Monday, July 23, 2012

Splashin' Safari at Holiday World - Trip Report

My previous posts about Holiday World in general and its dark ride Gobbler Getaway made brief mention of the water park on the premises, but the topic warrants its own post. Splashin' Safari has its own name, but it's not a standalone park. You don't pay separate admission for it; it's included with Holiday World. However, it does have its own operating hours. On the summer day when we visited, the water park closed at 6pm, even though Holiday World itself was open for a few hours more.

The first thing to say about Splash' Safari is that it's HUGE! There are three "water playgrounds" for kids, to give you some idea of the size. The shape is elongated and not very foot-friendly, so it must have grown organically over the years.

You'll find the typical slides built on towers here, both open air and closed-tube. There is a family slide. There are lazy rivers here and there, plus two different kinds of wave pools. Infants have a water area, as do toddlers with their own slides.

You'll find more modern designs, like "toilet bowl" slides or giant "half-pipe" slides.

But most excitingly of all, you'll find water coasters (the Disney equivalent is Crush 'n Gusher). The newer one, Mammoth, is a family raft ride concept done as a water coaster. It's fun, and it lasts a long time on the ride, but expect waits of about an hour. The slightly older one, Wildebeest, is a more standard raft (single file seating), and it's tremendous fun. Better than Crush 'n Gusher, if you ask me.

The free soda of Holiday World is continued here, and there are also stations with free sunblock. Is this park great or what?

You can easily spend a whole day at just the water park. Indeed, that's what a majority of people were doing when we visited; perhaps the locals prefer the water attractions to the regular park, at least during the heat of summer.

At the back of the park, located half in the water park and half in the theme park (and accessible from either) is the world's tallest water ride. It's a simple "tidal wave" kind of ride - just a very very tall shoot the chutes. But that single drop comes from a frightening height, and I was too creeped out by the ride up (your vehicle takes an open-air 'elevator' platform up a single tower) to try.

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