USM’s Walton Included in CNN Function on Vacation Inn ‘Holidome’

Mon, 11/02/2020 – 1:09 pm | By: David Tisdale

A look back at the now-defunct “Holidome” of the Holiday Inn, a popular feature the hotel chain has been offering in selected locations across the country since the 1970s, was the focus of a recent travel segment on the Cable News Network (CNN), which featured contributions from included Ross Walton, researcher and digital production engineer at the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage (COHCH) at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM).

Described by some as an adult amusement park, the Holidome was an air-conditioned space that featured everything from swimming pools, tiki bars, and shuffleboards to traveling businesspeople and their families. Sometimes the Holidome served as a fail-safe option for a Florida vacation that went wrong due to bad weather, or provided vacationers in northern areas with a convenient swimming option when the temperature dropped.

Partly expensive maintenance led to the decline of the Holidome in the 1990s. Check out the story here:

“It was a wonderful innovation in its day and a real achievement by the Holiday Inn brand,” said Walton.

In 2011, Ross Walton began working on a Holiday Inn oral history project to explore the innovative company’s numerous Mississippi connections. Walton has preserved the memories of former executives, franchisees, and family members of founder Kemmons Wilson, and firmly established our state’s unique contributions to one of the greatest business success stories of the 20th century.

Additionally, Walton recently discovered a lost oral record of Wilson’s business associate, Kosciusko-born Wallace E. Johnson, who was President of Holiday Inns, Inc. from 1953 to 1973. This recording was made by the first director of COHCH, Dr. 1974 Orley B. Caudill is currently being transcribed and is being recorded at the Holiday Inn OHP along with another interview that Caudill did in 1976 with Glendora-born Mike Sturdivant Jr. Sturdivant and partner Earle Jones interviewed by Walton in 2011. opened its first Holiday Inn in Meridian in 1956 and managed dozens of properties across the country and the Caribbean. Your company, Mississippi Management, Inc., continues to be a major player in the hospitality business.

Walton has been a consultant for the Intercontinental Hotels Group since 2015 and has given the company’s Holiday Inn marketing team several presentations on the brand’s history. He is currently writing a book on the history of Holiday Inns as an icon of business and pop culture.

You can find more information on COHCH at

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