Popular Mechanics: Hoosier best?

Hard-hat stickers for Voyage work

Sorry for the “hoosier” thing in the subject line, but it’s such low-hanging fruit, you know?

When Popular Mechanics decided to name the best roller coaster in each state, they kindly took a look at us.

And our coasters.

Because they know stuff.

And the winner is …

We’ll let The Gravity Group tell you:

 

That’s right – The Voyage takes top honors for Indiana! 

Voyage construction

Congratulations to The Gravity Group and the late Will Koch (a Hoosier, born and bred) for creating such an amazing wooden coaster.

And kudos to our Coaster Maintenance Technicians for keeping The Voyage sailing the blue seas – er, skies – year after year!
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The bucket list

1998 brochure clip

Have you seen The Bucket List? It was a really popular movie back in 2007 and popularized the term “bucket list.” It’s a funny but ultimately sad story about making the most out of life. Of course, this comes with the understanding that end-of-life is inevitable.

And that leads me to this story about our original bucket attraction, Monsoon Lagoon.

It’s been around nearly forever, right?

Here’s a snip from our 1998 brochure

We introduced Monsoon Lagoon to our water park that year. Splashin’ Safari was only five years old at the time.

1998 brochure clip

Come to think of it, the entire water-park industry was young then. We’ve all come a long way in the past two decades. The life-expectancy quotient has increased as designers, uh … soaked in knowledge of how water attractions age.

After 21 great seasons of fun, it’s time to retire Monsoon Lagoon. The giant bucket has dumped its last waterfall onto delighted children below. In truth, it lasted longer than expected, and we’re grateful for that. And it’s good to know more recent models were built with a longer life expectancy in mind. (We’re talking about you, Kima Bay!)

On a lighter note here’s a bit of #HoWoHistory trivia: Long-time employee Joe Hevron made us all giggle in our 1997 naming meetings with his suggestion to call this water attraction the Leaky Tiki. 
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Founder’s Day

Ronald Reagan. Louis J. Koch, Santa Jim Yellig
Louis J. Koch

Santa Claus Land Founder Louis J. Koch, 1882-1979

Today is the birthdate of Louis J. Koch. Let’s declare it to be Founder’s Day!

Did you know that Holiday World started out as a retirement project?

It was back in 1946. Our original name was Santa Claus Land.

Louis J. Koch was an Evansville industrialist (he was one of the sons in the George Koch Sons) and thought it was a shame that a town named Santa Claus wasn’t bustling with jolly fun. He and his wife, Clarice, had nine children and they loved celebrating Christmas.

Louis J. Koch’s plans to open a park themed around Santa Claus started in the early 1940s. 

Construction began on August 4, 1945

On August 3, 1946, Santa Claus Land opened. Early rides included trains, a jeep-go-round, and playground equipment. Christmas dinners topped the menus. (And yes, this was a full nine years before Mr. Disney opened his park.)

“Mr. Louie,” as employees called him, was a train aficionado. He commissioned Ted Buehn, a model-train enthusiast, to create what many remember as the Freedom Train.

Originally, it was called the Santa Claus Land Railroad.

Before long, Mr. Louie’s middle son, Mr. Bill, joined him (this was long before the Saturday Night Live skit came out). As they worked together with other family members, Santa Claus Land began to grow into what is now Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari and fourth-generation Koch family ownership.

The Santa Claus Land Railroad became the Mother Goose Land Train and eventually the Freedom Train. Since 2013, Holidog Express has clickety clacked around the track. The original train is currently on display in front of the Liberty Bell Shoppe.

But it all began with a dream

And a town with a magical name.

Ronald Reagan. Louis J. Koch, Santa Jim Yellig

Ronald Reagan, Louis J. Koch, and Santa Jim Yellig, March 1955

That’s Louis J. Koch in the middle, with the polka-dot bow tie. On his right is a future president and to his left, ol’ Saint Nick.

Today is Mr. Louie’s birthday. Born on June 12, 1882, he lived to be 97. 

Happy birthday, good sir – and Happy Founder’s Day!
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That “Harper Valley PTA” Girl!

Jeannie C. Riley ad

What in the world do Jeannie C. Riley and the song Harper Valley PTA 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 Sunday, June 11, 1978.

That’s 41 years ago!

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.”
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A sensory story

Here’s a story from a few years back, when a coaster-loving autistic teen needed less of a sensory storm for his first ride on Thunderbird.

I remember hearing about this kind act back when it happened and am grateful for the reminder posted this week by Coaster Chit Chat.

We probably all have sensory issues when it comes to storms – thunder can be quite alarming! I remember, long ago, my beloved Grandma Cassidy trying to calm my young brothers and me during a wild storm. She told us about a woman she knew who would hide in a closet during storms. That darling leprechaun of a woman quickly brought us to helpless laughter. We shouted, “Grandma! You’re standing with one foot in and one foot out of the closet!”

She had calmed the storm

… even as it raged around us.

How else can we help calm the sensory storm?

We have a Calming Room, located in our First Aid building.

Please don’t hesitate to use it during your stay with us.

And finally, here’s another story (from another park) that gives us hope for the world.
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Sweepstakes: Better Act Fast

Lake Rudolph Holiday Cottage Exterior

Did you know that The Voyage is one of the fastest wooden roller coasters in the world?

It clocks in at 67.4 miles per hour!

If you think you’re fast, our latest sweepstakes is perfect for you. It’s all about speed.

The best part? There will be dozens of winners!

The 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 Pepsi swag. Plus, the next 25 fastest fans will win a pair of tickets. Everyone else will receive an exclusive ticket discount.

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).
  • If you win, please note you must be at least 21 to phone in your two-night Holiday Cottage reservation at Lake Rudolph.
  • 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).

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

If you have questions about the sweepstakes, keep reading.

Lake Rudolph Holiday Cottage Exterior

A Holiday Cottage at Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort

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 in this sweepstakes!

Better Act Fast Sweepstakes Photo

Good luck to all who enter!

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“Have a nice ride”

Mick Foley in Paula's office

Look who stopped by my office last week!

Mick Foley in Paula's office

No, it’s not John Goodman.

It’s WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley!

Mick likes theme parks. And Santa Claus. And he really likes roller coasters.

But because he’s been, uh … active in his career, roller coasters have been out of the question for a number of years.

Maybe it’s because he cut his hair, I don’t know – but Mick is now allowed to ride steel coasters.

As long as they’re smoooooth

2019 Mick Foley on Thunderbird

When I asked Mick if he enjoyed Thunderbird, his response was: I love it! I think it’s the smoothest coaster I’ve ever ridden!

Now I’m the first to admit it looks like we Photoshopped Mick into this on-ride Gobbler Getaway photo, but we didn’t!

Wrestler Mick Foley riding Gobbler Getaway

Before his visit, I asked Mick if he needed security while in the park. It was really nice that he felt it wasn’t necessary – that our park Guests are friendly and respectful.

Wrestler Mick Foley has been a friend of this park for decades.

Even back when he was a bit shaggy.

Mick & Santa in 2016

Are you a big fan of Mankind? Here’s Mick’s tag so you can read other HoliBlog posts about him and listen to our podcast interviews.

Because … Foley really is good.
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Splashin’ Safari surprised us all!

It’s Splashin’ Safari’s birthday! Our water park opened on May 29, 1993.

It was much smaller back then.

Will Koch at Splashin' Safari opening

Park president Will Koch, at Splashin’ Safari’s opening “News Splash” ceremony in 1993

In fact, our news release announced it would be a five-year project, costing $3 million.

Boy, were we wrong!

Here’s an article from The Herald, from back on October 30, 1992:

1992 newsclip about groundbreaking for Splashin' Safari

What? SplashWater Safari? Yes, that was the announced name. At a meeting a month or two later, I remember Lori Koch saying, “Why not Splashin‘ Safari … you know, like Surfin’ Safari?”

And it stuck.

Lori also wisely advised us not to include a “sandy beach” area. Indeed, we removed it a few seasons later when the sand got … well, everywhere.

Our other recalculation involved the scope of our water park. We started in 1993 with four acres, with plans to make it to 15. We breezed right past that number.

Splashin’ Safari grew and grew!

 

Over the 26 years, we’ve grown to cover nearly 40 acres. Splashin’ Safari and its many attractions have won a bunch of awards. too.

Would you like to help us win another award (and enter our sweepstakes at the same time)?

We’ve celebrated a lot of water-attraction openings with our friends from ProSlide, the “crazy Canadians” behind the likes of Wildebeest, Mammoth, and Bakuli. Their president was a guest on our podcast a while back.

So what do you think – are we done building Splashin’ Safari or do you want more? Please comment below with your thoughts.
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Sweepstakes: Splashin’ Family Getaway

Mammoth drop

Congratulations to Allison A. from Nashville, Tennessee, who is our winner! Thanks to all who entered – watch for another sweepstakes coming up soon!
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We all like to win, right?

Here’s your opportunity to win four tickets to Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari plus two overnights in a Holiday Cottage* at Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort.

Vote Now button

Guess what?

We like to win, too.

Over the next several weeks, USA Today is running an online poll asking to name the Best Water Park in the nation.

We’d love it if you could spare two clicks and vote daily!

For our contest, you may also enter daily…

Bahari Wave PoolBut 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: June 21 – August 1, 2019.
  • 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 – water coasters or wave pools. (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 Monday, June 17, 2019, at 11am CDT, when we’ll choose a winner at random.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Guess what? USA Today also nominated The Voyage for Best Roller Coaster!

Again, voting doesn’t impact your chance of winning, but we sure appreciate your support!

Good luck to all!
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The day CBS News came to town

48 Hours' correspondant Richard Schlesinger and park president Will Koch
48 Hours' correspondant Richard Schlesinger and park president Will Koch

48 Hours correspondant Richard Schlesinger and park president Will Koch

What fun it is to revisit our past – with oh so many wonderful stories to tell from our 73 years! This includes a visit from CBS News!

Here’s a share of a video our ACE friend Sean posted on YouTube. (ACE = American Coaster Enthusiasts. Yes, that’s a thing.)

For the backstory about the day CBS’s 48 Hours came to town to ride The Raven back in 1995, check out this HoliBlog post.

The day was May 19, 1995. (I now know May 19 was also the day Raging Rapids debuted – five years earlier) and CBS correspondent Richard Schlesinger wanted to learn why thrill seekers seek thrills (say that one five times fast!).

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