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Monday, June 1, 2009

Coasters and Mayhem

Hello everyone!

This past weekend, I enjoyed some fun and mayhem at an amusement park, called Holiday World, in Santa Claus, Indiana. The two-day event I participated in was a park sponsored event the Koch family calls Holliwood Nights. During this two-day event, roller coaster enthusiasts such as myself got exclusive ride time (ERT) to ride the three wooden roller coasters (Raven, Legend and Voyage) after the park closes to the public.

Let me tell you, there's nothing like riding a wooden roller coaster, commonly referred to as a woodie or woody, at night. In fact, the later the better because they tend to run faster at night when the air is cooler (compared to the hot sun) and you have only the lights of the park to guide you, so you can't always see what's ahead of you.

It's great to go to events like this because many of the parks with the best woodies do not stay open late enough to get a "dark" ride. Not only that, by attending event festivities, you get meals, photo opportunities and the chance to rub elbows with coaster creators or people from the company that design and build the different coasters as well as the park owners and operators.

I know that some of you may be thinking that Holiday World is just another amusement park, but I'm here to tell you, it's not.


Because of all the holidays you can celebrate in one day. You know those trees in Tim Burton's the Nightmare Before Christmas that provide access to different holidays? Well, Holiday World gives you direct access to many of these through it's different themed sections. When you enter the park, you enter Christmas and are greeted by a large, living Christmas tree with all the trimmings as well as a life-sized Nativity and various familiar Christmas tunes. There's 4th of July town, Thanksgiving town (where the Voyage is located) Holidog's Funtown for kids, Splashin' Safari Waterpark and finally, my favorite, Halloween town. Halloween town has very cool theming throughout the area and from Frankenstein and Zombies to Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven and Washington Irving's, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. You will also hear various familiar Halloween tunes being played throughout the section as well as a howling wolf.

The Koch family takes pride in their park and demonstrate that by encouraging their staff to be friendly, maintain a clean park and taking the time to converse with guests and in some cases building friendships with them. Because Will Koch, current park president, appreciates a good thrill ride as much as anyone else does, he makes sure that his rides are well-maintained and goes the extra distance to keep them operational. For example, this past Thursday, just before the park sponsored event, a newly replaced part on The Legend broke down and had to be replaced. Where many non-family run parks would just say oh well and substitute ERT on The Legend with some other ride, Will had the part arrive and installed so that ERT would not be disrupted. Their staff is also friendlier than any other park I've ever been to and they strive to maintain a very clean park! While they appreciate it if you let them know if a bathroom stall is out of toilet paper or if a soap dispenser is out of soap, I have never found cause to ever say anything because they seem so much on top of everything and in all my trips to the park, I have yet to see an overflowing trash can because they empty them before it gets to that point.

They also respect the working family in that they calculate the cost of parking, drinks and sunscreen into the entry fee. To clarify, you do not pay a separate price to park your vehicle, nor do you pay a fee to get a glass of water, lemonade, iced tea or soda (Pepsi products). All of that is taken care of when you pay the admission prices. So, you can ride and drink all day long, which is great for those 80+ degree days they are known to have!

The experience doesn't stop with the park, it's the entire town that is Santa Claus. From the ornament shops to Lake Rudolf, there is something for everyone to enjoy. I will warn you that weekends are the busiest times and there aren't many hotels close by and unless you don't mind driving a half-hour or so after being in the park all day, you will pay more for lodging than you expect, so I suggest you do your homework on the hotels and camping in the area before planning a trip there.

When we weren't riding Raven and Legend, my husband and I were disc golfing (DG). Now, we only took this up about a week or two ago and have really only played on the course closest to our home. Not having played on any other courses, we were not prepared for the courses we discovered in that they made the course we have been playing at look like child's play. Let me tell you, you haven't really played DG until you have had to walk through the woods searching for the disc you mistakenly threw into the trees on your quest for the disc basket and hunt for the location of the next tee!

The courses we played offered awesome workouts as well as frustrating moments. After this experience, I would suggest that anyone wishing to play disc golf (a very easy pastime) research the courses you are considering and read reviews by other players because just like a good review can help you determine if a book you want to read is right for you, a good DG course review can help you determine if a course is right for you and what footware is needed. There was one course we played where I should have been wearing hiking boots instead of sneakers!

Despite the challenges we faced, we had a lot of fun, got a lot of exercise and developed a respect for the game beyond it just being a "game". With the talent and skill required to shoot some of the discs you can buy and the endurance needed to last through a full 18 holes, it really can be, and should be, considered a sport.

What does any of this have to do with writing?

Nothing, and that's the point. Many writers hit snags, snafus, roadblocks, etc. and are always searching for that elusive cure. There is only one sure fire cure for those kinds of obstacles, time away from the story, the computer, the words, all of it. Through activities like this, you can reconnect with family and friends and forget what's on your plate at the moment.

"But I'm on a deadline and I don't have time," some of you might exclaim as you pull out your hair.

Make time, because you need to do it for yourself. Before completely saying no to this idea, ask yourself, "How much work am I really getting done by forcing myself to sit here and stare at these pages?"

If your answer is not very much, then it's time to take a break, whether it's in the form of disc golf, yoga, Tai Chi, or aerobics. Exercise is such a wonderful way to get fresh oxygen to your brain. Do it long enough to ensure you work up a sweat and stop thinking about what you're working on. When you stop thinking about a problem or issue, the answer will soon present itself.

Think of your story ideas as unicorns. The virgins don't chase after them, but sit there and wait for them to come to them. Or, you say it's like taking the time to smell the flowers. In the same way you aren't going to know what the flowers smell like if you don't take the time to smell them and contemplate their aromas, you can't find a story if you don't take the time to listen to all the stuff around you and contemplate what it is you are hearing.

So, what does it for you? What do you find that helps give you the clarity to the stories that exist all around you?

4 Moonbeams (comments):

Sheila Deeth said...

Sounds a brilliant place. And I love the idea of waiting for unicorns...

Molly Daniels said...

I LOVE Holiday World! We're only 2 hours from there, and have now been twice. I LOVE the free drinks, and the fact the lines are shorter. Plus, it is CLEANER than any other park I've been to, excluding Disney.

Glad you had a great time! I'm not a coaster fan, but my kids are looking forward to the new Pilgrim's Plunge.

I'm hoping to try out the water park soon:)

Carrie said...

Hi Molly,

Yes, I agree that HW is one of the cleanest parks I have been to.

I went to Six Flags Great America today and apparently you can buy a VIP Pass for $299 per person to get all these things different things. It's such a joke!

Why would I pay that when I can get that kind of treatment (or very close to that) just by walking in the door!

You know, I'm not much of a water park person, but people seem to really like the Pilgrim's Plunge. Some people were even riding it in the dark during the event on Saturday night. Well, I guess it didn't matter much since they were wet from the rainstorm that hit just as the park was closing to the public that night.

Thanks for checking in and reading my blog Molly!

Gracen Miller said...

Carrie, it sounds like you had a really great time! My boys love roller coasters as well. so much. lol In fact, just imagining riding that woodie at night with just the lights to guide you, had me a little sick to my GREAT description! lol

Glad you got to enjoy this experience and thanks for sharing it with us!!