The Koch family receives a standing ovation upon the posthumous induction of Will Koch into the IAAPA Hall of Fame.

The visionary who introduced “free unlimited soft drinks,” an extreme emphasis on friendliness and cleanliness, plus the world’s most popular trio of wooden roller coasters was inducted into the amusement industry’s Hall of Fame today (Nov. 16).

Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari owner and president Will Koch, who passed away unexpectedly in June at the age of 48, was posthumously honored by his peers during opening ceremonies of the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions (IAAPA) Attractions Expo Conference and Trade Show. More than 25,000 IAAPA members from around the world are gathered to attend this week-long event.

The theme park is located in Santa Claus, Ind. Koch family members developed and own the adjacent Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort, one of the largest campgrounds in Indiana.

According to an IAAPA news release: Koch was a savvy marketer. He enhanced Holiday World’s family-friendly atmosphere by offering free parking, sodas, and sunscreen to all guests and he insisted the park be “open” with fans and the press alike. Under Koch’s leadership, Holiday World was one of the first major theme parks to actively embrace social media through blogs and Twitter, among other online platforms. The Hall of Fame honors leaders, legends and pioneers for their significant and lasting contributions to the worldwide attractions industry.

“The IAAPA Hall of Fame is the highest honor our industry can bestow and includes such luminaries as Walt Disney and Milton Hershey,” says Koch’s brother, Dan, who became park president in late June. “Will’s family – including his park family – miss him dearly. We’re so proud of what Will created during his 20 years as president and pledge to continue to follow his vision in the years ahead.”

Will Koch’s widow, Lori, accepted the Hall of Fame award on behalf of her family. Their three children, Lauren, Leah and William, were also on hand, along with Will’s mother, Pat, and brother Dan. Will Koch’s father, Bill, was inducted into the IAAPA Hall of Fame in 2001.

Family-owned and -operated by the Koch family since opening in 1946, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari will celebrate their 65th anniversary in 2011.