Holiday World Still Offering Quality Affordable Family Fun
By Carol Arnett
It takes about three hours to get from Florissant to Santa Claus, Indiana, but for many families, it is worth the drive.
Santa Claus is a very small town with one big attraction: Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari. This amusement park and water park has always been committed to being family-friendly and affordable.
One entry fee gets you into Holiday World, the amusement park, and Splashin’ Safari, the water park. The water park usually opens an hour later and closes an hour earlier than the amusement park. The park asks that guests do not wear swimwear in the amusement park, and an employee is stationed at the exit to enforce the rule.
The park offers some unusual perks. First, parking is free. Shuttle busses run on the lot to take guest to the main gate. On the day we were there in early June, the park wasn’t very crowded and the lots weren’t full, but the shuttles were still running.
Another perk the park is famous for is free soda and sunscreen. Throughout the park are small shelters marked “Pepsi Oasis.” Inside are soda and ice machines for guests. In addition to soda, there is lemonade, Gatorade, iced tea and water. The restaurants in the park also have free beverages.
There are also sunscreen stands. Large bottles of SPF 30 with pump dispensers are available for free use by guests.
We also found that the food offered in the park was not overly expensive. Our family of five split the family pizza meal ($29). The large pizza, four orders of French fries, and four snack packs of Oreos were enough for us. For another meal, we had cheeseburgers and hotdogs. These ranged from $4 for a hot dog meal with fries and cookies up to $7 for the bacon double cheeseburger meal.
On to the rides. The park is known for its roller coasters. There are three coasters, all wooden: The Raven, the Legend, and the Voyage. The Voyage, in the Thanksgiving section of the park, is the longest with a 2 minute and 45 second ride. It has been voted the best coaster in the United States by several coaster enthusiast groups.
While my husband and daughters loved this coaster, I agreed with my youngest, who said it felt “like her brain was bouncing around in her head.” Unlike her, however, this was not a feeling I wanted to repeat.
The other two coasters are shorter, but also thrilling. They each go through the forest, and the Raven dips over a lake at one point.
The park added two new attractions this year, a set of water slides in the Splashin’ Safari side and a tea cup ride in the amusement park side.
The tea cup ride is in the children’s section of the park, along with car ride, small roller coaster, giant playground and fountain to play in. Like all the rides in this section, it is fun for kids, but big enough that adults can also ride.
Our favorites were some of the old standbys. I always like swings, and Holiday World has two swing rides, one where you ride in your own seat and one with seats for two. The bumper cars have an old west theme; each car is a horse or buffalo. We also liked the Liberty Launch, a ride in which you are strapped in and then shot straight up.
Another favorite is the Lewis and Clark trail, old style cars you drive around the track. It’s not a thrill ride, but it is nice and cool on a hot day.
Our competitive family also enjoyed the Gobbler Getaway, in which you ride through a town in a car and shoot at turkeys with a turkey caller ‘gun.’ At the end of the ride, you get your score and perhaps bragging rights.
The amusement park has four sections: Christmas, Halloween, Independence Day and Thanksgiving. Gobbler Getaway, of course, is in Thanksgiving, along with The Voyage. Also in this section is a restaurant where you can get a Thanksgiving meal all summer. Although it smelled and looked delicious, we stuck with more traditional park food.
On day two of our visit, we spent most of the day in Splashin’ Safari. With two wave pools, multiple water slides, two water playgrounds and a lazy river, there is plenty to do.
New this year was Hyena Falls, a set of four water slides. In the last few years, the park has added what they call water coasters, which we really enjoyed. In The Wildebeest, four riders sit in a row in what looks like four connected innertubes. It really is like a roller coaster in the water, as you go up and down hills and through banked turns. In The Mammoth, six passengers can go at once in a round ‘boat. In addition, the park has a funnel slide, one that drops you into a huge bowl for a few turns, and several smaller water slides. The two wave pools alternate between calm water and waves, and the lazy river is a nice break after the slides.
When we went, the lines were amazingly short both days, so short, in fact, that we were able to stay on some of the rides and go again without getting out in Holiday World. The kids loved it, but since the water slide usually require climbing multiple sets of stairs to get to the top, it was a little harder to keep up with them. They would hop out, say, “let’s go again,” and head back up. After half a day, my husband and I declared a lazy river break. In June, the park closes at 7:30.
Holiday World and Splashin’ Safair are $44.95 for general admission. Children under 54 inches and senior citizens are $36.95. A next day ticket for a two day visit is $27. Parking, drinks, and sunscreen are free.
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