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ParkFans Founder
Silver Donor
Jun 2, 2011
Raleigh, NC
January 8, 2013

SANTA CLAUS, Ind. - The Board of Directors for Holiday World & Splashin' Safari has named Matt Eckert the park's new president and CEO.

"Matt was hand-picked by my late husband, Will, to be in a leadership role at the park; I know he would be pleased with our choice," says park vice president Lori Koch. "As president and CEO, Matt will work closely with our board to keep our family's park flourishing."

Eckert began his tenure with the park in 2000, when he was hired to be the park's controller; he served as one of the park's two general managers from 2007 to 2012. He is an International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions Certified Attractions Executive and has served on its Human Resources Committee.

Eckert is a graduate of Indiana State University with a bachelor's degree in accounting and insurance. He is a certified public accountant.

"My brother-in-law Dan stepped in to serve as president following Will's sudden death in 2010," says Lori Koch. "We thank him for his leadership and wish him well as he returns full-time to his law firm in Florida."

Holiday World, named the country's Top Value Park by Consumers Digest, will open for its 67th season on May 4. Splashin' Safari, ranked as the nation's #1 Water Park by, begins its season on May 10. For more information, visit or call 1-800-467-2682.

Well that's a suprise. I will say that Dan always seemed like a bit of an oddball, but it's somewhat troubling to see Holiday World taken out of the Koch family line. :-/
ScreamScape said:
(1/11/13) The situation is not all rosy at Holiday World these days it seems. Ongoing strife has been going on behind the curtains ever since the tragic death of Will Koch in June 2010. A verdict passed in December from a civil lawsuit that has been ongoing for the past two years has now left the controlling interest in Holiday World in the hands of Will’s wife, Lori Koch. Shortly after the verdict was handed down on December 3rd, Lori fired Dan Koch, who now remains only as a minority shareholder in Koch Development Corp, though he is appealing the verdict.
Lori Koch is now serving at the Vice President of Holiday World, and appointed Matt Eckert as the new President, who will begin his new duties starting this Monday. So what was this civil suit all about? According to this article, Koch Development Corp and Dan Koch failed to abide a purchase agreement in which the company was obliged to purchase Will Koch’s shares in the company after his death. According to Lori Koch, the shares were worth over $32 million, but Dan Koch who had assumed control of Koch Development at the time valued them only at $26.5 million. The judge’s verdict that ruled in favor of Lori Koch has freed her from any legal obligation to sell Will’s shares to either Dan Koch or Koch Development, keeping her intact as the majority shareholder.
Apparently the original buyback agreement was signed back in 2002 between siblings: Dan, Will and their sister Natalie Koch, who at the time held an equal number of shares. The agreement included some pre-set formulas for determining the value of the shares, as well as the timing and method of how the payments would take place, which is where things also fell into disagreement. Things also became interesting when both Dan and Will purchased shares from their sister Natalie just months before Will’s death.
I’ve also heard rumors that the sudden formation and demise of the Bluegrass Boardwalk company by Dan Koch, Natalie Koch, their cousin Kathy Kamp and her husband Michael Kamp, who pitched to revive Kentucky Kingdom may have been a reflection of the background power struggle that was taking place.
However this plays out, it is nice to see that Holiday World will remain owned by the Koch family, and I hope they can work this all out. At the time of Will’s death, his three children were all working at Holiday World as well, so it would be nice to see them all stay with the family business. So far there has been no word on where Pat Koch stands on the issue at hand.
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