The theme park celebrates Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving and the 4 July with rides, live entertainment, games, and attractions. Holiday World is known for its wooden roller coasters, The Raven, The Legend, and The Voyage. The water park includes a number of family raft slides, two wave pools, two lazy rivers, two family "tipping bucket" water-play attractions, various water slides, plus water activities for children. Holiday World & Splashin' Safari offer guests free unlimited Pepsi soft drinks, free parking, free use of inner tubes and life jackets, plus free sunscreen. The parks are smoke-free, with designated smoking areas available in each themed section of Holiday World plus one by each wave pool in Splashin' Safari.
Holiday World opened on August 3, 1946; it was founded by Louis J. Koch under the name Santa Claus Land. Holiday World was the first themed amusement park in the world, preceding Disneyland by nine years. The park had rides and activities for children and their parents. It was a small park themed around Santa Claus and Christmas. The park still remembers Santa Claus with a large statue at the entrance of the park; it includes a large Christmas Tree and Nativity Scene as well.
In 1984, in order to appeal to a wider age group, the park expanded to include Halloween and Fourth of July sections, and the park's name was changed from Santa Claus Land to Holiday World to reflect the emphasis on additional holidays. Frightful Falls, a log flume ride, was added in 1984. As the park's name changed, so did the names of some of the rides, to reflect the new holidays. For example, the round-up ride called Arctic Circle became known as Roundhouse and later Revolution in the new 4th of July section.
In 1993, Splashin' Safari was added. The water park area initially included Crocodile Isle, a children's water-play area with some animal-themed water slides, an lazy river called Congo River, plus two large water slides. In 1994, a wave pool was added.
Holiday World gained national attention in 1995 when wooden roller coaster The Raven opened at the start of the park's 50th season. It has been rated as the first, second, and third best wooden roller coaster on the planet by Amusement Today and Inside Track magazines and continues to be named a top-10 wooden coaster in the Golden Ticket Awards given out annually by Amusement Today.
Additional water slides and attractions were added to Splashin' Safari in the following years.
The wooden roller coaster The Legend opened in 2000 for the park's 55th season. It has consistently been rated in the top dozen wooden coasters in the Amusement Today Golden Ticket awards. This was also the first year for the parks' popular free soft drinks program.
In 2002, Splashin' Safari opened the largest enclosed water slide in the world, called ZOOMbabwe.
In 2006, Holiday World added the Thanksgiving section and additions to Splashin' Safari for its 60th Anniversary. This marked the largest expansion ever for Holiday World and cost over US$13 million. These additions included a new wooden roller coaster, The Voyage. It won the Best New Ride Golden Ticket Award for 2006. On September 13, 2006, the park's owner Will Koch taped a segment for The Colbert Report pitting Santa Claus against Abraham Lincoln, another historical figure with ties to southern Indiana. The park's 60th season concluded on October 8, 2006, park broke its all-time attendance record as more than one million visitors came through the gates that year.
In 2007, a $4.5 million expansion included Bakuli, a ProSlide Behemoth Bowl water slide, in Splashin' Safari and Turkey Whirl tilt-a-whirl in Thanksgiving. Also that year, The Voyage was given the Best Wooden Coaster award at the Golden Ticket Awards and the park once again had over one million visitors pass through its gates which broke the attendance record set the previous year.
In 2008, a $6 million expansion included Kima Bay in Splashin Safari as well as the Star Spangled Carousel in Fourth of July and the Reindeer Games spring ride in the Christmas children's area. The park also retained its crown of Cleanest & Friendliest park at the Golden Ticket Awards. The Voyage also remained the #1 Wooden Roller Coaster at the awards.
In 2009, a Shoot-the-Chute ride called Pilgrims Plunge was added. The ride's 131-foot drop broke the previous record for world's tallest water ride. Rather than the traditional sloped ride to the top of the tower, an open-air elevator lifts the 10-passenger boats. The Intamin Mega Splash ride is located in the Thanksgiving section and is also accessible from Splashin' Safari.
Holiday World & Splashin' Safari's 2010 expansion, Wildebeest, is the world's longest water coaster. The ProSlide water coaster will be 1,710 feet long. Wildebeest will last two-and-a-half minutes and will consist of hills, drops, twists, and turns.
Wildebeest will begin with a conveyor ride up the water coaster’s lifthill. Following the four-story drop at a 45-degree angle, linear induction motors (LIMs) will propel the four-person rafts up seven additional hills, through three tunnels (two of them underground) and around a helix. Its top speed will be 24.5 mph. Wildebeest’s tallest elevation is 64 feet higher than its lowest drop; the conveyor-style lifthill replaces any slide-tower stairs.
Located in Splashin' Safari, to the north of Bahari wave pool, Wildebeest will cost $5.5 million, the second largest ride project in Holiday World's 64-year history.
Also in 2010, new trains for the Voyage will be added. GravityKraft's Timberliner trains will be added on the Voyage's track.
Mascots and characters
Rather than sign licensed characters for the park, Holiday World has developed several mascots and characters including:
- Holidog - A brown dog who is the mascot of Holiday World
- Safari Sam - A green crocodile who is the mascot of Splashin' Safari
- George the Eagle - A bald eagle wearing American flag-themed clothing
Park layout and current rides
Holiday World's attractions are divided into four sections: Christmas, Halloween, Fourth of July, and Thanksgiving (Holidog's FunTown is part of the 4th of July section). Splashin' Safari water park is connected to Holiday World.
The Christmas section is at the entrance to Holiday World and is the oldest section. It includes a Christmas tree, the Applause fountain, a nativity scene, Rudolph's Reindeer Ranch (a collection of kiddie rides), Holiday Theater, as well as Kringle's Kafe. Since the park opened in 1946, Santa Claus has been available daily throughout the season to chat with children. He also invites children on stage with him at Santa's Storytime Theater.
|Reindeer Games||Three-story spring ride|
|Dancer's Thunder Bumpers Junior||Junior sized bumper boats|
|Comet's Rockets||Children's rocket ride|
|Dasher's Seahorses||Seahorse ride|
|Prancer's Merry-Go-Round||Junior-sized carousel|
|Blitzen's Airplanes||Children's airplane ride|
The Halloween section includes the High Dive Theater which features daily high-dive shows, each ending with a high dive from 80 feet (24 m) into 10 feet (3.0 m) of water.
|The Raven||Wooden roller coaster|
|Frightful Falls||Log flume|
|Scarecrow Scrambler||Scrambler ride|
|The Legend||Wooden roller coaster|
Fourth of July
The Fourth of July section is the largest area within the theme park. This section features live music shows and the Betsy Ross Doll house, a walk-through attraction with a collection of antique dolls.
|Star Spangled Carousel||Carousel|
|Paul Revere's Midnight Ride||Octopus/spider ride|
|Rough Riders||Bumper cars|
|Liberty Launch||8 Story S&S power double shot|
|Lewis & Clark Trail||Tin Lizzie antique car ride|
|Eagle's Flight||Flying scooters|
|Raging Rapids in Boulder Canyon||White water rapids raft ride|
|Indian River||Children's canoe ride|
|Salmon Run||Children's spinning ride with fish themed cars|
The newest section, the Thanksgiving themed section of the park premiered on May 6, 2006, to commemorate Holiday World's 60th anniversary. In addition to the rides below, this section also has a gift shop and Plymouth Rock Cafe.
|The Voyage||Wooden roller coaster|
|Gobbler Getaway||Sally Corporation interactive dark ride|
|Turkey Whirl||Turkey-themed Tilt-A-Whirl|
|Pilgrims Plunge||Intamin mega splash.|
Holidog's FunTown is a play area geared toward children, located on the east edge the Fourth of July section and encircled by The Freedom Train where the defunct Firecracker rollercoaster used to be.
|The Freedom Train||Miniature scale train|
|Doggone Trail||Children's car ride|
|The Howler||Family/children's roller coaster|
|Holidog's Treehouse||Three-story play structure|
|Just for Pups||Smaller version of Holidog's Treehouse, designed for toddlers|
|Magic Waters||Spray park area|
Splashin Safari has the distinction of being the largest waterpark in Indiana, as well as one of the top water parks in the nation.
|Bahari Wave Pool||Wave pool featuring geysers and water jets|
|Bahari River||Lazy river|
|Bakuli||Six Story ProSlide behemoth bowl|
|Congo River||Lazy river|
|Kima Bay||Whitewater West AquaPlay RainFortress|
|Monsoon Lagoon||SCS interactive discovery treehouse with a 1000 gallon water bucket dump|
|Otorongo||3 individual intertwining pitch black water slides (Otto, Ron, & Go)|
|Watubee||Family water slide with rafts that can hold up to 5 riders|
|The Wave||Wave pool|
|Jungle Racer||Five story 10-Lane racing water slide|
|Zinga||Eight story ProSlide tornado water slide|
|ZOOMbabwe||Enclosed water slide; rafts can hold up to 4 riders|
|Jungle Jets||Family "sprayground"|
|Butterfly Bay||Children's gentle wave pool adjacent to The Wave|
|Crocodile Isle||Children's play area with small water slides and fountains|
|AmaZOOM||Enclosed water slide|
|Bamboo Chute||Water slide that can be ridden either individually or in two-person inner tubes|
Defunct rides and attractions
|Thunder Bumpers on Chesapeake Bay||Bumper boats; removed after the 2007 season and replaced by Star Spangled Carousel|
|Kids Castle||A children's soft playland; removed after the 2007 season and replaced by Reindeer Games|
|Banshee||Chance Falling Star; removed following the 2003 season and replaced by HallowSwings|
|Firecracker||A Pinfari model Z47 steel Roller Coaster; removed early in the 1998 season and replaced by Holidog's Fun Town in 1999|
|Virginia Reel||Tilt-a-whirl; removed following the 2005 season (and replaced by the Turkey Whirl) to make way for the entrance to the new Thanksgiving section|
|Roundhouse||roundup ride; replaced by The Revolution, a larger version of the roundup ride|
|Stormin' Norman's Tank Tag||Classified as a game, Tank Tag was a series of miniature tanks in the early 1990s that could be ridden by patrons; replaced by The Alamo restaurant|
|Hall of Famous Americans||Wax Museum with an emphasis on American Presidents and American History; replaced by Liberty Launch in 2003|
|Petting Zoo||Petting zoo with a collection of animals, including reindeer|
|Bungee Jump||Fixed crane-based bungee jump show and attraction; the popular high-dive show returned in 1993.|
In 2005, Holiday World received the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions' Applause Award. Holiday World is the smallest park to ever receive the Applause Award. The park marked the award by installing a large version of the award (applauding hands) and commemorative plaques naming the other winning parks in the fountain located in the Christmas section.
Holiday World has received many first place Golden Ticket Awards from Amusement Today magazineincluding:
|Friendliest Park Staff||1998-2008||Whole Park|
|Cleanest Park||2000-2009||Whole Park|
|Best Wooden Roller Coaster||2000-2003||The Raven|
|Best Waterpark Ride||2003||Zinga|
|Best New Ride||2006||The Voyage|
|Best New Waterpark Ride||2006||Bahari River|
|Best Wooden Roller Coaster||2007-2009||The Voyage|
|Best New Waterpark Ride||2007||Bakuli|
Holiday World often plays host to weddings. In the park's history, couples have been married on The Voyage, The Legend, and, in 1995, a dozen couples simultaneously tied the knot on The Raven. Other couples have married in The Wave pool, on the park’s now defunct bungee jump, and in a Santa-themed hot air balloon over the park. During the 2008 season, a couple was married on the top of the Voyage lift hill by a professional Elvis impersonator.
Incidents at Holiday World