Saturday, July 21, 2012

Holiday World - Trip Report

The second park in my series of trip reports is Holiday World, in a tiny hamlet of Indiana called Santa Claus (probably no accident). This park is in the middle of nowhere. You drive through crops and fields, up and down the hilly roads (woohoo! early airtime!), and then all of a sudden, there's a full-sized theme park in front of you. It's a bit eerie.

Holiday World is bigger than you're imagining. And it's a two-fer. It's a real, regular amusement park, with enough rides to fill your day (really). And it's also a full-sized water park, which could easily fill a second day. So you might be looking for a hotel (which are expensive in the area). I'll discuss the water park more in a later post.

The lands of the park are themed after holidays: Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Fourth of July. The theming is somewhat haphazard and superficial; mostly these are just plain carnival rides.

But the coasters are noteworthy in the extreme. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a great coaster that mixes with other rides (it looks and feels like Roller Coaster Tycoon in this park). The Raven won awards a decade ago for being a great wooden coaster.

The Voyage (implying the Pilgrims, in the Thanksgiving section) is my current favorite wooden roller coaster in the whole world. I'm no expert, but I have been on several dozen woodies in my time, so I have some basis for comparison. The airtime here is unfathomable. You are out of your chair seemingly half the time. Loved it.

There's free wifi in the whole park, which is nice. There's free sunblock in the waterpark, which is unheard of. And there is free soda available every dozen paces in the park, which is completely bonkers. It's unreal. Who does this and stays in business? Well, Holiday World does. It made a fantastic park that much more awesome in our minds.

Touring ideas:

  • the water park gets very busy in the summer (presumably, with locals here for free sunscreen, free soda, and 'free' slides they paid for with an annual pass.
  • the coaster up front (Raven, Legend) have lines in the morning, but not later in the day. Remember to zig when everyone else zags.
  • there's a great dark ride (shooter) here that I'll discuss in a separate post

Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History.