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 http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?ID=42149
Wednesday, May 19 2010
SANTA CLAUS, Ind. — 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.
Monday, September 14 2009
Holiday World coasts to No. 1 - 'Voyage' holds title a third year; Pilgrims Plunge tops out at No. 5
SANTA CLAUS, Ind. — 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.
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.