Holiday World, Santa Claus, Indiana: Family Friendly Theme Park

Holiday World, Santa Claus, Indiana: Family Friendly Theme Park

RavenDon’t get me wrong. I love adventure. That love affair, however, doesn’t extend to the sensation of falling to my death. I am not a roller coaster lover, never have been and probably never will be. Nor can I tolerate spinning and spinning on a ride until I am nauseous. But I love theme parks anyway. I enjoy the festive atmosphere, the shows, and the rides that don’t totally freak me out or make me lose my lunch.

I visited Holiday World, in Santa Claus, Indiana, with my daughter and granddaughter and was pleasantly surprised at the number of options both for me and for my granddaughter who is too old to go on rides designed for little kids but not quite ready for the big stuff. My daughter went along with whatever we wanted to do. Holiday World categorizes their rides by Child, Mild, or Wild, helpful in determining which rides to choose. All of the rides we went on were rated Mild. The park is family friendly in other ways, too, from the shows to budget-friendly menus, including free beverages.

The Rides
We did actually go on a roller coaster. It wasn’t the Voyage, the #1 Wooden Coaster in the nation according to TIME magazine.

Roller coaster

We went instead on the Howler, about as much as I could brave.

Kids roller coaster

All three of us rode the carousel.


And later took a twirl on the Turkey Whirl.


I took a pass on the Kitty’s Tea Party, though, and I’m glad I did. At the rate that my granddaughter was making the teacup spin, my daughter came stumbling off of the ride in dizziness. I could only imagine what state I’d be in if I’d ridden it.

Teacup ride

The Holidog Express ride was on the short side. Whereas at many theme parks the train goes around the park and you get somewhat of a guided tour, this one was more entertaining for small kids, going past cute nursery rhyme scenes.

Holidog Express 1

Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater

Mary Mary Quite Contrary

When my granddaughter saw all the other kids driving the old-fashioned cars on the Lewis & Clark Trail, she jumped right into the driver’s seat at took off at top speed. I thought for a minute that we’d be the first car ever to jump the track.

Old fashioned cars 1

Old fashioned cars 2

I didn’t get photos of my two favorite rides because one ride was too wet and the other too dark. I had taken freezer bags with me to tuck my phone and wallet into during the water rides, but found that Holiday World provides free lockers at the Raging Rapids. Put the items you don’t want to get wet into the locker, take the key, and your possessions are kept safe and dry for the duration of your ride. We didn’t get too wet on the Raging Rapids after all, whereas the folks on the other side of our raft got drenched in the waterfall. If you do get drenched and want to dry quickly, Holiday World has family dryers near the exit of the ride. The cost is $5, but since we didn’t need it, I didn’t check to see how they work or how well they work.

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My other favorite ride was the Gobbler Getaway. You sit in a car that takes you along a dark track and shoot a laser gun—er, a turkey caller—to try to round up the turkeys in time for Thanksgiving.

The Shows
From “Santa’s Storytime” and “Holidog & Friends” geared toward the little ones to song-and-dance shows and a thrilling diving stunt show, those who want a break from the rides will find an option to suit them. Several shows are scheduled throughout the day in both indoor and outdoor theaters. We had time for just one performance, which was a Christian show called “EPIC Praise.”


Free Beverages and Reasonably Priced Food
Something I haven’t seen before at any theme park is free soft drinks. Holiday World has several Pepsi Oases throughout the park with complimentary self-serve soda and water. Food prices are listed on the web site along with an allergen-friendly menu, a healthier options menu and nutritional information, making it easy to plan ahead.

Pepsi Oasis

Splashin’ Safari
Pay one price and you get into both Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari. In fact, you don’t have to leave one park to go to the other. The Splashin’ Safari entrance is located within Holiday World. Because we had only until early afternoon before we had to leave, we didn’t get a chance to experience Splashin’ Safari, but it looked like a lot of fun with water coasters, water slides, wave pool, a river ride and areas geared toward young children.

More Free Stuff
Besides free soft drinks, free sunscreen is available in both Splashin’ Safari and Holiday World. In addition, inner tube use in Splashin’ Safari, parking and Wi-Fi are all free.

Even though we got in quite a few rides before we had to leave, there were still a few more rides, a lot more shows and an entire waterpark that we left unexplored, which means we will have to make a return trip. No matter whether your family includes older kids or adults who love wild rides, small children or wimpy grandmas, you’ll find plenty to fill at least one day, if not two or three, at Holiday World and Spashin’ Safari.

Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari, located at the junction of Highways 162 and 245 in Santa Claus, Indiana, are open May through October, but the schedule varies throughout the season. Check the web site for the exact schedule, hours and ticket prices.

Disclosure: My visit to Santa Claus was hosted by the Spencer County Visitors Bureau. However, we paid our own way to Holiday World. Any opinions expressed in this post are mine.

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