Aug 17, 2007 - First Time at Holiday World -

Associated parks:

My friends and I decided to see what Holiday World was all about since we’ve heard so many good things about it. We drove from Akron, OH to Cincinnati on Thursday night and hung out with some friends of mine from college. We then drove of to Santa Claus, IN Friday morning, making sure we planned for the time change. It took us a little under three hours to get to the park from Cincinnati with little to no traffic on the way.

Cast of Characters:
Tim: Turks & Caicos Islands, age 30
Allison: New Jersey, age 30
Scott: NYC, age 28
Ryan: Toronto, Canada, age 27

First Impressions:
Well, the park truly is in the middle of nowhere. But, the surrounding landscape is quite pretty. It’s not every day you can drive down a little two-lane country road amongst wooded hillsides, barns, pastures and 163 foot-tall wooden coasters. Maybe I missed something, but I wasn’t quite sure where we were supposed to park. I knew from reading reviews that there were two lots, so I just assumed I’d park in the “main” lot by the entrance. It was a tad strange pulling into the parking lot without a toll plaza or anyone directing traffic. There were only about five rows of cars parked when we got there, so it was pretty simple. But, I’m wondering what the parking is like on a really busy day. Do they have attendants directing traffic, or is it a free for all? Regardless, we parked right up near the front, donned our sun screen and headed towards the entrance.

I’m pretty sure Pat Koch was standing in front of the ticket booth greeting us. I thought that was really cool and made sure to tell my friends she was one of the owners of the park. They were really impressed with that! We then bought our tickets and headed into the park.

The park maps are pretty bad. They’re very elementary and not that easy to follow. I saw some old park maps in one of the stores, and they looked way nicer and easier to read. I’m not quite sure why they changed to the current “generic” park maps, but they may want to consider changing to something a little more user friendly. Thankfully signage around the park was very prominent, so we didn’t really use the map for way finding.

The Voyage
This is really why we came to the park, so we hit up The Voyage first. We were expecting the park to be relatively busy since it was a Friday in August, so we headed all the way to the back of the park first. Much to our surprise, there was no queue. So, we grabbed the front two rows and waited for the train to arrive. They were only running one train which scared us as far as queue lengths later in the day. But, the train arrived, we got in, and away we went.

Scott is the only person in our group that doesn’t mind rough coasters, so Ryan, Allison and I were a little nervous. I was especially nervous since I’ve read lots of the reviews about bruising, re-tracking, trim brakes, excessive roughness, etc… However, much to our surprise, the ride pretty much rocked. It was no El Toro as far as smoothness goes, but it was still pretty freakin’ smooth for a woodie. It was also VERY intense. Lots of people have said its non-stop action from the moment you leave the station. But, I would have to disagree with that just a tad. The “out” part of the coaster is great, but I don’t really think it’s that “in your face” like the rest of the ride. Don’t get me wrong, the “out” part of the ride kicks ass big time. The drop was way steeper than I was expecting, and the airtime hills were hot. But, once you reach the first turn in the back, you’re being thrown all over the place for the remainder of the ride. The only moment of relief you get is the trim brake.

Had we only ridden this once, it would have been an amazing ride. Well, it still was amazing, but after ten rides, it becomes a little unbearable. : ) I had to start holding on after our sixth ride during the laterals because it was just too much for me. The section after the on-ride photo just seemed to be too much to me. Like, had it ended there, I would’ve been happy. But, it just kept going and going and going. I never got a headache, but I was starting to feel a tad queasy by the time we left the park. I didn’t bruise either, but I know Allison felt like she had punctured a lung at one point and Ryan had some bruises. The crew on the ride was really great too. Since no one was in the station, they let us just stay on the train, so five of our rides were one after another without even getting up. It was great! We rode this three times in the morning and then seven times right before we left for the day around 3:00. The morning rides were untrimmed. The afternoon rides were trimmed. One ride was trimmed a LOT and almost seemed like Mean Streak’s trims. But, as soon as we headed into the tunnel, we picked up the speed again.

Turkey Whirl
This Tilt-a-Whirl didn’t look all that exciting. But, once we got on, it was pretty fun. It’s your typical tilt-a-whirl themed as big ‘ol turkeys. : ) You get some pretty good spinning action though. Good times.

Gobbler Getaway
A sign at the front of the park said this attraction would open late. By late, I’m guessing they meant never. Ha ha!! It never opened which sorta bummed me out. I’ve read a ton of good reviews about the ride and was looking forward to it. But, oh well. It’s not the end of the world.

Eagle’s Flight
We’ve never been on one of these rides before, so we decided to try it out. Squeezing two adults into these cars is a bit tricky, but we made it work. This by no means is a thrill ride, but we had a blast. The cycle time seemed quite lengthy as well. I also really liked this part of the park because of the mature trees. It really added to the experience.

I’m the only one in our group to never ride one of these before. I’m guessing that’s because my mom would never let us go to fairs or carnivals because they were “unsafe”. This was another cool ride. There’s no way I could do this without a break in between cycles though. Talk about disorienting.

The Howler
We saw this “kiddie coaster” on the way to the park from the main road. We’re not ones to pass up a credit, so we decided to check it out. Thankfully there was no line because we would have felt bad about taking up ride time from little kids. Maybe it’s because we’re way bigger than the kids that normally ride this train, but it was quite jerky. But, it was still fun. Plus, not many coasters offer everyone a free re-ride, so that was definitely a bonus!

Liberty Launch
We’d just ridden “Scream” at Six Flags New England two months ago, and I’m pretty sure this is the same ride. But, because of its height, the ride is completely different. The second time you’re propelled down from the top, you are literally launched from your seat into the harness above you. It wasn’t painful, but completely unexpected. So, that made the ride awesome. It was even more fun standing on the midway watching this happen to the riders. Almost everyone was caught off guard. It just goes to show you don’t have to have a 300’ tower to have a fun ride.

Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride
This is an old-school Monster or Octopus ride that can only load four buckets at a time. So, if there’s a queue, be prepared to wait a while. I could be mistaken, but I’m pretty sure the ride op controls the intensity of this ride. I don’t think it’s like the new rides that they just press a button and the thing goes. Scott was with me and he loves to spin. We were watching the ride op and he said to lean at a specific time. So, we did. Little did we know that meant we would continue to spin for what seemed like five minutes. I was definitely ready to get off this when we were allowed. Man was I dizzy. We were all laughing hysterically too!

Lewis & Clark Trail Antique Cars
We all piled into one of the two-row cars and took a nice leisurely ride around the Lewis & Clark Trail. It’s a fun ride, but way too short. It’s too bad they weren’t able to make the course a little longer.

I was most looking forward to this ride after reading all the awesome reviews about it. But, I hate to say I was disappointed. Maybe I should have given it another chance, but I was so beat up after the first ride, I couldn’t bring myself to trying it again. I’ve read people say how re-ridable the thing is, but I just didn’t get it. I’m sure riding The Voyage first didn’t help, but I didn’t like Raven. It was REALLY short too. When it ended, I was thinking, “that was it?” Scott liked it and rode again before we left, but the rest of us sat it out.

Frightful Falls
The coolest part about this flume was the pitch black beginning. I was totally expecting a drop in the tunnel, but there wasn’t one. Still, that was cool. We got pretty wet on the drop, but it was still fun. It was a HOT day, so the water felt good. The only bad thing I’d say about this was it was too short. But, it was nice that the park even had a flume for those of us that don’t like to get drenched and don’t do water parks. Oh yeah, Brad sitting at the top of the lift was a nice touch. : )

The Legend
Unfortunately, we didn’t really like this ride either. Scott loved it, but it beat the rest of us up way too much to be enjoyable. The tunnels were cool, the layout was great, the first drop fun, but it was just too rough. I did like how long it was though. Again, Scott rode two more times before we left, but the rest of us sat out.

We didn’t buy much food because nothing was open. I was actually disappointed that everything was closed. When we first got there, all we saw were closed food stands. So, that put a bad taste in our mouths. It wasn’t until we were starving that we actually asked one of the ride ops where we could eat something. They said only The Alamo and Kringle’s Kafe were open because they were operating on limited staff. We were fine with it at that point because we didn’t realize most of their staff went back to school already. It would have been nice if they had put an insert in the park map or something saying what food stands were open that day though.

Regardless, we ate at Kringle’s Kafe. This place was HUGE. From a design standpoint, it could have used some more color than bare white walls, but that’s the designer in me coming out. The food was cheap and tasted pretty good. Plus, the staff was VERY efficient and friendly. The highlight of my day was when the lady taking my order said, “Would you like lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion with your chicken sandwich? It comes in a bag!” I of course said yes because I wanted to see what this was all about. Ha ha ha!! I’ve never seen anything like this before, but it worked out for the best. It was a little runny, but I’m assuming that’s why they put it in the bag.

I had an ice cream cone later in the day too and it was quite refreshing. Again, it was cheap. I know everyone complains about how expensive park food is, but Holiday World’s food actually seemed too cheap. I think I paid like $1.50 for my large soft serve cone. When she told me how much, I was like, “uh, how much did you say?”

I’m the only one in our group that actually likes seeing shows at parks. We hadn’t planned on seeing anything here, but we happened to be walking past Hoosier Celebration Theater when RETROActive was starting. So, we headed in to watch. I hate to say this, but the show was really bad. A couple of the performers were really into it, so that was good. But, the choreography, singing and costumes were just not there. I’m not sure if these are the same people that performed all summer, or if they were stand-ins because the original performers went back to school. But, it was quite painful watching the show. In their defense, there were some kids in the audience that were REALLY into the show and loved every second of it. So, that was great to see. But, I think our group is used to Disney or Broadway level shows, so we didn’t really like it. We saw parts of Rockin’ the Country as we were getting ice cream later in the day and it was just as bad. So, if you’re a show fanatic, I wouldn’t recommend the shows here. If you have little kids that need to let off some steam by dancing in the aisles, by all means go to the shows.

Final Thoughts
Like everyone else says, the park was spotless. Even after an entire season of use, the park looked great. Everything looked like it had just been painted, there was no garbage laying around and I didn’t even see any spider webs around the lights.

The staff was great. Like I mentioned before, they were operating with limited staff. We saw numerous “volunteer” shirts around the park. We also saw people like Marlene from Accounts Payable checking restraints on one of the rides. I’m pretty sure Brad on Frightful Falls was a maintenance man too. So, it was great seeing people from all parts of the company working to keep it running late into the season.

I was literally stunned when I saw the ride ops on the coasters collecting loose articles from the guests and putting them in the bins for them. On a busy day, this would make the capacity of the ride go way up compared to letting people cross through the train and do it themselves. They collect articles while the train is gone, cross the track, load the bins and then come back to the other side.

I did find it a little odd that the crew is permitted to cross the track in the station without even telling the ride operator they’re doing so. Cedar Point and Six Flags both will say “crossing” and then the ride op at the controls will hold their hands up in the air. They were only running one train on all the coasters today, but I’m still thinking that ride op could fall or get stuck on the track while crossing. I’m sure it’s safe, but it struck me as odd while we witnessed it happening all day. I liked that they were collecting the articles though.

Granted, there were maybe fifty other people in the park that day (or so it seemed), but we saw NO smoking on the midways. Holiday World has these big banners all over the park telling you what section of the park you’re in. On these banners, it also says “Now Smoke Free!” So, it was obvious to even the densest of park guests that you can’t smoke in the park. I think this helped a lot. We were at Cedar Point the next day and it seemed like every single person on the midway was smoking.

So, that was our first trip to Holiday World. We had an amazing day and thought the insane amount of driving was well worth it. I don’t think we’ll go back anytime soon just because our group tends to like steel coasters more than wood. Plus, the park is really far away from us. But, if they keep installing new rides that are the quality of The Voyage, we’d definitely consider the drive again. Thanks to Holiday World for being open so late in the season and being such gracious hosts!

eightdotthree's avatar
I thought the same exact thing about Raven after my first ride, but then with each ride it grew on me more and more. It does get to the point where when it was over I just wanted to run around and ride it again. Can't say the same for Legend, I don't care for it as much.

If you've ever had a nighttime ride on Raven, you'd get it. Glad you had great time.

Laugh your troubles away at Riverview, the world's largest amusement park.
On every busy day I have visited, there have been attendants in the main lot. I can't comment on the Legend lot because I haven't ever parked there with the rush.
I went to HW last year and i was actually surprised by Raven and Legend. I think they are both very reridable intense woodies.
Thanks for visiting!

Nearly everyone was in Splashin' Safari, given the extreme heat ... so those who wanted to ride the HW rides were treated to very short lines on Friday.

Yes, we do have a traffic/parking crew on busy days...from just as you come off the interstate seven miles away all the way into the parking lots.

I did have one point of confusion ... where did you see a plain white wall in Kringle's Kafe? Each wall has a gorgeous hand-painted mural of Santa. If you look closely, you'll see a little calendar in each one and can see what Santa does each day leading up to, and following, Christmas.

Just curious...


Paula Werne
Holiday World

Hey Paula. We had a great time, so thanks for having us. We sorta figured most everyone was in the water park since I know we were sweating to death the whole day. But, we loved the free water and lemonade. (None of us really like Pepsi.)

I figured the parking was unattended because of the light crowds and missing staff. But, we didn't realize that until later in the day. So, our first impression was, "where are the parking people?" It wasn't a big deal though because there were barely any cars coming into the lot when we arrived.

We definitely saw the massive Santa murals in Kringle's Kafe. We actually commented on the detail in each scene and about the progression up to and after Christmas as we were eating. We liked them a lot. My group of friends and I have a tendency to over-analyze intricate details, so we definitely noticed the murals! :)

My comment about the white walls was actually about the drywall color behind the murals. Since there's a massive amount of wall and ceiling surface in that space, the color is very noticeable. Also, since they're all pure white, it just makes the space (even with the murals) seem sorta plain and drab. If you painted the walls a tan or khaki color and left the ceiling white, I think it would warm up the space a lot without making it seem small. Again, I'm a designer, so I notice things like this when 99% of your guests probably wouldn't. But, I guarantee they'd think the space felt nicer if you painted the walls. :) Color is a very powerful tool.

Again, it wasn't really a complaint, but more of a suggestion. Since it was the main thing I noticed while eating there, I thought it relevant to my own trip report. That's all.

Thanks again for a great day.

Okay, that makes sense. (You're right, I'm sure I react to color, but don't necessarily notice a more subtle need.)

The early back to school around here really makes it rough staffing that last week of "daily" ... I'm glad you asked about it; it must have seemed strange. As you noticed, we do whatever it takes to have all the rides open and just open the main food outlets.

Thanks again for visiting, Paula

Paula Werne
Holiday World

Yeah, after we saw Marlene from accounts payable checking lap bars, we knew there was a staffing issue. :) The only thing I would have changed would have been to put an insert in the park maps saying what places were open for food. Or, maybe a sign at the front gate. Once we found the open places, the service was lightning fast and friendly. We were helped by a volunteer and we all commented that she was better than most full-time staffers at other parks. So, the only issue we had was actually finding the places that were open. Otherwise, the staffing was great. Like I said in the TR, we were all amazed that the staff took loose articles from people in the queue while the trains were on course. Is this your daily operating procedure - even on busy days with multi-train operation? If so, I'm impressed! Good job.
Yup...that's our regular operating procedure.

I agree about posting a list of which food outlets are open. Actually, it appeared here: But of course, not everyone has discovered our blog. :)

I think each outlet should have a list of "what's open" posted ... it's one of those things that just didn't get done, apparently.

Thanks again, Paula

Paula Werne
Holiday World

Great Trip Report! Can't wait to make it out there myself one of these days... Hopefully in the next couple of weeks.

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