Once upon a time in Santa Claus Land

Ever wondered how many families have taken photos with our Santa statue over the years? It's a bunch, we know that much. This cute photo from March of 1976 (those little munchkins are Karena G. and Shannon P.) was posted on Instagram and is from our Santa Claus Land days.

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Happy birthday to us!

Sixty-seven years ago today, Louis J. Koch opened a little park he called Santa Claus Land. All these years later and his idea for a place for families to enjoy time together continues to thrive. In fact, this week USA Today named our Splashin’ Safari the Best Water Park in the Nation. How about that!…

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Stand By Me

One of the most popular songs in 1961, when this photo was taken, was Stand By Me. It wasn't a Christmas song, but the title certainly suits ol' Santa. According to Erin E., who shared this wonderful photo of her great-grandparents, that's Claude and Lennie Russell on the left, and Martha and Amel Knight. Claude…

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Flagging down some help

The other morning, we noticed the Coaster Cats were on top of The Raven's lift hill. They were performing the annual ritual of removing that year's flags. And in the spring, they put up a lovely new set. So what happens to the old, tattered flags? We auction them! Just about everyone seems to know…

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Christmas in July

… means lots of memories of our dear Santa Jim (Mrs. Koch's dad and Dan's grandfather),  whose ho-ho-ho-ing filled the park when we were Santa Claus Land. Here's the link to a wonderful newspaper feature about Santa Jim from the 1970s.

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Gate gifts

It's so sweet to see Mrs. Koch empty her pockets after spending the morning at our front gate, greeting Guests. There's always something interesting … Some of the smaller visitors bring her heartfelt gifts. It may be a simple message: … or intricate artwork, such as this masterpiece from young Cale: … or even a…

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We’re still Santa Claus Land to some

… and that's okay. But somehow, it seems fair to expect the news media to get it right. My absolute favorite Santa Claus Land headline was back in 1992, when the park had been Holiday World for nearly a decade. It was my first season with the park and we'd had great fun with the…

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A Friend from ’62

Wow. It's not just my Mom reading this thing. An email came in late yesterday afternoon from a lady asking about discounts. When I emailed her back with the information, she replied with this sweet story (I have her permission to post this): I remember my Aunt Deanie (who had come home from California for…

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Just what do Santa’s Elves do in January?

Every December, there are lots of jokes that Santa "works just one day a year." But we know better, don't we? And his Elves keep busy year-round, too. Take Millie, for instance. Here she is, over by the former Betsy Ross Doll House. Former? That's right. The doll house is moving out of the park….

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“The moose at the front gate should have told you…”

You might think that once the front gates close at the end of the season, we don’t see another Guest until the next summer. Taking a walk through the (mostly) still and silent park will tell you a completely different story though. During the off-season, we play host to Guests of a different kind. Often…

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Pasta perfect

Bill Koch meeting the creator of Fettuccine Alfredo

When a family-owned business has been around for 65 years, there are always new discoveries. By that I mean … we’re forever finding precious old photos and mementos tucked away in odd places. The other day, Mrs. Koch bounded into my office carrying a big box. Look what we just found in the attic over…

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Santa Claus Land forward: 65 years in 2 minutes

Wednesday was a big anniversary for us. Sixty-five years ago, on August 3, 1946, Louis J. Koch opened his park, Santa Claus Land. It was his retirement project, conceived before World War II and opened a year – nearly to the day – after turning over that first shovel of dirt. As part of our…

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