Halloween is officially over, therefore ’tis the season!
Of course, when I say, “’Tis the season, I mean for the annoying, borderline-hurtful question we at seasonal facilities get: “What do you do when the park is closed?”
Then while you formulate your response, they start hypothesizing: “Do you just take a vacation for a couple months and show up right before you open again?”
For me, the sarcastic reaction in my head immediately starts on something like this: “That’s correct. There’s nothing we have to do in the off-season. We literally just sit around waiting for the season to begin again.”
First I take a deep breath, then my real answer formulates—generally something along the lines of: “Oh we have a lot to do. Before we were even done with the 2014 season, we were planning for 2015. Now it’s just time to implement any changes.” Nine times out of ten, that response goes through slightly gritted—but smiling—teeth.
Realistically, it’s time for me to start thinking about it from a different point of view. If people think we have no work to do, then we’ve done our job well.
Because making sure our guests have a wonderful time can be rather simple: just be sure they can’t see how much has to be done ahead of time to create their carefree day. (We on the inside know better, though, don’t we?)
I’ve worked in more than five departments at Holiday World (the blessing and curse of being family at a family-owned park), and I’ve watched guests’ faces light up when our Hosts and Hostesses show that they love their jobs. Overall, I think the hardest challenge of making it look easy (and answering that pesky question) was around this time last year.
We had Thunderbird coming, and I was spending days at a time researching Thanksgiving’s origins in hopes of finding a name half as good as The Voyage … to no avail. (Believe it or not, Thanksgiving as a holiday does not lend itself easily to a series of interesting ride names.) When people would ask what I was doing, I could share nothing. I’m pretty sure a lot of people thought I wasn’t doing anything. Or that I was really inefficient working on the few projects I could talk about freely.
Meanwhile, we were hard at work within our “cone of silence.” Once we had a name, we developed the overall feel of the ride and worked with PGAV on how to theme the station. We had a very contentious (for us) debate about track colors, and then train colors.
Every decision received a lot of thought and discussion—especially the train colors. We asked to see the train rendered about six different ways. And when people asked what we were doing at Holiday World, we all would sputter off something vague about planning, marketing, or training.
Vague on the outside, but dying on the inside for everyone to know how incredible Thunderbird was going to be.
It’s all becoming real now, and I’m growing more and more excited. The track is going up quickly (75 percent is up at last report) and it looks beautiful.
My family and a few members of the Holiday World team got to go see the train last week, and we’re very proud that we get to reveal a car next week in Orlando.