Holiday World is obviously a park I’ve wanted to go to for a long time, and would have if it was a little bit more accessible. On the west coast I can drive just about anywhere, but when we fly, I can’t rent a car since I’m under 21 (even then it’s usually expensive until you’re 25). Naturally, there is no way to get to Santa Claus without driving.
So we woke up early, and started our drive out of Louisville. The drive was much nicer than what I’m use to in California or Arizona. Trees were everywhere and it was green. Although I don’t think I could ever live in this part of the country, it is always nice to visit. Arriving at the park in just over an hour, we were surprised how busy it the parking lot was for a Monday. There was traffic and cars everywhere. Luckily, we got a spot right near the gate before they filled up the front lot and started directing all vehicles to the larger lot across the street.
When we purchased our tickets, you could just feel the difference. The employees smiled, and were friendly. They all seemed very genuine. So we got our ACE discount and headed in. It was crowded. Since the park didn’t open until 10, everyone was on the walkways. I tried to navigate using the map (it was a pretty bad map…) but ended up just going in the general direction toward Voyage. We got over toward Thanksgiving right as the clock struck 10 and the rides began to open. Up into Voyage’s station and we immediately queued for the last car. The line started building behind us, and we realized this one train wait would probably be our shortest of the day.
After a slow first dispatch we hopped in, bucked up, and before we knew it we were rolling. You all know the feeling of riding that long awaited coaster for the first time. It’s bliss! So quickly up the lift we headed, and zoooooommmmmmed around the course. For a morning ride, the PTC was haulin’. There was airtime everywhere, and I loved going out through the trees. I was a little shocked by the midcourse brake run slowing us down (it grabbed so hard I thought we were going to stop completely at first), but the triple down had some air and the second half still felt incredibly fast. No roughness anywhere on the coaster, and so much airtime. It definitely lived up to the hype. Once we got to the final brake run, the train completely stopped. I guess it broke down because we were out there for about 5 minutes and they started running empty trains for a while after that.
After our amazing ride on the Voyage, we headed across the midway to Gobbler’s Getaway. There was still no line, and we walked right on. The theme was unique and the end with them eating pizza gave me a chuckle. Overall, it wasn’t anything super amazing in my opinion, but it was alright. From the outside, the building it was in was pretty ugly. Overall worth riding if the wait time isn’t too bad or you need a break from the heat.
So I have a quick question. With so many trees naturally growing in the area, why are there none really at Holiday World? I mean, Christmas and Halloween are better but most of the park seems to really lack trees. There is also that huge area between Thanksgiving and the road that just has grass. Why cut down so many trees?
Still hungry for more coasters, we headed back to Raven. It was hot already, with high humidity. Yuck. But I was not the complainer of the group. My girlfriend Kaley had never really experienced heat + humidity, so for the whole trip she had this look of, “What the hell is this.” So, back to the park, the Raven had a full queue. Since the waterpark wasn’t open yet, I figured this would die down a little later, but we got in line anyways. It took about 45 minutes, and we were up in the station waiting for the last car. This station, although nice from the outside, looks very home-made. Every time the train stops, the whole building moves and shakes. Naturally, right before we were to get on, it broke down. From listening to the ops, it sounded like they were just getting an error message on the screen. After about 10 minutes of waiting, they let us on and we were off!
Now this is what the rest of the park should be like. Trees everywhere! Heading up the lift was great, since I didn’t know what to expect. From start to finish, the ride was great. Some amazing airtime, laterals, and dodging trees is a lot of fun. About midride there is a little bit of a slow spot, but other than that the pacing on this ride is spot on. We came slamming into the brakes, and my head was spinning. What a great ride! My mom was a little disappointed with the length, but I say it’s not that bad.
We then walked down the hill to Legend, grabbing some free water on the way. The value of getting free sunscreen, water, soda, and parking just makes the day even better. The queue for Legend was almost full, but we still waited. It was a long line and the people watching was interesting. I guess we came on religious day because the park was full of people with Jesus shirts on. Not that I’m saying it was bad, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many at one place in my life. One shirt even compared Jesus to a Resse’s Peanut Butter Cup! Once we got up into the station (this one felt homebuilt too) we again queued for the last car. Total wait was right around an hour.
It was at this point we were noticing a trend. The ride ops here staple, and they staple hard. I’m assuming this is more of a recent change. Back to the ride, Legend was great. The first drop was excellent except there was a rough spot at the bottom of the drop. There were moments of airtime, but the ride seemed to focus more on laterals and speed. Everything it did, it did well, and I was impressed. It’s not necessarily my personal flavor of coaster, but still an excellent ride.
We were hungry at this point, so we headed back to Thanksgiving to get some turkey. The restaurant back there has good prices and pretty good food. Why would they build such a large building and not have any indoor seating? Luckily all the seating outside was shaded. Looking into the waterpark while we were eating, it was obvious that was the real draw on this hot sticky day. As long as the lines were for the coasters, the water park lines were longer.
After eating, we decided to get another ride on Voyage, this time in the front car. That was even better, with airtime galore and a sense of speed like no other ride I’ve ever been on. How does it just keep going on and on forever? This is absolutely one of my favorite coasters.
I decided I wanted the Howler credit, and so we walked back to the kiddy area. There were no lines and we had no problem riding. Did the area behind Howler once have trees? It all feels so open and paved over back there. We went ahead and rode the train, which was very fun. You have to appreciate where the park started.
Kaley and I did Liberty Launch and got two huge pops of airtime. The line here could use some shade, and why does it split into two right before the gate? It didn’t make much sense, but there was no line so it didn’t matter much either.
Was it just the day we went on, or does the park always have live religious music playing in the theater all day? I figured it was just because of the church groups that were there that day, but every time we walked by it was going on. Seemed a bit out of place to have that at a park, but so does the Disneyland stuff that goes on around Christmas.
At this time, we felt our day was very complete. So we headed back to Voyage for one last front seat ride, which turned out to be (surprise) excellent, and then stopped by Raven on our way out. At this point, Raven was walk on. We stayed on for three rides, none of which were quite as good as our first backseat ride, but all of which were better than most wooden coasters I’ve been on. The trees make the Raven.
We were driving to Cincinnati from the park, so we purchased our souvenirs and headed out. Overall, it was a great place with excellent coasters and friendly staff. They could use more trees and shade, especially in the newer parts of the park. Still, it all lived up to the hype, and I can see why everyone loves this park. Top quality rides, and great value. I have to say we will probably return in the near future to make it to an event, since the night rides on any of the coasters would be amazing. Especially the giant in the back.
I hope you enjoyed reading. The next report will be for Kings Island.
- There was no "Christian Day" that I am aware of, though HW does feature a Christian Themed music show in one of it's theaters and it could be that you just kept walking by. Usually, the "house music" that is played is in theme with whatever section (Halloween, Xmas, etc) you are in.
- Ever since a 2003 incident in which a rider was killed after falling out of the Raven during the "surprise" mid course drop (apparently she loosened restraints and was standing up to catch more airtime) they do staple you in pretty good. You might occasionally catch a break on the lapbar, but they are really going to stick it to you everytime on the seatbelt. Safety first.
- The trees factor has more to do with the geography of the park than HW cutting them down. As you mentioned, the front of the park around the campground, Raven and Halloween section is loaded. However, as you move back towards the waterpark and Thanksgiving they simply have never really been there in the first place. It's always been hill fields in that area. I bet once Thankgiving becomes a bit more established they will bring some in.
- There used to be a few evergreen trees behind where the Howler is. However they got taken out when Holidog's Fun Town (and the Howler) went it. The train ride has always pretty much been the border of that corner of the park (due to the adjacent highways).
Glad you enjoyed HW! ...And if you thought the Raven, Voyage and Legend were great during the day, they will flat out astonish you on night rides!
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