Holiday World Wearing 70 Well

Posted: Updated:
Image of the Thunderbird (pictured in the background) and the Crow's Nest (pictured in the forground) courtesy of Holiday World and Splashin' Safari. Image of the Thunderbird (pictured in the background) and the Crow's Nest (pictured in the forground) courtesy of Holiday World and Splashin' Safari.
SANTA CLAUS -

A well-known rite of summer for many Hoosiers turns 70 years old Wednesday. Now in its fourth generation of Koch family ownership, Holiday World and Splashin' Safari was originally established in Spencer County as Santa Claus Land, as founder Louis Koch's way of saving children from the disappointment of not finding Santa Claus in the small town with the same name. It has grown to employ 2,000 seasonal and 100 full-time employees.

Director of Communications Paula Werne says the attraction still thrives because the Koch family and employees pay attention to things big parks don't. "There's things like being so clean that you're just as clean a park at the end of the day as you are at the beginning of the day and is absolutely not easy to do," Werne said.

The park has steadily stepped up its focus on major thrill rides throughout the years, moves which Werne says have helped bring Holiday World and Splashin' Safari to the "forefront of the industry." The most recent addition to its lineup is the $22 million Thunderbird, which opened last year and is considered the only "launched wing" roller coaster in the country.

About one million visitors come to the park every season, bringing a significant tourism impact to the area. Werne says people often say the park is located in the "middle of no where." She sees it differently. "If you draw some spokes (on a map) and put us at the hub, we are actually about three hours from Indianapolis, three hours from Nashville, Tennessee, three hours from Cincinnati and three hours from St. Louis, so sometimes we like to think of ourselves as being in the middle of everything." Werne says the economic impact for the "very Mayberry-esque" community can be felt in the form of jobs, hotel and campground nights and other visitor spending.

The park has been toasting this year's milestone all season with the addition of a 70th Birthday Plaza, the return of a refurbished version of its original ride, the Freedom Train, and a Memories Mosaic feature with 7,000 images of fun at the park through the years gathered from crowd-sourcing.

Director of Communications Paula Werne says the attraction still thrives because the Koch family and employees pay attention to things big parks don't.
  • Perspectives

    • (photo courtesy of Conexus)

      Getting the Word Out About Manufacturing & Logistics

      As the epicenter of the nation’s advanced manufacturing and logistics industries, Indiana has a compelling story to tell about how Hoosier companies make and move the goods people depend on every day. Our goal is to ensure everyone hears these stories – many of which share a common theme focused on cutting-edge technologies that are transforming the way products are made and moved around the world and the people who use them. Conexus Indiana launched an...

    More

Events



  • Most Popular Stories

    • (photo courtesy of The Times of Northwest Indiana)

      Historic Hospital to be Torn Down in Gary

      A building that once represented the racial divide in the city of Gary, but long provided health care to the African American community, will soon fall to a wrecking ball. The city says it intends to raze the long-abandoned St. John’s Hospital. 

    • The Honda Greensburg plant opened in 2008.

      Honda to Invest $4M, Add Jobs at Greensburg Plant

      The American Honda Motor Co. continues to invest in its Greensburg, Indiana plant as it has announced the factory will be producing the company’s first electrified sport utility vehicle in the U.S. The company says it will invest more than $4 million and add 34 new jobs in the plant to support production of the CR-V Hybrid.  

    • Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Motor Speedway

      Red Bull to Discontinue Air Race World Championship

      The Red Bull Air Race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, originally scheduled for October, has been canceled as a result of Red Bull's decision to discontinue the Air Race World Championship following the 2019 season. The company says the races scheduled between June and September in Russia, Hungary and Japan will run as planned. 

    • On-Air

      Find out when and where you can watch and listen to our reports.

    • Money magazine judges Fishers as 3rd best place to live in the U.S.

      Fishers Makes Top 10 List of 'Best Places to Live'

      Three communities in Indiana made the top 100 list of best places to live in the country, but only one made the top 10. Fishers was judged by Money magazine as the third best place to live in the United States, behind Clarksville, Tennessee and Round Rock, Texas.