Podcast: Saint Mick

Saint Mick book cover

During last episode’s SWOT analysis, we decided our biggest “O” was the opportunity to bring more guests on board.

And so, we turned to our pal, WWE Hall-of-Famer Mick Foley.

The “old bear” has penned a memoir – or, as he tells us, a love letter to his children – about his journey to wearing the Red Suit.

 

 

Mick spent several days here in Santa Claus working on Saint Mick last fall:

Mick Foley writing "Saint Mick"

Mick offers some sage parenting advice for very-soon-to-be-mommy Lauren (pictured here with her sister, Leah):

Lauren and Leah

Mick’s book signing (and more) begins at 6pm CT on Tuesday, November 7, at the Santa Claus Museum here in town.

Saint Mick book cover

Saint Mick is a great read! (Can’t get enough of Mick’s stories? He was our guest on a podcast episode back in September of 2016, too.)

Hope you got to catch Coaster Quest on the Travel Channel. Jason Zone Fisher is a lot of fun as host of the show.

 

How could the contestants not know this Jeopardy answer, er … question?

 

That fabulous photo from last weekend:

And … the Skunkin:

Skunkin (skunk pumpkin)

I believe it was at this point that Matt admitted his own pumpkin carving talent was “less than stellar.”

Thunderbird Pumpkin

(Not that I have any room to talk. I didn’t even try.)

Happily, others on staff got the hang of it rather quickly …

Mascot Pumpkins

The Coaster Crew cracked us up once again …

 

Halloween came early for the #podsquad, thanks to Mr. Rentz:

Kit Kat bars

Here’s a look at that Thunderbird “tiny planet” photo Stephen created:

Thunderbird Plaza - Tiny Planet

… and don’t miss Josh’s HoliBlog post about his first night rides.

Reminder: 2018 Season Passes are at their deepest discounts right now (including our monthly payment plan).

Thanks for listening – Happy Halloween to all!

Night flights

Voyage At Sunset

Last Friday, I wrote about our Lights Out! show. The next day, I got to experience a few of our coasters with their lights out.

This past Saturday we hosted “Quoth the Raven, Ride Some More,” a coaster-enthusiast event with the Midwest chapter of the American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE).

Our morning started before the park opened with a round of friendly competition on Gobbler Getaway before moving up to Thunderbird Plaza for the first rides of the day.

Our friends from ACE Midwest joined us today for their event “Quoth the Raven, ride some more”

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In addition to those first rides of the day, the group also got the last rides of the night: Pitch black night rides on both Thunderbird and The Voyage.

After Thunderbird Plaza had been cleared at closing, the group headed up for their evening ERT (Exclusive Ride Time). The lights on Thunderbird’s brake run were turned off, and one of the trains ran with its LED lights completely shut off.

That was the train I chose for my first night ride on Thunderbird.

Once out of the station, everything went dark. There’s nothing quite like flying through Thunderbird’s Immelmann loop and seeing all of the stars in the sky. It’s exhilarating to fly past trees when you can just barely make out their silhouettes as you soar through the woods.

I told myself that one ride would be enough. Four laps later, I realized I’d been kidding myself.

Up next was The Voyage. We raced through the night, weaving in and out of The Voyage’s massive structure. It was a perfect way to end the evening.

It’s your last chance to ride!

Purchase tickets for Happy Halloween Weekends online for the best prices. Tickets are discounted to just $33.99 each for Saturday (when you can ride after dark) and $29.99 for Sunday.

Bundle up and come see us for your last rides of the season as we wrap up Happy Halloween Weekends this Sunday!

Remember to turn the Lights Out!

Lights Out! | Happy Halloween Weekends | Holiday World

Lights Out! This is what you came for…

Back for a second season with all new songs and choreography, Lights Out! takes over the Hoosier Celebration Theater every Saturday and Sunday during Happy Halloween Weekends. Our long-abandoned troupe of circus performers comes back to life for one final show.

This high-energy show features 21 “spookified” songs by artists ranging from Guns N’ Roses to Lady Gaga.

I saw the show last Saturday and loved the mix of classic and current music. The cast – which hails from four states – brings the show to life with their vocals, costumes, and personality.

Hint: Be sure to arrive early if you like to sit close to the stage.

Check out these highlights from the show:

The show runs about 25 minutes and was designed with the whole family in mind – nothing too scary. It was also designed by the whole family – park owners and siblings Lauren Crosby, Leah Koch, and William Koch created Lights Out!

You might even get some costume ideas from the cast. Some of our youngest super-fans certainly have:

After the show, stick around to meet the cast, snap some great photos, and share them on social media (please tag us!).

Lights Out! is just one of the shows featured during Happy Halloween Weekends. Catch one of Magician Don Baggett’s final magic shows over the next two weekends before he retires. Carve out some time for a chat with Gourdon, our talking pumpkin. And be sure to listen for the crazy rhythm of our wandering Dead Beats drum line. Plan your day’s fun by getting all our showtimes right on your phone.

Online tickets for Happy Halloween Weekends are discounted to just $33.99 each for Saturdays and $29.99 for Sundays.

We hope you’ll join us before we turn the Lights Out! on another great Halloween season!

That “Harper Valley PTA” Girl!

Jeannie C. Riley ad

What in the world does Jeannie C. Riley have to do with Holiday World?

The Grammy Award winner’s connection is with Santa Claus Land, actually; she performed her hit Harper Valley PTA in concert here on Monday, June 11, 1979.

This ad is from our archives

Jeanie C. Riley "That Harper Valley PTA Girl" ad

Something else in that folder … an article that ran in “Santa’s Country” weekly newspaper. In it, Ms. Riley is quoted as saying, “I’ve never seen anything like [Santa Claus Land]. I didn’t know there was a place where kids could go to sit on Santa’s lap and talk to him.”

Her husband, Mickey, chimed in: “This place could really grow into something big. The countryside around here is beautiful. I love it. And the hospitality is unbelievable.”

Today is Jeannie C. Riley’s 72nd birthday, and we wish “That Harper Valley PTA Girl” many happy returns!

 

A king, a queen, and a clown

Billy and Ruth's Toy Headquarters promo

In the Communications Office space, we have a sizable storage room that houses our publicity archives.

This storage room used to be the park’s dark room. (Back when photos were taken using large cameras and black-and-white film, they were developed … in a “dark room.”)

We don’t have to tell you how photography has changed over the years, and especially the past decade or so. (You’ve seen what our HoliDrone has captured over the season, right?)

… but still, there’s something rather mysterious about digging through our archives and discovering a black-and-white photo like this:

Billy and Ruth's Toy Headquarters promo

We recognize Santa, of course. That’s Santa Jim. This photo was taken on October 18, 1959, in the room at Santa Claus Land where Santa visited with countless children over the decades.

Upon further research, we discovered that this photo was the culmination of a “Billy & Ruth Day” promotion. Children from all over entered this promotion for a chance to win a 26″ Deluxe Bicycle by drawing a picture of Santa Claus.

Who’s that clown on the left?

That’s Peppo the Clown, from WEHT-TV in Evansville. A 2014 article from the Evansville Courier & Press reveals Peppo was actually Chicagoan Ulysses A. Carlini, Sr. Mr. Carlini endured the 30-minute application of clown makeup each Saturday morning because he knew the kiddos watching from home enjoyed his show.

The children who won the promotion were “King Billy” David Risinger, 11, and “Queen Ruth” Gloria Majors, 10, both of Evansville. In addition to winning bicycles, they were guests on Peppo’s TV show.

Here’s a quote from that week’s “Bish Thompson” Saturday Special column in the Evansville Press: Throughout the day there’ll be events of bugeyed interest to the small fry. If they’ve been yammering to go to Santa Claus, looks like tomorrow will be the day for it.

But wait! There were second-place winners, too:

Billy and Ruth's Toy Headquarters promotion

That’s Reed Sugg, 6, from Morganfield, Kentucky, holding his Lionel Train Set prize and Becky Holbrook, 11, from Owensboro, Kentucky, with a 36″ doll. (They don’t look quite as happy as King Billy and Queen Ruth, though, do they?)

And who’s that peeking through the window behind the two fellows? And, for that matter, who were Billy and Ruth? (Google keeps trying to convince me their last name was Graham, but I know that’s not right!) Billy and Ruth Steltz’s father owned the company in Philadelphia that provided catalogs to a series of hardware stores across the land. One of those publications, starting in 1929, was “Happy Hours with Billy and Ruth,” a magazine-like toy catalog sprinkled with children’s stories, poems, and even connect-the-dots puzzles.

We hope you enjoy these stories as we occasionally lose ourselves in our history. Please post a comment if there’s any topic you’d like us to explore, either here on the HoliBlog or on our podcast.

 

 

 

Podcast: SWOT analysis

Sad Eric with 4 lattes

With a couple of SWOT enthusiasts sitting around the #podsquad table, you knew it was only a matter of time:

That Corn Bin photo posted on the Book of Face: Don’t those kiddos look like adults at a coffee shop … or a spa?

Our Facebook frame for Happy Halloween Weekends is only a click away.

The #PodSquad’s celebration of International Podcast Day was so jubilant it took two days.

As you may remember for Podcast Episode 043, Eric offered to treat the #PodSquad to Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Mrs. Klaus’ Kitchen that Saturday.

He had it all planned out, until …

Saturday text

 

One Eternity Later

 

Sunday text

And so, the saddest photo ever taken in the history of Holiday World:

Sad Eric with 4 lattes

While talking about Carnival Chaos, we mentioned “The Man Who Knows” …

The Man Who Knows

Can anyone possibly look at this and not crave Pringles?

Well, now that I look at their logo, maybe they’re not exactly identical twins …

Pringles

… yet the craving lives on.

Here’s that cute squirrel photo Angie took this week:

 

… and the rainbow photo:

Oh, Coaster Crew, your creativity knows no bounds:

When it’s everyone’s favorite game time, we clown around a bit.

Happy Kellems at Santa Claus Land

Here’s Happy Kellems (and his wife, Lillian) performing for a Santa Claus Land audience long ago.

And finally, in our “thank yous” at the end of this neverending episode, we thanked Stephen for mixing up a peppermint oil concoction to help convince wasps to reroute their flight plans out of sniffing distance from our webcam.

Because this is like something out of a horror movie!

Wasp on webcam

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back again in two weeks with the return of our pal, Mick Foley!

Halloween “boos” and don’ts

Eek! Happy Halloween Weekends are halfway over! Boo-ginning today, you have just three more weekends to visit before we turn the lights out on another season.

You haven’t checked us out yet this fall? Here’s a list of Boos & Don’ts for your visit …

Make the most of Happy Halloween Weekends

Boo: Enjoy the extra sleep!

During Happy Halloween Weekends we open at 11am. (That’s Central time.)

Don’t: Pack the beach towel

Splashin’ Safari is closed for the season. Weather-permitting, though, Frightful Falls and Raging Rapids will be open.

Boo: Catch the shows

Enjoy our singing and dancing Halloween characters in Lights Out!, the Wild & Wacky Halloween Magic Show, and hear Gourdon’s Tales from the Patch.

Check show times right from your phone.

Let Gourdon tell you all about Holidog’s 3D Halloween Adventure. Stop by the Holiday Theater to check it out!

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Don’t: Miss the magic

Magician Don Baggett is back for one last season of fun with us. Stop by Kringle’s Kreepy Kafe to catch one of his final kid-friendly shows.

Boo: Play in the corn

Ghosts less than 54 inches tall are invited to play in our huge sandbox full of corn, located right across from Plymouth Rock Cafe.

Don’t: Get lost in the corn

Explore our 12 acres of corn mazes – but fear not! If you get to feeling lost, just raise the flag at one of our “Mazed & Cornfused” stations and we’ll help you get back out again. (Check out more in-depth tips here.)

Mummy's Treasure Maze from Happy Halloween Weekends

Boo: Explore our seasonal attractions

Holidog’s 3D Halloween Adventure, Carnival Chaos, and Mummy’s Treasure Maze are only open during Happy Halloween Weekends!

Don’t: Forget about Mummy

Mummy’s Treasure Maze is in the Good Old Days Picnic Grove just past “Eagles Fright.” Look for the Mummy signs around the park to guide you!

Boo: Enjoy our dance party

Kitty Claws hosts a dance party (5pm CDT each Saturday and 4pm each Sunday) in Splashin’ Safari Plaza. Dance your tails off with Kitty and friends before taking children 12 and younger along our Trick or Treat Trail!

Don’t: Worry about food allergies

We’re part of the Teal Pumpkin Project, so children with food allergies have fun and safe options when Trick or Treating. (We also have allergen-friendly menus at Kringle’s, Plymouth Rock Café, and George’s Gluten-Free Pizza & Snacks.)

Boo: Get your picture with Holidog

… plus Kitty Claws, George the Eagle, and Safari Sam. They’re all decked out for the season in their costumes. You can catch them in the Christmas Plaza throughout the day and then in Splashin’ Safari Plaza in time for Kitty’s Dance Party (5pm CDT each Saturday and 4pm each Sunday). Please be sure to tag us on social media!

Don’t: Miss our Facebook photo frame

Facebook will send it to your mobile device when you click here.

Boo: Visit for free

Purchase a 2018 Platinum Season Pass (and pay in full), and you can visit free on Sundays for the rest of this season. Also, tell us here what your favorite fall food is and you will be entered to win two Happy Halloween Weekends tickets!

Don’t: Forget about 2018

Get the lowest prices on 2018 Season Passes (including Easy Pay monthly payments) through November 15. Then join our Season Passholder group on Facebook and share tips year-round with other Season Passholders.

Only three weekends remain for Happy Halloween Weekends this year – we hope you can join us! Best ticket deals are online: Just $33.99 each for Saturday and $29.99 for Sunday and even less for Guests-under-54? and Seniors (60+).

A Frightful restoration

Frightful Falls Boat After Painting

Note: The title of this post refers to the name of the ride in question, not the quality of the work!

Yesterday, I found myself taking the short walk over to the Paint Shop to get an update on “boats.” Since it’s almost the middle of October, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

One of the logs from Frightful Falls is being restored.

I snapped a picture to serve as a “before” shot and returned this morning for the “after.”

Look at how much progress our painters made in just a few hours!

Before & After:

Frightful Falls Boat Before Painting
Frightful Falls Boat After Painting

The work isn’t quite finished; “boat restoration” can take up to four days.

Is Frightful Falls still open? Yes, as long as the temperature is at least in the 60s (which hasn’t been a problem this fall).

Only three weekends remain for Happy Halloween Weekends this year – we hope you can join us! Best ticket deals are online: Just $33.99 each for Saturday and $29.99 for Sunday and even less for Guests-under-54″ and Seniors (60+).

Sweepstakes: Bone appetit!

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Congratulations to our winners: Kayla C. from Louisville, Kentucky, and Jessica H. from Vine Grove, Kentucky. Thanks to all who entered!
—–
Certain foods just taste better in cool weather.

Our menus reflect that.

We add seasonal food items all over the park during Happy Halloween Weekends. From pumpkin funnel cakes to grilled cheese and tomato bisque; pumpkin spice lattes to fried bread pudding bites. Our online menus show all the new choices so you can figure out what you have to try.

You can even visit our Activity Trail to make your own treat. We have Cookie Decorating and Make-Your-Own-S’mores kits that you can pick up  during your time in the park.

What do members of our full-time staff recommend? I sent out an email asking “what’s your favorite seasonal food item and why?” Here’s what just a few had to say.

Pumpkin Spice Latte“I look forward to anything pumpkin flavored this time of year, but I guess my favorite is the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Mrs. Klaus’ Kitchen.” -Eric, Attractions

“ALWAYS look forward to the pumpkin funnel cake. It is like having the whole season of fall on a plate.” -Vanessa, HR Trainer

“The pumpkin cheesecake fudge, because it’s rich and flavorful, soft and creamy – it’s a perfect fall confection! Plus the peppermint hot chocolate because it makes me think of colder temperatures and Christmastime, even during Halloween.” -Stephen, Communications

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Ice Cream

“Without a doubt it would be the brown sugar and cinnamon ice cream! I think about it all summer. I was so excited when it came back! I LOVE food but this is my favorite” -Angie, Guest Services

“This is a hard one! I’m going to have to go with two – I love our Chicken Enchilada Soup at the Alamo and the pumpkin funnel cake at the Funnel Cake Factory. You have to go for the sweet and the savory!” -Matt, President & CEO

Now that we’ve told you what we love, it’s time to hear from you!

We’re giving away two pairs of one-day tickets to Happy Halloween Weekends that can be used during the last two weekends of our 2017 season, both chosen at random. One of the ways you can enter is by letting us know your favorite fall treat!

Before you enter, please read through these instructions and rules:

  • You must be at least 18 years old to enter and you must not have won tickets from Holiday World in the past 12 months. Employees of Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari and Koch Development Corporation  (and the immediate family members of employees) are not eligible to enter.
  • By entering, you agree to be added to our e-newsletter list (you may unsubscribe at any time by following the directions in your email).
  • 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 contest, and visiting us on our Facebook page.
  • For the “post a comment on the blog” entry option, simply tell us your favorite fall treat. (Our comments are moderated, so as long as the content is HoliFriendly, it will appear soon.) We’ll choose two winners at random.
  • Tickets are for 2017 only; they’re non-transferable and not for re-sale. Each winner is solely responsible for reporting and paying any and all applicable taxes related to the prize(s).
  • 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 go? Enter our sweepstakes here from a mobile device; if you’re on a desktop, enter by using the widget below. You can enter daily through October 16 at 2:30pm CDT, when we’ll email our two winners.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Did you know online tickets for Happy Halloween Weekends are discounted to just $33.99 each for Saturdays and $29.99 for Sundays)?

We hope you get plenty of chances to enjoy all your favorite foods this fall and we’ll see you during Happy Halloween Weekends! Good luck to all!

A special kind of magic

Don with Rabbit in Box

When our favorite magic man, Don Baggett, was moving in just before starting his annual fall shows in the park, he shared some news.

This will be his last season with us. And his final show ever as a magician will be here at Holiday World, on Sunday, October 29, at 4pm.

Magic Show

As much as we want to beg Don to stay, we just can’t. He’s making this change so that he can move to another state and spend more time with his family.

And so, we’ll say good-bye

Don with Rabbit in BoxRather than wait until the final hour to tell you, we’re letting the cat out of the bag (and the rabbit out of the hat … err, box) early, so you can be sure to catch one of his final shows and say good-bye.

Don’s history with magic – and us – intertwines.

As he told us for a blog post written back in 2014:

The very first magic show I ever saw as a child was at Santa Claus Land (now Holiday World). It featured Gene Smith and Happy Kellems. 

I remember sitting there watching the show several times that day, wanting to know and do the magic that was being performed for me. I also knew that someday I, too, wanted to perform on a stage at Holiday World. 

My love for magic and Holiday World have always gone hand in hand.

Don was just 10 years old back then. How many thousands of 10 year olds has he enchanted since then?

He tells some great stories on this podcast episode we recorded last year.

I remember the first time I saw Don perform. It was for my oldest son’s grade school (Thomas is now 33). The combination of amazing magic plus Don’s ability to delight children and adults alike was enough to send me scurrying into Will’s office the next morning. “Will, if we ever want to add a magic show to our lineup, I think Don Baggett is our guy.” And indeed he was.

We wish Don only the best as he heads into magic retirement

… and I know he’d want us to pass along his thanks to the thousands and thousands of fans who have laughed, clapped, cheered, and wondered, “How’d he do that?!” over the years.

Special thanks, also, to those courageous audience members who ventured up onto the stage to take part in the fun with Don and Dakota.

Especially this young fellow …

Thank you, Don. We will forever cherish the magical memories you’ve made with us.