Park of the Week: Islands of Adventure

Theme Park of the Week: Holiday World & Splashin' Safari

May 8, 2022, 7:36 PM · Holiday World opens to the public for its 2022 season on Saturday, so we're making Holiday World & Splashin' Safari our Theme Park of the Week.

The Santa Claus, Indiana theme park has brought back Santa Claus for in-person meet and greets and storytime this summer, and hugs are back not just with Santa but also with park mascot Holidog and friends.

Santa Claus
Photo courtesy Holiday World

Also up this summer will be the all-new Holidays in the Sky Drone and Fireworks Spectacular, which will show evenings from June 18 through July 31.

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari offers one of our readers' Top 25 coasters in The Voyage, along with a partial retrack on The Legend this season. In addition, the park bills itself the Water Coaster Capital of the World for its three water coasters, led by record-setter Mammoth.

Throw in the free parking, free sunscreen, and free Pepsi products throughout the park, and a visit to Holiday World remains one of the great bargains in the theme park business. Holiday World & Splashin' Safari will be open weekends through Memorial Day, when the park begins its daily operation.

For vacation packages that include discounted Holiday World & Splashin' Safari tickets and nearby hotel accommodations, please visit our travel partner's Holiday World Stay & Play vacation packages page.

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Replies (7)

May 8, 2022 at 8:08 PM

The Voyage is a beast that just doesn't quit. Let's hope that it survives for years to come without suffering from the same wear and tear that woodies usually face.

The coasters are the main draw, but people shouldn't sleep on other attractions like Frightful Falls or the Dive show.

May 9, 2022 at 12:58 AM

The one thing that struck me about Holiday World is how remote it is, i've only been there once and that was 14 years ago just because of how far it is from major population centers. I'd love to go back but how often do you find yourself in the middle of Louisville and Indianapolis? Also most of the parks here in the USA were built like 20-30 minutes outside of big cities right along an interstate and the areas around them have built up over the decades, Holiday World is like an hour from Louisville, three hours from Indianapolis, and when you exit the interstate you still have to drive a half hour through a bunch of farms. You can definitely tell when the founder built HW he had no idea it was going to become the major destination it eventually became. But that's also part of the charm and what makes it unique.

It is worth it though for Voyage, which is unquestionably one of the best coasters in the world. It has everything: airtime, length, speed, laterals, and unlike most coasters it seems to get faster and faster as the ride goes on and you flying into the brakes at the end of the ride. I thought Raven was over rated and Legend was really good for the time it came out, its not a top coaster compared to the woodies of the modern era, but for the time it came out it was really damn good. The B&M Wing Coaster wasn't there when I visited but it seems like fantastic addition to the park. This is also one of those parks where the main draw during the summer is the water park which seems to be way more popular than the dry park.

I appreciate even with all the success the ownership has still kept what is great about the park. Dollywood for example, as it has gotten bigger and more successful, has lost some of that special sauce that made it unique. The park doesn't have the employee friendliness that it used to and the prices on everything have skyrocketed to corporate park levels (I remember last time I went to Dollywood like 8 years ago a small bottle of Gatorade was like $5). Holiday World is one of those rare places that care about what made it successful in the first place and it shows.

May 9, 2022 at 12:47 PM

Holiday World is a bit in the middle of nowhere, but that is true of a lot of other theme parks around the country. SFMM is over an hour drive from LAX, SFGAdv is over an hour from NYC or Philly, and both Silver Dollar City and Dollywood are a solid 3 hours from the closest major airport.

We most recently visited Holiday World in 2015 as part of the trip to St. Louis, Chicago, and Milwaukee, and the slight detour to Santa Claus on our way back to St. Louis was only about 2 hours out of the way in the grand scheme of things.

I think Holiday World gets overlook a lot of the time because they're not owned by a major corporation. They're one of the few truly independent parks that manages to draw beyond their geographic region because of their solid reputation (Kennywood is probably the only other on their level).

May 10, 2022 at 7:21 AM

I guess technically you're right about distances from airports but that's not a real comparison, SFMM and SFGADV are literally right in the middle of the two biggest population centers in the country, Holiday World is in bumble**** Indiana surrounded by endless corn fields hence why its so rare for most enthusiasts to visit compared to most other parks.

May 9, 2022 at 3:46 PM

One thing you didn’t mention about HW is how incredibly clean it is. It’s won the Golden Ticket Award for cleanest park for I don’t know how many years now and I can tell you it is well deserved. It reminds me of what WDW used to be like before they realized sometime around the early to mid 2000s that they could save a few dollars if they cut back on custodial staff.

May 10, 2022 at 12:07 AM

I agree this park has three great wooden coaster that should be experience one time. The only thing that is disappointing is Holiwood nights not being open to the public. I believe you have to be an ACE member or invited by somebody who becomes to some exclusive club. Too bad they can’t do this for one month for us normal folks.

May 13, 2022 at 4:03 PM

This is a fabulous park. I went there once, in 2011, to find out why The Voyage was rated higher in roller coaster polls than El Toro and I still don't get it but would have to say that The Voyage offers an epic ride experience. Holiday World has a homey feel and the team members were exceptional. I had rented a car from the airport in Evansville with a GPS which insisted on taking me on back roads which were difficult to follow and as a result I got lost. A team member at Holiday World took the time and trouble to draw me a map showing how to get back to Evansville. (It's an easy trip on two highways.) This was above and beyond. In addition to the excellent ride collection, this park is a pleasant place in which to take a stroll and of course the free soft drinks are a welcome perk. The only other park I've visited which offers this amenity is Lake Compounce.

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