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Friday, November 30 2012

The Travel Channel is planning to feature attractions in Santa Claus. Its "Christmas Showdown" special, set to air next year, will spotlight a historic 22-foot Santa Claus statue and a fruitcake eating contest at Santa's Candy Castle.

SANTA CLAUS, Ind. – The Travel Channel will film the famous town of Santa Claus, Indiana, during the Santa Claus Christmas Celebration next month, for a new special called "Christmas Showdown."

While in town on Saturday, December 8, producers for the Travel Channel plan to visit the town's two original attractions - the Santa Claus statue and Santa's Candy Castle - which both opened in December of 1935. The historic 22-foot Santa Claus statue, which was recently restored, is part of the Santa Claus Museum & Village. The nearby Santa's Candy Castle will host a fruitcake-eating contest that day as part of its special activities. The crew will also capture the Santa Claus Land of Lights after dark at Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort as well as other Christmas-themed attractions and events in town.

"Being featured on the Travel Channel is an exciting opportunity for the town," says Melissa Brockman, executive director of the Spencer County Visitors Bureau. "We look forward to sharing our festive Christmas attractions, activities, and traditions with their viewers."

Travel Channel's "Christmas Showdown" will highlight the best holiday events and traditions in America. Two destinations will be featured in a variety of categories such as Christmas Towns, Off-beat Parades, Neighborhood Lights, and more. Viewers will be asked to go online and vote for their favorite destination.


The Santa Claus Christmas Celebration begins November 30 and is held the first three weekends in December in Santa Claus, Indiana. Events include a traditional Christmas Dinner with Santa, Writing a Letter to Santa at the Santa Claus Museum & Village, Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, the annual Christmas parade, and much more.

For more information about the Santa Claus Christmas Celebration, lodging specials, and a schedule of events, call (888) 444-9252 or visit

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, September 10 2012

There are more honors for a popular southern Indiana tourist attraction. Holiday World & Spashin' Safari in Santa Claus says its Wildebeest and Mammoth water coasters were among the winners at this weekend's Golden Ticket Awards in Tennessee.

SANTA CLAUS, IND.----- Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari’s two water coasters took top honors during this weekend’s Golden Ticket Awards ceremony, held at Dollywood theme park.

For the third year in a row, Holiday World’s Wildebeest water coaster was named the World’s #1 Waterpark Ride. This top honor was announced by Amusement Today magazine, which presented the results of its annual survey of the “best of the best” in the amusement park industry during the annual Golden Ticket Awards ceremony.

In addition, Holiday World’s new water coaster, Mammoth, was named the Best New Waterpark Ride of 2012. Mammoth, the world’s longest water coaster, was lauded by park guests and news media alike this season, with coverage on the Travel Channel,,, the Los Angeles Times, plus Forbes and Wired magazines.

“With so many amazing rides around the world, it’s an incredible honor to have our Mammoth and Wildebeest named the very best,” says Holiday World & Splashin' Safari’s president, Dan Koch.

For the thirteenth consecutive year, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari were named the #1 Cleanest Park, outranking such parks as Disney World, Kings Island, Dollywood, and Cedar Point.

“For this award, we thank our wonderful Hosts and Hostesses,” says Koch. “They worked together all summer long in record heat to keep our parks clean.”

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 will reopen to the public for six additional weekends starting Saturday, September 22, including the new Happy Halloween Weekends event during October. For more information, visit the parks’ website at or call 1-877-463-2645.

Source: Holiday World & Splashin' Safari

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, December 30 2011

A tourism attraction in Santa Claus, Indiana has earned yet another title.

Lake Rudolph Campground and RV Resort, has been voted one of the top ten campgrounds in North America.

It may be best associated, though, for it's annual "Lands of Lights" Christmas display.

Campers and RV enthusiasts voted via website and text message. In celebration of its 75th anniversary, Woodall's Publications wanted to discover the best places to camp across North American, and launched the ten month long sweepstakes.

Lake Rudolph beat out more than 7-thousand other RV parks.


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, December 22 2011
Several cities across the U.S. have holiday-inspired names, and with namesakes like North Pole, Alaska, and Santa Claus, Ind., how could they not take advantage of the festivities?

Inman News recently highlighted a few cities with holiday-themed names.

North Pole, Alaska: The northern Alaska town was renamed North Pole in 1952 “hoping that toy manufacturers would come for the ‘Made in North Pole’ bragging rights despite its inconvenience ... as a manufacturing site,” according to a National Geographic profile about the town. But the city’s plan never worked and the manufacturers never came.

Santa Claus, Ind.: You’ll find plenty of Santa Claus’ around town here. The town was renamed from “Santa Fe” to “Santa Claus” in 1865, and each year receives thousands of letters from across the country of letters addressed to St. Nick.

Snowflake, Ariz.: The Arizona town, located north of the White Mountains, can get occasional snow, but despite its name, it actually was named not for the weather but because of its two founders Erastus Snow and William Jordan Flake, according to Inman News.

Bethlehem, Pa.: You’ll find other Bethlehem’s in the country named after the Middle Eastern ancient city. In Bethlehem, Pa., the city decks its downtown with 5,500 strands of lights ever year, stretching two miles in the city.

Christmas, Fla.: During the Second Seminole Indian War, American troops built a fort several miles outside of Orlando in 1837 called Fort Christmas, which was later used as inspiration for the city’s name. According to Inman News, the city gets in the holiday-spirit year-around with lighted and decorated tree displays.

Read more about holiday-inspired towns at Inman News.

Source: “7 Towns with Holiday-Themed Names: Santa Claus, Ind., Is on the List,” Inman News

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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
Thursday, June 16 2011

Santa Claus a Finalist for "Most Fun" Town

June 9, 2011 (Santa Claus, Ind.) - The town of Santa Claus is one of 30 contenders in the Best of the Road contest sponsored by USA Today and Rand McNally. Competing with six other finalists in the category for "Most Fun," Santa Claus, Indiana was selected from over 600 locales.

On June 23, five teams of travelers will journey from New York City to Los Angeles by July 15. Each team will visit six towns in an assigned category: most beautiful, most patriotic, friendliest, most fun, and best food, as well as points of interest en route.

The teams will choose the number one town in each of their respective categories and the towns will be highlighted on the Rand McNally website and in the 2013 Rand McNally Road Atlas, as well as on USA Today's Travel site. Winning towns will be announced on July 22.

"We are so excited that Santa Claus, Indiana, is one of the finalists in the Best of the Road contest," says Melissa Wilkinson, Executive Director of the Spencer County Visitors Bureau. "We're proud to be considered one of the "Most Fun" towns in America."

More details about the Rand McNally contest can be found at:> and photos are available upon request.


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, October 11 2010

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari President Dan Koch says the parks have topped one-million in attendance for the fifth year in a row. The attraction in Santa Claus has wrapped up its 64th season by setting an attendance record with nearly 1.2 million guests. Holiday World has also announced former President Will Koch has been inducted into the World Waterpark Association Hall of Fame.

SANTA CLAUS, IND-----Holiday World finished its 64th season today by setting a new seasonal attendance record, up nearly 14 percent from the previous record, set last year.

“This is the fifth year in a row we’ve topped one million in attendance,” says park president Dan Koch. “We’re very grateful to all the families who came to visit our parks.”

With a final count of 1,182,636 guests, Koch credits the season’s growth with the addition of Wildebeest, the world’s longest water coaster, plus the parks’ budget-friendly free soft drinks, along with a continued concentration on cleanliness and friendliness.

“So much of the credit for our growth goes to the incredible service and hospitality provided by our Hosts and Hostesses,” Koch says. “As far as we’re concerned, it takes more than great rides and shows to make a park worth visiting. We are very appreciative of our hard-working staff.”

Koch became president of the park in June, following the unexpected death of his brother Will, who had guided the park’s successful growth and development for more than two decades. Over the weekend, the World Waterpark Association (WWA) inducted Will Koch into its Waterpark Hall of Fame. According to the WWA, their Waterpark Hall of Fame “honors the water leisure industry's most important pioneers and innovators.”

“This is a great honor for a great man,” says Dan Koch. “I am thankful for my brother’s life.”

Holiday World, the world’s first theme park, will open its 65th season on May 7, 2011. Splashin' Safari will open for the season on May 13, with the debut of Safari Sam’s SplashLand, a children’s water-play area with eight new water slides. For more information visit or call 1-877-GO-FAMILY

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

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 01:07 pm   |  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
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, August 31 2009
Christmas will be a monthlong celebration this year in this Spencer County town famous for its name and gung-ho-ho spirit.

In past years activities were packed into one weekend.

“This is going to be the event we’ve always wanted but never had,” said Philip Koch, president of Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort, coordinating the celebration with Kevin Klosowski of Santa’s Candy Castle.

Activities will begin Nov. 20.

A major addition will be a 1.2-mile “Family Christmas Light Adventure” light show at Lake Rudolph next to Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari theme park.

Costing several hundred thousand dollars and telling the story of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, it will feature 35 scenes — each 20 to 30 feet tall — and is being custom built by Carpenter Decorating out of South Carolina.

“I always thought Santa Claus, Ind., should be celebrating Christmas in a tremendous way,” said Koch, “and last year on the Travel Channel I saw some other Bavarian communities (in Georgia and Oregon) that were doing a better job than we were.

“I found myself in the same position my grandfather (Evansville industrialist Louis J. Koch) was in in 1945 when he built Santa Claus Land here to give people something to do.”

Koch said he’s been told the light show will be the largest drive-through attraction of its kind at a campground in North America and the only one featuring an actual story line.

It will use energy-efficient LED lighting.

Plans also call for an illuminated Nativity scene, 23 feet high and 150 feet long, on the theme park’s parking lot — “kind of our gift to the community,” said Koch.

He said the campground 35 miles east of Evansville will involve charities in the light show and charge admission.

Visitors will have the option of staying in their car or renting a golf cart, according to Dave Lovell, marketing director at Lake Rudolph.

Other events during the town’s celebration will include a Nov. 20 tree lighting ceremony, a pre-Christmas dinner at Santa’s Lodge, a puppet show, Christmas Karaoke every Friday and Saturday, an early December parade and contests ranging from Christmas tree decorating and fruit cake eating to gingerbread house building.

Besides the lights at Lake Rudolph, the annual Festival of Lights tour of homes will continue the second and third Saturdays of December in nearby Christmas Lake Village.

There also will be chestnut roasting and performances by area choirs at the Candy Castle, a possible weekend craft show at Lake Rudolph and a wine tasting at Christmas Lake Golf Course.

Koch is asking charities and other organizations interested in running food booths or having entertainment to call (812) 224-1790.

“We want to help everyone in town,” Koch said, “churches, schools, charities, businesses and individuals. We want families to come here and create wonderful memories, to make people happy, raise money for charities and businesses and grow the town of Santa Claus.”

Meanwhile, Koch (three of his siblings own the adjacent theme park) expects to open the new Santa Claus Christmas Store by Labor Day in Kringle Place shopping center here. It’s being developed by his Santa Claus-based HO HO HOldings, which owns the campground.

It’s described as the largest store of its kind in the region and will carry gift items, indoor and outdoor Christmas lights, wreaths, tree trimmings, nativities, Christmas yard art, home decor, collectibles, candy and cookies.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas children can have their picture taken with St. Nick.

Koch says his goal is to make the town of 2,000 “synonymous with Santa Claus” and “attract people from all over the world to Santa Claus, Ind., no matter the season.”


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 07:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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