Holiday World's Will Koch dies at 48

This is terrible news indeed.

Even though I live in England, by chance it happens that a friend and I spent the afternoon yesterday at Holiday World. As always it was a first class experience in every respect.

I only met Will twice, but he seemed like a really nice, genuine chap. And he of course leaves an amazing legacy at Holiday World. My condolences to his family, friends and all the staff at one of the best parks anywhere.

My wife and I are from NW Indiana and Platinum Pass holders at CP but had talked about going to Holiday World for several years. We finally made it down this past weekend and were totally amazed at the quality/friendliness of the staff and the total operation of the park. We saw Will out greeting everyone at opening on Saturday morning. I had never met Will but he was definitely a visionary and thought outside the box. Our deepest sympathies go out to everyone in the Holiday World Family.

I met Will this past HWN on my first trip to Holiday World, and you could instantly tell he was a class act and very special. I have never meet anyone else so intrested in people just having a great time, and seemed ready to do anything to make that happen for everyone. Such tragetic and sad news, my prayers go out to his family and the Holiday World family.

Last edited by Degado,

The next time you hear screams and laughter and can't see where it is coming from, you will know that Will has built another coaster. And up where he is, air time should be phenomenal.

The Koch and Holiday World families are in our prayers. Will will be greatly missed, but his genius, vision, and commitment to family fun will continue to bring smiles for many years to come. The laughs will continue, but none will ever be as unique as his.

Life is an amusment park -and I can't get off of the damn spinning teacups!

Each day is a gift and an adventure. Will understood this, cherished it, and now has past it on to me. I am inspired by these kind folks, and will try every day to live my life as they have lived their's.

This is how one life can touch another.

May God bless his family, friends, coworkers and park; you are all in my prayers. I was impressed more by HW than any other park on a first visit and more by Will than any other employee let alone CEO.

CoasterDemon's avatar

Still in shock after a long day - trying to wrap my head around such a great loss. When I think of Will Koch (and the Koch family + Holiday World) two words come immediately to my mind: LOVE and INTEGRITY.

He made a day at his park an example of what many parks aspire to be: utmost fun for EVERYONE. No exceptions. During the first part of the 90's, personal problems and increasingly un-fun corporatism at parks I had previously loved, I was starting to fall out of love with coasters and parks. The shining star of HW worked its way into my heart and I was once again a total coaster/park geek.

Will and the whole HW gang are the true UNDERDOGS of the industry.

My deepest condolences to the Koch family and everyone Holiday World.


To Paula and the rest of the Koch family, my deepest condolences. The loss of a loved one is always tragic, but especially when he is so young and so brilliantly kind. Doesn't really seem fair. I'm very sorry for your loss.

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

Paula just posted visitation and funeral info to her FB page:
"Visitation will be tomorrow (Wednesday) at the Santa Claus United Methodist Church, from2-8 pm CDT. Will's funeral will be Thursday at 10:30 am CDT."
Is anyone from here able to go?

"I've been born again my whole life." -SAVED
Raven-Phile's avatar

I'm working out some details with a friend of mine, to see if he is able to go. It's a decent drive, and I don't want to go alone.

Jason Hammond's avatar

I couldn't go even if I wanted to. I was never a fan of public funerals. This is a time for family and close personal friends.

880 Coasters, 34 States, 7 Countries My YouTube

ApolloAndy's avatar

I don't know that I'd make that generalization. For many who mourn, the wave of support from the public and show of love for their lost loved one can mean the world.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Raven-Phile's avatar

Yeah, I'd venture to say they're having the funeral as Will would have wanted it. The Beachcombers are playing Beatles tunes in celebration of his love of both music and the Beatles.

Jason Hammond's avatar

I wasn't making a generalization. I was just stating my opinion.

880 Coasters, 34 States, 7 Countries My YouTube

Wow, what to say that hasn't already been said. Holiday World is a unique place, in that it's a family owned park where every guest that entered the park truly became part of the family for the day. We have often said there coaster events are like family reunions.

Nowhere else have we seen a park president who was both so visible and approachable. No matter who you were, Will at least acted like you were a dear friend. Once when I went to the park on a non event day, Will comes up to us as we are walking towards Legend "Welcome back guys!" and just for maybe a minute or two it wasn't park president to park guest, it was more like two enthusiasts talking coasters in the middle of the park.

We were just saying on our last trip that Will and Patt are more recognizable than the park's official costumed mascots. As I indicated on my Facebook, this is akin to losing another great industry pioneer, Walt Disney. Both Walt and Will had so called industry experts question their sanity, "That will never work", "Are you out of your mind", yet Will's ideas did work - free soft drinks (and all the other freebies), proving that contrary to popular belief, the average guest can take more than a watered down family coaster ride. Having an attendance explosion by offering a different kind of amusement park experience, while the major chains are trying to explain away revenue and attendance declines to their shareholders.

My condolences to the Kochs, Paula, and the rest of the Holiday World family.

David Bowers
Mayor, Coasterville
My Blog ->

Jeff's avatar

Not sure why they called me, but I gave a few thoughts to The Courier-Journal. The reporter kind of led me to the thing that I think I liked most about Will, that he was the real deal compared to a lot of people in the business. It's the distinction that made him a great person and his park a great business.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

Nice write up, but the journalist needs to verify some things before publishing.

It's Paula Werne, not Pam.

Last edited by Shaggy,


After reading Coaster Dave's comments above, I totally agree with the comparison to Walt Disney. It doesn't matter if you like Disney parks or not, you can't argue that Walt really was the father of the modern-day amusement park. You also can't argue against Will Koch's character. I have never met anyone that was so genuine in his love of the park, his family, his staff and all of us. He truly was inspirational. Our greatest gift to Will would be to continue on in his footsteps in some way, shape or form. I figure if I can be a little more like Will each day, I will be a better man because of it.

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

I've never met Will Koch and I've only been to his park once, but I'm really saddened to hear about this. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, and having read the preceeding posts, that's a lot of people.

Never Has Gravity Been So Uplifting.

Jeff said:
...the thing that I think I liked most about Will, that he was the real deal compared to a lot of people in the business.

He seemed like the real deal compared to a lot of people in general.

aka MonkeyPants

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