Why Holiday World deserves to be part of your summer vacation

July 8, 2024, 3:42 PM · Great American Theme Park Month continues on Theme Park Insider today with our second recommendation.

Are you frustrated with theme parks nickel-and-diming you with surcharges, high prices, and other fees on top of the price of your ticket? If so, Santa Claus has a gift for you. Literally.

Head to Santa Claus, Indiana - just south of Interstate 64 and about an hour west of Louisville, Kentucky. That's where you will find our next recommended theme park this month, Holiday World & Splashin' Safari.

Holiday World opened as Santa Claus Land in 1946, when the local Koch family decided to take advantage of their town's unique name by offering a Christmas-themed roadside attraction. In 1984, the park expanded with Halloween and Fourth of July-themed sections and a name change to Holiday World. Nine years later, Holiday World added the Splashin' Safari water park.

Admission to Splashin' Safari is included with admission to Holiday World - just one of several ways that the park holds down the cost of visiting for its guests. Holiday World also offers free parking as well as free unlimited Pepsi products to visitors. There's also free sunscreen available at stations around the park, too.

But it's the collection of world-class rides that draws millions of fans each year to this tiny town in Southern Indiana. New this year is Good Gravy!, a Vekoma Family Boomerang coaster in the new "Stuffing Springs" section of the park's Thanksgiving land.

Thanksgiving is the heart of Holiday World. It's where you will find the park's top-rated attraction, the 6,442-foot Gravity Group hybrid coaster, The Voyage, as well as Thunderbird, a Bolliger & Mabillard launched wing coaster.

Thanksgiving also features an adorable Sally Dark Rides attraction, Gobbler Getaway, as well as Plymouth Rock Café, serving turkey and trimmings all summer long.

Other attractions at the park include The Legend and The Raven wooden roller coasters in Holiday World's Halloween land, as well as the Cheetah Chase, Mammoth, and Wildebeest water coasters over in Splashin' Safari. And at the end of the evening, Holiday World is featuring its Holidays in the Sky drones and fireworks show, through August 4.

It really is a world of fun. Yes, you can believe in a theme park that offers great attractions at a reasonable price ($60 for tickets online) without then draining your bank account with surcharges inside the gates. Holiday World & Splashin' Safari proves that even grown-ups are not too old to go visit Santa Claus.

Previously: Why Silver Dollar City deserves to be part of your summer vacation

Replies (5)

July 8, 2024 at 4:27 PM

Another excellent pick here. Silver Dollar City which was the last featured park in this series as well as Holiday World are two parks at the top of my never-before-visited but really want to American theme parks. This park just seems to offer a lot of bang for your buck but it also doesn't seem cheap. It's good quality stuff and operations for a decent price.

July 9, 2024 at 12:36 AM

Robert - A truly great pick, and a park that my family and I fell in love with during Covid. We drove from Wisconsin to spend four days at Holiday World on two separate occasions. Having worked at a waterpark through high school and college, I am critical of waterpark's operations and don't really love them. Splashin' Safari is one of the best waterparks in the nation with a ride lineup that cannot be beaten. My family just spent three days at Cedar Point, and my 9 year old asked why CP doesn't have a ride with air conditioning (Gobbler Getaway) like Holiday World!?! While there is now only 5 roller coasters, the first 4 are all world class, especially the Voyage and Thunderbird. During Covid, my daughter (then 6 and JUST tall enough) and I stayed on the Voyage for 11 straight rides. The value proposition at this park from free parking, free sun screen, and free self-serve beverages (including Gatorade), to the quality food and very friendly small-town staff cannot be beaten. We have loved this park both times we've been there.

July 9, 2024 at 8:22 AM

One of the most unique theme parks we've ever visited (Knobell's would be another unique park) that manages to keep its small park charm with world-class thrills. The ability of Holiday World to stay independent over the years has been a gift to the industry. I wish other parks would look at the success of this park to see what can be done in terms of staffing, operations, and overall customer service, and understand how the little things can impact guest satisfaction more than just having the biggest and best attractions. The fact that this park has been so successful despite its location is a testament to its superb management and overall concept.

July 9, 2024 at 2:26 PM

I should have also mentioned this great perk: Incoming severe weather is causing an early end to our day. Splashin' Safari will be closing at 3 PM and Holiday World will be closing at 4 PM.
The Worry-Free Weather Guarantee has been activated today, Tuesday, July 9, 2024. If you visited us today, please keep your ticket or save a picture of it to your phone, and use it to visit us again for free any day we're open to the public in 2024.

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