One of the few remaining privately owned and operated theme parks, Holiday World is loaded with charm, attention to detail, incredibly courteous and friendly staff members, impeccably clean grounds, and other features that corporate parks often can't match. A family park in the truest sense of the term, the Indiana themer generally foregoes the mega-thrill rides and hyped-up atmosphere of its teen-targeting competitors for a more laid-back and gentler experience.
That's not to say that Holiday World doesn't deliver great rides—and thrills. In fact, its three wooden roller coasters rank among the best in the world. In 2015, the park unleashed Thunderbird, the nation's first launched wing coaster. But there is plenty for younger kids to love about the place, and lots of family-friendly perks for moms and dads to love: free parking, free entry to Splashin' Safari waterpark with park admission, free inner tubes, free sunscreen, and reasonable food prices. And everyone appreciates the park's industry-defying benefit: unlimited complimentary soft drinks.
Originally a Christmas-themed park, Holiday World now includes areas themed to Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July as well. Kids can still sit on Santa's lap, and some of the park's original rides endure. It would be nice, however, if even more remnants from the park's 1940s origins remained to help preserve its authentic nostalgia. Holiday World and the town in which it is located has an interesting history.
Located off the beaten path in Southern Indiana, Holiday World is well worth the trip for coaster fans, theme park lovers, and families seeking a great vacation destination.
There are some great coasters, rides, and attractions to discover throughout Holiday World. Let’s run down some of the can’t-miss features.
- Coaster fans adore The Voyage. It’s no wonder. Just check out it stats: It climbs 163 feet, has a first drop of 154 feet at an angle of 66 degrees. That revs it up to 67 mph, making it one of the top 10 fastest wooden roller coasters. Throughout its 2:45-minute ride, it covers 6442 feet or 1.2 miles (one of the world's longest wooden coasters) and unleashes huge torrents of airtime.
- Wing coasters feature cars that are situated on either side of the tracks (or on the “wings”) and offer a different kind of ride experience from traditional coasters. Thunderbird is the first wing coaster in the country to in include a launch that accelerates its trains to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds right out of the gate.
- Holiday World‘s other two wooden coasters, Raven and The Legend (themed to the Headless Horseman) are also wonderful and include sections of track in which the trains race through the park’s trademark tunnels.
What’s New at Holiday World?
In 2020, Holiday World welcomed Cheetah Chase, the third water coaster at its water park, Splshin’ Safari (making it the only park in the world to boast three water coasters). The ride uses water blasts and magnetic motors to launch and propel the rafts. The dueling ride includes head-to-head racing moments between two passenger-filled rafts. Cheetah Chase also offers “FlyingSaucer” elements, which whip the rafts around and deliver some powerful G-forces.
- Splashin' Safari is included with general admission to Holiday World and is one of the biggest and best water parks in the industry. Among its attractions are three water coasters, two wave pools, a funnel ride, and a ton of body and tube slides.
What’s to Eat?
In addition to typical park fare, Holiday World offers turkey dinners with all the fixings at its Plymouth Rock Cafe, located in the Thanksgiving section. Santa’s Merry Marketplace is quite large and offers a variety of fare, including pizza, burgers, Asian cuisine, and deli sandwiches.
Tickets and Admission Policy and Overnight Accommodations
Holiday World offers reduced prices for children (under 54") and seniors (60+). Ages 2 and under are free. Splashin' Safari water park is included with general admission to Holiday World. Two-day passes and next-day passes available. Season passes and group rates are available. Special promotions may be available online at Holiday World’s Web site. Parking is free.
RV sites, campsites, cabin rentals and RV rentals are available at the adjacent Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort. The campground is run by the same family that owns and operates Holiday World.
Operating Schedule, Location, and Directions
The park is open early May through mid-October. Check with Holiday World for exact operating days and hours.
The physical address is 452 E. Christmas Blvd. in Santa Claus, Indiana. From I-64, take Exit 63. Go south on Highway 162 for 7 miles, until 162 comes to a "T." Turn right and head up the hill to the park. From Bloomington, take Highway 37 S to Bedford. West on U.S. 50 to Loogootee. Go south on U.S. 231 to Jasper, continuing south on Highway 162 through Ferdinand and into Santa Claus.