In southwestern Indiana, nearly 70 years ago, an Evansville industrialist had an inspiration. With little there for children but a post office that handled Santa letters, why not offer something more. And that is exactly what Louis J. Koch did. He opened a theme park with a Mother Goose ride and toy elf shop. Years later his son Bill and grandson Will, took the dream even further, adding roller coasters and a giant water slide. Today Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari draws more than a million visitors a year.
But the park built by generations of a family to entertain families is now splitting a family apart. Will Koch’s widow and his brother are battling for control of the family park. According toblooloop.com, Lori fired Dan as interim president and kicked him off the company board, and they are no longer speaking.
Lori Koch, 51 year widow of Will Koch, says she wants the park for her three younger children. Recently while cruising through park in a golf cart as roller coasters jutted into the sky, Lori admitted to feeling pained by the family strife. “It’s hard, it’s difficult, I’m torn,” she said. “Who wants to be at odds with your family?”
Dan Koch, 48 year old brother of Will Koch and a lawyer from Florida says he wants some of the park back. Recently he spent over an hour on the phone talking fondly about Holiday World past and present. While discussing the feud, he became somber, thinking of being cut off from the place he spent summers as a boy since he was 7. “Any kind of family business, there’s tension,” he said. “I’ve got to be positive and move forward. I’d like to return in some lesser role someday. I’ll work anywhere, maybe pick up trash.”
It is still unknown what the outcome of the ownership of the park will be, or what will happen with the family feud but everyone can agree on one thing: No one was prepared for the Koch family feud as it happened.
The roller coaster capital of the world may have lost two of its coasters in the past few years, but those coasters are not going to be forgotten. According to a report in the Sandusky Register, Cedar Point is going to take pieces of two beloved coasters and donate them to the National Roller Coaster Museum. The odd part about this story is that the museum has not even been built yet.
Cedar Point has taken pieces from Disaster Transport and Wildcat, two coasters that have been torn down since the arrival of Matt Ouimet, the new CEO for Cedar Fair. The park sent the pieces to a warehouse in Texas and even paid for the shipping of the pieces. This act shocked many coaster museum board members. “That's an unusual act of generosity”, said Richard Munch, a project director at a Cleveland architectural firm who sits on the museum's board. “The attitude of most amusement parks is, you want it, come pick it up." There are those that believe that Cedar Point was doing this to help the cause of getting the museum built somewhere in Sandusky. According to the board, the final spot for a permanent museum has not been decided, but Sandusky is on top of a short list of places in the country.
The Wildcat roller coaster was taken down in 2012 when the park decided to create a new entertainment complex on the strip between the Midway and Iron Dragon roller coaster. Wildcat was opened in 1979 and was a family favorite of many. Many coaster enthusiasts were sad and upset to see it go, but many Wildcat-type coasters have been going away as of recent years.
Disaster Transport was torn down this past season as the park was gearing up for Gatekeeper. The indoor, bobsled type coaster was a place that many guests would go to escape the heat of summer and enjoy a family friendly ride in complete darkness. The ride opened in 1985 as Avalanche Run and was an outdoor ride, but that soon changed when the park hired ITEC to redesign it to be an indoor ride in 1990. There was mixed emotions about the departure of the coaster, but many are now excited about the arrival of Gatekeeper and the new entrance to the park which takes the place where Disaster Transport once stood.
The crew from Alton Towers is at it again. For their new roller coaster, The Smiler, they have commissioned the help of people from The New Scientist to break down what the optimum "thrill factor" of any ride actually is. Upon further research, The New Scientist is an actual English-based non-peer reviewed scientific magazine. In their "Thrill Report," they describe what types of happenstances on a ride lead to the greatest amount of enjoyment for the rider. They equate the entire experience to that of a well written play. The first part is the exposition where guests are exposed to the ride's branding and theming. Next, is the rising action that happens when the coaster ascends the lift hill. Third is the climax/crisis that starts as the ride speeds through its first drop. The falling action comes after where terror turns into catharsis where more smoother elements are experienced. Finally, is the dénouement where rider can talk about the ride and of course buy an on ride photo.
Jeremy Webb, New Scientist editor, says, “All the experiences we use to generate thrill involve an element of fear. This ancient emotion is triggered by either a physical stimulus, such as pain or being thrown around, or a mental one, most commonly the anticipation of danger such as the rising action on a roller-coaster. Roller-coaster designers believe that by pulling both our mental and physical strings, it is possible to create the best possible thrill."
The Smiler is set to open in may of 2013 and features 98 foot drops and speeds reaching 52 miles per hour. Alton Towers is also highlighting specific psychological elements that they feel will elicit a specific form of fear to reaches guests on an individual level that will in effect "marmalise" them. Some of these elements include "The Inoculator" which provides a stab of happiness as one passes, "The Tickler" that tickles you, "The Flasher" that blinds you as you speed past, "The Giggler" that supposedly releases "laughing gas," and "The Hypnotizer" that disrupts your self-awareness. Each of these five psychological effects are designed to maximize the thrills each rider experiences.