend‘s logo! It’s got those tiny branches that didn’t happen, all kinds of squiggly letters, and the world’s tiniest jack-o-lantern head!)

Sorry, Dad.

Additionally, I’m really bad at anything crafty. Like Pinterest “Nailed It” bad. It’s just not my thing. Dancing? Photography? Playing instruments? Sure! Ask me to paint a picture, though, and I will simply laugh. The only way there will ever be a canvas filled with something beautiful of my own creation is if it’s a photo (and if it’s beautiful, it was probably sheer dumb luck).

Matt and Barbie, carving pumpkins

So I walked into our carving session with Lauren and Barbie (both of whom are craft warriors), knowing that even though there was no judging, The Legend pumpkin would be the loser.

… which was especially difficult because I’m ridiculously competitive (a trait I got from my father).

Luckily, Matt did all the trash talking and I went about my carving which in the end received rave reviews such as:

It’s better than Matt’s!” General Consensus

It could have been worse!” Lauren Koch Crosby, Sister, Director of Theming, Pumpkin Carving Critic

It’s not as bad as you think!” Ashley Satterfield, Special Events Manager

I thought it said…. ‘Lasagna.’” –My cousin Kelli

Leah’s Legend pumpkin

So tonight I may consider one more pumpkin-carving mission.

But it won’t be another Legend logo.

… and why do I get the feeling this will now be criteria for all new logo designs here at the park: Yes, but is it carvable on a pumpkin?

 

Great Scott! Tune in Thursday night

Have you ever wondered what it takes to put together an episode of reality TV?

Not the table-throwing, wine-tossing kind of reality show … a nice, fun travel show.

There’s a new series on the Great American Country (GAC) channel called “All-American Amusement Parks.” Actually, when we first heard from the production company, they used the working title of “United States of Amusement,”but changed it a few months later.

Good call, GAC. As someone who grew up with a surname starting with the letter “V” (and ultimately married a “W”), I have a huge appreciation for one’s ultimate place in this world of alphabetical listings.

Santa Claus and J.D. Scott

Meet J.D. Scott. He’s the host of “All-American Amusement Parks.”

He’s also the oldest of the three Scott brothers. If your heart races a little bit faster upon learning this, it’s probably a safe bet you’re a fan of HGTV’s “Property Brothers” and “Brother vs. Brother.”

All I know is, this handsome young man turned into a grinning little boy when he met The Man in Red.

The premise of “All-American Amusement Parks” is that J.D. finds a “super fan” for each park he visits. This fan, who has a “special connection” with that park, accompanies J.D. for a day, showing him around and making sure he takes in that fan’s favorite rides.

When the production company reached out to find that special Holiday World fan via our Facebook page, the response was swift, enthusiastic, and nearly overwhelming.

After sifting through the blizzard of emails, producers selected a family from Lexington, Kentucky.

Claire, Gwen, Santa, J.D. and Justin

Meet Gwen, along with two of her children: Justin, 13, and Claire, 12. (Dad and younger brother Jack cheered them on.) Gwen’s special connection is that she grew up locally (she’s a Heritage Hills High School and Indiana State grad) and worked at the park as a teenager. Even though she now lives a few hours away, this is still her favorite place to play with her family.

Gwen, Justin and Claire hit it off with J.D. right away. First stop was HallowSwings and then a visit with Santa in Mrs. Klaus’ Kitchen.

They shot a rather lengthy scene in front of The Voyage, as they talked through plans for the rest of their day at Holiday World.

Here’s a factoid for you: the production crew totaled 14. We’ve hosted a lot of national media over the years and this was the first time the crew numbered in the double digits! (J.D. even had a hair and clothing assistant. I didn’t see any makeup in her Mary Poppins carpet bag, so I won’t make any cracks – as tempting as it is.)

Shooting a scene for “All-American Amusement Parks”

And yes, they got to ride Voyage. In the front seat.

J.D. even proclaimed it to be his #1 wooden coaster. That’s saying something, given that he spent the entire summer visiting parks all over the country.

Here’s their souvenir photo:

Souvenir on-ride photo from The Voyage

Fast-forward three months, and the “Themed Parks” episode of “All-American Amusement Parks” is in the can (that’s Hollywood talk) and ready to air this coming Thursday evening (7pm CT and 8pm ET) and again on Friday and once more on Saturday. Remember this is cable/satellite. Here’s the link to the schedule.

J.D. et al ride Mammoth

Since tonight’s forecast is calling for frost on the pumpkins – somewhat reminiscent of the Ice Age for those of us still wearing khaki shorts to work, let’s finish this post with a photo of J.D. et al’s ride on our Mammoth, the world’s longest water coaster.

The shoot was on a hot, humid day in early August and it was a very long production day (we started a few hours before the park opened for the day). But somehow our stalwart cast managed to ride Mammoth over and over and over again. Just to make sure they got it right.

We hope you enjoy the show on Thursday!

 

Pumpkins on the shelf

While visiting the park during our Happy Halloween Weekends, you may have noticed these festive fall displays, located in each of our holiday-themed park sections.

We know there are lots of Elf on the Shelf fans out there; how about Pumpkins on the Shelves?

Our other Lauren, who is our Director of Theming, borrowed this idea from the beautiful pumpkin displays at Germany’s Europa-Park: “They build massive structures – they’re really impressive – and I thought this could be our first step toward something similar.”

The process began with our Carpenter crew. They built themed display shelves, and then sent them off to our Painters for just the right shade of holiday color.

Next, with some help from our Halloween decorating committee, the pumpkins were selected. Small pumpkins, similar in shape, were needed since it’s close quarters between those shelves.

Then came the really fun part – decorating the pumpkins!

You’ve probably carved pumpkins at home, but in case you haven’t spray-painted any before, here’s a tip:

Set the pumpkin on a flat surface to keep the bottom from being painted. Why not paint the bottom of the pumpkin? This allows it to “breathe” and stay looking fresh longer.

Pumpkins were painted in a shimmery green and gold glitter spray paint for the ornament design found in the Christmas section.

Old Glory was the inspiration for the design of our first 4th of July section display.

These patriotic pumpkins were painted red, white, and blue and arranged in order so that they looked like the American flag, using foam stickers for the stars.

Next is our pyramid display, which is also located in 4th of July. It can be found just outside of Mummy’s Treasure Maze, near Eagle’s Flight (renamed “Eagle’s Fright” for our Halloween event).

The pumpkins here were painted a golden yellow color. After they were dry, Lauren added an extra touch of theming by hand-painting hieroglyphics onto several rows of pumpkins.

Can you figure out the message?

Our  fourth pumpkin display is in the Halloween section and features a grinning jack-o-lantern design (or did, until some mischievous Guests re-arranged the pumpkins, that is – we put the pumpkin puzzle back together, though!).

Happy Halloween Weekends are over for another season, but there’s still time to decorate at home before the holiday arrives.

Do you have any Halloween decorating tips you’d like to share – or “how’d you do that?” questions for us? Please post them below. Also, we’re always happy to hear your feedback and ideas for future years.

Here’s wishing everyone a fun and safe Halloween – evermore!

Hey! Is that our track?

Heading back to Santa Claus on I-64 this afternoon following a visit with our web designers, we saw a flash of orange up ahead.

“Hey! Is that our track?”

Well, yes of course it had to be. It was orange.

And it’s become impossible for us to look at the color orange and not think of Thunderbird.

Because #OrangeIsTheNewTrack

We passed the truck before I could take any photos, so we slowed down enough to grab a few. Texted one to James and quickly heard back that, no, that didn’t look like our track. Or track at all, for that matter.

Oh.

A hard hat of a different color

Oops, just realized we hadn’t blogged about our latest episode of the Hard Hat Chronicles, and there’s already another one in the works.

We get to hear from Matt, Lauren and Leah this time, in addition to James, as we watch the Immelmann (the highest point of the ride) topped.

Lauren and Leah proudly display their “girl power” with their pink hard hats. Who said construction can’t be stylish? (Just don’t look at their shoes – it was quite muddy after Thunderbird unleashed his power and stormed on us that morning.)

Do you have any questions you’d like answered in future Hard Hat Chronicles? Please post a comment below.

The woods are ablaze with fall colors

Such a pretty time of the year!

The trees are brilliant with red, yellow, gold and …

Yes, there’s a pop of orange out in the woods by The Voyage this year.

Where exactly? Thunderbird will cross Voyage once right here:

As you can see, it’s between the second and third hills on Voyage.

Of course what goes up must come down. Likewise, what crosses over must cross back.

We’ll be sure to show you that, too, when it happens.

Meanwhile, we’re feeling a little loopy after all the rain this week, but it looks like our Thunderbird crews will be busy tomorrow.

Did you know that at 125 feet, Thunderbird’s vertical loop is the tallest on any wing coaster?

It’ll take a 200-ton crane to top it.

Two toppings in two weeks? That’s keeping us right on track with construction.

Did you catch this video from last week’s Immelmann topping?

Kudos to our Thunderbird construction team – lifting that nine-ton piece high in the air and placing it gently right where it was meant to go. Amazing. And right after a big storm (yes, Thunderbird, we know you’re in charge!).

Orange you excited about tomorrow? Follow us on Twitter for updates and be sure to tune in on our live webcams to see all the action.

Which element of Thunderbird are you most eager to experience? Please post a comment and let us know!

Hoosier favorite zombie?

Ah, but actually our talented troupe of undead are from all over … er, under.

This year’s Graveyard Smash zombies hail (and wail) from as close by as Santa Claus and Jasper and as far away as New York, Chicago, New Orleans and Honolulu!

They sing like a bunch of ghouls:

We hope you’ll join us for Graveyard Smash and all of Happy Halloween Weekends.

We think you’ll dig it.