Living the Tradition: notes from a Family Owned and Operated Theme and Water Park

By way of introduction, Ia��m Will Koch, the president of Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, a small theme park and water park combination in Santa Claus, Indiana, USA...

We’re a small theme park and water park  that’s grown from about 300, 000 in annual attendance in 1990 to over 1 million in annual attendance in 2006 and 2007. We’re family owned and operated. We only operate one park. As the years go by, there seem to be fewer and fewer parks that can make those statements. We’re part of a great old tradition that seems to be fading.

 Like many others who are in the theme park/amusement park business, I grew up in the business.  I’ve been working in our park since I was 11 years old (FYI, that’s been a few years).  I had the good fortune to learn about our industry with a great man (also my father) named Bill Koch. I learned the business from him not only at our park, but also sitting around the dining room table.  I learned a lot about the amusement business from him. I learned a lot about business from him.  I learned a lot about how to treat others, and how important it is to respect employees, vendors, peers, and customers.

 I’ve also had the opportunity to learn a great deal from my Mom, Pat Koch. Mom is still very much a part of Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari. Mom is a great motivator. She is the heart and soul of our parks. She upholds our values and cornerstones in wonderful ways with both our Guests and our Hosts and Hostesses.

 In the posts to come, I plan to share some of the things I’ve learned from my parents, from our Guests, from our staff at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, and others through the industry.  I’ve been richly blessed in my life with so many great teachers. I look forward to doing the best I can to pass on some of what I’ve learned in a way that may be useful to others.