Holiday World's Will Koch dies at 48

I never got to meet Will (though I was greeted by and chatted with Pat a couple times). But from universal accounts he was a decent, kind, memorable man. My thoughts go out to everyone for whom his passing is a loss.

My author website:

The Mole's avatar

Absolutely floored.

I never met Will nor saw him, despite his appearance on Colbert. But I have met his "extended family", the park employees, and I know that he is a great man because of what he left. Disneyland stayed open when Walt died, and it's only true that Holiday World be open and greeting guests this morning.

"You'll be seeing lots of Muppets stuff soon, because that's the way the boss would have wanted it." - Kermit

Thoughts from all the coaster nerds at the University of Dayton.


Last edited by The Mole,
Pagoda Gift Shop's avatar

As you all are, I am stunned. I kept re-reading the thread title thinking surely that it must be some other Will Koch and not "the" Will Koch.

Will was an "icon" in the amusement industry not just for what he did for Holiday World, but in enthusiast circles in particular. No other park exec can be found in as many YouTube videos as Will. He was an enthusiast himself. In my opinion, we have lost one of our own.

I'm not sure if Will was a coaster enthusiast or just an enthusiast of cool stuff. He was an engineer and you could tell from the way he explained the more technical things about attractions that he really loved the "how stuff works" aspect of it.

Things he thought were cool got him really excited. In turn that made everyone on the staff excited, which made the guests excited.

Kick The Sky's avatar

This was really shocking news. I found out this morning from a post on Facebook from the park. I sat and stared at the computer for a few minutes in disbelief.

The first time I met Will was when I got off the Legend at the very last Stark Raven Mad event. It was Friday ERT and it was my first ride on the Legend. He asked me how I enjoyed the Legend. I told him it was a religious experience. He laughed and then shook my hand and thanked me for coming to his park. I came away with the impression of a genuine thanks. I don't think I have ever met a more genuine man in my life.

I started crying when I saw the picture of his mother, Pat, standing in front of the main gates this morning, greeting a guest. Pat is an amazing woman, who definitely passed every bit of it to her son, Will. My guess is that as much as the "family" at the park, i.e. the employees, will want to console Pat in her time of grief, that it will be her consoling them.

The loss of Will Koch will be felt deeply among his family, his park, and the amusement park community.

I had been on the fence about making a trip to Holiday World this summer, but I think I really need to get down there now. The Koch's have been there for the enthusiast community for years, even through tragedy. I think we all need to be there for them and the park now.

Certain victory.

Raven-Phile's avatar

I'm in the same boat. I was considering going, but now I'm fairly certain I will be.

Mamoosh's avatar

Wow...just, wow.

My favorite memory of Will was riding next to him on Legend during the SRM event, the year the ride opened. As we were half way through the double-up in near darkness something hovering mid-air in front of me caught my eye and I instinctively reached out and grabbed it.

It was Will's set of keys for the park, which I handed to him when we got back to the station. We shared a good long laugh over it.

Jeff's avatar

My favorite conversations with Will were definitely on the podcast. We did it live in person in 2005, and a couple of times over the phone since then. He was a geek's geek when it came to coasters, as evidenced by his recent walk-around-the-shop video for the train mods. He was also very frank and forthcoming about what he thought off the record about industry trends, vendors and people.

It's hard to just go to work today. I can only imagine what the staff at the park are going through.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

I don't even know what to say. So shocked. My heart goes out to the Koch's and to every one of the thousands whose lives were touched by this incredible man. Truly a sad day.


crazy horse's avatar

This is heartbreaking news.

I had the great opportunity to meet him a few times during various coaster events at the park. He even took the time and sat with us at our table to eat dinner one night. Why do things like this seem to always happen to the good guys?

My heart goes out to his family and friends.

what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard.
Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it.
I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Tekwardo's avatar

I never had a real 'conversation' with him, but spoke to him a few times on my 2 trips for HWN. One thing that impressed me was that if he caught your eye, he looked at you, nodded, and smiled. Well, he always seemed to smile.

We talk a lot about ROI on CoasterBuzz, and Will Koch's Return on Investment from just a smile is evident in the positive things said about him and Holiday World. Even when negative things have been said or done, the overall feeling you get from the majority of people is that Holiday World was doing things the right way, and it paid off.

Website | Flickr | Instagram | YouTube | Twitter | Facebook

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

Acoustic Viscosity's avatar

Wow, this is the saddest news I've heard in a very long time. Having trouble concentrating at work today.

Much love to Holiday World and the Koch family.

AV Matt
Long live the Big Bad Wolf

This is a tragic loss. My sympathy's to the family and the Holidayworld Family. I think its safe to compare that Will was making other Chains gasp at the Improvements to industry he was making. I place him the same regards as Walt Disney, I hope others follow in his footsteps.

Such unbelievably stunning, sad news....Such an exemplary man. Bright, cheery, optimistic, and welcoming.

Every time I saw Will Kock at HWN events, he was smiling... He was always happy to stop what he was doing to have a nice chat with a guest. He was always ready to do whatever he could to ensure his guests had a wonderful time.

Many places use the term 'guest' when they really mean 'customer' but he always made us feel like we were really his guests, and he was welcoming us into his home of sorts.

His presence was certainly felt on every trip to the park and the park is full of his essence. He crafted what I felt was possibly the friendliest, cleanest, and most pleasant place I've ever been.

Thank you, Will Kock, for so many wonderful memories and smiles. You truly opened my eyes to a better way to live, a better way to be.

aka MonkeyPants

I just talked to him a few weeks ago at HWN. He shook my hand and welcomed me and my mom to the park. After seeing where we were from he asked my mom why she came to all the way out.
She told him that it was because I had hyped the park up so much and really loved the place. He got a good smile out of that when he heard it.

Class act all the way. I'll miss him

Hi.....whats your name again?

My sincerest thoughts and prayers to all of the Koch family, the Holiday World staff and all of Will's friends. I am truly saddened by the loss.

Fever I really enjoy the Simpsons. It's just a shame that I am starting to LOOK like Homer.

I only know of the park from being on here, but it's still very sad news. My deepest sympathies to the Koch family, and their (widely) extended one at Holiday World and beyond.

I haven't been able to think of much else since reading this this morning - so sad for anyone and everyone who knew him.

First off - my prayers are with Pat and the rest of the Koch family, Paula, and all the employees of HW/SS.

Secondly, we as enthusiasts (and myself in particular) will miss Will's 'joie de vivre' - he was always so energetic and enthusiastic about the park, the coasters and his guests.

My favorite memory of Will was when I talked with him about the Voyage return run where he ultimately referred to it with a grin and a glint in his eyes as "being like riding on one of the speeder bikes from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi!"

And a quote from the March 3rd Holiblog ( where Will read Dr. Seuss to local school kids sums up today all too well, infortunately...

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."

--George H

Mamoosh's avatar

A great quote, indeed. Thanks, George!

Tekwardo's avatar

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."

Very very true words.

Website | Flickr | Instagram | YouTube | Twitter | Facebook

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

You must be logged in to post

POP Forums - ©2022, POP World Media, LLC