Stranger than us?

1985 (probably) Map

I’ve already watched Season 3 of Stranger Things. 


“Where did you find the time to watch now that you’re over communications?” asked no one. (But if you are wondering… I simply gave up on that sleep thing)

In the fourth episode of the third season, Will talks about “You know when you drop on a roller coaster?”

In fact, Josh pointed out on our Season Passholder Facebook group that we might know a place in Indiana with coasters…

And it got me thinking

Did we have a roller coaster for the residents of (fictional) Hawkins, Indiana to ride? 

Our classics (Raven, Legend, Voyage, and Thunderbird) weren’t around yet. The Raven opened in 1995. 

But before Raven, we had Firecracker. Not our new Firecracker (our lovingly-restored classic Calypso ride). The roller coaster that used to stand in the spot where Holidog’s FunTown is today.

Now I want to paint a picture for you

Stranger Things Season 3 is set in the summer of 1985. 

In 1985, the park map looked like this (well we’re not 100% sure but we think this was our 1985 map): 

1985 (probably) Map1985 (Probably) Map Back

You may not be able to read it, but on the back you can see that the Fright Chasm Overlook (literally just the area to watch Frightful Falls) was listed as its own attraction. 

Santa Claus Land had just been renamed in 1984 to Holiday World and the Halloween and 4th of July sections had just been added. We had the Scarecrow Scrambler, the Virginia Reel, Eagle’s Flight, Rough Riders, and many attractions that have either found new homes or have been retired. 

We were just a year away from adding Banshee (and for the record, I was mad at my dad when we removed it so don’t start with me…I don’t like that we removed it either).

Our brochure had just changed from this in 1984:

1984 brochure front1984 brochure back
New in 84 Logo Shirt

Shameless plug: If you’re as obsessed with this logo as I am, you can buy it on a shirt in the gift shops today

To this in 1985 (did you notice that classic rebrand?):

1985 Brochure Front
1985 Brochure Back

Look at those jazz hands!












According to my mom, Lori, it was the first year for the high-dive show. 

My dad, Will Koch, was 23. He and my mom got married in May 1985, and they had moved to California by summer that year.

 Will & Lori Koch Wedding Day














But… if I could cast a dream episode of Stranger Things at Holiday World and could pretend my parents had been around the summer of 1985, I’d say my dad probably would have been a secondary engineering or math mentor to the Hawkins AV club kids, and my mom would have been the cool performer who caught one of the teenagers’ attention for a little too long while some government authority came running around the corner. (For the record my dad was an engineer and my mom was a performer… they were just in California so my dad could get his masters degree in engineering)  

In the midst of my parents’ newlywed bliss the Hawkins, Indiana kids would trash the rides defeating the demogorgons… so maybe not… 

But it’s cool to think that simultaneously while the action centers around the mall in this season, somewhere not too far away, Holiday World was there. And you just know Mike, Will, Dustin, and Lucas would be coaster enthusiasts. 

We hope after all of that fighting evil, ALL of those kids (and the few adults) got to have a fun day here. They deserved it! 


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Top of the World

View from the Top of Voyage
View from the Top of Voyage

View from the top of The Voyage

On your average day at Holiday World, thousands of guests take in the spectacular views from the top of The Voyage‘s lift hill.

Not many get to experience it for more than a few seconds though. They’re typically enjoying the ride, getting ready for that first drop, and deciding if they want to throw their hands in the air or not.

On my most recent trip to the top of the hill, I wasn’t riding in the train. I took the stairs.

Maybe I should back up and explain.

This year, we started offering premium Keys to the World tours a few days a week. It includes a walk to the top of The Voyage’s lift hill and behind-the-scenes tour at Thunderbird.

I got to tag along with a writer who was working on an article about our EarlyBird tour. As a coaster enthusiast, nothing could have delighted me more.

The journey

We leave the station heading out beside the track that I’m so familiar with. The lift hill looks a little taller than I remember it being.

As we start our ascent, I quickly learn that Voyage’s trains makes the climb look so effortless. When you take the 310 steps to the top, it’s a little more challenging. Our group stops half way up the hill to take in the views, and, more importantly, catch our breath. Before I know it, we arrive at the top.

My legs may feel rubber, but all that effort was worth it.

Okay, back to the tour.

Rainbow over Splashin' SafariWhen you’ve reached the highest point on any attraction, you really are on top of the World. The whole park is sprawled out below you. You’re in the company of those iconic flags proudly waving in the wind. I snap a picture of the first drop while still clutching the handrail beside me.

The unexpected part of the view that morning? A rainbow appeared over Splashin’ Safari.

After a few minutes and lots of pictures later, our group started the trip back to the station. Thunderbird was calling us.

The EarlyBird tour also included a look into the Will Power building to learn about the flywheel that launches Thunderbird’s trains, a look around the ride’s maintenance bay, plus the first flight of the day!

Maybe I’ll share some of those details and pictures later.

You can still book an EarlyBird tour for 2019. It’s available on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays through August 4!

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Power Problem… Solved

Voyage Fuel Rod Closeup

If you’re like me, you can drain your battery in a day at a theme park.

Between taking photos, browsing the web waiting in line, checking show times, and looking up ride stats, even the best phone batteries cave under the pressure. 

So I charge my battery overnight and bring a power bank. But I’m not always the best at making sure that power bank is fully charged. 

Enter my BFF, Fuel Rod

If you haven’t heard of them, Fuel Rod has kiosks available in airports, train stations, theme parks, etc. They sell you a one-time rechargeable power bank for your phone (plus cables so you don’t have to bring your own).

After that, you can use the power bank until it dies and then pay only $1 to exchange it for a fully charged power bank.  

So if you’re a textbook battery-drainer like me, you’re in luck. 

We have four locations across Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari:


St. Nick’s Trading Company

Located in the first section (or the section to the far right)

St Nicks Fuel Rod Close


Splashin’ Safari

In Safari Outpost

Outpost Fuel Rod 2


Voyage Gift Shop

Turn right after you enter the gift shop when you’re finished riding The Voyage

Voyage Fuel Rod Closeup











Hevron’s Mercantile (By Thunderbird)

Hevron's Fuel Rod

Located to the far right wall as you face the entrance of the store.











So next time you’re visiting, if you find your phone battery dying, pick up a Fuel Rod. 

Oh and helpful hint: if you download the Fuel Rod app, you can get five exchanges for free!

Now if you need me, I’ll be looking up ride stats on my phone…

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