A Correspondence for the [k]Nights who say ‘Wheeee’

The HoliWood kNights who say Whee!

Dearest [k]Nights,

There were days when we thought this event might be impossible, but we’re so excited that the most fun weekend of the year will soon be upon us! The HoliWood kNights who say Whee!

Since many of you are coming from around the country, we want to make sure everyone understands the guidelines that we have set forth in light of COVID-19. If you haven’t already, please check out our 2020 visit page for more information. We have some specific guidelines we’d like to ask of you as well:

    • RUN AWAY! If you’re not feeling well. Seriously, before you hop in your car, set foot on a plane, mount up on horseback (come along, Patsy!) take a second. Are you feeling off? Did someone just tell you that you’ve been exposed to COVID-19? Are you living in a COVID-19 hot spot and are unable to quarantine? Call us! We’ll move your tickets to next year or refund them. Our event is good, but it will still be here next year. Please don’t risk exposing other Guests and our Team Members by coming. (Also we have a Digital HoliWood Nights page from May if you’re not able to make it this year… it’s like Diet Pepsi… not really desirable, but it gets you by).
    • If ye weigh less than a duck… or less than a large yellow boat would require… we will not accuse you of being a witch, but we won’t be able to help you find a friend to join either. Assemble your [k]Nights of the round table before you enter the queue, and you shall pass. (Translation: we do not have a single rider line and if your group doesn’t hit the right weight, we will not mix parties together—if you’d like to ride, you’ll need to join together and work out your ideal riding arrangement. If you aren’t comfortable riding with another group, you may need to sit this year out, but just on the water coasters! Please make smart choices and stick to the same party as much as possible.)
    • You are not to leave this spot for any reason… from time to time. We’re going to do our best to help you get the seats you want, but we can’t have a ton of people clogging the queue waiting on the back seat. Trust that we’ll let you have your seat at some point, but please know that we’re grouping to try to maintain social distancing. So please go to the row we ask you to take. If you’re about to take a milestone ride, let the grouper know and they’ll allow you to wait for the seat you want. Otherwise, please be patient with us. 
    • Slot 1, Slot 2, Slot 5… Slot 3 Mylord… If  you haven’t heard, you’ll need to reserve a spot for our walkback this year. We’re trying to avoid the overwhelming crowd at Plymouth Rock Cafe this year.  There are still spots available, but if those fill up we’ll add more so please stay calm. Please wear your face covering during walkbacks because social distancing isn’t always possible at the perfect photo spot. 
    • None Shall Pass! One more thing about the walkback: we’re only doing The Voyage/Thunderbird walkback this year, and the additional part we’ve added recently in the Thunderbird enclosure will not be a part of the walkback. You’ll still be able to walk that full path along The Voyage and hang out under the last barrel roll, but you won’t be allowed in the section that takes you under the Zero-G Roll. We hope to bring that back next year, but we want to make sure the crowds keep moving during that time. 
    • Prefer to accelerate your check-in velocity? It’s easy! Make sure you have your valid Coaster Club Membership Card ready along with your voucher (we will accept cards that expired after May 29 & 30, because that’s when the event was supposed to be). Reminder: we only need one valid membership per reservation… everyone in your group doesn’t need to have a card out. If you really want to speed up your processing time and save on unnecessary contact, please print out your voucher before you arrive (if you have the voucher on your phone, our Team Members will need to borrow your phone for a second to get the information they need, and in light of COVID-19, we’d rather not have that happen if we can avoid it). Also, we’re not going to put wristbands on for you this year, but our Admissions team would like to remind you to leave about two finger-widths of space as you put the wristband on–we only have so many replacement bands this year. Due to the expected rainy weather, we have moved our traditional Bahari Beach hors d’oeuvres to Santa’s Merry Marketplace from 3PM- 5PM. Yes, you may check in starting at exactly 3PM CENTRAL TIME. If you come earlier we’ll be impressed, but we won’t be able to let you in. 

 A final reminder–we know our HoliWood Nights crew is full of theme park experts, so we hope you’ll model your expert COVID-19 behavior both during ERT and during regular park hours. We expect to see our HoliWood Nights crew wearing masks indoors and where distancing isn’t possible, and we expect to see exemplary social distancing from you. We also hope you’ll consider wearing masks on the coasters–while it’s not a requirement, we hope you’ll consider the people around you on the train, and the Team Members checking your restraints. They’ll have more contact with you than the average Guests, after all. 

We hope you’ll agree that this will still be a fantastic event if we all work together in an autonomous collective. 

If you think this all sounds really weird… watch the movie already. If you’re offended by all the mixed quotes and bits from the movie… so are we. We just had to make it fit the message. 

Good Morrow,

Leah Koch

Lord of the Messengers, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari

Sweepstakes: Salty or Sweet?

Nancy of Collinsville, IL is our sweepstakes winner!

This year we introduced Ben’s Soft Pretzels to our park and they have been a hit!

We apologize for sharing pictures of Ben’s Soft Pretzels on a weekday.
Thankfully our gates will be open this weekend so you can grab one for yourself.

We can’t pick a favorite, so we want to ask YOU!
What’s your favorite jumbo soft pretzel?
Do you prefer the buttery salty goodness or the savory cinnamon sugar pretzel? 

Your answer could win $30 Holicash, four tickets to Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari plus two overnights in a Holiday Cottage* at Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort for September 18 & 19 OR
September 25 & 26.

For the “post a comment on the blog” entry option, simply tell us which you like best – Salty or Cinnamon Sugar Jumbo Pretzels–or if you haven’t tried Ben’s Pretzel yet which would you pick? 

But first, 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, Koch Development Corporation, Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort, Sun Communities, and Sun RV Resort (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 and tweeting about this contest. You can also follow us on Pinterest, and visit us on our Facebook page. (We’d love it if you’d leave us a Facebook Recommendation while you’re there!)
  • If you win our Splashin’ Family Getaway, please note you must be at least 21 to phone in your two-night Holiday Cottage reservation at Lake Rudolph.
    *Here are the dates the cottage will be available: September 18 & 19 OR September 25 & 26.
  • All prizes are 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). Tickets to Holiday World must be picked up at Holiday World.
  • For the “post a comment on the blog” entry option, simply tell us which you like best – Salty or Sweet treats–or if you haven’t tried a Ben’s Pretzel yet name another Holiday World favorite(Our comments are moderated, so as long as the content is HoliFriendly, it will appear soon.)

Ready to enter?

Simply enter by using the widget, below. Be sure to enter daily through Friday, September 4, 2020, at 1:00pm CDT, when we’ll choose a winner at random.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Coasting for Kids 2020

Since 2014, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari has donated the proceeds of our HoliWood Nights auction to Give Kids the World.  This year we are VERY excited to help raise more funds for the incredible organization by hosting a Coasting for Kids event on Saturday, August 29! 

What is Coasting for Kids?

The concept is simple! After registering online, participants enjoy a day at Holiday World and by doing so they give that same excitement and families who need it most! Coasting for Kids events help the Give Kids the World Village provide cost-free, weeklong vacations to critically ill kids and their families.

The Village and its community partners provide children and their families accommodations in fully-furnished villas, transportation, tickets to theme parks, meals, daily entertainment and much more. Families enjoy the magic of Central Florida’s theme parks and attractions while staying at a storybook resort unlike anyplace on earth! 

What will the event look like at Holiday World?

8am: Registration Opens
8:45am: Award ceremony for top individual and top team fundraiser
8:55am: Socially distanced group photo
9am: Exclusive ride access on Thunderbird, Turkey Whirl, Gobbler Getaway and Voyage
10am: Exclusive ride access on Cheetah Chase
10:30am: Guests mix into the park for the rest of the day

As of Wednesday, August 19 we’ve raised $6.1K dollars of our $10,000 goal!

Learn more about the Give Kids the World Village:

Want to help us make dreams a reality for kids and their families?

There are a few options on how to join in on the fun!
If you’d like to register you can do so as an individual, join a team, or create a team.
Individuals are asked to commit to raising $100 by August 29 to participate as a rider alumni family rider.

For 2020, our Coasting for Kids event coincides with our HoliWood kNight Coaster event.
HoliWood kNight participants can join the fun as well by pledging to raise $50.

For those unable to attend, you can support Give Kids The World from home by participating in the Virtual Coasting For Kids option. With a goal of only $50, we will mail you the 2020 Coasting For Kids Shirt as well as some other branded Coasting For Kids items from previous years.

We hope you’ll join in the fun and help us send as many families as possible to the Give Kids the World Village!

Happy Halloween Weekends Update

Kitty Pumpkin

Kitty PumpkinDear Guests,

As we finish up with daily operations for the 2020 season, I just want to stop and say thank you to everyone who has supported us this season. Thank you to everyone who was patient and understanding, and thanks to everyone who followed our rules and guidelines–even when they were imperfect. 

No one was prepared for a summer like this, but I’m proud of our Holiday World team and how we came together to give families a much-needed break from reality. 

We’re coming into our weekends-only operations, and some of you may just now be noticing that Happy Halloween Weekends was removed from the calendar this summer, and I want to address that directly. 

To put it simply, our event just wasn’t going to be Happy Halloween Weekends. We weren’t going to be able to open our signature walk-through attractions like Holidog’s 3D Halloween Adventure or ScareBNB. We weren’t going to be able to operate our hayride or any of our other special activities. Our traditional Halloween song-and-dance show wasn’t going to happen, and our decorations were even going to be reduced dramatically. 

We decided that all of these elements together were too important to our Happy Halloween Weekends, and decided not to move forward with the event. 

It broke our hearts. We dreaded making any announcements because if we didn’t announce it, maybe it wouldn’t be real. But it was real, so we did announce the shortened hours and the shortened season. If you’re a Season Passholder, you probably already saw our update in the middle of the summer with your updated perks. 

To be frank, this might have been the worst of all of the difficult choices we’ve had to make this season. And there have been a lot. 

But we’re hopeful that this fall and off-season are going to bring the world a little closer to right-side-up and we’re hopeful that our 2021 season can feel like any other season here at Holiday World. We hope that next year brings the return of Happy Halloween Weekends along with our other exciting events. 

The only thing I can say for certain is that our team will be ready to adapt to anything once again next year, and we’re excited to continue being a place where you can leave the outside world behind.

It’s what my family has been doing for 74 years, and we’re gearing up for year 75.


Leah Koch

Director of Communications and Fourth-Generation Owner, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari

Sweepstakes: Only Weekends Left in the 2020 Season!

Have you ridden Cheetah Chase yet?

With our schedule going to only weekends remaining in the 2020 Season, the time is now!

On Cheetah Chase, riders will experience a water-powered flat launch before racing against their families toward the finish line on the World’s First Launched Water Coaster!

If you love to race, you are going to love our newest sweepstakes! It’s all about speed.

The best part? We’ll have dozens of winners!

Our Grand Prize is a Family Getaway with four two-day tickets, two nights in a Holiday Cottage at Lake Rudolph Campground and RV Resort, and four beach bags. Plus, the next 25 fastest fans will win a pair of tickets.

Are you ready to enter? You can sign up to get started.

If you have questions about the sweepstakes, keep reading.










How does this sweepstakes work?

Sign up to enter and start sharing the sweepstakes! The more your friends and family enter, the earlier you’ll find out what time our grand prize will be up for grabs!

The fastest to click once the Grand Prize is live will win. The next 25 will win a pair of Holiday World tickets. Thousands more will receive a promo code for an exclusive ticket discount.

What does a “heads up” mean?

Your “heads up” is how early you’ll be notified that our top prize is about to be available. You can build your “heads up” by getting friends and family to share the sweepstakes.

What time will the top prize be available to win?

That’s the secret. We can’t say.

Build your “heads up” to be one of the first to know when you can claim the Grand Prize. You can choose to be notified by text or email when you sign up.

Be the fastest and win the biggest prize!

Firecracker Sweepstakes Photo
Good luck to all who enter!

Would you like to receive HoliBlog notices – along with news releases and sweepstakes – by email? Sign up here and you can choose whether to receive the emails weekly or the same day the blog posts are published. Thank you!

Podcast Season 2, Episode 17: The One with the New-er Game

The Official Holiday World Podcast

Podcast Episode 17 is dedicated to our listener feedback!

If you have questions or comments for the pod squad, you can do so by calling 812-937-4401 then dial 8081, by emailing us at podcast@holidayworld.com, or by reaching out to us on social media using the hashtag #HOWOPO.

We jump directly into feedback and NOT introducing the different voices on the podcast.

Bob Green breaks the ice with this culinary innovation:





We’re super on board for mystery podcast member #1’s (whom we’ll get to know as David) innovation of DEEP FRYING the bacon on a stick!





Bob Green shared a connection between the smell at Gobbler Getaway and beard oil.
None of the people around the table have beards, so we’re going to have to take your word for it!

Leah took the moment to introduce David our guest, Matt B., William Koch, and Sabrina.
We recorded out of order so after a moment of confusion, we get back on track.

David jumped into how he became friends with Leah and how curly fries were almost
a deal-breaker. 





We are OBSESSED with The Voyage too! Did you see it lifted to #4 from #7 in the USA Today Poll?







No worries @RibsinBacon, we’re too far into the HoliWood kNights theme to NOT include the intermission music!
How far are we into this? Stephen gave our entire office new titles in the reveal video and they are hilarious.













Raptor Girl, thank you for calling out the lack of Oboe, we’ll try to give Leah a break from hosting








We are so glad that we were able to get a new date for HoliWood kNights!
Noted: Matt B. also hates birds. David is 100% going to use that new knowledge.

There is no inter-office fudge delivery, BUT you can purchase it at Candy Cane Confectionary.
Shout out to Tina and her amazing team!!











Check out that impressive score from Theme Park Families Podcast!!







Does it get more American than bacon?
Alex, we need you to clarify. Is this cartoon bacon or real bacon?

We need your feedback!

What do you think of the new game??
Do you think Sabrina and William were robbed?

Please be sure to send us your feedback and questions with us by calling us at 812-937-4401 then dial 8081, or by emailing us at podcast@holidayworld.com, or by reaching out to us on social media using the hashtag #HOWOPO.

Be sure to subscribe and leave a review on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, YouTube, Facebook, etc. and tell all your friends. 

Would you like to receive HoliBlog notices – along with news releases and sweepstakes – by email? Sign up here and you can choose whether to receive the emails weekly or the same day the blog posts are published

One Year Later: Cheetah Chase Announcement Memories

Just one year ago today, we were having the time of our lives. We had just announced Cheetah Chase, and were celebrating a very successful announcement. As we looked back, we realized there are so many untold stories from that time, we just needed to share a few: 

The Backstory

When we announce a big attraction like Thunderbird or Cheetah Chase, we keep the group of people “in the know” as small as possible. We only announced Cheetah Chase to our full-time staff the morning of the announcement. And we used that time to practice our official announcement (sans Chad Benefield of course). 

Speaking of Chad, we invited WBKR Owensboro’s Chad Benefield to hype up the crowd before the announcement began, and he had no idea what was about to be announced. He did the same thing for Thunderbird.  

Long story short: those who were “in the know” had a huge secret to keep. Those who didn’t know were dying to find out. We had given the project a code name internally: Purple Elephant. It originated from a marketing firm that years ago told us we needed a “Purple Cow” every so often to catch people’s attention. Somehow the cow became an elephant. Don’t ask me.

Also if you never got to watch the announcement I’ll share it here and only here because there’s a lot of time spent zoomed in on myself, Lauren and Matt and I certainly don’t need that in my life:


The Accounts, in order of enthusiasm (AKA how quickly people responded to me)

Lisa Beers – Food and Beverage Manager

I actually had a team member Brennan Franklin who guessed it correctly.  He watched all the blogs, read the clues and researched it.  He always reminds me that he guessed it correctly. 

Bryan McBride – Regional Sales Rep

As a member of the sales team, I frequently update our business leaders and groups with emails and social media posts.  I figured that the ride announcement would be big, so I kept hyping it up even though I didn’t know any specifics.  It was a blast and I only discovered the answers when they were revealed on stage!

Lori Cotton – Director of Attractions 

Oh, that day!  I do remember several things:

I recall hustling through Splashin’ Safari with a giant tilt lifeguard umbrella because the audio/visual equipment was overheating in the sun (and for a 5’3” person, that was a struggle!)

I also remember stepping away for the energetic crowd, just after the name appeared on the screen, to radio the news to all my Safari Management Staff – because they ALL wanted to be at the announcement and I was the “mean boss” who made them stay where they could hear whistles. I don’t like being “mean,” so I had to redeem myself!

I also greatly enjoy watching the faces of those around me watch the video – the excitement in their faces never disappoints! (This was also true for me during the Thunderbird announcement.)

And, most of all, I remember being proud – so very incredibly proud – because this was the very first attraction that I had a hand in from the earlier stages.  This was a lot of secretly learning and researching, waking up with ideas and jotting them down at 3am, creative energy moments come to life.  This was the moment it all became completely REAL!

Eric Snow – Vice President of Marketing, Sales, and Entertainment

The running Mammoth gif and the procurement and counting of all the Cheetah Chase socks from J Crew (RIP) were quite memorable.  “How many would you like?” asks the Jcrew Outlet phone salesperson.

“All of them.”

Cheetah Socks


Stephen Rutherford – Creative Manager

About one day after moving into my new position in the marketing department on July 1, 2019, Eric and Ashley met with me to clue me in on “Purple Elephant.” I was so excited to be part of it and be “in the know” – then they told me about putting together the Announcement video and other teaser/announcement materials… in just over a month. I was then more terrified than excited. 

I was able to work with two talented artists that made the animations and then edited the video with the music and sound effects. It was an amazing experience and I honestly can’t wait to do it again!

This is the video Stephen helped pull together: 


Matt Eckert – President

Leah Paraphrasing here: I just remember how much fun it was to watch everyone’s faces as we played the videos. You could just feel the energy and it was amazing. 

Anthony Vancamp – Maintenance Manager,  North Shop (the shop the handles water park maintenance)

I was in on it from the beginning planning.  Purple elephant.  I remember doing all sorts of jobs and tasks that I could not share.  Utility tracing to clearing out the area of trees and getting soil samples!  Was so hard not to slip up to anyone who would ask what was going on!  Was a great experience going from, is this attraction going to fit here to it’s there and functioning!

I’m sure I have more memories, these just came to mind first.

Josh Moore – Digital Communications Strategist 

About two weeks before we announced Cheetah Chase, I was brought into the “Cone of Silence” to join the other small group of people who knew about the ride before it was announced.

I was a little intimidated. I had to design the email introducing a first-of-its-kind water coaster to the world!

My workspace is an open-air cubicle that has constant foot traffic nearby during the operating season. A quick glance in my general direction and you can see whatever is on my computer screen.

Leah’s note here: Every time I talked to Josh out at his cubicle after he was told, I swear I shouted Cheetah Chase at least once. 

To help keep everything under wraps, I emptied out several three-ring binders and built walls around my computer and angled my computer monitors away from the walkway so I could continue to design the email in private. I didn’t want to be responsible for someone seeing Cheetah Chase early and spoiling the surprise!

Once that was finished and the email was scheduled to send out to everyone on our email list moments after we announced it in the park, I got to relax and enjoy the announcement ceremony beside Wildebeestro. My favorite memory is seeing all the Guests waiting in line for Bakuli drop everything and completely forget about their upcoming ride to watch the Cheetah Chase announcement video!

Me – Sorry I’m long-winded…

I just remember taking over Communications at the beginning of June and feeling like this announcement would be the make-or-break moment for me and would set the tone for how I was going to run this department (you know, no pressure or anything). As the marketing and Communications team planned the tease campaign, I started to feel like I was hitting my stride. Things were going unbelievably well…

…Then I sent an email out to all the full-time staff (a week before we planned to tell them) with a 2-page document with the words “Cheetah Chase” at the very end. I panicked and recalled it, but some people saw it. 

It wasn’t even the first time. Everyone in the offices probably thought the name of the new ride was “Cheetah… CRAP!” because I kept forgetting.

The thrill of the chase… AKA our “Tease Campaign”

We made a strategic choice early to signal to our fans that it wasn’t going to be some monstrous coaster, but it was going to be exciting and we pointed everyone in the direction of the water park fairly early.

We started by dropping a single date on our social media accounts to announce the date of the first clue and the start of the tease campaign. Note to self: don’t do that again. Everyone thought we were Beyonce trying to drop a ride the very next day. We disappointed a lot of people with that one. 

But we took it in stride and decided to have some random fun along the way. The perfect example? The cheetah socks. We ordered those from J. Crew Factory (see Eric Snow’s post for how that conversation went) on sale for $3 apiece. We dove in. And we recorded a video of Santa giving Safari Sam lots and lots of socks for Christmas in July. Honestly, it confused people exactly the right amount. 

We also introduced some loaded fries with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos (credit for the socks and thinking to incorporate Cheetos into a lot of our campaign goes to our Director of Sales, Dave Hedge by the way). Which may have been my favorite new food ever at the park. 

One of my favorite memories was having Bobby and Liberty from MY WJLT come to the park while we were teasing the attraction, and Liberty grilling myself, Lauren, and Matt Eckert. Matt Eckert certainly fared the best, somehow turning questions back around on them. They were there the day we released the Safari Sam socks video, and I just remember Liberty being dumbfounded by what she had just seen (she watched right before going back on-air). It’s always kind of fun to watch someone else try to decode your mostly-nonsense clues. 🙂 Sorry Liberty. 

Here’s the video that had two important clues: This, in fact, was a water park attraction, and it was going to involve a Cheetah. 


After the announcement, I remember sitting down to finally eat lunch after sending most of the reporters out, when I got a text that CNN was trying to get ahold of me. I stood up in the middle of Subway and started pacing and making phone calls immediately and firing off emails in between bites of my sandwich. We got ProSlide, the manufacturer of Cheetah Chase, to be a source for the article as well and by the next day, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari was on CNN! And Cheetah Chase made the home page of CNN! (We even took a video screenshot to save!) I couldn’t believe it. I just remember feeling electricity in my veins as I chased down reporters for the rest of the day and relished in the success of a new ride and the announcement that had gone off perfectly.


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