I know. I want to see pictures, too.

Thunderbird's Wingtips

Jordan is one of our Security officers. He makes the rounds in the evening, so we often take time for a brief chat.

It makes me happy to see Jordan. My maternal grandfather was a policeman in New Haven, Connecticut. He was a “cop on the beat” until he retired. He was offered other positions on the force, but he liked the long walks, getting to know the people in his neighborhoods, and the break-time food trucks at the factories, where he could pick up a pastry or a sandwich.

When I told Jordan I’m really looking forward to the start of after-dark Thunderbird testing, he surprised me:

Thunderbird's Wingtips

Jordan’s eyes glowed nearly as brightly as I imagine those LED lights do on Thunderbird’s wingtips.

Opening Day is just 26 days away.

The first night rides? Our Season Passholders Thunderbird Preview Night is 25 days away and will last until 10pm CDT.

Just in case you’d like to take any pictures …

Thunderbird’s other sound

Thunderbird Logo Installation

We posted this video snip a week ago, to share we had both trains on Thunderbird’s track (an important step in the testing process) and to point out the haunting cry of the Thunderbird.

What we didn’t explain was the “chch” sound as each train processes through the loading station.

Here’s the answer, from VP James: There are five sets of electrical contacts in the station (one per car). This allows the ride computer to talk to the train while in the station (for example, to check that the harnesses are all locked before dispatch). These are spring-loaded contacts, causing the ‘chch’ noise as the train passes over them.

It’s March 28. And Thunderbird opens in 28 days.

Would you like to ride two days before Opening Day – and help the wonderful Give Kids The World Village? Place a bid on our Thunderbird’s First Flight Auction.

Our Values: So much more than free soft drinks

Holiday World Logo

When choosing a place to spend precious time with family and friends, many trip planners pay special attention to value.

Because we’re all on a budget, right?

We receive a lot of kudos each year for offering free soft drinks, free parking, and more.

Values, though, go much deeper than just the pocketbook.

About a dozen years ago, our owner and president, Will Koch, presented a list of Values to the staff. These were to be our touchstones, he told us – so that no matter what, we could stay true to ourselves.

When Will passed away unexpectedly five years ago, it was those Values I turned to when asked to help write his eulogy.

We revisited those Values over the winter months, adding a fifth. Introducing these Values to our new and returning seasonal employees is the topic of Matt’s first Holigram article this spring.

We’d like to share his Note from the President:

One thing I believe we all have in common here at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari is the amount of pride that we have in our Parks and in each other. That pride is driven by the Values that we have created and those Values in which we operate our business and live our daily lives.

Many years ago, we established these Values, and recently we revisited them to ensure we were truly living and acting accordingly. We are.

What are these Values? I would like to start off our 2015 Season by taking this opportunity to share with you, all of our Hosts and Hostesses, what they are and why they are so very important.

We Play by the Rules

Rules can be defined and interpreted in a lot of different ways. Rules not only include those operating rules that we have as employees to ensure that we are all doing our jobs, but it also includes regulations, ordinances, etc. At Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, we will always do what is right. Period.

Holiday World logoWe Respect the Individual

We welcome many Guests from all over the country – and throughout the world – to our Parks every year. Everyone is different, unique and special in their own way. We have, and we will always, respect every single Guest who chooses to spend their day with us, regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs. Our Guests are giving us something very precious – their time. For that, we owe them our gratitude and fantastic service. We also must respect one another. Everyone has a right to their ideas and opinions and we must always be open to share those with one another.

We Encourage Work/Life Balance

We work hard – and we need to play hard, too. We recognize how precious time with our family and friends is in our lives. We are all about families, including our own. It is very important that we take time for ourselves to ensure that we are mentally present at all times. When you are here at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, your full attention should be given to our Guests, ensuring that Safety, Service, Friendliness and Cleanliness are your top priorities.

We are a Team

We must always put the growth and success of Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari ahead of any one individual. We must work together, as a Team, to ensure we are delivering the best possible experience to our Guests that we can.

We Have Fun!

We are a Theme Park! If we cannot have fun doing what we do, then we have picked the wrong industry! If we have fun, our Guests will have fun. Proven fact. Enjoy your job, enjoy our Guests and enjoy each other.

This may seem like a lot to take in and remember (don’t worry – we will have our Values posted throughout the Park). These Values are what we should live and breathe; in time (if they have not already) our Values will become your standard operating procedure. It is my hope that they will stay with you not only during your time with us at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, but forever.

Keep Smiling!


Thunderbird launches in just one month

Eric, 14News Scott, andLeah

Ever since I was a little kid, I loved the 25th of each month.

Because the 25th ties in with Christmas.

“Christmas is three months away!” Always a thrill.

This countdown habit of mine continues to this day. And so …

Happy Christmas in March!

We are, as of today, one month away from Opening Day. Yes, Thunderbird opens on Christmas in April.

Two days before Opening Day is a big day, too: our Media Preview Day.

News directors are already scoping out how to provide great coverage:

Would you like to spend the day as one of our riders on Media Preview Day? There’s one way to make that happen – and that’s by placing one of the 20 winning bids in our Thunderbird’s First Flight Auction. Winners get to be the first riders on Thunderbird that morning, plus stay (and ride!) all day and receive free tickets for another visit this season. This auction is to benefit Give Kids the World. Learn more here on our Thunderbird’s First Flight Auction page. Good luck!

Who rides Thunderbird first?

Thunderbird First Flight Auction

Oh, boy. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been asked that question these last eight months!

The simple answer is: the Test Dummies. They ride first.

And they’re having a blast.

But for those of you who are truly interested in securing a seat for when the nation’s first launched wing coaster takes off on its very first public ride, we finally have an answer.

And the answer is: Thunderbird’s First Flight Auction.

That’s right, we’re launching (see what I did there) a charity auction to benefit the incredible organization Give Kids The World.

Give Kids The WorldGive Kids The World Village is a 70-acre, nonprofit “storybook” Village located near Central Florida’s most beloved attractions. There, children and their families are treated to week-long, cost-free fantasy vacations, complete with accommodations in the Village’s whimsical villas, transportation, donated attraction tickets, meals, and much more. At the Village, these precious children learn that dreams really do come true, as they and their families are immersed in joy, hope, and non-stop fun for a few unforgettably happy days. Since 1986, the Village has welcomed more than 135,000 families from all 50 states and more than 75 countries.

And after each family’s special week at the Give Kids The World Village, they receive a World Passport for Kids, which continues the special memories by providing free admission to theme parks and other attractions around the world. Here at Holiday World, we’re charter members of the World Passport for Kids program and have hosted hundreds of wonderful families over the years.

Tarry not: our Thunderbird’s First Flight Auction runs now through 11:59pm CDT on Wednesday, April 8.

Thunderbird First Flight AuctionWhat could you win?

  • Seats for you and a friend on Thunderbird’s First Flight (you choose the seats when you place your bid).
  • Your ride will kick off our Thunderbird Media Preview on Thursday, April 23. Who knows, you may get to ride (and scream) on live TV.
  • We’ll provide you with your on-ride photos of that first ride.
  • Oh, we’ll probably take a group photo for our Facebook page, too. You’d like that, wouldn’t you?
  • You get to ride all day and into the evening. And not just Thunderbird, The Voyage and Crow’s Nest, too. And even some time on The Raven and The Legend.
  • We’ll also give you and your friend a free one-day ticket to return for another visit during the season.
  • You’ll have the satisfaction of helping Give Kids the World.

Please visit our Thunderbird’s First Flight Auction page, pick out which seats you’d like to ride, and bid!

Good luck to all!

The wearin’ of the scream!

Thunderbird test dummies dressed for St. Patrick's Day

It helps to have a celebratory spirit if you want to make a career for yourself here at Holiday World.

It doesn’t matter if it’s Toe Nail Clippings Day or Just Take One Bite of Anchovy Pizza Week, we love holidays and celebrations. (Well, maybe not that first one.)

And so, with St. Patrick’s Day just a day away, we went looking for some revelers.

And we found them
Thunderbird test dummies dressed for St. Patrick's Day

Our Thunderbird test dummies know all about the wearin’ of the scream. They’re a rowdy bunch, they are.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all!

A look around for Louisville

Courtney from WDRB-TV

On Wednesday, we hosted a news crew from WDRB-TV in Louisville.

Courtney from WDRB-TV

You may notice I cropped the photo so that you can’t see how muddy Courtney’s shoes were. Between the rain and the melting snow and ice this week, it was a challenge to meander our way from Thunderbird’s maintenance building to our new roller coaster’s loading station.

Just as the interview with Matt and James wrapped, we shook our heads at the irony as a dump truck full of gravel arrived to provide the Sir Walter Raleigh treatment to the plaza area.

Click here to view Courtney’s report.

Did you know Season Passholders get to ride Thunderbird (and lots more) the evening before Opening Day? We’ll have five hours of fun on April 24. Head over here to order your Season Passes online. Although it’s T-minus-41-days for most, it’s T-minus-40 for Season Passholders!

Sweepstakes: Almost Launch Time!

First Test Launch for Thunderbird | Holiday World & Splashin' Safari

Thanks to everyone who entered our sweepstakes – our winner is Faith C. from Franklin, Ohio.

Faith wins four one-day tickets to Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari plus two nights in a Christmas Cabin at Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort. Thanks again to all who entered!


You’ve been hungry for a steel coaster for years – and we’ve heard your bellies rumbling.

Since Thunderbird – our new steel roller coaster – opens next month, it’s time for a new sweepstakes.

And since Thunderbird is the nation’s first launched wing coaster, we’ll call this the “Almost Launch Time!” sweepstakes.

Thunderbird testing started a week ago. Here’s just a taste. An amusement bouche, if you will (and if you’re a Top Chef watcher.)

How to enter our “Almost Launch Time” Sweepstakes? Let’s start with a few necessaries:

  • You must be at least 18 years old to enter.
  • Employees of Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort, Sun Communities, and Sun RV Resort (and the immediate family members of employees) are not eligible to enter.
  • Use the widget, below, to enter daily. There are lots of options, so you can earn extra entries by posting here on our HoliBlog, tweeting about this sweepstakes, and visiting us on our Facebook pages. The winner – chosen at random – will be emailed the afternoon of March 20. If you win this sweepstakes, which includes overnights in a Christmas Cabin at Lake Rudolph, please note you must be at least 21 to phone in your lodging reservation; cabin availability includes these dates: May 1 – 21 and May 25 – June 11, 2015.
  •  For the “post a comment on the blog” entry option, simply tell us who in your family is excited to ride Thunderbird. (Our comments are moderated, so as long as the content is HoliFriendly, it will appear soon.) 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.

Ready to enter? Of course you are: Simply enter our sweepstakes here from a mobile device; or if you’re using an immobile device, enter by using the widget, below. And not just today – enter daily through Friday, March 20, 2015 at 2pm CDT.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thunderbird opens April 25 – don’t be late for launch!


Matt photobombed by Thunderbird

Matt, our president, recently took part in an interview with Funworld magazine.

This was soon followed by a request for his photo. Since they didn’t require a head shot – and we finally had a sunny day – we headed out to Thunderbird territory for some pops of orange in the background.

Up until this year, we’ve been a wood-coaster park. There’s no surprise about test runs this time of year – when that Voyage lift chain springs to life, you know it. And as Legend’s train slowly ascends the lift hill, it’s just about impossible to miss.

So imagine our surprise when this bunch of dummies suddenly flew by …

Matt photobombed by Thunderbird

That’s right. No lift chain for Thunderbird. Instead, our new roller coaster (the first launched wing coaster in America) soars out of the station, reaching 60 miles per hour in just 3.5 seconds.

We stood – mesmerized at first – watching Thunderbird fly by us. (I could swear I heard one of the test dummies mock us, “Hoosier dummy now?” as we stood, transfixed, on one of Hyena Falls’ landings.)

Then suddenly I came to my senses: Let’s get the train in the background! Matt quickly turned around and Stephen took a few hundred more shots.

Photobombed. By a bunch of dummies.