Holiday World 6-28/6/29 2024

We spent two days here, with it being my first visit to Holiday World since… 2011? For our kids it was their first visit.

TLDR version:
Raven & Legend need some TLC, Good Gravy is perfectly campy, Water coasters are world class, ride operations are poor, staff is mostly disinterested, food is respectable, park is still a lot of fun, but doesn’t have the same feel that it used to. On to the long form…

Holiday World Rides Side
Raven (1x)
Rode near the back of the train. Much more aggressive than I remember, which is good! On the flipside, it was also a lot a lot rougher than I remember. I found it tolerable but everyone else in the family HATED it and were in pain. My wife still had neck pain the next day.

Legend (2x)
Same as the above. This thing was absolutely hauling through the course. But it could definitely use some TLC. My oldest son and I found it tolerable, but everyone else… one and done. It gave my daughter a headache for a while afterwards.

Voyage (3x)
Rode this mostly toward the back. It continues to deliver an out of control ride, and was the favorite ride in the park for all of us. The difference in speed between morning rides and late afternoon rides is quite noticeable. The kids were absolutely in love after their first lap.

Good Gravy (1x)
Fun little family coaster and a great addition to the park. The theming is excellent, especially in the queue area.

Thunderbird (1x)
I’ve heard from a lot of folks that this is the best wing coaster in existence. This is only the third wing coaster I’ve been on, but I believe it. I wonder if the shorter six car trains have anything to do with this? Pacing is excellent as well. But man oh man does that line move slow. And does anyone know why on earth they put this ride so far back in the park?

We hit a bunch of the flats as well. The bumper cars in particular were a lot of fun, and the best I’ve been on outside of Tibidabo in Barcelona. Frightful Falls is a great log flume, getting riders a light splash to give just the right amount of wetness to cool off without leaving you soaked.

Splashin’ Safari
This will be news to no one, but what an amazing water park. And the barcode wristbands for lockers is fantastic. This is the first time I've seen this, and I wish more parks would adopt this.

Out of the three water coasters, I’d rank them from best to… least best, as Mammoth, Wildebeest, Cheetah Chase. YMMV, and all are excellent. We got two laps on each. In a bit of criticism though, calling Cheetah Chase a “launched” water coaster is a bit of a stretch. Going up that first hill doesn’t feel any different than going up the hills on Wildebeest. HOWEVER… using water jets to propel you up the hill was unexpectedly more fun, as when you crest each hill into the tunnel a wave of water crashes over you. It’s awesome!

We hit every other slide except Watubee. I’m still surprised how short of a wait the Otorongo slides have. It’s in a good location and all three are a ton of fun; we lapped those several times. Jungle Racers is still a favorite for me, as I get a good push from the start and end up a little airborne on the third drop.

Food was good, but not great. I recall food prices being roughly on par with what you would expect to pay outside the park. No more. They’re now on par with every other theme park. But hey, at least drinks are “free”. The best deal however goes to Spashin’ safari. For $40 you get a large pizza and four sides. Mix and match however you want (2 breadsticks, fries, or salad). Fed our family of five, which at a theme park is hard to do for forty bucks. Plymouth Rock Café is still good, and does anyone have the recipe for those green beans? Holy cow. And no trip to HW is complete without a serving of their deep fried Oreos. Terrible for you, but so good.

Ouch. At Splashin Safari, they seem to move people through ok, particularly on the water coasters. The dry park however, not so much. Thankfully on the whole the lines weren’t too long, But 4-5 minute dispatches on Legend? Stacking on Voyage with a two train operation? Come on. Plenty of people on the platforms, but zero sense of urgency. So bad.

Other observations
-We NEVER play the carnival games, but we splurged on the Games Playbook. For $20 you get $25 worth of games cash (not valid on skeeball or arcade games), which also includes an additional $15 in games coupons that you can stack on top of your games cash. But what really sold it for me was it also included one quick access ride pass that can be used on any ride on the dry side, or any of the three water coasters in Splashin Safari; we used it for a second ride on Mammoth and walked right on.

-I’d like to see them add another family coaster. Good Gravy is a nice addition but the intensity gap between it and Raven is quite wide. It would be great to put a coaster with a step up in intensity from Good Gravy in the 4th of July section. This may require a very creative layout or relocating some of the back of house buildings in that area but it would definitely breathe some new life in that section.

-The park is still incredibly clean. It’s amazing. I was especially impressed with the Oasis stations, which were well stocked and maintained, and aren’t swarming with insects.

-The staff however, with a few exceptions, is not the staff that I remember. We didn’t encounter any rude employees but the majority are just going through the motions at best. It’s still a great park but it no longer has the same feel that it used to, and that’s a shame. I can’t help but wonder how not having Will (RIP) or Pat around anymore affects this. I had the pleasure of meeting them both in passing and they were so friendly and genuine, and their energy was contagious. I know their site says it’s still owned and operated by the Koch family, but I’m curious to know how involved they are these days?

Jeff's avatar

If there's an employee quality problem, I doubt the leadership is the problem. It's the same park GM as before Will's passing. The labor market, however, is a lot tighter.

Last edited by Jeff,

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar

Out of curiosity, was your last HW visit in 2011 during an enthusiast event?

The family and I just got back from a trip to HW (6-25 & 6-26) and most of your observations of the park are pretty much same experience as mine. However, I wouldn't say the ops were poor, yes there was stacking, I would say there isn't much of an urgency to get trains out the door. But that's been my experience with HW during every non-thoosy event visit over the last 10 or so years.

The Holiwood Nights events gave the park a very different vibe from my experience. I imagine the energy to deliver that kind of experience (fast ops, greased tracks, etc) isn't something the casual park guest notices and probably not prioritized. This is not a knock on the park, we had a really good time, based on how not busy the coasters were (it was HOT!!) I think a priority was given to the ride ops to drink and take it easy.

The waterpark is super amazing and outside of Volcano Bay, my favorite one.

Last edited by HeyIsntThatRob?,

No, my previous visits were just regular days. Ride ops back then were not a standout feature of the park, but the lines moved along just fine.

Jeff you're right, the labor market is tighter. And I have to wonder if HW's remote location is a major factor in having a bit of an employee quality issue. KI for example, has a friendlier staff at the moment but they also have a more populated area to pull from.

I noticed a lot more international employees on this visit; perhaps that's what they're doing to fill the gap in today's market. There's also an employee dorm across the street from the Thanksgiving area; I don't know if that's relatively new or I just didn't notice on my last visit.

There were some bright spots, in particular a young woman working games in the Halloween section that was bright eyed, engaging, friendly, etc. She made the games even more fun to play; so much so we recognized her right away on day 2 in a different games area.

Last edited by Danimales,

Excellent trip report!

The queue for Good Gravy is really impressive and pretty ambitious for a "smaller" park like Holiday World. The oversize kitchen utensils outside are also great and perfect photo ops.

We hadn't been to the park since 2015 so the higher food prices and pokey operations stood out to us too. The line for Voyage (which is riding great this year, almost like new) moved so slowly we thought it was just one train operation until we saw the second train.

"Thank the Phoneticians!"

You know it's funny... I don't think I fully appreciated the marketing power of Good Gravy. It's so over the top campy that people love it. There was a constant buzz around the area.

When my 11 year old got off of Voyage, he immediately declared it his new favorite coaster. He was JACKED. But you know what he bought for a souvenir? A Good Gravy NanoCoaster. Even my wife who never buys souvenirs, bought a Good Gravy shirt.

Last edited by Danimales,

The Good Gravy trains are pretty adorable. The design pattern on the gravy boats themselves is just pitch perfect.

"Thank the Phoneticians!"

I don’t know if heat had something to do with the sluggish ops, but I did t see that a month ago. Good Gravy is nearly too cute, I got a shirt with the four adult coasters, plus the add on shirt that said Holiday World 2024 in the Good Gravy font with the gravy bowl. I couldn’t resist.

2022 Trips: WDW, Sea World San Diego & Orlando, CP, KI, BGW, Bay Beach, Canobie Lake, Universal Orlando

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