Splashin' Safari: A Great Water Park That's Free

At Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana

Splashin' Safari water park at Holiday World in Indiana
Splashin' Safari at Holiday World is among the best and biggest water parks in the country. Holiday World

Splashin' Safari is one of the biggest and best water parks in the nation. And it's free.

Well, sort of free. It's included with admission to Holiday World, the holiday-themed park adjacent to Splashin' Safari. Since it is not a standalone water park, it makes the fact that is among the country’s largest and finest water parks all the more impressive. (If you are planning a visit, be sure to bring dry clothes to enjoy Holiday World's incredible coasters and other attractions; likewise, folks planning to visit Holiday World should remember to pack a bathing suit.) Splashin' Safari easily makes the list of the best water parks at theme parks.

The theme is African (that's the "Safari" part), hence the silly ride names. The schizophrenic park also has a California theme (that's the "Splashin' " part we guess) and plays Beach Boys and other surf tunes over the loudspeakers.

Splashin’ Safari’s Slides and Attractions

The park is so big it has not one, not two, but three water coasters. And not just any water coasters, but the world's longest.

When the approximately 1/3-mile-long Wildebeest opened in 2010, it captured the title. It uses linear induction motors to propel its rafts uphill. Wildebeest reaches a top speed of around 25 mph, includes two tunnels (a Holiday World staple on its dry coasters), and lasts two minutes and 30 seconds. In 2012, Splashin' Safari opened Mammoth and broke its own record. The newer water coaster exceeds Wildebeest by about 50 feet in length. It, too, uses linear induction motors and offers a thrilling ride.

The towering 102-foot tall ZOOMbabwe, among the world's tallest enclosed water slides, is another one of the park's featured rides and is a real winner. Riders experience much of its ride in the dark. Other attractions included Bakuli, a bowl ride, the Jungle Racer mat racing slide, and the Zinga funnel ride.

In 2018, Splashin' Safari expanded with the addition of attractions designed for younger visitors. Tembo Falls is a water slide complex with eight slides geared to kiddos, including a mini-bowl ride, two racing slides, a helix, and twisters. The park also added Tembo Tides, a junior wave pool.

Tembo Tides increased the total number of wave pools to three. With two lazy rivers two interactive water play structures, and a slew of other things to do, the attractions can accommodate a lot of guests. With its enormous capacity, the park generally doesn't feel out-of-control crowded, even on busy, hot days.

Cheetah Chase ride at Holiday World
Holiday World

What’s New at Splashin’ Safari?

In 2020, the water park introduced its third water coaster, Cheetah Chase. Holiday World is billing it as the “world’s first launched water coaster.” Since no water coasters include lift hills (that we know of) and use water jets, electromagnetic motors, or fast moving conveyor belts to accelerate their rafts, all of them are “launched.” What makes Cheetah Chase unique is that side-by-side rafts are launched along a flat section of the flume after which they race against one another. Passengers experience two "flying saucer” elements that generate strong G-forces and pivot the rafts around.

More Free Stuff

The family-owned park has an almost religious devotion to customer satisfaction. The grounds are spotless, the prices are reasonable, and the ride ops and other staff are unfailingly polite and cheerful.

While other parks seem intent on wringing every last cent out of their guests, get a load of what Splashin' Safari and Holiday World include at no extra charge: free parking, complimentary inner tubes, unlimited free beverages (including soft drinks, coffee, and tea), and free sunscreen. Now, that's what we call putting customers first.

What’s to Eat?

The food is decent at the park. Within Splashin' Safari, the choices include Wildebeestro, which features burgers and salads, Jungle Jake‘s, which offers wings and chicken tenders, Safari Pizza, and Sam’s BBQ. For sweets and snacks, there’s Safari Ice Cream and Bahari Snacks, which has funnel cakes and corn dog bites.

For a good pick beyond the water park, consider Plymouth Rock Cafe. The indoor dining spot has roast turkey, beef brisket, roasted chicken and other entrees on the menu, as well as fixing such as sweet potato casserole, cinnamon apples, and mac & cheese. Another good place is Santa’s Merry Marketplace, which offers pizza, burgers, deli sandwiches, and desserts such as Blueberry Flapjack Cake.

Admission Policy, Operating Schedule, Hotel Info, and Location:

Splashin' Safari is included with general admission to Holiday World. The combined parks offer reduced prices for children (under 54") and seniors (60+). Ages 2 and under are free. Multi-day passes and next-day passes are available. Season passes and group rates are available. Special promotions and discounted tickets may be available online at the park's Web site. Parking is free. Private cabanas are available to rent.

Weather permitting, Splashin' Safari is open mid-May through mid-September. Holiday World is open early May through late October. (Oddly, the Christmas-themed park does not remain open through the holiday season.)

Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort is located next to Holiday World and operated by the same family. There are other lodging options nearby.

Splashin' Safari and Holiday World is located at 452 E. Christmas Blvd. in Santa Claus, Indiana. (Yes, that is the real name of the town.) 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.

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