Deliveries arriving daily

mystery materials

Since the days till opening can now be counted on one hand (gulp!) the folks in the warehouse department are handling tons of … stuff.

What are these deliveries all about?

Lots and lots of plush has been unloaded and will soon be put on display at games throughout Holiday World.

new plush

Uniforms have arrived and are being distributed.

arrivals at the warehouse

Cleaning supplies, lots of souvenirs and other items for the shops.

Other deliveries?

Last-minute equipment for the show techs to use.

And a bunch more mats for Jungle Racer:

And then there’s this

Hmmmmm…

I have a feeling it should have a “Do not open until ’06” sticker on it.

mystery materials

Hey! Let’s all plan to eat plenty of Holiday World pizza this summer — looks like the sauce is loaded with iron!
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Don’t brush aside our painters!

Don the painter

As the clock ticks louder and louder, counting down the minutes till opening day, our many crews – including the painters – are doing whatever it takes to get the park ready.

The painters are hard at work.

It’s difficult to tell sometimes (that they’re hard at work) because they have such a rollicking good time slapping on that paint. They’re a hilarious bunch of guys. (We tease them it’s because of the paint fumes…)

Don the painter

This is Don modeling the spring’s finest paintwear. (Thanks for not making a face at the camera, Don.)

I asked Rick, our graphic artist, to estimate the amount of paint we go through each season. He had to brush up on his math skills to arrive at his answer…

Up to 1000 gallons a year

Wow. Color me amazed.

Problem solving the high-tech way

Test ball

Wow! Will Koch is getting into this HoliBlogging — two days in a row! (He cautioned me not to expect something every day. We’ll take what we can get, right?)

This is from Will:

Yesterday, our marketing director, John, called and said we needed to talk about the logo design for the water tower. We had planned to put the Holiday World logo on it in its usual “stacked format.”

Holiday World logo

It would be about 32’ wide by 25’ high. A nice size that would probably be visible a few miles away. The painting contractors had the art, and should have started painting the logo several days ago, but there wasn’t a logo there yet, so I knew something was up.

The problem, apparently, was that because of the logo’s height, it was wrapping too far up and down the sides of the tank. Because of the decreasing radius of the tank as you go up or down from the “equator,” this would cause too much distortion.

It wasn’t going to work

So, John and I had to sort out the problem. The question was, how much does the curvature affect the art?

How big can we go without really messing up the Holiday World logo?

Fortunately, I had something in my office that worked out as a stand-in for the water tank. It was the “Official Zinga Test Ball,” a basketball used by Andreas Tanzer of ProSlide to test the Zinga before we put water, inner tubes, and people on it.

According to Andreas, a basketball on a dry slide is a pretty good stand-in for an inner-tube-on-a-wet-slide. Anyway, the Zinga Test Ball became the stand-in for something else—-the bowl on our new 500,000-gallon water tower.

Test ball

As you can see, we decided that the “horizontal” logo would look the best. We even used the basketball to determine exactly how long the logo could be and still be read without too much distortion. Indiana is famous for basketball, but who knew how clever we Hoosiers could be about finding new and creative uses for them?

Anyway, the water tower problem was solved, and the Zinga Test Ball has a new look for a while.

10 days till opening: Will Koch’s thoughts

Here is Will’s first HoliBlog post:

As opening approaches, everywhere I go in town, people ask me, “Are you ready?”

And I always respond, “No. But we will be on opening day.”

They also want to know whether I’m nervous about getting the park open. The funny thing is that I always (honestly) reply that no, I’m not nervous at all.

And I’m not

We have such a great team of Directors, Managers, and Staff who’ve been with us for many years and who just know what needs to be done that I don’t have to worry.

I know that our parks are in capable, caring hands, and that the work will get done. There are always a few battles that we’re fighting or things that we’re waiting for as we come down to the wire (this year it’s the concrete embedments for our new Applause Hands fountain in the entrance plaza—we’re 10 days from opening, and some of them still aren’t here) but by and large, our staff just gets the job done.

The parks are a beehive of activity during these weeks (watch out for golf carts, mules and gators in the walkways), and it can be a little scary walking around and thinking about all of the things that need to be done before opening.

Heck, we have a water tower sitting in The Legend Parking Lot in three big blue, red, and yellow pieces right now.

Water tower, unassembled

At the same time, it’s also satisfying to know that all of our rides have been set up, tested, and passed state ride inspections. I feel good that Raging Rapids, Frightful Falls, The Wave, and The Congo River are already full of water, with filters running.

With luck, we’ll start filling Bahari, the new wave pool, on Friday. It will be ready for Splashin’ Safari’s opening on May 14. I’m extraordinarily proud of our staff for never missing an opening date with a new ride or attraction. This time of year, it’s interesting to read the press releases from other parks that are explaining how their new attractions will open late due to bad weather. The weather hasn’t been perfect here, either. But Bahari will be open on May 14. Enough said.

Anyway, we’re getting ready.

We’ve “built it”

Now, I have to face the issue I really do worry about: “Will they come?”

Stay tuned.

Around and around we go!

Revolution at night

Well. Maybe not we.

I don’t know, maybe it has something to do with getting older, but those circular rides make me sick.

Sorry, I can’t “spin” this into something positive, but it really doesn’t matter, does it? You either like to put centrifugal force to the test or you don’t.

I’ll  gladly pass

Back in 1992, the Kochs offered to take all the park directors to the annual IAAPA convention. Whoopee! We eagerly read through the printed materials detailing the multi-day event. Lots of workshops and seminars. An opportunity to network (oh, boy! was that ever the big buzzword back then) with management from other parks. Plus, we’d get to visit a big park near the convention site.

Huh? Why would we want to do that?

Oh—of course! To network some more, stroll around the park, munch on some goodies, maybe watch a show.

Rides? They have rides?

Will it hurt their feelings if we don’t ride?

What the heck am I doing working for a theme park? Most rides terrify me. When we “employee tested” Liberty Launch a few years back, no one wanted to sit next to me for fear of permanent hearing loss. And I’ve already told you about testing The Raven a few weeks back.

My first park experience was at Quassy Amusement Park, or as it was then called, Lake Quassapaug. I was three or four and was determined to go on the kiddie helicopter ride. It looked wonderfully exciting and I begged and begged until my parents agreed to let me ride.

Big mistake.

When the ride started up and my pudgy little hands grasped the bar, I held on as tightly as I could. Unfortunately, that bar was in the position that lifted my cute little helicopter to its highest position. Miles and miles above terra firma. My parents and brothers looked like ants from my terrifying vantage point.

So I did what I still do in such situations:

I screamed my lungs out

They actually had to stop the ride to let me off. I guess the other little kids had the opportunity to get a second, longer ride, so maybe they weren’t too mad at me. I’ll never know for sure, though; there was no way I could force myself to look back to check.

Happily, there are many, many children and adults out there who love rides that spin around. One mom emailed me recently to tell me she and her son always ride the Virginia Reel together—it’s their favorite ride. (Heaven help me – I can barely think about that ride!)

The Roundhouse is gone (you know that, don’t you?). Don’t get worked up about it, though, because we’ve replaced it with Revolution. It’s basically the same ride, actually, only a little bit bigger, a little bit faster, and with a slightly higher tilt.

And a spiffy light package:

Revolution at night

Thanks to Tori, our director of rides, for providing this photo. She snapped it over the weekend, when it was incredibly cold and obnoxiously windy. What crummy conditions for training!

We’re all so pleased that replacing the Roundhouse with Revolution means we can still use Tori’s little joke: After you get soaked on Raging Rapids, be sure to spin dry on Revolution!

If it’s all the same to you, Tori, I believe I’ll drip dry.

The big countdown

Oh, my gosh — it just hit me! How does time pass so quickly from year to year?

There’s never enough time to get ready.

And now, all of a sudden, we’re down to single digits!

Just eight months till Christmas!

(Faked you out, didn’t I?)

It’s so much fun to be out at the Front Gate during the season, to see the look on our Guests’ faces as they enter the Christmas section. All of a sudden, there’s Christmas music! Some folks look shocked, but then start laughing. Others immediately start singing along. Still others don’t notice; they’re too busy checking to make sure they didn’t already misplace their car keys.

And then there’s the Santa statue. How many families crowd around Santa for a family portrait each summer? It’s really sweet to watch. Sometimes we get to play photographer after offering to step in and snap the photo so that the entire family is in the shot.

He’s all spiffed up and ready for opening day:

Santa statue in 2005

One of my favorite stories from over the years involves the Santa statue.

A young family was walking into the Christmas Plaza. Mom, Dad, and a little girl. She was four, tops, and cute as a button.

Daddy pointed out the Santa statue, “Look, honey, there he is! You’ve been waiting and waiting to see him! Who is it?”

The little dumpling turned to see. Her face suddenly broke into gleeful recognition. She let out a joyous squeal and ran toward the statue as fast as her chubby little legs could take her.

Who is it, honey?

“MICKEY!”

Woodn’t you like to know?

Will Koch does not like to cut down trees.

Let me rephrase that:

Will Koch does not like to cut down tree

It’s against his nature. He wants as much shade as possible in the park. And the beauty of the old hardwoods is part of his family’s heritage. He’s the third generation to run this lovely playground and he doesn’t want to be the one to mess it up.

The popular “S curve” at the bottom of the last drop on The Raven actually came about because Will didn’t want to lose any more precious trees. The initial design skimmed along the edge of the forest, creating the need to cut down an entire row.

“Can’t we zig-zag it into the woods and save some trees?” he asked the engineers at Custom Coasters.

They made it work.

Whenever we do have to take out a tree, I think about that wonderful old Keep America Beautiful ad. Remember it? The one with the Native American sadly looking out over the polluted, trashed river? With that single tear slowly sliding down his weathered face.

I picture Will that same way.

Well, when I saw this on my way to work this morning, I felt compelled to run by the store to pick up a box of those man-sized tissues for Will:

lumber

What’s going on? Who would do this?

Does Will know about this?

To give you a bit of perspective, gentle readers, I risked life and limb and stood along Highway 162 to take this photo from up near Holidog’s FunTown:

Highway 162

I can’t tell exactly where on the property the trees originated. It’s certainly not a clear-cut operation, as the forested area beyond Splashin’ Safari is still there.

It looks as if the trees have been removed very precisely. One by one. As few as possible. Making room for … could be just about anything!

Well, whatever it is, it’s big.

Really big.

Even the skulls are smiling!

HallowSwings

A friend from Massachusetts emailed me this morning to tell me about his young daughter.

Ella just turned six and is a darling little girl. As the mother of three sons (no daughters) and the sister to three brothers, I do have an affinity for stories about daughters.

They watched one of the Harry Potter movies the other night and now Ella wrestles with “bad thoughts” as she tries to go to sleep at night.

Her daddy used the age-old “let’s think about something else” trick. He cleverly turned her thoughts to their upcoming trip to Holiday World. They’ve not been here before, so they couldn’t rely on memories but instead turned to their imaginations to dream up ideas about what might be here.

One of Ella’s ideas was, “There should be big snowflakes that you swing back and forth on!” She was on the right track, happily drifting toward dreamland.

This all screeched to a halt when she remembered we also have a Halloween section.

Uh-oh.

The Halloween holiday can be scary

Spooky stuff.

My mom always loved the creepy side of Halloween; she used to take my brothers and me on nightly “Witch Walks” each October. At dusk we’d skulk about our neighborhood, telling ghost stories. We’d dash from a light post to behind trees to keep the “witch” from catching us. My brothers reveled in the thrill. Scared me half to death. So, I’m with you, Ella!

And to quell your fears a bit, take a look here at HallowSwings, which we added a few years ago.

HallowSwings

When our graphic artist and our marketing department were working on the graphic design for this ride, Mrs. Koch brought up an interesting question: “Will the design be scary-scary or friendly-scary? I don’t think we should terrify the smaller children.”

The resulting design makes me laugh every time I walk by HallowSwings …

Skulls on HallowSwings

Don’t worry, Ella. At Holiday World, even the skulls are happy!

Training on the high seas

Pirates in training

Training is one big yawn, right? The trainer says, “Blah, blah, blah,” while you nod politely and wonder what’s for dinner.

Our lifeguards get 32 hours of training before they start work

Each year the members of the management staff at Splashin’ Safari put on their thinking caps and come up with a theme.

The thinking caps, this season, just happen to be pirate hats, eye patches, and an assortment of attention-getting weapons.

Pirates in training

Lori, their fearless she-pirate leader, gave me a copy of the text of the skit her clever folks used to get everyone in the mood to learn about first aid.

Here are some of the lines from the skit:

Black-and-Bluebeard: Gar … I’m so thirsty … I’ve been up in the crow’s nest all day … my skin is all dry and clammy …

Burnacle Britt: Gar … Black-and-Bluebeard … due to your prolonged time in the sun without any fluid intake, you must be suffering from a heat-related emergency, which we medical professionals know as hyperthermia. The first thing… (Burnacle Britt then explains the steps to helping the overheated, under-hydrated pirate.)

Later in the skit…

Long Jen Seizure: Shiver me timbers! Will I have to fill out another one of those blasted reports?!

Captain Contusion: Aye, you will, mate. First-aid reports are very important. Anytime we treat someone, it’s important to document the event and describe the scenario as best we can. (Etc.)

Next comes the fight sequence:

Black-and-Bluebeard: Gar…quit your talking Long Jen Seizure…go back to Treasure Island. You couldn’t even get into a movie because it was rated “RRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!”

Long Jen Seizure: Those be fightin’ words!

(There is then a “bloody” sword fight—a very dramatic and realistic battle, as only plastic toys can convey.)

Black-and-Bluebeard: Gar … (caring for Burnacle Britt) … looks like we have an embedded object. I’ll control the bleeding and I’ll leave the object for real medical professionals to remove.

Lifeguard training

Long Jen Seizure: Gar … do you do piercings, too?

Captain Contusion: Yeah … they’re a buccaneer (buck-an-ear, get it?).

Brace yourself; one more:

Long Jen Seizure: Captain Contusion, I’m not doing so well. My joints are stiff and sore. And it’s been taking a while for me cuts to heal.

Caption Contusion: Slow wound healing … arg! You have a Vitamin C deficiency! Gar … ye gots the scurvy, mate!

Poor Jen then has a seizure. The pirates hustle to put a towel under her head and remove potentially dangerous objects from the area. Once the seizing subsides, they are taught to maintain an open airway and do an initial assessment.

Well, blow me down! Who knew these landlubbers could learn so much from a bunch of scallywags!

Several years ago we had a TV crew in the water park to interview some of our lifeguards.

One comment stuck with me, “It’s not Baywatch!”

Aye, matey. Aye.

(Oh…and a reminder from Mrs. Koch: Don’t forget to swab the decks!)

The Christmas Crater

Christmas Crater

Three weeks till opening.

Rain this week didn’t help the process of getting ready.

Look at how much we got:

Christmas Crater

Who needs a rain gauge when you’ve got a Christmas Crater?

But wait! What’s that on the left?

There – by the edge of the giant puddle.

A white flag?

A treasure map?

A sail?

"Baby Bahari"

Whoever made that sign and posted it in the Christmas Crater … thank you.

It made a lot of hurried, harried people laugh today.
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