June 14, 11:16 AM
Will Koch, owner of Holiday World, the family-oriented theme park, passed away Sunday at the age of 48 due to complications related to Type 1 diabetes. Since the 1997 closure of Nashville’s own Opryland theme park, Holiday World in nearby Santa Claus, Indiana has become a popular alternative, and worth every minute of the three-hour drive.
Koch took over the family business some twenty years ago, following in the footsteps of his father Bill and his grandfather Louis Koch, who founded what what would grow to become Holiday World back in 1946.
Pre-dating Disneyland by some nine years, Santa Claus Land–as it was initially called–originally featured a few small rides and celebrated all things Christmas. Over the years, the theme park grew and added more intricate rides and shows.
By the mid-80s, perhaps taking a cue from the classic movie Holiday Inn, the theme park changed its name to Holiday World and added rides and shows celebrating other holidays, including Halloween and Fourth of July.
Among the Halloween-themed rides was Frightful Falls, a log-flume ride. Santa’s former Arctic Circle, a round-up ride would eventually become Revolution in honor of the addition of Fourth of July.
By the 90’s Will Koch was firmly in place as the park’s owner. In 1993, he designed and opened Splashin’ Safari, which introduced a children’s water play area with animal-themed water slides, all located on Crocodile Isle. Visitors could also enjoy a leisurely boat ride down Congo River and two huge water slides. The following year, Koch added a wave pool.
To celebrate the park’s 50th season in 1995, Holiday World christened The Raven, a wooden roller coaster that was named the #1 roller coaster on the planet by Amusement Today magazine. For the park’s 55th anniversary, another breath-taking roller coaster, The Legend was opened for thrills and chills in 2000.
2006 saw the addition of a Thanksgiving section as well as upgrades to Spashin’ Safari. Among the additions, still another new coaster, The Voyage. That same year, Will Koch appeared on Comedy Central‘s Colbert Report in a hilarious segment pitting Santa Claus against Indiana’s most famous resident, Abraham Lincoln.
A Tilt-a-Whirl appropriately named Turkey Whirl was added in 2007 to the Thanksgiving area. The following year, Kima Bay was added to Splashin’ Safari, Star Spangled Carousel was added to Fourth of July and Reindeer Games, a spring-ride was added to the children’s Christmas section.
Just last year, Pilgrims Plunge, which drops passengers some 131 feet, was introduced and became the world’s tallest water ride.
Anyone who’s seen the latest Holiday World commercials that feature Will and his Mom, Pat, knows that just this year, Holiday World & Spashin’ Safari added Wildebeest. In keeping with their recent history, Wildebeest is now the world’s longest water coaster, at 17110 feet in length.
According to the theme park’s official website, the park will remain open for regular business hours in order to serve patrons who have already traveled to the popular vacation destination.
At the time of this report, funeral and memorial arrangements for Will Koch were not yet know. Fans of the theme park are flooding the park’s official Facebook page with notes of condolence and prayers for the family. To post a note of Holiday World’s Facebook page, CLICK HERE. For more information about Holiday World, CLICK HERE.
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
how he obtains/loses his heart’s desire = WH = 58 = Wellness. Well being. Bodily health. Healthy body. Robust health. Strong constitution. Healthful. Hardy. Rest. Relaxation. Respite. Hotel. Vacation. Time out. Intermission. Halftime. Recess. Time off. Recover. Restore. Recuperate. Nap. Therapy. Therapist. Physical therapy. Rehabilitation. Herbs. Treatment. Remedy. Safe place. Sanctuary. Refuge. Retirement. Retreat. Overworked. Overtime. Patient. Medical. Physician. Doctor. Medic. Medicine. Medication. Prescription. Pharmacy. Dosage. Anesthesia. Sedation. Hospitals. Ambulances. Stretcher. Bed rest. Infirmary. Convalescence. Ailment. Sick & tired.