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.

This is only a test

Do you remember school fire drills? As kids, we’d scurry down the hallway knowing we’d get a few extra minutes of “recess” as part of the drill.

It was a good thing.

Here at Holiday World, we conduct drills, too. And yesterday evening was a big one.

For the better part of a year, our staff has worked with area agencies to plan the type of emergency-preparedness drill that would benefit all involved.

… because every last one of us wants to be prepared to handle what we hope will never happen.

Our scenario? A weather emergency: a “microburst” would hit the park while we were open.

Our staff and most of the emergency workers didn’t know any of the details of the drill ahead of time, so when the first radio call went out we learned there was a fast-appoaching violent storm.

We tweeted throughout the drill, explaining what was going on:

We learned, through triage, that park guests needed help in the parking lot, in Kringle’s, and in a restroom – where access to the injured was blocked by falling trees. There was also a pregnant lady in Skeeball who thought she was going into labor. LifeFlight from St. Mary’s and a Search & Rescue team from the Owensboro, Kentucky, fire department joined personnel from local police, fire, EMS, EMA and sheriff departments.

As part of the drill, the injured were transported by helicopter, ambulance and bus.

And what happened to the woman in active labor?

Thanks to the scores of rescuers who gave up their evening for the training exercise. As much as we all hope to never need your expertise and skills, it’s good to know it’s there.

The drive to dive

Well, she did it – one of our incredible divers went to the World High Dive Championship in Russia this week, and she’s bringing home the silver medal.

Cesilie will be back today, performing in our Dive! show once again.

CesilieTalk about a crazy summer job – moving to Santa Claus, Indiana, from Texas to dive from the top of a 70-foot tower into a 14-foot pool.

Every day, she kicks the clouds.

Cesilie and the rest of our high-dive team will perform their silly dives, group dives, Olympic-style dives, the high dive, plus the famous fire dive daily through August 12, and then days we’re open through September 20.

And, as our announcer says several times during each show: Don’t try this at home!

Unless, of course, you’re Cesilie Carlton!