Meet Laura S!

Next up in our staff introductions, we wanted you to meet our Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, Laura S.!
Laura is a leader and supervisor for Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari’s financial, information and technology, and supply chain functions.  You would be correct if guessed she is VERY busy this time of year and we’re grateful she shared some of it to share with us!

What do you do at Holiday World?

I lead the teams that are responsible for accounting, IT systems/support, project planning, and purchasing.
We work behind the scenes to keep everything running smoothly for our Guests and Team Members, and we get to be involved in every aspect of the business.

What do you love most about your role?

The people that I get to work with.
We have a team of extremely talented and passionate people that are dedicated to the success of our company and the happiness of our Guests.

Did you always want to work in the amusement/theme park industry?

My first job was here at Holiday World. I was a ride operator for several years through high school and college, and it taught me about leadership, working with a team, and providing excellent service. When I had the opportunity to come back in a full-time role many years later, I couldn’t pass it up. I feel lucky to work for a park that is a leader in the industry and has such a positive impact on the local community.

What are you most looking forward to in our upcoming 75th Anniversary season?

This past year has been extremely challenging for everyone, so I am looking forward to families being able to spend time together again. Our parks have been such a big part of so many family traditions and memories over the past 75 years, and I am ready to see all those families back in our parks making new memories.

Extra Season Passholder Perks

Cheetah Chase Head-to-Head

We’re racing toward the 2020 season and are eager to debut Cheetah Chase, the World’s First Launched Water Coaster.

Our Season Passholders will have the the most opportunities to ride this splashy new attraction this year, but that’s not the only benefit to having a Season Pass with us.

Passholders get tons of great perks to use all season long, like discounts on food, merchandise, and discounted Bring A Friend tickets on select dates.

In addition to your normal perks, we’ve loaded a few extra perks onto your Pass that can be used once during the 2020 season. Here they are:


  • Additional 20% off Cheetah Chase Water Bottle
  • Item subject to change based on availability and this discount can be used in addition to your regular Season Pass discount.
Cheetah Chase | The World's First Launched Water Coaster


  • Additional $1 off Smoothie at Bahari Wave Shaved Ice
  • Additional $1 off Fully Loaded Snacks at Santa’s Merry Marketplace
  • These food offers are subject to availability and menu substitutions


  • 10 Balls for $5 at Milk Cans
  • $5 “Fedora Full o’ Rings” at The Raven’s Ring Toss
  • 5 Balls for $3 at Wacky Cats

To claim each deal, please mention it to the cashier and present your Season Pass to be scanned.

Still haven’t purchased your 2020 Season Pass yet? Take a look at the full list of perks for each Pass type now! If you already have your Pass and want to upgrade, you can do so for $30 for each level it’s upgraded at the park or by calling 1-800-467-2682.

These deals are available once per passholder per season and are subject to change. We’ll keep this post updated with any permanent changes to these offers.

A Thousand Words

If a single picture is worth a thousand words, you’re about to become very well-read as we look through our most popular Instagram photos from 2019.

Ready to see the highlights? Let’s get started!

Number 5: Airtime!

We kick things off at HoliWood Nights, our coaster enthusiast event that we host each year on the weekend after Memorial Day. This set of photos was taken on our Thunderbird and Voyage walkback tour.

Want to join us for HoliWood Nights in 2020 to get some really cool behind the scenes pictures and tons of time on our coasters? Tickets are already on sale for members of any of our partner clubs. Get more information here!

Number 4: Sunset over The Voyage

The Voyage makes another appearance in this sunset photo I captured on a warm evening in July.

I was leaving for the day when I turned to get one final look at the Voyage before heading home. I saw a beautiful silhouette of the coaster against a fiery sunset. My first instinct was to stop and get a photo.

Number 3: A Birthday Hint

Next up is a photo of birthday cake from the park’s 73rd birthday in August.

Notice anything unusual about the writing on the cake that we shared with our seasonal employees? Did you put the clues together? It’s the red number 3. It was an early hint that our 3rd water coaster was just days away from being announced.

Number 2: Choose Your Side

Speaking of that announcement. We close out the list with two posts about Cheetah Chase, our new launched water coaster coming in 2020.

The first video we posted after our announcement showed the POV perspective from both lanes on Cheetah Chase. It was our first post to ever receive more than 3,000 likes!

Number 1: Race to the Top

Our most-liked photos from 2019 were all the best views from the Cheetah Chase renderings.

Highlighting the first flat-launch on a water coaster, soaring flying saucer turns, a head-to-head dueling zone, and a race to the finish, we’re sure that some real-life shots of Cheetah Chase will make this list in 2020.

Can’t wait to ride Cheetah Chase this season? You can take a virtual ride now – AND save up to $35 on Season Passes through January 15!

Want to follow along as we finish building Cheetah Chase and prepare for the season? Be sure to follow us on Instagram and share your favorite photos from the park as well!

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.

All Downhill From Here

HoliDrone Captures first Cheetah Chase Fiberglass Lift Because we just placed the tallest slide pieces of Cheetah Chase! We’ve got to catch you up on what’s been happening in Splashin’ Safari.

It’s time for a Cheetah Chase Check In!

Our last check in showed the first footers taking shape and the fiberglass for the slide arriving. As you can see, we’ve made a lot of progress since then. Here’s what the construction site looked like yesterday morning before our crane arrived to begin lifting slide pieces into place.
Cheetah Chase Construction Site Overview

Cheetah Chase Construction Site overview from Bakuli

See that yellow piece sitting inside Bahari River on the right side of the photo? That’s the section you’ll be racing through as you crest the tallest hill on Cheetah Chase. It was on deck to be lifted into place first. The Communications and Marketing teams spread out to get pictures from all angles as that lift happened.

Even our HoliDrone was out to capture the big moment.

Site Overview with First Piece Being Lifted

Leah and Sabrina captured the lift from the top of Bakuli’s tower.

HoliDrone Captures first Cheetah Chase Fiberglass Lift

The HoliDrone was flying over Bahari River Island.

First Two Pieces of Cheetah Chase Being Connected

I got a lower angle near the Cabanas in front of Wildebeestro.

What’s up next in Cheetah Chase construction?

The flying saucer turns over Bahari River Island! If the construction schedule holds as planned, we’ll lift the first one into place tomorrow! Want a closer look into the process of building the World’s First Launched Water Coaster? Check out the latest installment of Hard Hat Chronicles: If you’d like to follow along with the Cheetah Chase construction progress in real time, be sure to check out our SplashCam! It’s been moved to a new location that’s perfect to get a bird’s eye view of what’s going on in Splashin’ Safari. Be sure to subscribe to the HoliBlog for more updates on Cheetah Chase and other off-season happenings!
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Out with the Old, In with the Smooth

This week we set out to answer two of your burning questions about the Voyage:

Why did we start track work early? What are we doing to the track? Initially we thought we would take some cellphone pictures to share progress on the Voyage. Once we started working with the maintenance team and heard what they were up to, we couldn’t resist turning it into a full morning of production. Over 600 feet of the old track is being replaced to ensure smooth voyages in 2020 and our maintenance crew is already on track with the upgrades. 
Here is where the track maintenance ends on the Voyage.

The end of the line! Here is where the track maintenance ends on the Voyage.

Once I started talking with the crew one thing became abundantly clear: Our roller coaster technicians are passionate about our coasters and giving our guests the best experience.

Our three wooden coasters get ridden every morning by our roller coaster techs. When the Voyage was due for maintenance, they knew exactly where they wanted to smooth out the ride in the off season.

These upgrades are going to make for a MUCH smoother ride!

In the photo above the rail is nailed to the middle to the hand rail.

In the photo above the rail is nailed to the middle to the hand rail.

First, our team  nails the rails to either the top or middle of the side rail.

Taking this step first ensures that each piece of rail goes back in the correct order when the track work is finished.

Here is the section of track where the rails and track have already been removed. The rails are nailed to the hand rail so the crew can easily put them back in order.

Here is the section of track where the rails and track have already been removed. The rails are nailed to the hand rail so the crew can easily put them back in order.

Why did we need the jump start to get the Voyage repairs done before 2020? Through our annual maintenance rotation between our three wooden roller coasters, it was time to check up on the Voyage.

After an assessment, it was determined we would replace about 40 feet, with the overlap that adds up to over 600 feet of track! 

Under the rails are EIGHT layers of staggered wood!

Under the rails are EIGHT layers of staggered wood!

When repairs are made to a wooden coaster, you can’t just remove the part you are focused on improving.

Once the rails are up there are EIGHT overlapped layers of wood that have to be removed!

So large sections of the coaster have to be removed to smooth out small portions of the ride.
Our team carefully removing a chunk of the Voyage!

Our team carefully removing a chunk of the Voyage!

Have you ever noticed that our coasters blend in with their scenic surroundings? To not disturb the treeline or fencing in place, the telehandler has very little room to work and navigate. As you can see in the picture above, the pieces are led by another team member to ensure the track doesn’t swing. Once they have detached a section it gets added to the ever-growing discard pile.
Old track pieces laying in a pile.

Out with the old track, in with the smooth!

The wood seen above also can’t be picked up at your local department store. We have found a specific type that is hardy enough to withstand  daily use and Indiana’s elements. The Voyage improvements are evidence of Holiday World’s dedication to improving our guest’s experience. Our team exceeds industry standards by not only maintaining our coasters but working to make them better. Not only do we have exciting projects like Cheetah Chase, but we’re prioritizing the upkeep of the rides you love! Fans of the Voyage will have a much smoother ride in 2020! Who’s counting down the days to May already? Check out the latest installment of Hard Hat Chronicles to see upgrades from a birds-eye view with comments from Josh a Holiday World Roller Coaster Technician! 
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A Chase of the Mondays

Kenny on Cheetah Chase

…get it? A “case” of the Mondays, but it’s for Cheetah Chase?

Sorry to kick things off with a bad pun. But I have to share what a Monday in the office can look like at a theme park. 

The crowd watching adam watching cheetah chase

I promise this will make sense if you keep reading

Today we had a town hall meeting

that involved our entire full-time staff.

Dave, our Director of Sales, has a shiny new VR headset to take with him to trade shows so he can brag about Cheetah Chase to anyone who might be interested in booking a company picnic for 2020. (Shameless product placement for Dave: Interested in a company picnic, a group outing, or a private party? Fill out this form)

We have a super cool 360 animation (we’re saving that to share in a few weeks) that goes perfectly with the headset and we let our full-time staff try it out first. 

We went back to work

That is, until our VP Eric got the Cheetah Chase boat out of his office and set it down in the hallway.

Adam, one of our Attractions Managers volunteered to take the boat in the attractions office. He said they’d inflate it and keep it there. 

Someone made a joke about inflating it and using the VR headset to simulate a real ride. 

Things LAUNCHED out of control from there 

Attractions came with the pump for the raft. Stephen–who helped edit those incredible Cheetah Chase animations you’ve seen so far–came upstairs with the VR headset ready to go with the 360 animation (those are his cables floating around the right side of the frame).

Also in case you’re wondering, the ridges in the sides of the boat are for catching water to power the first-ever flat launch on a water coaster (and the regular uphill parts like other water coasters have). 

Adam was our first brave contestant. Stephen set him up, and thus began the first official VR ride of Cheetah Chase.

Stephen setting Adam up with VR headset












Adam was the perfect first virtual rider–he was leaning into the turns…

Adam leaning in

…checking out the sights…

Adam looking around

…and generally a great sport about me taking his picture. 

Adam after the first true VR ride on Cheetah Chase











Next, President Matt took a turn:

 President Matt "riding" Cheetah Chase

He made sure to take his shoes off to make the experience more realistic. To add more realistic elements, someone grabbed a fan to help blast him with some air…

President Matt takes a ride

… he said it happened right as the boat launched in the video so it was perfect. 

Next Kenny from IT took a ride…

Kenny on Cheetah Chase

As did Alan (another of our attractions managers)…

Alan on boat

…IT Director Casey also helped spray him with a little water. So Alan gets credit for the first “ride” on Cheetah Chase with H2O. 

Finally our attractions management team got together for a team pic:

Attractions Management in the same boat

The moral of this story is: we’re really not sure what normal people do in offices on Mondays, but I’m pretty sure today we’ve got you beat. 

#OurOfficeIsBetterThanYours #BusinessAsUsual


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The scoop about Waffle Cone Lights

Rick making Waffle Cone Lights

This time of the year (gulp – we’re just two weeks from Opening Day!), changes happen so quickly that it’s a challenge to catch them all for you to see. So we were delighted to hear from Rick, our Graphic Artist, that he was working on creating the Waffle Cone Lights for the new Sugarplum Scoop Shop.

Stephen grabbed the video cam and captured the DIY

There’s something new to see each day in Santa’s Merry Marketplace – the elves (in hard hats) are hard at work!

Among the elves is fourth-generation owner Lauren, who’s very involved in the park’s theming.

Lauren with Fireplace Decor

Here she is taking a look at some of the finishing touches for Candy Cane Confectionary, which is part of Santa’s Merry Marketplace.

Lauren with Candy Cane Confectionary Decor

Both the Candy Cane Confectionary and Candy Cornucopia (a new candy shop in Thanksgiving) will stock Salt Water Taffy.

Judging from the response on Facebook, this was a very good decision.

Ready for a look around?

Here’s a 360-degree look at Santa’s Merry Marketplace from what will be the seating area.

And just because it’s an irresistible option, here’s the Tiny Planet version of the above 360:

Tiny Planet look at Santa's Merry Marketplace

Lest there be another second wasted worrying about our iconic Santa Murals (Rick created them, too, back in 1991), here’s proof positive that they’re a jolly part of Santa’s Merry Marketplace.

Lauren with Santa Mural

Would you like to be among the first to experience Santa’s Merry Marketplace? We have a sneak preview planned for Platinum Season Passholders on May 3. The deepest discounts for Season Passes are available until that date.
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Some assembly required

Tembo Falls Being Assembled

Think of Tembo Falls as a REALLY big toy construction set. First, pieces of fiberglass are delivered to us and then we assemble them on site.

There’s still work to do before the slides are moved into place next to Kima Bay, but for now we’re combining the smaller pieces into larger pieces. I took a trip to our Carpenter Shop yesterday to watch Tembo Falls’ racing slide start to come together.

The racing slide has 27 smaller pieces that will be assembled into three large sections over the course of two days.

Do you like numbers?

Here are a few numbers about Tembo Falls:


Tembo Falls Being Assembled

Feet long. If you were to place each of the slides from Tembo Falls back to back, they would stretch 437 feet. That’s longer than a football field!


Pieces. We have 147 pieces of fiberglass that have to be assembled to complete Tembo Falls. Think of each piece as a giant Lego, which will fit together with the next piece perfectly.


Which slide has the most pieces? Our yellow bowl slide, which has 30!


That’s under-54-inches tall, the maximum height limit for a rider to go down these junior slides alone. Tembo Falls and Tembo Tides were designed with the little ones in mind. That doesn’t mean grownups have to watch from the sidelines, though, because parents and taller siblings are welcome to ride with their under-54″ family member.

Here’s a sneak peek at what Tembo Falls and Tembo Tides will look like once they’re completed.

Tembo illustration

If you happen to have a young artist in the family, they might want to check out our downloadable Tembo coloring page. (Please tag us if you share their finished artwork on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest, so we can share it.)

Speaking of social media – be sure to watch the HoliBlog later this week (subscribe here for emailed updates), as our crews plan to start assembling the yellow bowl slide (a miniature version of Bakuli) tomorrow!

Service: more than a cornerstone

2017 Veterans

At Holiday World, we have four cornerstones: Safety, Service, Cleanliness, and Friendliness.

Today, we’re thinking about one of those cornerstones just a bit differently.


More specifically, we wanted to take a moment to honor those on our staff who have served in the military.

Continuing with a tradition here at the park, it was time to get a photo of our veterans to share. This year, I got to take that picture.

When I asked them to put their hands at their sides for the photo, at least one started searching for the seam on his jeans to properly stand at attention.

The Armed Forces are well-represented here. Our veterans have 35 years of service between them.

2017 Veterans

2017 Veterans

Our veterans from left to right:

  • Elmer, one of our Maintenance Technicians, served 3 years in the Army
  • Korey, one of our Painters, served 4 years in the Navy
  • Josh, one of our Roller Coaster Maintenance Technicians, served 4 years in the Marine Corp
  • John, our Director of Safety & Security, served 16 years in the Coast Guard
  • Billy (not pictured), one of our Maintenance Technicians, served 8 years in the Army.

Thank you to these – and all other veterans – for their service to our country.

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+).