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Thursday, August 18 2011

SANTA CLAUS, IN - Holiday World is no stranger when it comes to topping "best of" lists. They've had number one rides, been called the nation's friendliest and cleanest park, and now comes another distinction.

Travel website,, has named Holiday World's Splashin' Safari as the number one water park in the country.

In giving Splashin' Safari the top spot on their list, cited what they referred to as "aquatic delights" such as the Wildebeest water coaster, and the parks practice of providing free soft drinks and sunscreen.

"This is huge," says Holiday World & Splashin' Safari president Dan Koch. "Our country has so many excellent water parks; it's humbling to be declared the best."

Last week, Holiday World officials announced they will be adding yet another attraction to Splashin' Safari. A second water coaster called "Mammoth" will open next May.

Here is tripadvisor's top ten water parks list:

  • 1. Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, Santa Claus, Indiana
  • 2. Typhoon Lagoon, Orlando, Florida
  • 3. Noah's Ark Water Park, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
  • 4. Morey's Piers, Wildwood, New Jersey
  • 5. Kahuna Laguna, North Conway, New Hampshire
  • 6. Water Country USA, Williamsburg, Virginia
  • 7. NRH20 Waterpark, North Richland Hills, Texas
  • 8. Adventureland, Des Moines, Iowa
  • 9. Aquatica (SeaWorld's Waterpark), Orlando, Florida
  • 10. Wild Water & Wheels, Surfside Beach, South Carolina


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, September 13 2010

Congratulations to Holiday World for their great achievement.


Holiday World & Splashin' Safari in southern Indiana has won six Golden Ticket Awards by Amusement Today magazine. In addition, late owner Will Koch is the second inductee into the magazine's Legends Series. Golden Tickets were presented to the Wildebeest water coaster for Best New Ride in a Water Park and Best Overall Water Park Ride, and the Voyage roller coaster as the top-ranked Wooden Coaster on the Planet for the fourth consecutive year. Holiday World also collected top awards for Cleanest Park and Friendliest Park.

The new Wildebeest water coaster at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari was named the Best New Ride in a Water Park and Best Overall Water Park Ride at Saturday evening’s Golden Ticket Awards, presented during an Academy Awards-style ceremony at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

In addition, Holiday World's Voyage roller coaster was named the #1 Wooden Coaster on the Planet for the fourth year in a row.

Presented by Amusement Today publisher Gary Slade, the industry’s “best of the best” awards include theme, amusement and water parks from around the world. Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari won a record six Golden Ticket Awards at this year’s ceremony.

For the eleventh consecutive year, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari were named the #1 Cleanest Park, outranking such parks as Disney World, Kings Island, Dollywood, and Cedar Point. The parks also received #1 Friendliest Park award for the twelfth year.

“For these awards, we humbly thank our wonderful Hosts and Hostesses,” says park matriarch Pat Koch, who attended the ceremony with daughter-in-law Lori and grandson William. “It was a long, hot summer and they all worked together to keep smiling and keep cleaning.”

In an emotional tribute, the late Will Koch was honored as only the second inductee in Amusement Today’s Legends Series for being “a true visionary, leader and dear friend to the industry.” The park’s leader for more than two decades, Koch passed away unexpectedly in June at the age of 48.

Amusement Today is an international monthly trade journal for the amusement and water park industries, based in Arlington, Texas. The Golden Ticket Awards are determined by surveys submitted by well-traveled park enthusiasts from around the world.

Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari will be open September 18 and then closed to the public September 19 for a private outing. From September 25 through October 10, Holiday World will be open weekends-only before closing for the season.

Source: Holiday World & Splashin Safari & Inside INdiana Business

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 12:28 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, July 18 2010
Holiday World and Splashin' Safari's Wildebeest has landed on Popular Mechanics' list of the world's wildest water slides. The magazine says the ride stands out because it's the world's longest water coaster and uses linear-induction motors, which are commonly featured in steel roller coasters. 

The Wildebeest opened at Holiday World this April as a hydromagnetic water ride that includes seven drops, totaling 178 feet. The $5.5 million project is the second largest investment in the park's 64 years.

Why It Stands Above the Rest: Stretching one-third mile but lasting only 2-1/2 minutes, the Wildebeest is the world's longest water coaster. Wildebeest uses linear-induction motors to power four-person toboggan-style rafts. The technology, which is a common feature in steel roller coasters, makes the Wildebeest stand out as a slide—allowing it to move both downhill and uphill at 36 feet per second.

Source: Popular Mechanics & Inside INdiana Business

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 10:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, June 25 2010

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari in Santa Claus has named a new president and chief executive officer. Dan Koch is taking over following the sudden death of his brother Will last week. Dan Koch is a lawyer in Florida and plans to make regular trips to Santa Claus.

SANTA CLAUS, IND-----Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari will continue to be owned and operated by the Koch family “into perpetuity,” according to the park’s new president and CEO, Dan Koch.

Koch, 46, takes the helm following the sudden death of his brother Will earlier this month.

“Will and I have been business partners for decades and have spoken on the phone daily for more than 30 years,” says Koch. “I consider it an honor to step in as president and continue the expansion plans my brother and I crafted together. In the meantime, Will’s three children will have time to finish their education and learn more about the family business before they decide how they would like to be involved in the future of the park.”
Koch says his mother, Pat, will continue as the park’s Director of Values, greeting guests at the front gate and providing motivation and guidance to the management and staff.

“Our company was reorganized two years ago, when Will promoted two of our park directors to general managers,” says Koch. “These GMs will keep the park running smoothly as we move into the heart of the season and prepare for next year.”

Koch adds he plans to “stay the course” with Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari’s long-range expansion plans, community involvement, and philanthropic efforts.

Koch is a partner in the law firm Koch & Trushin in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He plans regular trips to the Santa Claus park and daily communication with management. He is married and has two young children.

Along with his four siblings, Koch grew up in the town of Santa Claus; his first job was playing a costumed elf at Santa Claus Land, as Holiday World was called prior to 1984. His other seasonal jobs at the park included working in the games department, helping on the parking crew and hauling trash. He graduated from Heritage Hills High School in 1982 and the University of Miami in 1986 with a degree in Business Administration and Finance. Following a year working fulltime at Holiday World, Koch returned to the University of Miami, where he earned a law degree in 1990. He practiced law in Miami for 15 years before opening Koch & Trushin law firm in 2005.

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari are open daily for the season, featuring the new Wildebeest, the world’s longest water coaster. For more information, visit or call 1-877-Go-Family.

If you would rather not receive future communications from Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, let us know by clicking here.
Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, PO Box 179, Santa Claus, IN 47579 United States

Source: Holiday World & Splashin' Safari & Inside INdiana Business

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, June 15 2010

The president of Holiday World and Splashin' Safari is being remembered as a business visionary, caring boss and strong community supporter. Will Koch died suddenly Sunday of what his family believes to be complications from diabetes. Holiday World Spokeswoman Paula Werne says under Koch's leadership, the park went from annual attendance of 300,000 to more than one million.


Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari owner and president, Will Koch, passed away Sunday evening at his home.

“Will was not only our leader, he was our dear friend,” says park spokesperson Paula Werne. “Our park family is in mourning for this sweet man who worked tirelessly to bring fun and happiness to so many families in the 20 years he ran the park.”

Koch died at home of what the family believes to be complications from diabetes. He was 48.

“The Koch family wants to assure the public that Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari will be open today and will continue to be owned and operated by his family,” says Werne. “We know that’s what Will would have wanted.”

Born and raised in the town of Santa Claus, Koch attended Heritage Hills High School in Lincoln City, and was Valedictorian of his graduating class in 1979. He graduated with honors from the University of Notre Dame in 1984 with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. In 1986, he received a Master's degree in Computer Science from the University of Southern California.

Koch was Chief Executive Officer of Koch Development Corporation, the parent company of Holiday World Theme Park and Splashin' Safari Water Park. Under his direction, the theme park followed an aggressive growth program including the addition of Splashin' Safari Water Park in 1993, The Raven and The Legend wooden roller coasters in 1995 and 2000, plus The Voyage wooden coaster in 2006, for which he was a designer. In 2004, Koch received the international Applause Award from the amusement industry; the criteria for the coveted award include foresight, originality and creativity, plus sound business development and profitability. Each year since 2006, annual seasonal attendance at Holiday World & Splashin' Safari has topped one million visitors. This year, the park premiered Wildebeest, the world’s longest water coaster.

Koch served as president of the Lincoln Boyhood Drama Association, which worked with the State of Indiana to reopen the Lincoln Amphitheatre in 2009 with a new drama honoring the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. He was also a past member of the Board of Directors of the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions; and he served on the Administrative Council of the Santa Claus United Methodist Church.

Koch is survived by his wife, Lori, and three children: Lauren, Leah, and William. He is also survived by his mother, Pat, and siblings Dan, Kristi, Philip and Natalie.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to be made to the Lincoln Boyhood Drama Association or the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Source: Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari & Inside INdiana Business

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, May 19 2010

— A Los Angeles couple came through, helping Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari raise $12,000 for Nashville, Tenn.-area flood relief.

Last week the theme park put its management team (15 people) on the auction block, with the highest online bidders winning various tickets, perks and free time with theme park officials, from park President Will Koch on down.

Nine of the 15 auctions were won by Robb and Elissa Alvey, who run the Web site ThemeParkReview along with a coaster enthusiast group called Club TPR.

The West Coast couple plan to bring a group of roller coaster enthusiasts to Holiday World in August, taking advantage of free tickets, behind-the-scene tours, front-of-the-line access to rides and other special offerings.

Proceeds from the online bidding, which ended Monday, will be donated to the American Red Cross for Nashville area relief efforts.

The online auction raised just over $6,000, which was matched by Holiday World, according to park spokeswoman Paula Werne.


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, April 02 2010

— Just like tiny Hickory in “Hoosiers” or the current crop of Butler Bulldogs, the Voyage roller coaster at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari is trying to pull a David & Goliath upset.

Only this single-elimination tournament — while patterned after this weekend’s NCAA Final Four in Indianapolis — isn’t being played on a basketball court but on the nation’s computers as theme park fans decide the “Best Attraction in America.”

The Voyage has made the Final Four and voting continues through 6 p.m. today to see which two attractions meet for overall bragging rights Monday, according to Holiday World spokeswoman Paula Werne.

You can vote today (just once) by going to

“We’re the Cinderella,” Werne chuckled, “but I guess I better be careful using that term since we’re going up against the Big Mouse (Disney).”

Theme Park Insider — a Pasadena, Calif., Web site popular among families and others planning vacations — began the contest March 18 with 64 attractions divided into four brackets: Roller Coasters, Best Themed Ride, Best Live Show and Best Movie or Animated Show.

What was different for the Voyage — which has ruled the wooden coaster world — was in this contest it was pitted against the big steel coasters from major parks such as Cedar Point in Ohio, Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va., and Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

This week the Voyage defeated Cedar Point’s top-seeded Millennium Force (winning 63 percent of votes cast), then won a majority of the 2,000 votes cast Thursday to oust Apollo’s Chariot from Busch Gardens-Williamsburg to reach the Final Four.

Just like Butler, the Voyage had been seeded fifth.

Today’s Final Four voting — between the Voyage and Best Themed Ride winner Haunted Mansion of Disneyland — will determine the favorite theme park ride.

The other two brackets (for live or animated shows) pit Fantasmic! from Disney’s Hollywood Studios against Mickey’s PhilharMagic from Walt Disney World.

On Monday, the best ride and best show winners will face off in voting to determine the overall attraction champion.

Earlier this morning, the Voyage was ahead of Haunted Mansion, with 55 percent of the vote.

“It’s been an amazing couple of weeks for us,” said Werne, “as each matchup was with a steel coaster from a huge corporate park. When I took this job (public relations) 19 years ago, I would never have thought we’d be going head to head with a Disney park for bragging rights. We’re the smallest park in this competition.”

Holiday World, which draws about 1 million customers a year, begins its 64th season in early May and will debut the world’s longest water coaster, the Wildebeest, on May 14.


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 01:37 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, January 04 2010

— The Voyage, the newest (2006) and largest of the three wooden roller coasters at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, is accustomed to being the top wooden coaster — three years in a row — among readers of Amusement Today trade journal, which covers the theme park industry.

But the Voyage has solidified its heavyweight standing by finishing No. 1 in a more complex online poll popular with hard-core coaster fans around the world.

The survey by coaster buff Mitch Hawker of Wisconsin ranks The Voyage No. 1 based on 730 online ballots received. Its formula determines winners and losers based on “mutual rider comparisons.”

First place came down to The Voyage and El Torro, the 181-foot-tall coaster at Six Flags Great America in New Jersey.

But 77 riders who had ridden them both preferred The Voyage while 67 preferred El Torro.

Holiday World’s two other wooden coasters, The Raven and The Legend, finished No. 18 and No. 38, respectively, in Hawker’s poll, high enough to make the Southern Indiana attraction the top theme park for wooden coasters.

Hawker said by regaining the top spot in 2009 (after finishing first twice before), The Voyage tied a record for most appearances at No. 1 set by Tonnerre de Zeus in France and Shivering Timbers in Michigan.

At the other end of the poll, the Grizzly in Santa Clara, Calif., made it 15 years in a row in last place.

Holiday World spokeswoman Paula Werne said, “We’re thrilled to see The Voyage take the No. 1 spot in the two most respected roller coaster polls out there.” She said it’s hoped recent improvements to make The Voyage an even smoother ride will keep it in the top spot for years to come.

— Rich Davis


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 06:19 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, September 14 2009

— For the third year in a row, Holiday World's Voyage roller coaster has been named the No. 1 wooden coaster in the world while its new Pilgrims Plunge water ride tied for fifth in the "best new amusement park ride" category.

The announcement was made Thursday night by the trade journal Amusement Today during the industry's annual "best of the best" Golden Ticket Awards ceremony at Legoland California in Carlsbad, Calif.

The 1.2-mile Voyage is the Southern Indiana theme park's longest, tallest and fastest coaster, known for its 24.2 seconds of "air time" — time in which passengers are lifted from their seat.

For the 10th straight year, Holiday World was named the country's cleanest park, outranking Disney World, Kings Island, Dollywood and Cedar Point. However, it came in second in the friendliest park category that it has won in the past.

Holiday World spokeswoman Paula Werne said Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo., "squeaked by" Holiday World as the friendliest park "and we congratulate them."

Splashin' Safari remained the No. 2 water park behind perennial winner Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, Texas. Holiday World's ZOOMbabwe water slide was voted second-best water park ride.

'Incredible honor'

Holiday World President Will Koch called the Voyage's top ranking an "incredible honor" because there are so many "amazing roller coasters around the world."

Pilgrims Plunge, the world's tallest water ride, opened last May to much fanfare, but Werne said it was competing against "some great new roller coasters" for the best new ride title.

The awards and rankings are based on surveys of theme park customers.

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari is closed this weekend, but it will reopen for weekends only from Sept. 19 to Oct. 11.


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 07:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, September 02 2009

Holiday World’s top-ranked wooden roller coaster, The Voyage, will be featured Wednesday night as part of The Travel Channel’s “Extreme” series.

The show will repeat on Friday and Sunday.

The one-hour episode, called “Extreme Terror Rides,” will premiere Wednesday at 7 p.m. CDT. The show will feature top thrill rides from around the world. The Voyage is currently ranked the No. 1 Wooden Coaster on the Planet by Amusement Today magazine.

The show will air again at 5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Sunday. The Travel Channel is Cable 59 on the Henderson Insight line-up


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 09:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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