Birthday rooms for epic parties

Party Room Candles 2 Leah's Birthday Party with Holidog

When people find out I grew up in a theme park because it was my family business, they often ask me expectantly: Did you have the COOLEST birthdays?!

The answer is sometimes. 

My sister and I were born in September and October, respectively, so we “got to” share our birthday party every year. So yes, we had a few birthdays at Holiday World (see exhibit A: adorable photo from party with all of us hugging Holidog circa early 1990s).

No. We didn’t get to run like crazy through a closed theme park.

No. We didn’t get to take prizes from the games or the shops.

Mostly there was just cake and pizza and Holidog. 

As we built Santa’s Merry Marketplace, we thought it might be nice to include a space for parties, so kids could throw some epic birthdays that surpass the ones I shared with my sister because–let’s be honest– the park is way cooler now than it was in the 1990s. 

Party Rooms Conversations

Interested in throwing an epic birthday party?

Party Room Candles 2

Now, we have party rooms available to maximize the coolness of a kid’s party at Holiday World. Here’s what you’ll need to know:

  • The rooms are FREE for Pizza Parties
  • We have two party packages available, including the option of an all-you-can-eat buffet
  • All birthday packages include breadsticks, dipping sauce, cookies, and free unlimited soft drinks
  • Salads can be added onto your package
  • Parties are available for groups between 15 and 49 Guests

You can also add on some other perks:

  • ¼ Sheet cake with Holiday World logo
  • Face painting
  • Caricatures

These birthday parties are putting my childhood ones to shame (sorry, Mom!).  

If you’re interested, please fill out this form for more information and pricing. 

Don’t forget! If you’re coming to celebrate a birthday, stop at Guest Relations for a birthday button! 


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#HoWoHacks: Handle the heat

Mammoth water coasterWe’re introducing a blog series of tips and tricks we’re calling #HoWoHacks.  We’ll give you some extra insider tips on how to handle the heat and more as we go. 

Everyone knows Splashin’ Safari is a great place to cool off on a sweltering day.

Naturally there’s Bahari River and Bahari Wave Pool, not to mention Kima Bay and Tembo Falls in the shadow of Bakuli for the little ones. And of course, if you want to build your way up to Mammoth and Wildebeest, we have the two best water coasters in the world–especially Mammoth with that chilly water. 

Doesn’t that all sound amazing right now?

Unfortunately, a refreshing dip won’t help you stay hydrated on a sweltering day, so we worked with our safety department to bring you some advice. 

Quick Tips for a hot day:

  • Start with a healthy breakfast
  • Bring an empty water bottle so you can keep a lot of water around all day
  • Free unlimited sunscreen is unlimited–take advantage of it!
  • Go light on the soft drinks–stick to mostly water and add some Gatorade 
  • Make sure you keep eating (check out our menus page so you can pick out some food that looks more appealing on a hot day such as a wrap or fruit salad at Wildebeestro)
  • Slow down your pace a little to avoid exhaustion 

Pro Tips for a hot day:

If you still find yourself feeling unwell in the heat–please notify a member of our staff so we can provide assistance from our EMT staff. 

Stay cool and stay safe!


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Sweepstakes: Water Coaster Family Getaway

Mammoth & Wildebeest4 sml

Congratulations to our winner: Madi M. from Shelbyville, Kentucky! Thanks to all who entered. More giveaways coming up soon!

With the warm weather moving in this week, we know the best place to be is Splashin’ Safari! 

Whether your speed is more water coaster or more lazy river, you can kick back with a free soft drink (or on those especially hot days, don’t forget Gatorade and lots of water). 

We have 30+ slides, three kids’ play areas, two (and a half at Tembo Falls for the kids) wave pools, and a lazy river. There’s a reason USA Today named us the #1 Outdoor Water Park in the nation

If you want water coasters, no one can top us. Last year at the Golden Ticket Awards Wildebeest and Mammoth were named #1 and #2 Water Park Rides in the world, respectively, and Mammoth even made the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest water coaster.Wildebeest Family

Plus, if you’re looking for a pro tip for cooling off: Mammoth has some of the chilliest water in the park. 

So if you’re ready for some awesome water coaster action with your family, we’re hosting another sweepstakes!

  • Four one-day tickets to Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari
  • Quick Access Passes for your party (valid for four people on Wildebeest and four people on Mammoth… or whatever two attractions you’d like)
  • Two nights in a Holiday Cottage at Lake Rudolph Campground and RV Resort

Be sure to enter daily to win!

Mammoth & Wildebeest4 sml

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, Sun RV Resort, and Dippin’ Dots LLC (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 Water Coaster 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:  August 9 – September 8, 2019.Mammoth Boat Going Over Hill
  • 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 is your favorite–Wildebeest or Mammoth. (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 Tuesday, August 6, 2019, at 12:15pm CDT, when we’ll choose a winner at random.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Good luck to all!


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Stranger than us?

1985 (probably) Map

I’ve already watched Season 3 of Stranger Things. 


“Where did you find the time to watch now that you’re over communications?” asked no one. (But if you are wondering… I simply gave up on that sleep thing)

In the fourth episode of the third season, Will talks about “You know when you drop on a roller coaster?”

In fact, Josh pointed out on our Season Passholder Facebook group that we might know a place in Indiana with coasters…

And it got me thinking

Did we have a roller coaster for the residents of (fictional) Hawkins, Indiana to ride? 

Our classics (Raven, Legend, Voyage, and Thunderbird) weren’t around yet. The Raven opened in 1995. 

But before Raven, we had Firecracker. Not our new Firecracker (our lovingly-restored classic Calypso ride). The roller coaster that used to stand in the spot where Holidog’s FunTown is today.

Now I want to paint a picture for you

Stranger Things Season 3 is set in the summer of 1985. 

In 1985, the park map looked like this (well we’re not 100% sure but we think this was our 1985 map): 

1985 (probably) Map1985 (Probably) Map Back

You may not be able to read it, but on the back you can see that the Fright Chasm Overlook (literally just the area to watch Frightful Falls) was listed as its own attraction. 

Santa Claus Land had just been renamed in 1984 to Holiday World and the Halloween and 4th of July sections had just been added. We had the Scarecrow Scrambler, the Virginia Reel, Eagle’s Flight, Rough Riders, and many attractions that have either found new homes or have been retired. 

We were just a year away from adding Banshee (and for the record, I was mad at my dad when we removed it so don’t start with me…I don’t like that we removed it either).

Our brochure had just changed from this in 1984:

1984 brochure front1984 brochure back
New in 84 Logo Shirt

Shameless plug: If you’re as obsessed with this logo as I am, you can buy it on a shirt in the gift shops today

To this in 1985 (did you notice that classic rebrand?):

1985 Brochure Front
1985 Brochure Back

Look at those jazz hands!












According to my mom, Lori, it was the first year for the high-dive show. 

My dad, Will Koch, was 23. He and my mom got married in May 1985, and they had moved to California by summer that year.

 Will & Lori Koch Wedding Day














But… if I could cast a dream episode of Stranger Things at Holiday World and could pretend my parents had been around the summer of 1985, I’d say my dad probably would have been a secondary engineering or math mentor to the Hawkins AV club kids, and my mom would have been the cool performer who caught one of the teenagers’ attention for a little too long while some government authority came running around the corner. (For the record my dad was an engineer and my mom was a performer… they were just in California so my dad could get his masters degree in engineering)  

In the midst of my parents’ newlywed bliss the Hawkins, Indiana kids would trash the rides defeating the demogorgons… so maybe not… 

But it’s cool to think that simultaneously while the action centers around the mall in this season, somewhere not too far away, Holiday World was there. And you just know Mike, Will, Dustin, and Lucas would be coaster enthusiasts. 

We hope after all of that fighting evil, ALL of those kids (and the few adults) got to have a fun day here. They deserved it! 


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Power Problem… Solved

Voyage Fuel Rod Closeup

If you’re like me, you can drain your battery in a day at a theme park.

Between taking photos, browsing the web waiting in line, checking show times, and looking up ride stats, even the best phone batteries cave under the pressure. 

So I charge my battery overnight and bring a power bank. But I’m not always the best at making sure that power bank is fully charged. 

Enter my BFF, Fuel Rod

If you haven’t heard of them, Fuel Rod has kiosks available in airports, train stations, theme parks, etc. They sell you a one-time rechargeable power bank for your phone (plus cables so you don’t have to bring your own).

After that, you can use the power bank until it dies and then pay only $1 to exchange it for a fully charged power bank.  

So if you’re a textbook battery-drainer like me, you’re in luck. 

We have four locations across Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari:


St. Nick’s Trading Company

Located in the first section (or the section to the far right)

St Nicks Fuel Rod Close


Splashin’ Safari

In Safari Outpost

Outpost Fuel Rod 2


Voyage Gift Shop

Turn right after you enter the gift shop when you’re finished riding The Voyage

Voyage Fuel Rod Closeup











Hevron’s Mercantile (By Thunderbird)

Hevron's Fuel Rod

Located to the far right wall as you face the entrance of the store.











So next time you’re visiting, if you find your phone battery dying, pick up a Fuel Rod. 

Oh and helpful hint: if you download the Fuel Rod app, you can get five exchanges for free!

Now if you need me, I’ll be looking up ride stats on my phone…

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Limited Time Only: Flavors of the 4th

4th of July Treats

We’re the only park with a 4th of July themed area, and we’re proud of that. 

But when you celebrate Independence Day every day, how do you make the actual holiday special?

4th of July Treats

Our red, white, and blue treats are only available July 1-7

First of all, we’ll be holding a patriotic fireworks show on Thursday, July 4 and on Friday, July 5 at 9:00 pm CDT. 

In addition, our food & beverage team has been working on limited-edition red, white, and blue treats that are only available July 1-7. 

From sweet to shining sweet, here are some of our can’t-miss treats:

Candy Cane Confectionary

  • Red, White, and Blue Cupcakes
  • Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
  • Fudge with red strawberry, white vanilla, and blue blueberry flavors
4th of July Jello Parfait

Cherry and blueberry Jello Parfait

Santa’s Merry Marketplace

  • Cherry and blueberry Jello parfaits

Udderly Blue

  • Red & blue twist ice cream with a white chocolate dipped waffle cone

Dippin’ Dots

  • Liberty Ice

What are you waiting for?

These are only available for one week, so come check them out before they’re gone!

4th of July Red White Blue Strawberries4th of July Red White Blue Cupcakes4th of July Red White Blue Fudge

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The 11th Annual Holimpics

Team Australia 2015

Every year, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari’s HR department hosts the event of the season: the Holimpics. It’s the ultimate test of theme park athleticism where our Team Members form teams to “represent” different countries from around the world.


Tonight is the night 

Tonight one country (or group of our Team Members) will emerge victorious. 

Once upon a time I competed in the Holimpics.

Full disclosure: I’m pretty much just writing this to brag. 

My first year, I joined a team hesitantly. 

You see, I’m obnoxiously competitive and wildly uncoordinated. It’s not a pretty color to wear when playing team sports. They recruited me anyway.

“You’ll only have to do the Water Cup Challenge,” they said. 

“It’ll be fun,” they said.

We were team Belize. We had shirts that said “You better Belize it.” I got a little excited. My siblings and I used to come along with my mom (who was director of entertainment at the time) to cheer on the entertainers. I was finally going to compete in the famed Holimpics. 

Team Belize 2014

You better Belize we had shirts made

Then I found myself running against the current in the Bahari River. I didn’t do well.

But Lauren (my sister) and I made up for it in the water cup challenge at The Legend. We knew the perfect strategy from years of watching the event. (And to the enthusiasts who like to compete in the challenge every year at HoliWood Nights, I will not be revealing that here). 

We came back with completely full cups of water (as did Ashley, our Marketing Director now and Cody, our special events intern at the time). 

Team Belize came in second place that year.

So the next year we tried again. That year we were Team Australia and we had shirts made that said “#AreYouKoalafied. So we looked pretty cool. I did not have to run against the Bahari river’s current. But I did come back with another full cup. 

That year, we won. 

I stopped competing then. I figured I was too good. (To be clear: I didn’t actually think that at all, I just figured I wouldn’t ever do better than second place followed by winning in back-to-back years).

Team Australia 2015

Shout-out to my awesome team members who won this event! Everyone but me on that team was #koalafied

So this is my long way of bragging that I only competed only twice in this event, and I came in second place the first year and won the next. 

But also, to all the teams competing tonight, good luck! 

Win or lose, it’s going to be one of the best nights of your life. 

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The training train

Holidog Express train ride

It is training season here at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari: Foods training, Lifeguard drills,  Sweeper coaching, Admissions instruction … the list goes on and on.

Come to think of it, there’s even train training.

Holidog Express train ride

There’s also lots of Safety Training.

Each department has its own, and there are additional company-wide sessions.

This one is a perennial favorite

Who doesn’t like the hands-on aspect of fire-extinguisher schooling?

The PASS acronym is worth repeating: P = Pull, A = Aim, S = Squeeze, S = Sweep.

We hope this may have sparked some interest in checking into your household safety, too. Between smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and evacuation plans, it’s never too late to get safe!
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Podcast: The Takeover

Lauren with Bacon Seasoning

With Paula away on vacation, the #PodSquad had a new host this week: Me! (Hence the title “The one where they all went Rogue.”)

I had a lot of goals for this episode: create a new game, don’t screw up, and don’t screw up.

I succeeded in creating a new game.

Luckily, accountant Tiffany Leonard joined us to tell us about the “most boring” job in a theme park, and the most exciting job in accounting.

Podsquad with Matt, Lauren, & Tiffany

We talked about the opening of Happy Halloween Weekends, and the return of our favorite special menu items like the buffalo chicken sandwich.

Tiffany told us about her homemade Halloween costumes for her kids, and they are impressive to say the least:

Cupcake CostumeBaker Costume

…that owl costume…

Owl Costume 2Owl Costume 1Owl Costume 3

We couldn’t remember if we were able to post the video of Dad (Will Koch) on the Colbert Report back in 2006. We can! Here’s that video:

We learned a lot of ways to prepare pierogis in preparation for National Pierogi Day on Oct. 8. For the record, this is what pierogies look like:


Matt got a new nickname…


…the badger.

We received a gift of brown sugar and maple bacon seasoning from Emma—one of our loyal listeners. We’re going to use this for our holiday bacon (you’ll have to ask Tiffany).

Lauren with Bacon Seasoning

Marcus Lemonis, host of the CNBC show “The Profit,” tweeted quite the offer:

The Coaster Crew got a little cheesy (get it?):

And then they got downright comical:

We closed with the new game: “Not my Name,” and I concluded that hosting is a fun, but difficult job. That said…


*Please note that I would like to include more exclamation points… but I have to obey punctuation rules. 

Trading Swimsuits for Scarecrows

Millie Decorating

It’s sad to type this, but it’s official. Splashin’ Safari has closed for the 2017 season. I added that information to the “Ride Closures” section of our website first thing on Monday morning after the water park closed.

That can’t keep me down long though. If there’s one thing I love as much flying over the top of one of the hills on our water coasters, it’s fall. The crisp air, fall foliage, and being able to spend all day in my favorite sweatshirts.

Oh, and Halloween decorations. I go all out.

You can imagine my excitement last week when I ventured out into the park, camera in tow, to capture photos of the park as all our Halloween decorations started going up. The park transforms this time of year. Halloween hill has been taken over. The pumpkins are here. I repeat: the pumpkins are here in all shapes and sizes! (If you think you know just how many pumpkins we brought in to decorate the park, be sure to enter our newest sweepstakes!)

Deer and DecorationsBefore I even took my first photo, I spotted a couple of visitors that had made their way into the newly-placed decorations. As those who listen to our podcast already know, this is what we’d call a Code WL. If you’re behind on your listening, this is how we let each other know when wildlife is spotted in the park. Here’s a picture I snapped before one of Santa’s reindeer decided they were finished exploring.

I definitely got the easy job. We have crews that have been working diligently for the past two weeks to get everything put into place for the start of Happy Halloween Weekends. The flower beds are filled with mums now. Hundreds of straw bales have been placed all around the park. Forty truck-loads of corn fodder shocks were brought in. My job was to explore the park and capture the beauty of all the new additions.

On my most recent trip into the park, I stopped to get a few pictures and chat with Tom who was replacing lights on the Star Spangled Carousel (called the Star Spangled Scarousel during Happy Halloween Weekends). He let me know that there were over 1,300 lights on the Carousel, the majority of which are changed in the fall. They’re no longer the red, white, and blue that you’re used to during the summer; the red and blue have been replaced with green and orange. I also had to stop and get a photo of Millie, who was putting the finishing touches on some decorations near Rudolph’s Reindeer Ranch.

Millie Decorating

As the new guy in the office, I’ve had a lot of memorable “first” milestones since I started. First Behind-the-Scenes Coaster Walk. First Rock the World Music Fest. First Network TV show shoot.

I think the opening of Happy Halloween Weekends just might be my favorite one yet.