Hospitality Training

It doesn’t just happen, folks.

It’s not something in the water.

… or in the free, unlimited soft drinks.

We have to work on being friendly.

It means reporting for work at 7:30 am for Hospitality Training.

7:30 am.

In the morning.

How friendly is that?

We pack the Holiday Theater for three mornings this week as we bulk up on what it’s all about.

We tell stories and read emails aloud. One in particular brought tears to my eyes. (A father wrote to thank us for helping his family to forget about his cancer for a day. He hadn’t heard his wife and son laugh in a long, long time.)

We remind everyone that we don’t know what the families visiting us might be going through.

Maybe they’re celebrating a birthday.

Maybe they’ve been counting down the days for months.

Perhaps there’s just been a divorce in the family.

Maybe Junior barfed in the car on the way down.

You just don’t know, do you?

We talk about the little things … and the big things.

And someone (it was Will this year) always asks for a show of hands:

Anyone out there shy?

Well … if they’re truly shy, they might not be too eager to raise their hands, right?

We always get a chuckle out of that. Corny, I know.

After the theater portion, we break into small groups and scatter all over the park to practice, practice, practice.

Chris and I were assigned his Security Crew. As we headed over to Santa’s Storytime Theater, I joked, “Why don’t you sit up on stage, just like we do with Santa?”

Good grief — they did just that!

Hospitality Training

This photo was taken during a serious discussion. (That’s Chris in Santa’s chair.) A bit later, we practiced smiling, eye contact, and chatting with our Guests.

They did very well. And so did the three or four entertainers who were part of our group.

Earlier, in the theater, Mrs. Koch told us about how she enjoys greeting families as they arrive at the front gate. Even though not everyone responds, she keeps trying.

Will couldn’t resist: We have to do a good job. Otherwise, the business will fail and we’ll have to close. And Mom will have to get a job as a Wal-Mart greeter.

“No way!” she countered, somehow louder than the laughter.

“I’d be an exotic dancer!”

Then Will: I’ll give you all a moment to wipe that image from your mind.

Well, 7:30 am or no 7:30 am, everyone was wide awake then. The theater rocked with good-natured laughter.

Those two are quite a pair.

Mother and son.

Friends.

Setting an example every day for the rest of us.

And starting our day with a smile.
___
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!

More calculations

Around here we kid around about each person’s “inner geek” coming out in our work.

John knows every dimension of the new water tower.

Will can explain the mechanical workings of every ride.

Lori knows every specific water-quality number and how to balance it perfectly.

I eagerly volunteered recently to rewrite text into blocks containing no more than 240 characters and spaces.

And even our HoliBlog readers are getting in on the act.

Marc from Murphysboro emailed me this question about the new water tower:

So it should weigh 155 tons empty then; do you know the capacity of it? Then we could figure the loaded weight of it, which I bet could double perhaps.

I emailed back the answer: 500,000 gallons.

And here is Marc’s response:

From my figuring, water weighs 8.345 lbs per gallon * 500,000 gallons=4,172,500lbs of water + 310,000lbs for the structure = 4,482,500lbs total when full.

That would make it almost EXACTLY the weight of the fully-loaded and fueled space shuttle Endeavor on blastoff, and equivalent to the weight of 700 fully-fueled Hummer H2 SUVs.

Wow.

Just. Wow.

Gosh, I don’t even think that way! To calculate it all out and then have another example for comparison. Never in a million years would I come up with that.

But then, it’s all geek to me!
___
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!

Remembering Reagan

It was back in March of 1955. A movie star by the name of Ronnie Reagan was crossing the country, promoting his new TV show.

He made an appearance at the General Electric plant in nearby Tell City. Someone there suggested that he check out Santa Claus Land, located in a neighboring county.

Back then, it wasn’t a big deal to change a star’s schedule on the spur of the moment.

Ronald Reagan. Louis J. Koch, Santa Jim Yellig

That’s Ronald Reagan with Will’s two grandfathers, Louis J. Koch and “Santa Jim” Yellig.

Today, one year following President Reagan’s passing seems to be the appropriate day to share this photo.
___
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!

A humbling evening

If you’re a faithful reader, you already know what a close relationship we have with the children, staff, and other supporters of the Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center.

Their smiles and laughter are more than enough thanks. The letters and coloring pages they send are a sweet bonus.

And last night, they humbled us at the annual Easter Seals Tribute Dinner by presenting Mrs. Koch with the “Creating Solutions, Changing Lives” Award.

This photo says it all, doesn’t it:

Plaques can be a dime a dozen, but this framed photo will leave a lasting impression on the hearts of all who see it. Just look at those happy little hams!

The folks at Fifth Third Bank were also honored for their tremendous support of children and adults with disabilities in the tri-state area.

And so were the Thompson twins. Emilie and Kaitlin Thompson are the incredible young women who, a decade ago, decided to give back to the Rehab Center by holding their own fundraiser. Their LemonAid Stand has raised money and awareness over the years.

It was an evening filled with laughter, tears, and black olives (Mrs. Koch picked mine out of my Greek salad before Rachel or Lori could get them).

We’ll always treasure the lessons of love, determination and strength the Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center families and staff have taught us.

Ta-da!

Applause fountainThe Applause Fountain is nearly complete!

The lights arrived.

The fountain filled.

And by golly, it works!

I got a particular charge out of what I assumed was a brother/sister act. At first, it looked like they were waving at the water.

Actually, the brother taught the sister to, Jedi-like, raise her arm to make the fountain waters rise. And then lower her hand to let the water rest for a bit.

It was cute.

Housekeeping note: This is not a hot tub. Please don’t soak your feet.

Last year, I couldn’t convince a young lady to remove her tootsies from the old fountain.

Until I told her it would make her feet turn green.
___
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!

It’s a burden …

… knowing, but not telling.

A burden, I tells ya!

Our ’06 announcement will be made in the coming weeks (I’ll let you know the date as soon as I have it) and some folks are getting antsy.

One fellow got so testy with me the other day, I was tempted to ask if it was “finals week.”

That probably would not have helped.

It’s time to set the record straight regarding the budget for the expansion project.

Now this isn’t the final number, but a working figure.

It’s $13.5 million

That’s $13,500,000.00.

Quick! Someone bring the smelling salts. Mrs. Koch just keeled over.

Someone once asked her if her heart pounded the day she rode The Raven.

“Not nearly as hard as when I signed the note with the bank.”

And that was a decade ago. The Raven cost $2 million.

The Legend was $3 million in 2000.

Thus concludes this week’s HoliBlog Hint.

Please check back in a week for the answer to the following question:

Is the expansion for Holiday World?

Or Splashin’ Safari?

Or both?
___
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!

Just add water

It’s so frustrating when a supplier is late.

But sometimes it happens and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Except to maybe whine a little.

Or a lot.

The new fountain still awaits lights.

Until the lights arrive and are installed, the well is dry.

Dry fountainDry as a bone.

Dry as a … wishbone?

Happily, folks still seem to enjoy the fountain.

They approach it with a curious look on their faces, glance in, look around, comment to one another about the town’s water supply, and then move on.

One person wondered aloud if somehow the new water tower had somehow caused the “shortage.”

For some, old habits die hard:

 

Coins in dry fountain

Maybe they’re wishing … for the new fountain to be finished?

(Note to self: Watch Will carefully the next time he walks by the fountain; he’s always jingling coins in his pockets.)
___
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!

“You’re enjoying this too much!”

Since when is it a sin to enjoy your job? There’s a lot of chuckling going on around the office as we drop a hint here and there regarding next year’s record expansion project.

Sometimes, even more information is uncovered internally as the days progress. (In other words, I head over to the Main Office and ask some questions.)

For example, I just found out that the Snowy White Gravel Road is actually an access road to get supplies back to Bahari.

Go figure.

It’ll be mighty handy in the coming months, as the Snowy White Gravel Road is into multi-tasking.

Rich Davis, at the Evansville Courier & Press, grilled me hard last Friday, trying to unravel the mysteries woven throughout the HoliBlog.

And WTVW-TV called a bit ago; they’re doing a story for this evening’s newscast.

This is fun

So much fun, in fact, that we’re delaying the announcement.

No, not because we want to — we’ve hit a scheduling hitch and need to make the announcement a bit later than the originally planned June 16. (Sorry!)

On Friday, Rich asked if it made me nervous — would all this hype end up causing a big let down at some point. After all, in the past, we’ve always been buttoned-up tight until our announcements (usually held in the fall months).

This truly has been an adventure into uncharted waters.

I must admit, I’m a worrier. My mind constantly shouts, “What if?!”

Mrs. Koch and I laughed about this the other day. That advice, “Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s all small stuff,” doesn’t work with our personalities.

With us, it’s all big, huge, hairy stuff. (Although “stuff” could surely be replaced with a more properly descriptive word.)

But of this I’m certain. Folks who love Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari will be absolutely enamored with our expansion plans.
___
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!

You have to listen to win

Please note: This contest has concluded and the prize awarded.

This is one of those contests where you have to be listening to the right radio station at the right time if you want a chance to win.

“Win what?” you ask.

Win this:

Contest prize: truck

Ain’t it a beauty?

All you need to do is listen to WBKR radio station. Weekdays, sometime between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm CDT, there will be an announcement to “call in to win.” If you manage to be Caller #10, you get a place on Revolution.

That’s right.

If you’d like a chance to win, you need to capture one of the 33 spots on “the wheel”:

 

Listen to win on Revolution

On June 18, all the finalists will climb aboard our new Revolution and when the ride stops, there will be only one winner.

Want to know more? Head over to the WBKR website for all the rules and regs.

Please don’t email me asking to sign up another way, because …

(All together now): You have to listen to win!
___
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!

 

Proud Grandma, lucky grandchildren

Mrs. Koch always has cute stories about her grandchildren (she has 11; #12 is due in July).

Beautiful little Anna was here last week.

She’s two years old (and just-barely-two, not nearly-three).

When Mrs. Koch took her to our Rudolph’s Reindeer Ranch so that she could go on one of the kiddie rides, Anna had her own plan:

Go ride coaster!

It’s in her blood, we figure.

Raven roller coaster

In case you’re wondering, the height requirements apply to the Koch children and grandchildren just as they do to everyone else. No exceptions. Not ever.

Four or five seasons ago, it was tough. Four of the grandchildren are the same age. Two were tall enough to ride The Raven and The Legend, and two were not.

The “vertically challenged” grandkids ate a lot of string beans that summer, believe you me! But until they were tall enough, “Go ride coaster!” had to remain the height of fantasy.