Pilgrims Plunge (also Called Giraffica)

World's Tallest Water Ride at Holiday World in Indiana

••• Pilgrims Plunge at Holiday World uses a unique elevator lift system. ©Arthur Levine, 2009. Licensed to About.com.

Note: Originally called Pilgrims Plunge and later renamed Giraffica, Holiday World closed the ride before the 2014 season and removed it from the park. The following review was posted when the ride was open.

Shooting down the 131-foot Pilgrims Plunge, the tallest water ride in the world, is a wild experience. But going up is even wilder.

Pilgrims Plunge Up-Front Info

  • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 7.5
    The drop is quite high, but not particularly steep. The elevator lift, however, is a bit disconcerting.
  • Ride type: Ten-passenger shoot-the-chutes water ride with unique open elevator lift
  • Top speed: 50 mph
  • Height restriction to ride: 48 inches
  • Height of elevator lift: 135 feet
  • Drop: 131 feet
  • Drop angle of descent: 45 degrees
  • Ride time: 2 minutes, 40 seconds
  • Pilgrims Plunge Photo Gallery

Will Pilgrims Plunge Turn You into a Turkey?

The actual Pilgrims faced plenty of hardships: bitter winters, fear of attack, disease, unforgivable fashion sense. But buckle-adorned hats notwithstanding, nothing the first colonists endured compares to Pilgrims Plunge, the record-breaking shoot-the-chutes ride in the Thanksgiving section of Indiana's Holiday World.

The mere sight of Pilgrims Plunge is enough to turn anyone into a turkey, er, chicken. The 165-foot tower that supports the splashdown chute doubles as an elevator lift. Rather than using a conventional conveyor ramp to lift the ten-passenger boats, the ride sends boatloads of intrepid passengers into a pair of open-air elevator cradles that lift them straight up to the top of the chute.

"Straight," perhaps, isn't entirely accurate. The boats ascend more or less at a 90-degree angle up the tower, but the legs of the tower are bowed outward. Halfway up, each boat take a precarious dip as the elevator navigates the bow. At the same moment that the boat is tipped, the attraction's second elevator passes as it descends to get the next boat at the base of the tower.

Adding to the drama, the two elevators come within mere inches of one another. Did I mention that the only thing tethering passengers to the boat is a single lap bar?

When the elevator reaches the top, it gently pushes the boat out onto the chute for an agonizing few seconds. Finally, the boat makes its descent and quickly builds up speed to 50 mph. Hitting the splashdown pool, the boats generate a plume of water, but not as much as I had anticipated. Some smaller shoot-the-chute rides, which are found at many parks, seem to create more spectacular cascades. Pilgrims Plunge doesn't include a bridge over the splashdown area, which other parks offer for their shoot-the-chutes rides so that onlookers can get soaked by the boats' spray. I was also surprised by the amount of water that landed on passengers. Some riders were fairly soaked; but depending on their seat locations, other riders got more of a sprinkling.

After enduring the fateful voyage aboard the Plunge, hearty Pilgrims may want to head over to Holiday World's Plymouth Rock Cafe for some turkey and all the Thanksgiving fixings. Buckle-adorned hats are optional.