Alexander: Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana is an iconic brand in the American theme park landscape, famous for its friendly staff, spotless midways, excellent value, enormous water park, and stellar collection of modern wooden coasters.
Holiday World’s reputation is often louder than the park itself; the moves they make at this point are often not as boisterous as the enthusiast communities’ response to them. Everything – from management conflict to new rides – has been hotly discussed over the last 15+ years or so, and whether one’s opinion is positive or negative, it goes without saying that opinions of Holiday World are often strong ones.
– Over the years, many of our images have popped up on other sites and forums, awesome that our coverage spreads, not so awesome that not everyone mentioned where they got the images from. We are totally fine with our audience using our images, BUT ONLY IF credit is given to cabincrewcoasterkings.com. Thank you! –
Before we go any further, let’s talk about the name of this report:
We’re calling it LOLiday World because we found ourselves laughing throughout the day.
Why, you ask?
Because Holiday World’s operations are a joke.
Here’s your one photo of Raven, so enjoy it. Sean and I both liked our ride on Raven the least out of the day’s 4 major coasters, so we actually skipped a re-ride (which is rare for me; I almost always ride wooden coasters 2x per park visit).
Based on my rides this visit and in 2015, I just don’t think this once-glorious CCI poster child is aging very well.
When we approached the park entrance, we were met with a number of signs stating “ALL ATTRACTIONS OPEN – EXCEPT VOYAGE”, despite the park’s social media and website insisting that the ride would be open today. We feared that an unexpected mechanical error had plagued the ride.
Lucky for us, we were told by staff (as we waited to be allowed into the Halloween section of the park) that Voyage and Legend were just going to be late-opening, and that Thunderbird and Raven were ready for us. We were mystified by being told the opposite of what the signs out front said, but we were relieved nonetheless.
Walking to Thunderbird, Holiday World guests are treated to a panoramic view of unsightly Pilgrims Plunge remnants, courtesy of the major midway that circumnavigates 40% of what’s left of the troubled Intamin water coaster (?).
While the lack of overall development at PP‘s plot since its 2014 departure is baffling, the additions being made to the main building (despite any sort of news-teasing or social media speculation) is equally baffling. I’m sorta curious to see what the future holds here, but I’m also not entirely sure that I care.
Now, despite the ride feeling figuratively and literally out of place, Thunderbird appears to be the park’s most consistent, reliable, and publicly lauded coaster despite the ridiculous hike necessary to access the ride.
You gotta close your rides in inclement weather, I get it. But when it takes you TWO HOURS to get all of your rides back online after you’ve publicly announced that “Holiday World will now resume normal operation”, then something is wrong with your operations. It took us literally the entire day to get a ride on Legend, the experience of which was largely tarnished by the difficulty we had with actually getting on.
The least problematic part of our day ended up being our midday jaunt through Splashin’ Safari. A staggered operation schedule left numerous smaller water attractions, flat rides, and kiddie rides closed for some or all of the day (Will Koch is no doubt turning in his grave), but at least the major waterslides were all open.
We were reminded of why Splashin’ Safari is so iconic in the water park industry; rides like Mammoth, Wildabeest, and Zoombabwe are in a league of their own. Note: if you’re wondering why more electro-magnetic family raft slides (Mammoth) haven’t been built, it probably has something to do with the ride valleying roughly every 1/2 hour.
Howler remained open amid our little thunderstorm spat (yes, there was alleged electrical activity in the area despite the pristine-looking weather in Santa Claus), so at least we remained productive (Sean needed the credit) given the setbacks.
Also open in the “bad” weather is Firecracker, a beautifully restored Mack Calypso that debuted here in 2017. The ride outlived both of its previous parks (operating at LeSourdsville Lake from 1972-2002 and Fun Spot Indiana until 2008) before sitting dormant for 8 years.
Santa Claus, Indiana better watch out – Now that the ride is on its third park, it begs the question of whether or not Firecracker will outlive Holiday World as well. I’m not saying the chaos of this visit points in one direction or the other, but… Stranger Things have happened.
Anything is better than the excessive trimming I experienced in 2015, but the reprofiled stretch around the 3rd 90º turn feels….. I don’t know…. off? Like they brought in a 3rd party to smooth things out but were only capable (or perhaps only paid enough) to sorta do the job right.
If you want to stagger operations of secondary rides, fine. If you want to suspend operations of secondary water park attractions, fine (I guess). If you want to close all but 3 of your gift shops, fine (though it pains me as a retail-happy enthusiast).
But this is a BIG park with plenty of people in it. Do you know how many restaurants we saw open on our visit? Two (2). Kringle Cafe and Goblin Burgers. Do you want to talk about the LINES we saw at these two (2) restaurants? I don’t; I gave up discussing lines of 100+ people waiting for shitty pizza and burgers several Six Flags reports ago, and I’m not about to bring that old habit back. Let my placement of Six Flags and Holiday World on the same level in this regard be my only required testimony.
I’ll leave you with this: a picture of the New-for-2014 Hyena Falls slide complex located between Thunderbird and the disaster formerly known as Pilgrims Plunge, situated far and away from the rest of Splashin’ Safari.
Its position on the level-of-importance totem pole despite a mere 4 years of existence serves as the “State of Holiday World Address” in a nutshell: Laughable operational shortcomings, tragically myopic infrastructural foresight, and a growing disregard for appearances.
Will Koch has probably turned, like, eight times by now.
Thanks for checking out this Holiday World report! We have lots of parks and trips on the horizon, make sure to check back for awesome content! Check out our HangTime opening report here!
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