Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari is one of those amusement parks that you want to visit because you know it’s going to be fun- and you want to support the business because of the history. This is a 3 generations old family business that is focused on providing fun and safe thrills and giggles for families.
This park started out as Santa Claus Land in 1946. The park was comprised of a toy shop, toy displays, a restaurant, a few themed children’s rides, and Santa. The park was started by Louis Koch. Louis’ son, Bill, took over the family business after returning from World War II. Bill married Patricia Yellig- Yellig’s father, Jim, had started the tradition of Santa Claus being an integral and real part of the town. Jim Yellig first started playing Santa while in the Navy during World War I and then took on the role when he was back home in Santa Claus, IN. Back in 1914, Postmaster James Martin began writing return letters to the children who wrote letters to Santa that wound up at the Indiana post office. Yellig picked up the tradition and ran with it- organizing groups to help cover the cost of postage and the work required to reply to each and every letter. That tradition carries on today.
So Yellig’s daughter married the son of the man who started Santa Claus Land. Bill and Pat Koch then made Santa Claus Land their life’s work with a serious dedication to building the town, serving families, and creating this dream.
In 1984, the park expanded to include other holidays besides Christmas- Halloween and the 4th of July- and the name was changed to Holiday World. Thanksgiving was added in 2006. Splashin’ Safari- the waterpark- opened in 1993.
Now, in 2010, the park has ample rides and entertainment to keep adults and children of all ages entertained, encourage them to let loose, relax, have fun, get some sun, enjoy a few thrills and all in a family friendly environment.
I shared pictures from my phone during the day that we were there and, of course, have more to share!
We were first treated to a tour of the grounds- which gave Teagan the opportunity to scout out what she wanted to ride first. The carousel, of course! Zach was in no mood to deal with any rides the day we were there. We tried a few times and we hit on a few positive experiences and the rest were no-go’s for the boy.
We rode the Carousel (no music which really lessens the experience of a carousel, in my opinion; Jeff tried to do his own music but Teagan didn’t seem to appreciate his efforts). EDIT June 8: There was, apparently, a technical issue the day we were there. There IS usually calliope music playing with the carousel!! We went to Holidog’s Funtown and rode the train, played on the playgrounds, and Teagan “drove” an explorer Jeep. Went and had lunch at The Alamo (I really wanted to go to the Plymouth Rock Cafe for a real holiday meal with all the fixins but the family voted for tacos instead).
Quick note about food at Holiday World- and this is really cool, in my opinion. If you have food allergies or dietary needs- this is the place for you to vacation. This season, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari rolled out an expanded menu of pre-packaged foods that do not contain: wheat, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, milk, soy and eggs. The special diet options have been available for several years but are now more widely available and also include vegetarian and sugar free menus items.
From the press release: “Pizza, chicken nuggets, and turkey corn dogs which do not contain the most common food allergens are available at Kringle’s Kafe and Safari pizza; those restaurants also have designated equipment for preparing gluten-free and dairy-free items. In addition, the park also offers gluten-free sandwich bread. Prepackaged applesauce and fruit cups are available as an option to fries." For dessert, snickerdoodle cookies which are free of the most common food allergens are available. Gluten- and wheat-free brownies are offered at Plymouth Rock Cafe and Mrs. Klaus’ Kitchen. In addition, 2 types of dairy-free ice cream bars plus soy milk are now available. Vegetarian selections added to the parks’ menus include veggie burgers, pasta salad, and fettuccine alfredo. Sugar-free ice cream and sucrose-free fudge will also be available.”
One of the coolest things about visiting HW&SS is that the drinks are free. Yep, free. There are drink stations throughout the park. And it isn’t a limited selection- a full line of Pepsi products, Gatorade, iced tea, coffee, water. Anytime you want something to drink, you stop and get a cup and have one. Free. We did buy milk when we had our dinner before leaving but I was so happy to be able to keep my kids hydrated all day long!
Also offered- free- all day long is hand sanitizer and sunscreen. There is no charge for parking or for intertubes or for life jackets. You pay to get in and you pay for food. And the food isn’t insanely priced, either. Our lunch was around $24 for the 4 of us and we ordered way too much food- 4 complete meals when we really only needed 2.
I have to also highly recommend checking out the website for Holiday World because you can totally check out the rides and determine if there are things your family would enjoy.
Gotta say- Teagan did awesome in the wave pool. She so wanted to go in and swim in the big waves. When the water was calm, she would jump around and “swim” to me with her life jacket on. And when the waves were going full force, she and I would stand together and she would jump into the waves while I held her hands.
This is very cool- one of the rides (an “octopus” type ride) is very hand operated!! Most rides turn on with a key but this one was operated by the young woman working at that time. It was really neat to watch!
He looks happy here but that’s only because the ride hadn’t started yet. As soon as it started moving, he started screaming. They stopped the ride, handed him over to me, and started the ride back up. Poor guy just isn’t ready for rides!
Something else really cool- this is a measurement station. They measured Teagan to see how tall she is and determine what limits she would have for rides. She got a color coded wrist band to wear. Best of all, they put my cell phone on her wrist band so I could easily be contacted if she got separated from us.
I have to say- a family vacation in Spencer County definitely has a lot to offer just about anyone. You can hit the amusement park, the water park, go fishing, hiking, camping, find entertaining stuff for history buffs. Main thing is that you and your family can get away from home and work and the routine of daily life and mix it up with some serious fun!