Holiday World's Will Koch issues letter to enthusiasts, cancels all 2004 events

Posted Thursday, September 18, 2003 10:44 AM | Contributed by Jeff

The following letter was issued by to enthusiast groups by Will Koch, President and General Manager of Holiday World and Splashin' Safari:

16 September, 2003

It is time to add my voice to the discussion about coaster enthusiasts and ride safety.

During the investigation that followed the tragic accident at Holiday World earlier this season, we became aware of actions taken by—and encouraged by—a number of enthusiasts. We are appalled to learn that this minority of enthusiasts continues to practice unsafe and even illegal behavior at parks, and brag about it on the Internet.

For this reason, we will not host any special events for coaster enthusiasts in 2004.

We are also initiating a Zero Tolerance Policy in regards to safety. In the past, we have relied on a stern warning and ejection from the park when a rider broke a safety rule. Effective immediately, a park guest who compromises his or her own—or others—safety will be permanently banned from the park.

This Zero Tolerance Policy extends to false and harmful information spread on the various Internet newsgroups and forums. This includes posting advice about how to defeat safety devices and how to sneak cameras (when forbidden) onto coasters. It also includes making libelous claims regarding park policies and procedures.

Coaster clubs are at risk of losing the trust of parks. The future of these relationships and special events may well be at stake. We urge you to take a Zero Tolerance stand with your members. We encourage you to communicate with other clubs—as well as parks—as we work together to weed out the bad influence that threatens to erode a friendship we have grown to treasure over the years.

Please share this letter with your members.

Will Koch
President and General Manager
Holiday World and Splashin' Safari

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Thursday, September 18, 2003 10:55 AM
I agree wholeheartedly with every word in Will's letter. As the old adage goes, a few bad apples spoil the bunch.

Hopefully, somehow, we as enthusiasts will be able to reclaim the trust relationships that we enjoyed with parks. It will be an uphill fight because there are altogether too many idiots out there.

--George H

Thursday, September 18, 2003 10:55 AM
Thats what gets me it that it's all about trust.

We have certain individuals that constantly break that trust and hurt those around us. Not enthusiasts themselves, but the parks themselves.

I think this is teh wake up call that many needed.

I know that the last weekend of May 04 I will be camping at the park to show my support for the Koch's and the park. I hope that many of you can join me and get together there for the fellowship and the support we need to show the park in this descision.

If I was part of a coaster, I would be an upstop pad on an Arrow Mine Train.

Thursday, September 18, 2003 11:09 AM
It makes you wonder when some camera-toting groups will remove certain images and 'disclaimers' from their sites. Do the corporate parks have to ban them too?

You've shown disrespect for the lost one, their family and friends, their gracious hosts and all of us, too. Enough!


The CPlaya 100--6 days, 9 parks, 47 coasters, 2037 miles and a winner.....LoCoSuMo.

Thursday, September 18, 2003 11:10 AM
Sometimes I really am ashamed to be an enthusiast.

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Thursday, September 18, 2003 11:17 AM
I don't like when people bring cameras on a coaster when it is running. I was almost hit in the head by a flying camera that got away from someone awhile back.

Thursday, September 18, 2003 11:27 AM
Have free lockers like the Orlando parks and those problems woudl go by the way side. I have seen all kinds of things fly away out of peoples pockets where they are supposedly secure.

A camera securely lashed to someone is a lot safer then that.

If I was part of a coaster, I would be an upstop pad on an Arrow Mine Train.

Thursday, September 18, 2003 11:38 AM
Like was said earlier, it all comes down to trust. And some enthusiasts took it upon themselves to break that trust, and as a result, a life was lost. This statement by the park is a wake up call stating that they will not tolerate this type of behavior anymore. And I'm willing to bet that other parks may follow in the same manner. Maybe this will serve as a wake-up call who dont follow the rules.

I totally respect the park for doing this. Even though there is no event next year, I still plan on making the trip out there.

Take a Virtual Ride:
Mike "Viper" Semtak

Thursday, September 18, 2003 11:45 AM
While I have never been to the event but plan on being there the same time Brent will be next season, I was under the impression that cameras were allowed on rides during SRM mainly due to the Alvey videos. I saw a number of people with cameras right out in the open where it would be obvious for ride ops to see them, so I didn't really think that was an issue at that point.

In addition, I thought that from any point before SRM 03 that enthusiasts and guests alike were allowed to have their lap bar at two clicks and it seemed to be common knowledge (again, the impression that I was given) that the park naturally allowed people to do so.

I was wondering then, were either of these things the case or was that a bunch of enthusiasts breaking the rules? Maybe that was supposed to change with the warnings I've heard they gave at SRM this year, but I have no idea exactly what was said or what was in print. I'm just curious because I honestly don't know what park policy was at that point with respect to cameras and lap bars.

-Danny*** This post was edited by Koaster King 9/18/2003 3:49:01 PM ***

Thursday, September 18, 2003 11:49 AM
Cameras were allowed during ERT. "3 click" rides were allowed during ERT but not during regular park hours.

This is the way I understood things.

But leave the seatbelt on and it doesn't matter where the lap bar is.

If I was part of a coaster, I would be an upstop pad on an Arrow Mine Train.
MAGNUM HAD MY BABY*** This post was edited by MagnumForce 9/18/2003 3:52:48 PM ***

Thursday, September 18, 2003 12:10 PM
Actually, on Raven and Legend, pulling the belt as tight as possible makes it a far more comfortable ride. Sure, the coasters still get their way with you, but you don't get the abuse that comes from PTC lapbars and sidewalls!

Of course, that goes against conventional enthusiast thinking, so I wouldn't expect anyone to actually try it.

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Thursday, September 18, 2003 12:14 PM

First off, what's sad is that she thinks it's fine to do that. Second, she drags herself and whoever she is affiliated with (Alveys) into the dirt with a pathetic excuse like "Oh, the park let us, deal with them." NO PARK would ever jeopardize themselves by openly allowing enthusiasts to pull idiotic stunts like that. It's the rider who takes the main blame - they're the one who is control of their own safety and she chose NOT to abide by the safety regulations enforced by the park by choosing to get a bit more of "airtime." And to think she represents the coaster community and appearing on TV programs - and now look at what's at stake - our previleges and reputation as an entire community.

Thursday, September 18, 2003 12:15 PM
I knew it would come down to this. Please, everyone, follow all safety rules. I mean, you see children, right when they get into the car, and pull the lapbar down. Know we've come to a point in life where daily, someone tries to pull something that endangers lifes. We don't deserve any special treatment. Those safety devices are there for your safety, and if some of us keep pulling this, it will give lawmakers more thought to Markey's proposal, and pretty soon, the enthuiast community will be hanging by a thread. I hope you take these words into consideration, and good day.

P.S. I don't think anyone will admit to having a high lap bar, but you know who you are.

"If you're thirsty, it's too late to go get a drink." Chinese Proverb*** This post was edited by coasterwiz 9/18/2003 4:17:37 PM ***

Thursday, September 18, 2003 12:16 PM
I'll give ya the lapbars Jeff, but breaking my ribs on PTC sidewalls is pure bliss ;) Mmmmmmmm Knoebel's Twister :)

Did Legend have seatbelts when it ran Gerstlauers? I don't remeber.

Now Kraxel I see nothing wrong with Elissa riding like that. Her knees are easily seen to be secured and her seat belt is latched and looks to be pretty tight.

I have ridden SFA's S:RoS with that much room and was very, very well restrained and felt completely safe.

I don't see a problem with loose lapbars, I see a problem with taking off seatbelts and standing up on coasters.

If I was part of a coaster, I would be an upstop pad on an Arrow Mine Train.
MAGNUM HAD MY BABY!*** This post was edited by MagnumForce 9/18/2003 4:19:33 PM ***

Thursday, September 18, 2003 12:18 PM
It's a shame to see HW have to do this, but I fully agree with their response. They gave us a great gift and we treated it like crap. It's not a big surprise that ungrateful guests don't get asked to come back. It's a shame that it took a tragic accident to bring this issue to the forefront.

Be polite and ignore the idiots. - rollergator
"It's not a Toomer" - Arnold Schwartzenkoph
"Those who know don't talk and those who talk don't know." -Jeff

Thursday, September 18, 2003 12:20 PM
I just want to applaud Will Koch for being the first to have the proverbial "balls" to let the enthusiast groups know that the industry doesn't revolve around them.

It sucks that we lose a major (and arguably the best) event of the year, but take this setback as the start of things moving in the right direction.

Kudos to the folks at Holiday World for the reality check. I honestly hope other parks follow suit and the right people get the message.

Dorney Park Visits in 2003: 17

*** This post was edited by Lord Gonchar 9/18/2003 4:21:33 PM ***

Thursday, September 18, 2003 12:22 PM
MagnumForce -

But that's still not abiding by the park rules, and that's what these parks are so fed up with. By just leaving a good amount of space between your body and restraint (even if you feel safe), you're still putting yourself in danger. You're supposed to lower the restraint to a tight fit.

Thursday, September 18, 2003 12:23 PM
Sometimes people can be so hardheaded! It is a shame to have read a letter like that. If someone is bored with a ride then they should stop riding it so darn much. Rather then stop riding it. They go to these events to get rides on a coaster they already rode hundreds of times just to sit with their lap bars 2 clicks down, and almost or sometimes 12 inches above where it should be.

That is wrong. What is it going to take for some particular enthusiast to stop this behavior? I know what it is going to take. Holiday World canceling it events for 2004. Before you know it ERT for enthusiast will be banned from Cedar Fair parks, and I wouldn't be surprised if that happened. Then it goes on. This needs to be stopped. I say if anyone here notices any rider at any event riding improperly they should say something.

Its socially wrong, but is that what it is going to take? Its hard to think that we are already feeling unwelcome as a group at an up and coming park such as Holiday World. IM clearly upset by this. Please I think everyone got the point with the letter. Whatever anyone can do to stop this. They need to try. Its a a reality. One enthusiast lost her life because of this.

Thursday, September 18, 2003 12:31 PM
Wow. I didn't think that that was coming. Maybe it will get some people to reconcider their actions and actually follow rules.

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Thursday, September 18, 2003 12:33 PM
I don't see it that way at all. HW knowingly allowed 3 clicks rides at SRM with plenty of room in plain site. I do this at all parks, it is not against the rules to leave yourself a little room, just ask Dick Kinzel.

Now if you are slouching down to gain extra room and such then you are breaking rules. Or if you are riding with an obscene amount of space between you and the lapbar I see that as a problem.

I don't see riding with a bit of space as an issue and I don't think the parks do either.

However I will say that if HW was not allowing all that room, perhaps we woudl not be having these disscussions at all.

If I was part of a coaster, I would be an upstop pad on an Arrow Mine Train.
MAGNUM HAD MY BABY!*** This post was edited by MagnumForce 9/18/2003 4:37:02 PM ***


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