Getaway Signs: Ride the Beest

Holiday World, an Indiana theme park, enhances its visitor experience with signs.
Holiday World -- Wildebeest.jpg

According to a www.firstresearch.com industry profile, the amusement park and arcade industry tallies approximately $13 billion annually. Although a cadre of large, powerful companies dominates the industry – www.firstresearch.com also states that, among the 3,000 documented companies that ply their trade in this field, the top 50 revenue-generating companies garner 85% of the pie – many independent park operators thrive by offering more breathing room and a friendlier visitor experience than their larger counterparts.

Based in Santa Claus, IN (its residence along brings a smile to the face), Holiday World operates an eponymous theme park and Splashin’ Safari waterpark. This year, park management unveiled the Wildebeest, reportedly the world’s longest watercoaster at approximately 1/3 mi. long with drops of up to 38 ft. To highlight the ride to park visitors, Rick Emmons, the park’s in-house sign fabricator for 30 years, built a 20 x 7-ft. sign and several, smaller, complementary panels.

The large sign, which Emmons designed using Adobe’s CreativeSuite 4 software, comprises layers of 1-in.-thick HDU and ½-in. thick MDO. He fashioned the panel in seven layers with a table saw, jigsaw and portable router. Emmons enjoys the opportunity to ply his trade for an amusement park: “You get the opportunity to create more dimensional signage, rather than just flat, printed vinyl. And, you’re allowed to be more creative than you would with most customers.”

To fabricate the smaller signs, he printed the graphics on a Roland DGA Corporation Versa-Camm printer/plotter and laminated them and mounted them to Laminators Inc.’s Alumalite plastic-core, double-sided-aluminum panels.

Emmons also developed new signage for the Voyage, Holiday World’s wooden rollercoaster, and Jungle Jets, an attraction that features water cannons and other drenching equipment. He built the Voyage’s signage and wayfinding using a jigsaw and overhead projector to fabricate the sign from MDO board, Alumalite, paint and vinyl. He built the Jungle Jets sign with his sandblaster and complement of carving tools, saws and portable router. The main panel comprises sandblasted HDU decorated with automotive paint, and Emmons fashioned the bamboo backdrop from PVC (decorated with similar paint).

“It took a lot of effort and concentration to recreate the appearance of bamboo,” he said. “That was one of the more challenges aspects of that job.”