“ Address: 452 East Christmas Blvd Santa Claus, IN 47579 „
Holiday World and Splashin' Safari is located in the modern yet charming town of Santa Claus, Indiana. It is two parks in one. Holiday World is a 100 acre themed amusement park filled with rides for all ages, from gentle rides for the smallest children to thrill rides and award winning world class roller coasters. Splashin' Safari is a 23 acre water park filled with a wide variety of exciting water slides, water coasters, wave pools, a lazy river and many other fun features that range from the mild to the wild. With an operating season of May through October, attendance has been over 1,100,000 visitors per year and grows steadily each season. Each year sees new attractions, new improvements and more ways to enjoy your visit. They were the first park in the world to offer free unlimited soft drinks, available in both parks. Free sunscreen and free use of inner tubes are available in Splashin' Safari. Parking is free, with accommodation for RVs and busses. Trams circle the main parking lot, offering rides to and from the front gate during busy times and periodically throughout the day. Handicapped parking is readily available.
The park's website is full of helpful information. You can find the operating schedule for the season, and hours of operation for each day, height and weight restrictions for individual rides, accessibility guides, and far more. A list of park rules for safety of all guests is available. When looking for nearby accommodation during your stay, you can check the website for local camping, RV or cabin rentals and hotels/motels nearby. Information is available for all major rides and attractions, and video is included for most of the major rides. Food menus along with nutritional and allergy information can also be found. Blogs, press releases and occasional contests are available. Details of available shows can be read to help decide which ones you'd enjoy seeing. Tickets are available online, although discount tickets can be purchased locally at some of the area shops and attractions. There are webcams available, and the daily local forecast is shown. Group discounts and company picnics are available, and information can be obtained from the website. I have found the wealth of information to be useful on many occasions, and have also pointed quite a few people toward the site to help with any questions they may have. In addition to the website, the park is on Facebook and Twitter, with daily and often several times a day updates on contests, weather, and other information. They have a phone app for iPhone and other smartphones, which is useful when planning your trip or while you are already in the park. In the summer of 2011, several Wifi hotspots were added through the park as a courtesy and convenience for guests.
Also added in 2011 was the 'cashless' payment system. Money can be added to either a gift card or a bracelet that can be used throughout the park to pay for food and souvenirs. Both the gift card and bracelet can be topped up for reuse. This system is very helpful for ease of payment throughout a visit. It also helps with never having to worry about money falling out of your pocket.
The park has always been a family owned and operated business, with the third generation now running the park and members of the fourth generation in training With a slogan of "#1 For Family Fun", every guest is treated as a guest, not a customer just there to spend money. Any member of the family who is at the park, and a few are there daily, is out and about greeting guests and checking on park cleanliness and operations. Pat Koch is out daily, including her birthday, with her broom, sweeping the park and helping keep it tidy. The park has won numerous awards for their friendliness and cleanliness. With company cornerstones of safety, service, cleanliness and friendliness, they strive to make sure every person who walks through the front gate has an incredible, memorable visit. I have noticed other parks aren't as friendly or as clean, on the occasions I have gone elsewhere for a visit. I have always left a visit to Holiday World and Splashin' Safari feeling my every need and want was thought of and catered to.
Safety and comfort are important at Holiday World and Splashin' Safari. First aid is readily available, along with certified EMTs stationed at the water park. Shade is available, and on hot days extra air conditioning is available, in addition to the many air conditioned buildings already in daily use, so people can cool off. Height restrictions that are in place for guest safety on rides are enforced. Lost Parents is the service that can reunite little ones who have wandered off from parents, without extra worry to the child by saying it is the child who is lost. If a possession goes astray, lost and found can be checked to see if someone has turned it in. Extra wide paths make it easy for large numbers of people to be able to walk safely from attraction to attraction. The paths are well lit for times when the park is open late enough for it to be dark or near dark. Lockers are available in both parks to stash things you may not want to carry around all day, or to store your belongings while you are enjoying the water. I have found all these (and many others) safety features ensure an enjoyable day because I can relax, knowing if a potential problem should arise it can and will be quickly and easily taken care of.
The park celebrated its 65th anniversary in 2011. Originally Santa Claus Land, the park was opened August 3, 1946 by Louis J. Koch. At that time, the park featured a restaurant, toy displays, a toy shop, themed children's rides, and Santa. Although not the world's first amusement park, it has been called the world's first theme park. After returning from WWII, Louis J. Koch's son, Bill, became head of Santa Claus Land. He then married Santa's daughter, Pat, and they had five children. Over the years, more rides and attractions were added, some of which are no longer there because times change making those attractions obsolete due to lack of interest, yet some are still part of the ever expanding park, bringing a nostalgic charm to a modern park. In the early years, the park was open all year around, and families would flock there in December so children could see Santa. However, as mall Santas became popular, a decline in post summer attendance brought the decision to close during the winter months. In 1984, the park's name was changed to Holiday World, with the addition of the 4th of July and Halloween themed areas. Each of those areas were changed from the park wide Christmas theme to reflect their own holidays, with rides and games painted and the names changed to fit their themes. Music in each of the three areas was chosen to reflect each theme. 2006 saw the addition of the Thanksgiving area of the park as part of the commemoration of the 60th anniversary. Although some visitors were reluctant to see the change from all Christmas to various holidays, overall it was well received and loved. Incorporating so many different themes offered a wider variety of ideas to be developed over the years. At first, at my young age, I admit I was one of those who wasn't crazy about the idea as a kid. Now, as an adult, I love it and hope to see more holidays added as time goes on.
All employees are trained to know their position to the fullest level in order to be able to be helpful and ensure all guests have a positive experience with that particular ride, game, meal or shopping. On the rare occasion someone didn't have an answer to a question, or wasn't able to help me at that time, and I have been to the park at least once a summer my entire life, every effort was made to get the information or help needed. I have seen many occasions where an employee will go far above and beyond the call of duty to be helpful or extra kind.
The food is amazing, high quality and definite value for price. Of all the pizza I have had in my life, theirs is by far my favourite. Pizza can be found in both parks. There are seventeen restaurants/snack bars between the two parks, offering a wide variety of food ranging from healthy to not so healthy but oh so tasty. Cotton candy, nachos and pretzels can be found at several locations, and hamburgers at more than one spot. Some of their restaurants specialize in specific types of food. For example, Barbeque USA has barbecued pulled pork sandwiches, barbequed pulled chicken sandwiches and barbecued ribs that not served anywhere else in the park, Plymouth Rock Café serves up traditional dinners that include fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, baked ham, roasted chicken, baked turkey, prime rib, mashed potatoes and gravy, macaroni and cheese and many other choices you would find in a family dinner. They are an amazing treat, and are far beyond what anyone might think amusement park food should be. The Alamo serves up tacos, burritos, Spanish rice, refried beans, and many other amazing south of the border treats. Mrs. Klaus' Kitchen has a wide variety of incredibly mouth watering delights including fudge in many flavours, gourmet cookies, caramel apples, fudge apples, really big cupcakes and other treats to dazzle your taste buds. I always buy some fudge with the intention of eating it after I get home, but I end up sampling it minutes after purchasing it because I just can't wait. Ice cream can be found in more than one location, but for a fun way to cool off, head to Udderly Blue Ice Cream for a great tasting treat that turns your lips and tongue blue. While you cool off, you are sure to feel like a kid again.
Some allergen free, gluten free, and lower fat foods are readily available, but anyone may order special meals ahead of time and come back for them when they are ready. You may call ahead, order upon arrival, or speak to any member of the food management staff with requests and questions. A printable version of the healthier options and allergen friendly menu is available on the website. This is very helpful, with so many people needing to be careful with what they eat.
As of 2011, Holiday World has four roller coasters. The Raven, named for Edgar Allen Poe's poem and part of the Halloween section, is a wooden roller coaster built in 1995, and was named 'Ride of the Year. It has held the #1 roller coaster spot for four years and has been in the Top 20 roller coasters every year since, generally in the Top 10 and has won numerous awards since it was opened. Not only is it an engineering marvel with amazing twists and turns, but the way it was designed to fit the terrain of the park and give the rider a sense of flying through the trees makes it even more incredible. It has a capacity of 700 riders per hour. I have ridden The Raven enough times to have been able to sit in each seat position, and I personally feel they all offer an incredible ride. The rush of sitting in the front is fantastic, and the added air time of the back seat is definitely worth trying to get to sit there.
The Legend, which takes its name from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, is also located in the Halloween section. Built in 2000, it was named 4th best roller coaster in the world in 2002, and remains in the Top20 wooden coasters in the world, as of 2011. With a capacity of 550 riders per hour, that is lot of people a day being given the chance to feel as if they are being chased around the park by the Headless Horseman. Although I haven't had as many chances to ride this one as The Raven, I absolutely love it and look forward to many more chances to ride.
The Voyage, a wood and steel hybrid coaster with a wooden track, opened in 2006 as part of the opening of the new Thanksgiving section. At 6,442 feet, it is the second longest (as of 2011) operating wooden coaster in the world and the 6th tallest. It holds numerous records and awards and has been featured on "The Travel Channel's Extreme Terror Rides 2 Death-Defying Drops: The World's Scariest Summits and Plummets". With a capacity of 1,200 riders per hour, the wait to ride isn't very long. There are many twist and turns through the beautiful surroundings, and some clever 90 degree banked turns. I will never forget my first ride. I was so overjoyed I just wanted to sit in my seat and revel in the moment, but I knew I had to move so the next person could experience the joy. It is one of those rides where you could ride it all day, every day and still be as thrilled after the hundredth or even thousandth ride as you were with the first.
The Howler is a steel coaster for junior coaster enthusiasts and their families. Located in Holidog's fun town, The Howler debuted in 1999. At 300 feet long with a maximum height of 15 feet, it offers just enough of a thrill to get the youngest kids interested in coasters without being too scary. With adorable trains made to look like Holidog, it is a very friendly ride. I have not ridden it but I have been told it is great fun.
Other rides for bigger kids and adults range from mild to wild thrill rides. Over the years some have come and gone, some have endured over time, but the owners add new rides to either Holiday World, Splashin' Safari or both every year or two.
Frightful Falls is a log flume which offers a peaceful, relaxing log ride before climbing ever higher to plunge you nearly four stories to the water below. It is one of my favourites, not just for the relaxation before the final plunge, but because it is a great way to cool off on a summer's day.
HalloSwings allows riders to fly through the air on this one of a kind design swing adorned with bats, witches, ghosts and pumpkins. It looks amazing lit up at night.
Lewis & Clark Trail offers a leisurely ride around a track on a replica antique car, or a chance for the littlest of drivers to practice their skills.
Pilgrim's Plunge is a classic 'shoot the chute' ride with the distinction of being the world's tallest water ride, as of 2011. Boats are lifted135 feet into the air by an 'open air elevator'. After a brief pause, there is a rapid, thrilling 131 feet at a 45 degree angle, offering a huge splash of water and a great way to cool down. After Splashin' Safari is closed for the season, Pilgrim's Plunge continues to operate on Holiday World's schedule.
Revolution is a zero gravity 'human centrifuge' ride, allowing riders to stand and feel as if the force might pull the through the wall they are leaning against. Not for the faint of heart, it really is safe. I love this one and could ride it several times each visit.
Liberty Launch is a seven story double shot type of ride where compressed air shoots riders into the air before gently and gradually lowering them. Another ride that is not for the faint of heart, I have not been able to ride this one out of fear (I am a roller coaster kind of girl) but everyone I have ever known to ride it swears it is great fun.
Scarecrow Scrambler is a classic scrambler ride, slinging riders here, there, and everywhere as it spins around. Truly a family ride, it offers just enough of a thrill to be fun but not enough to be scary for the little ones.
The Freedom Train is Holiday World's original ride, offering a pleasant ride for everyone, from the youngest of riders to the kids in their 90's and beyond. It is a 1/4 scale model that chugs along a 1/4 mile track through larger than life statues of beloved characters in Mother Goose Land. Enjoy a trip around as you hear some of your favourite childhood stories. No one is ever too old to relive the magic of childhood on this ride.
Turkey Whirl offers a chance to spin until you are dizzy and giddy with giggles as you ride in a giant turkey on this classic tilt-a-whirl ride, and Rough Riders is a fun twist on the bumper cars ride. You get to choose a horse or buffalo to ride around in as you bump into other riders.
Raging Rapids offers four minutes of splashes and twists through a flooded western town called Boulder Canyon, a tunnel, and white water rapids, offering a great chance to cool down on a hot day. There is also the possibility of being drenched by a curtain of water as you go through the town's saloon if you happen to be in the right place at the right time on your journey. Those who don't wish to ride can shoot sprays of water at riders as they go along.
Among the many other rides I haven't listed, new for 2012 will be in the 4th of July section and they are naming it Sparkler. It will be a 65 foot vertical swing ride. All seats will be double seats, so children as small as 36" may ride with an older family member.
For the smallest of guests there are two dedicated areas just for children's rides, and other rides scattered through the park. Some are set with height or weight restrictions that make them kid only rides, and some are designed for families to be able to ride with the little ones.
Rudolph's Reindeer Ranch is located just inside the front gate of the park, and offers Comet's Rockets (a rocket ride), Dasher's Seahorses (how fun to ride on a seahorse!), Prancer's Merry-Go-Round) (a small carousel just for the youngsters), Dancer's Thunder Bumpers Junior (bumper boats for children), Reindeer Games (a three story drop ride for the whole family), and Rudolph's Round Up (a sleigh ride for the family). Although some changes have been made since I was young enough to play in this area, just peering into it is enough to melt the years away and make me wish I was a kid again.
Holidog's Fun Town is another area for the kiddies, located in the 4th of July section. The Freedom Train track encircles the Fun Town. Inside this area you will find Holidog's Treehouse (three stories of interactive climbing fun for the whole family), Just For Pups, (a smaller version of the Treehouse, just for the smaller children), The Howler (roller coaster), Doggone Trail (jeep ride on a track, made for children), and Magic Waters ( water spray fun park). This is a fun area for the little ones, but entertaining enough to keep parents and older siblings busy and having fun.
In Splashin' Safari, there is a wide variety of ways to cool off and have fun. All slides, rides and pools are fully staffed with highly trained life guards who enforce all rules for safety, while keeping a constant watch for anyone who needs help. There are also several restaurants and seating areas available, and areas of deck chairs for those who want to work on their tans, or just take a break from the action.
If you are looking for total relaxation, head over to Bahari River, and float lazily along on the current, with a waterfall that will cool you even more as you pass under it. This ride is loved by adults and kids alike.
Congo River is another lazy river, with a mushroom that pours water over those who pass under it. I love floating around and cooling off on this very relaxing escape from the heat. I have loved this one since the first year it was installed at the park, and look forward to it on each visit.
Monsoon Lagoon is a family play area packed with over sixty ways to get wet. From water slides, to water wheels, water guns, water curtains, to geyser jets and more, you are bound to find many ways to have fun. The best part of it is the giant tipping water bucket that drenches anyone under it when it tips. It is my favourite part of Monsoon Lagoon.
Kima Bay is another play area, but monkey themed. It offers more than 100 water play items. There are seven water slides, more than 125 water jets and a 1,200 gallon bucket that tips every few minutes. It is great fun.
The Wave offers six foot waves for fantastic fun. Choose to stand in the deepest end for the maximum effect, the middle for a gentle effect, or at the very shallow edge for slight, lapping waves. I have even found that the littlest of children love this wave pool, if they are at the edge. Run time is 15 minutes with breaks in between for safety. I generally take a turn in the deep end, middle and shallow end on each visit, because I enjoy the effects of each one.
Bahari is the other wave pool. Larger than The Wave, it offers sprays, geysers and jets for more fun. Suitable for all ages, this giant wave pool offers hours of fun. With occasional breaks in the action, you can still enjoy being cool and splashing around while waiting for the waves to begin again.
Bakuli offers a thrilling rafting ride as you go through a dark tunnel. Suddenly the bottom drops out from under you, and you find yourself spiralling dizzily in a giant bowl, on this seven story tall ride that is sure to quickly become a favourite.
Otorongo is three waterslides in one. All three are enclosed, fast and dark, yet each offers a uniquely different ride. Each slide has its own name, 'Otto', 'Ron' and 'Go'. Whichever you choose offers a four story ride on a double inner tube that is sure to get your pulse racing.
Watubee gives four riders per raft the chance to launch themselves on a nonstop twisting and turning adventure after climbing up a tower to start. I absolutely love the ride itself, but am not crazy about climbing the tower. It isn't overly taxing on the body to climb it, but a fear of heights makes it an uncomfortable journey for me. Once I am in the raft and experiencing the thrill of the ride, I am as happy as can be.
Zinga, at eight storeys tall, is a combination of water slide and the back and forth excitement of working your way through the large funnel. You start out in the darkness of the water slide, then pop out into the sunshine and 'half pipe' your way through the funnel. Very exhilarating!
ZOOMbabwe propels riders down ten stories of fast back and forth action, steep drops, twists and banked curves in nearly 900 feet of darkness before a huge splash at the end. It is the world's largest enclosed waterslide (as of 2011) and offers amazing fun for all who try it.
Wildebeest, new in 2010, is the world's longest water coaster. Offering 1/3 mile of amazing wild uphills, twists, turns, drops and many more surprises. A conveyor belt lifthill prepares you for a four story drop that makes the heart race and brings a smile of joy to your face. However, its reign as the World's Longest Water Coaster is to be short lived. Set to open for the 2012 season, Splashin' Safari has announced Mammoth, which is set to be the new record holder. It will be much longer and wider, with six passenger boats that are round and nine feet in diameter. This design will give riders the chance to face forward, backward or sideways as they trek through the twists, turns, channels and tunnels of what will be a truly amazing water coaster.
There are several other water slides and rides in Splashin' Safari. There are also dedicated children's play areas, called Crocodile Isle (two shallow pools connected by two body slides), Butterfly Bay (shallow wave pool) and Safari Sam's SplashLand (interactive shallow pool with eight body slides) All three are designed to give maximum fun for the little ones, in areas where they can play without being unintentionally knocked over by the bigger kids.
Should you forget your bathing suit or beach towel, or change your mind and decide to go for a swim once you reach the park, both are available for purchase in the gift shops. If shopping is more to your liking than rides, there are many shops scattered through both parks, selling a wide range of items including ornaments, coffee mugs, pens, toys, shirts, sweatshirts, shorts, stuffed animals, candy and more. You're sure to find a fun souvenir or something to add to a collection, along with gifts to give at Christmas, with all the many, many baubles and delights on display in the shops. I could easily spend hours wandering the shops, looking at everything. I especially love the ones in the Christmas section, where I can look to my heart's delight while listening to Christmas music on a hot day.
Bavarian Glassblowers offers guests a chance to watch glassblowing demonstrations as items are hand blown in house. A large variety of glass items are for sale, and the glass blowers can work with guests to find the perfect item. The artistic way the glass blowers have honed their craft, and the way they can make such delicate items from a blob of molten glass is astounding. Next to the glass blowing are display cases with antique toys, Abraham Lincoln artifacts, and other delights for children of all ages. Take a nostalgic wall through years gone by, and enjoy the airconditioning as you see this amazing display.
Shows have always been a big part of Holiday World's entertainment. Although the types of show have varied over the years, you are sure to find a few (or all) to be enjoyable. From country to gospel to old time rock and roll or beach music, there is musical entertainment everywhere. For the kiddies, Holidog's Beach Party is singing and dancing fun with Holidog and friends. Every time I think I have a favourite, I see another one. They are all amazing, and enjoyable, making it hard to decide which is best.
The high dive show has been a part of the park for many, many years, running yearly other than 1992 when it made way for the Bungee show. You're sure to get wet if you sit in the first few rows, as the dive team takes you through the history of the sport from the 1920's to the present, with bathing suits from all time periods. Comedy is a big part of the show, yet you truly get to see the skill and bravery of the dive team, making it amazing for everyone who watches.
There are lots of games of skill, and an arcade area, where you can win prizes. Holiday World prides itself on having up to the minute prizes based on what is popular each year. Even walking through the park gives many opportunities to see beauty and snap pictures. The flowerbeds are lovingly tended and there are interesting statues, decorations and things to see everywhere you look. With trash cans readily available and a grounds crew that is dedicated to keeping their reputation as the cleanest park in the industry, you only notice the landscape and the trees of the surrounding area.
Meeting new friends is always fun. Holidog, Safari Sam and George the Eagle all look forward to meeting people and having their pictures taken. They all wander the park, saying hello and waving. Of course, the big man himself, Santa, is at the park every day it is open. In addition to photos, there is story time with him a few times a day, and you can often catch him making his rounds of the park, as he greets everyone with a smile.
Of all the parks I have been to, Holiday World and Splashin' Safari is the one that I have felt the most welcomed, the most appreciated, and enjoyed the most. There is something about knowing you are seen as a person who matters and not just someone with money to hand over that makes me want to go back again and again. Also knowing they do everything they can to keep costs down and the freebies they offer are a great bonus. This truly IS a park for the whole family, from the smallest of children to the great grandparents.
Theme park in Santa Claus, Indiana, USA.