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Will Koch's widow takes control of Holiday World, fires brother-in-law

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The replacement of Holiday World CEO Dan Koch is reportedly the result of an ongoing legal dispute that has seen his widowed sister-in-law take control of the theme park.

Holiday World has been a major success story over the past decade, having developed into one of America's leading regional parks under the stewardship of late CEO Will Koch. Continuity appeared to have been maintained following his death in 2010, with his brother Dan stepping into the role. However, the Spencer County Journal has now revealed that the park's management has been in turmoil behind the scenes.

According to the report, Holiday World had a purchase agreement in place to buy Will Koch's shares in the park in the event of his death. However, a failure to agree on the value of these shares resulted in his widow, Lori, filing a civil lawsuit in January 2011. A judge ruled in her favour in December, handing her control of the business. She has since moved to replace Dan Koch as CEO with Matt Eckert, a former long-time employee at Holiday World who was originally appointed by her late husband.

While Holiday World remains in the hands of the Koch family, the dispute will come as a surprise to some fans of the park. In recent years, it has cultivated an image as a down-to-earth, family-run business, with members of the Koch family frequently appearing in promotional videos on the park's website.

Several members of the Koch family, led by Natalie Koch and including Dan, were involved in aborted bid to take over operations of the shuttered Kentucky Kingdom theme park last year. At the time, the group blamed the collapse of the deal on the challenge of overcoming governmental regulations and requirements. However, there will inevitably now be speculation that the legal dispute over the ownership of Holiday World was another factor.

Holiday World is planning some major new additions for the 2013 season, including the opening of multi-slide water attraction Hyena Falls in its Splashin' Safari water park.


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