Assortments of Thought

One Exceptional Theme Park

Posted on: August 16th, 2009

Theme parks continue to be among the more popular choices for summer fun by people everywhere. Yet while many parks are visited mostly because they’re close to where people live, others are visited in spite of their distance because they really are that good. Take, for instance, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus, Indiana. Located in the southwestern portion of the state, far away from even the closest big cities and metro areas for the most part, one might wonder why many people would even bother going there. Between its three renowned wooden coasters though; a vast assortment of quality rides even for the really young; an exceptional water park; and a high degree of friendliness, cleanliness, reasonable prices, and even free stuff (like soda) that many other parks simply don’t match; its appeal becomes obvious. Indeed, of all the parks to travel to for an all-around enjoyable visit, Holiday World truly belongs high on everyone’s lists.

Holiday World’s signature rides of course are its three wooden coasters: the Raven, the Legend, and the Voyage, all of which warrant a visit to the park alone. Indeed, all three are so good that they’ve been voted #1 among wooden coasters at some point in the Golden Ticket Awards by Amusement Today, and the Raven and Voyage both have even been voted so more than once. (See the Raven and Legend “… Roller Coaster Fact Sheets” and the press release “‘Voyage’ Named #1 …” at In the case of the Raven, maybe it’s because of the way it curves and careens over Lake Rudolph and through the dense trees, taking unexpected dips to hug the ground. For the Legend, maybe it’s the way it flies through part of Splashin’ Safari, only to return and spiral to the ground. Or, in the case of the Voyage, perhaps it’s simply the way the whole ride progresses, going down the three huge drops, then flying through the crazily-twisted farpoint before careening back beneath the structure, finishing in the apparent blaze of speed at the end. Not to mention, of course, all the airtime, underground travel, and 90-degree banked turns along the way. Overall then, with the Raven, Legend, and Voyage, Holiday World offers three of the most exceptional and thrilling wooden coasters in the world.

Of course, for those who aren’t interested in just the coasters if at all, Holiday World offers a wide assortment of other rides as well. A few offer thrills similar to those from the coasters, such as Pilgrims Plunge, the world’s tallest water ride (see the “Pilgrims Plunge Fact Sheet“), and Liberty Launch, a classic shoot-you-up and drop-you-down ride. The majority, however, are either family rides or else rides for the really young. Rides in the former category include, for example, Scarecrow Scrambler, Turkey Whirl, and Star Spangled Carousel. None are particularly unique, of course, but all offer lots of fun nonetheless. As for those for the really young, most are similar to other rides in the park except in smaller scale. They include, for instance, Reindeer Games, a slower and shorter version of Liberty Launch; the Howler, a miniature steel coaster that’s part of a larger family play area called Holidog’s FunTown; and numerous revolving-type rides like Blitzen’s Airplanes. All, of course, are perfect for younger children not quite ready for the other rides. Holiday World thus offers rides for everyone, whether someone’s seeking the extreme thrills of a coaster, the pleasantness of a small, gentle ride, or else just something somewhere in-between.

Then of course, for those who prefer the water there’s Splashin’ Safari, admission to which is included with admission to Holiday World itself. And like Holiday World itself, it offers a vast assortment of rides to satisfy nearly everyone, but particularly on those hot, summer days. Of course there’s a wave pool (actually two: the Wave and Bahari); a couple of lazy rivers, including one that’s perhaps not so lazy, Bahari River; and a nice variety of slides. And, naturally, there’re a few family play areas like Kima Bay, including one for the really young. But then of course, there’re the bigger, multi-person rides as well, including a couple of swirly-types, Zinga and Bakuli, and the tallest enclosed water slide in the world, ZOOMbabwe (see the “ZOOMbabwe Fact Sheet“). Starting with the 2010 season, there’s even going to be a magnetically-powered ride-up water coaster called Wildebeest, the longest water coaster in the world at that, sure to become Splashin’ Safari’s star attraction (see the “Wildebeest Fact Sheet“). Overall then, Splashin’ Safari’s rides are just as exciting and encompassing as Holiday World’s are, and thus like Holiday World itself, Splashin’ Safari offers something really fun for everyone.

Aside from the great rides though, what makes Holiday World so truly great is the wonderful service, like all the friendliness, cleanliness, reasonable prices, and even free stuff. Indeed, the park president, Will Koch, once commented that “It doesn’t matter how great your rides are if the employees are rude and the bathrooms are filthy,” and with eleven consecutive years voted as the Friendliest Park and nine consecutive years voted as the Cleanest in the Golden Ticket Awards, it’s clear that Holiday World really operates by that sentiment. (See “Holiday World Tops 1 Million …” and “‘Voyage’ Named #1 …” at Then there’s the fact that everything is reasonably priced, whether it’s the food, the locker rentals, admission itself, or even a stay for your dog in the air-conditioned kennel. In other words, Holiday World doesn’t gouge you just for the convenience of eating in the park or using any of its various services. Finally, believe it or not, Holiday World even offers a few things for free, like parking and unlimited soft drinks of all types, plus inner tubes and sunscreen in Splashin’ Safari. Though I believe a few other parks have since followed suit for at least a couple of those, I’m sure it’s still not common among parks, so it really helps to elevate Holiday World above the rest all the more.

Between all the great rides and the wonderful service, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari is thus one of the most truly exceptional theme parks around. And considering how much its grown since its humble yet sincere founding so many years ago, its all the more exceptional. Indeed, having opened as Santa Claus Land in 1946, it’s become quite big over the years, transforming into Holiday World in 1984, gaining Splashin’ Safari in 1993, the Raven in 1995, the Voyage in 2006, and now Wildebeest for 2010. (See “From Santa Claus Land to Holiday World …“). Yet through all the expansions, all the growth, and the rise to fame, it’s remained the great park that it is and probably always was. It shows that becoming something big doesn’t have to mean going downhill, that on the contrary, it can mean becoming something greater, something better than ever. And in the end, perhaps that’s the most truly exceptional thing about Holiday World of all.

References: “From Santa Claus Land to Holiday World 63 Years of Family Fun,” April 29th, 2009, at as of Aug. 16th, 2009
[]. “Holiday World Tops 1 Million in Best-Ever Season,” Oct. 8th, 2006, at as of Aug. 16th, 2009
[]. “The Legend Roller Coaster Fact Sheet,” Summer 2000, at as of Aug. 16th, 2009
[]. “Pilgrims Plunge Fact Sheet,” Aug. 26th, 2008, at as of Aug. 16th, 2009
[]. “The Raven Roller Coaster Fact Sheet,” 2005, at as of Aug. 16th, 2009
[]. “‘Voyage’ Named #1 Wooden Coaster, Again,” Spring 2009, at as of Aug. 16th, 2009
[]. “Wildebeest Fact Sheet,” Aug. 13th, 2009, at as of Aug. 16th, 2009
[]. “ZOOMbabwe Fact Sheet,” Oct. 4th, 2001, at as of Aug. 16th, 2009

©2009, D.S. Applemin. All rights reserved.


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