Podcast: The one with the Retiree

Mike and Joe

Mike Johannes has certainly never been thought of as a retiring sort of person. But after 26 years with us, it seems our Director of Sales is heading off to make some new adventures.

We invited Mike to join us for this podcast episode, and he brought with him tales of golfing with Santa, chasing escaped critters through the park, and the evolution of Free Unlimited Soft Drinks.

Here are Bill Koch and his eldest, Will, back in 1995. Mike enjoyed working with both of them immensely (but I’m pretty sure he never found time to try out The Raven).

Bill & Will Koch

Here’s Mike in the early 2000s, flanked by his son Christopher and the late Joe Hevron.

Christopher, Mike and Joe

Further into the podcast, Matt, Lauren, and Leah shared some stories about their week in Orlando for the annual IAAPA Expo.

Those much-coveted socks from ProSlide?

Pretty snazzy:

Socks from ProSlide

Here are links to our posts about SpongeBob and Tom’s four generations of hidden graffiti.

The funky art that Lauren created for our new Conference Room wall:

Conference Room Wall Art

Here’s the address for writing a letter to Santa:

Santa Claus
PO Box 1
Santa Claus IN 47579

Love this tweet!


Here’s that map from @TerribleMaps


Chandler, this made our HR staff very happy!


One mom. Four kiddos.


And speaking of Thanksgiving, young Sawyer made a strong fashion statement about his menu choice:

Sawyer on Thanksgiving

And while dining at West Baden with his family, the dome captured his rapt attention:

Sawyer looking up

Coaster Crew is at it again!


Click over to our Clubs page for more information about HoliWood Nights, “Airtime!” and our Partner Clubs.

Thanks for joining us for this podcast episode! We’ll be back for one final 2018 chat in December.

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“Being of sound mind …”

Demolition work is underway in preparation for the new Santa’s Merry Marketplace.

Kringle's Kafe demolition

As fast-paced as this work is, we occasionally pause.

Lauren and Tom

That’s Tom, who’s our Carpenter & Facilities Manager, proudly holding a piece of wood.

That’s a two-by-four, right?

Whatever the measure, it’s a piece of history. #HoWoHistory

Because, like all great artists, Tom likes to sign his work.

Tom Berg's Signed Piece of Lumber

Can you decipher it?

It reads: I, Tom Berg, being of sound mind and body, declare that on this day, Jan. 12, 1981, I helped reconstruct this establishment and anything that pertains to it. 

After 37 years, that piece of lumber returns to Tom as a souvenir.

Tom Berg with Signed Lumber Mr. Berg has been with the park for four decades and has been … uh, defacing our property for nearly as long.

Some of our carpenters, while replacing the roof on a building by the Lewis & Clark Trail recently, found a similar relic. There it was: Tom’s name and the date of the long-ago work.

Tom remembers signing his name on the top of the Boston Tea Party games building. (The late Will Koch used to tease Tom about the validity of the “sound mind” part.)

When Stephen met up with Tom to take this photo, our graffiti artist waxed poetic:

It’s neat to go to the top of one of the rolley-coasters and look out and see your life’s work laid out before you

Sometimes, though, your work needs to be replaced after a number of decades.

Such is the case of Kringle’s Kafe, which opened in 1991. It will be expanded and reopen as Santa’s Merry Marketplace in May.

But where did we feed folks back before Kringle’s was around?

We just happen to have the answer available in this newly-digitized film from back in the 1950s.

Take a look back to our early years – our Christmas Dining Room days – at Santa Claus Land:

Before we get too teary-eyed revisiting the past, here’s another look at what we have to look forward to in the spring.

We’ll all make merry then!

Santa's Merry Marketplace | Coming 2019!

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Treeboy meets SpongeBob

Santa SpongeBob

“Absorbant and yellow and porous is he” has to be one of the best cartoon theme-song lines ever written.

It was so sad to hear that SpongeBob SquarePants’ creator passed away yesterday. Stephen Hillenburg was just 57.

Santa SpongeBobThinking of SpongeBob took me back to the summer of 2002, when a plush version of the gap-toothed goofball was a highly sought-after prize at one of our games.

That July, a television reporter – with the rather unusual name of Treeboy – visited us for a feature story.

Treeboy had never heard of SpongeBob SquarePants, but wanted to bring the yellow fellow home as a gift for one of the morning show’s anchors. But he just couldn’t get the hang of that name.

“What’s his name again?”

SpongeBob, Treeboy. It’s SpongeBob SquarePants.

“What does that mean?”

Well, Treeboy … some people like silly names

The next morning (very early) we met up again, this time at the top of ZOOMbabwe for live shots. Treeboy told me he’d brought SpongeBob along with him to a nice restaurant the night before.

“I asked our waitress if she recognized SpongeBob and she said, ‘Oh, I know who that is!'”

Treeboy looked alarmed, “I thought you’d tricked me and he was something really bad.”

That was so long ago, I guess it was understandable that not everyone had yet been introduced to SpongeBob, Patrick, and Squidward. Oh, and Eugene H. Krabs.

We dusted off this recording of Treeboy’s report:

Rest in peace, Mr. Hillenburg. Thanks for all the great laughs.

Warm memories

Marcus Returning on Voyage

The first snowstorm of the season has come and gone – and it’s only November 15!

Our pal Marcus Leshock found a way to warm our hearts, though, by posting this YouTube video. It’s from when he visited this summer on assignment with WGN-TV in Chicago:

Be sure to un-mute the video …

’cause Marcus is a world-class screamer

Marcus Leshock and Andy Hine Returning on Thunderbird

Marcus also took a ride on Thunderbird when he was here in June.

That’s Andy Hine, president of the Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain, sitting next to him.

Are you “coaster crazy”? Then you might want to look into joining a Coaster Club. And if you are a memeber of one of our ten Partner Clubs (listed on our HoliWood Nights page) you’ll be eligible to register for our special event for enthusiasts: HoliWood Nights! (Check out our movie theme for 2019 – surely you won’t want to miss it!)

Not exactly monkey business

Kima Bay bucket

And to think some people assume we just monkey around during the off-season …

What does it take to get voted the #1 Cleanest Park in the World a full 19 years in a row?

This sort of attention to detail:

Kima Bay bucket

Anthony and his crew are spiffing up the bucket from Kima Bay, which includes … yes, brushing the monkey’s teeth.

We’ll be sure they remember to floss.

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On the 11th day of the 11th month

Did you know that this Veterans Day marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War?

Tragically, the phrase “the war to end all wars” did not prove to be correct.

And as we all wish, hope, and pray for peace, let us also take a moment to thank those who serve and have served in the military to preserve our freedoms.

Veterans who work at Holiday World

The Veterans who work here at Holiday World gathered for a photo recently.

Pictured from left, that’s Billy (Army), Josh (Marine), Ethan (Army), Elmer (Army), and John (Coast Guard). Not pictured is Corey (Navy). Together they’ve served for 39 years.

We’re grateful to have them here at the park and hope we will celebrate many more Veterans Days together.

Podcast: Airtime!

Airtime! HoliWood Nights 2019

Matt and I flew solo this episode, and were delighted to reveal the movie theme chosen for next year’s HoliWood Nights:

As construction begins on Santa’s Merry Marketplace, Matt gets evicted.

Here are the “before” photos:

"Before" photo of Matt's office "Before" photo of Matt's office


Check out how it looks now:

"After" photo of Matt's office "After" photo of Matt's office

Take a gander at how it’ll look when you visit next season:

Santa's Merry Marketplace

Here’s that freshly painted restroom we talked about.

Nice color scheme, right m’dear, uh?

Restroom's new paint scheme

Be sure to enter our Season Pass Sweepstakes, now through November 14!

And this reminder: After November 15, the current discount for 2019 Season Passes disappears. If you want the lowest prices, be sure to snag them now!

Veterans Day is coming up soon. Here’s a look at Lauren and Leah’s great-grandfather Jim Yellig 102 years ago. A Navy man, he was helping to host a party for underprivileged children on board the USS New York the first time he became Santa:

USS New York on Christmas 1916 - Santa with Girl

In our Holidays segment, this proud mama talked about eldest son, Thomas. Here’s where he works (proving dreams really do come true):

Mission Control at JPL

Three words: The Taco Hat



View this post on Instagram


John, we need to taco bout your costume selection…

A post shared by Nicholas Scoville (@thehackerdad) on

And here’s Wayne’s Sit In tweet:

… which Josh Photoshopped a tad for Halloween:

Wayne on Halloween

This spoopy Happy Halloween gif from Coaster Crew is bacony good:


We’ll do our best to get the whole #podsquad back together in three weeks for our next episode. Thanks for listening!

Grandma’s got gumption

It’s pretty impossible not to pay attention to a tweet like this:

That’s one amazing Grandma!

We contacted Allie to see about her bringing her grandma to join us on our last podcast episode.  Sigh, we couldn’t work out the timing.

Undaunted, we called grandma (her name is Judy) and recorded this fun chat:

Here’s a photo of “Just Judy”

Judy after riding The Voyage


If you enjoyed grandma’s story, I’ll bet you’ll also want to read about Wally’s ride on Thunderbird when he was a spry 91.

And here’s the tale of Papaw (from the family who owns Santa’s Candy Castle here in town) and his ride on The Voyage back in 2008.

Yes, The Voyage is closed for the season. That doesn’t mean, though, there’s nothing going on out there in the woods. The Coaster Cats are finishing up the return run, replacing 650 feet of track with IPE wood.

We’ll watch for Judy in the queue next May!