July 14th & 15th: Holiday World (LONG)

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HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar
July 14th & 15th 2007: Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari


After two year's wait; my wife, Cindy and I finally made it out to Holiday World and took our 17-month-old son, Jacob as well. This would be Cindy’s second trip, my sixth, and obviously Jacob’s first. We camped out with a few friends, Jess, Bryan, and Sarah. Jess and Bryan had the hookup as far as the camper went. We all (well, it was literally Bryan) setup camp in about an hour and got a chance to relax before doing some coaster riding the next day.

We ate breakfast at the buffet at Santa’s Lodge, which wasn’t bad for $7.99 each. The star of the buffet was biscuits and gravy. I only made one trip though since I’m really trying to watch what I eat. Jacob decided to inadvertently imitate a widespread Internet cliché by placing not one, but two pancakes on his head! Did I forget to mention that there was butter and syrup already on these pancakes? Do you know the whole law that buttered bread will fall to the floor buttered side down? Yeah, it was kind of like that only it was in his hair. We got our fix for eating, cleaned up Jacob and headed over to the park a little bit after opening.


We had to park in the Legend Lot, a first for me. We were able to get our two-day tickets with our Coaster Club cards with a pretty nice discount. We stopped by Guest Services to ask about the ‘Parent Swap’ policy. It was explained to us that there is such a policy and that no ticket or paper was required, no other explanation on how it worked was given so we figured it worked the same way most parks do. We entered the park and got a glance of what was to come: lots of people! It was packed. It was beyond packed. Unfortunately we were also greeted with a sign that said Voyage wouldn’t be opening until later today. We were going to ride Raven and Legend until we saw a full queue at Raven, keep in mind, the park just opened! So we headed the other way and started off at Liberty Launch. I let Cindy and our friends ride while I sat out with Jacob. They rode, and asked the ride host about “parent swap.” They seemed a little confused to see me standing outside of the ride and I figured out later, why. I got to ride the next cycle and still love this ride. I can’t believe how such a little ride packs a big punch.


We decided to try and get some rides in near the Thanksgiving entrance so Cindy and Bryan took a spin on Hallowswings while we grabbed our “free” drinks. It was while they were on that we saw Voyage cycling empty trains. We decided to walk downhill and see if we could get on Voyage right after opening. I got in line while Cindy waited back with Jacob. I hopped on 2-1 with Bryan and we were off. The ride is pretty good. I think it needed to warm up a bit, but for the most part I’d say it’s up there with rides like Shivering Timbers, or Phoenix, but it isn’t the best ride I’ve been on. It’s everything that I wanted out of a coaster, speed, airtime, some laterals, there was some of that “out of control feeling” but I felt I needed a ride in the backseat to get a better idea of how well I liked it.


It was at this point we discovered how Holiday World’s parent swap is supposed to work: Everyone waits in line, including the child. Everyone rides except for one parent who stays in line with the child. When those people exit the ride, you give the child to them. If everyone rode, the last parent riding, rides alone. There are 3 things I didn’t like about the policy:

1.) I get the whole fairness thing. You don’t want to institute a policy where someone gets a re-ride unfairly. But to me, sending out an empty seat is just as asinine as letting someone re-ride. Most parks we’ve been to will let the parent who waited behind with the child pick a ride partner for the ride, even if that meant a re-ride.

2.) On top of that, having the child wait in line it a terrible way to do things, especially when that child is 17 months old and cannot stay in one place at all, and in the queues that Holiday World insist on using (which would be the ones that are 20” wide) it didn’t make this fun for other guests waiting in line as we’d find out later. Why not let the parent take the child over to other rides or other places where they won’t be bothering other guests?

3.)The most annoying part was that we had to ask two or three times at each ride about “parent swap.” Most of the ride ops had no clue what we were talking about and there was no consistency on how it was implemented. The rules differed from Voyage, Liberty Launch, Legend, and Raven. Or so it seemed. I should mention that I’m glad Holiday World is kind enough to institute a “parent swap” but I think it needs to be improved.

We ended up renaming the policy to ‘Baby Toss’ because that’s essentially what it was. Because Cindy went up the exit ramp with our son (who was sleeping in his stroller), they originally weren’t going to let her ride. Thankfully they did after realizing what we had done. She didn’t enjoy her ride so much because she did it by herself and she was pretty upset about it. Again, I get the whole fairness thing, but at least have another person (even a stranger) ride with her.


We went over to Gobbler Getaway where I sat out with our napping son, but he decided to wake up as soon as our group got in line. Yay! First ride of the day for Jacob! We all got inline together and split up three and three for the four passenger cars. I love dark rides and I love interactive dark rides even more. Jacob loved playing with the gun…. Er.. turkey call. The accuracy is pretty good; the ride itself seemed okay for a little park. It was more like a warehouse with cardboard cutouts. The animatronic granny was amazing to see and I thought I’d see more of it in the ride, but I only saw the talking guy.

We decided to try out Legend, saw the full queue and decided to try Raven only to find the same thing. So we took a break at the campground, ate, went swimming, and went back to the park for more.


Legend was just pure bliss; I cannot believe how well this ride is tracking despite how much of a beating those trains and tracks take. We also tried the “Baby Toss” policy out on Legend as well. Bad idea, especially with the tight queue in the original part of the station, Jacob decided that whacking complete strangers was a new sport. We also got some funny looks in the line; someone even asked, “What are they going to do? Leave the kid with a ride-op?” We set ourselves up to line up for the back row since two trains were running; it wouldn’t be too bad of a wait. We tossed Jacob over to our friends Jess and Bryan who were departing Legend with dropped jaws. I could see why.

Cindy finally “got” Legend, because on our last trip in 2005 Legend wasn’t Legend. It was just another mediocre ride to us. However, 2007 is much different. It was out of control from the time we left that drop until we hit the brakes. The Howling Wolf, the “Don’t Look Back”, and that first curving drop into the tunnel gave me the chills, just as it the first time I rode it. The rest of the ride was just all out intensity left and right and out of our seats. When we arrived back into the station, Cindy was hooked. We then headed over to Voyage to try another ride, this time in the back seat.


The Voyage is a good ride, I’ll admit. I could say it’s the best ride running with PTC’s (only I despise those seat dividers). To call it the best, well, maybe I need to experience it at night. Our ride was fun, it was powerful at times, but it feels so… engineered. It doesn’t have that out of control feeling that I get on Legend and Raven. Sure it’s got airtime, it’s got laterals, it’s a nice long ride, and it’s everything that I want in a coaster. But in my opinion, it’s intensity and punch is outdone by Thunderhead with its comfortable Millennium Flyer trains, quick transitions, and fun lateral airtime, the Voyage sort of felt like a longer Thunderhead only not as intense. Again, this is coming from someone who needs to experience the ride at night still.


We stopped by Holidog’s Funtown for Bryan to get his credit on Howler. Jacob is still too small for kiddie roller coasters but he didn’t seem to mind. We let him play for a while with the jumping fountains for probably about 45 minutes. He would run laps around them, and look in the jets that “weren’t working” only to have them hit him in the face. After playing a while, the sun had set, it was one hour until closing and it was time for some night rides.


I sat out and let everyone get a night ride on Legend. Cindy insisted that I get one after they rode, so her and I rode together. This was my first night ride on Legend in 5 years; the last time was the GOCC Fall Freak Out in 2002. Yeah, I needed that.

We ended our night on the Raven. I rode the backseat of course and was reminded of someone’s stupid mistake with a pretty good tug on my seatbelt and an extra click down on my lap bar. I can’t say I blame them and it’s a shame they need to do this, but I won’t argue it. I still had a good ride, not the “OMG!” moment I used to get on the fifth drop because those days are long gone, but good enough for me. I got to grab a second ride in the backseat again, with the same reminder of the past. Even with my seatbelt on pretty tight, the ride op made absolutely sure it could be tighter. Dare I say I still feel ashamed to be associated with the group responsible for this? Still an awesome ride!


We started off the next day with Splashing Safari and once again, it was packed. Good for the park! I like seeing this park succeed. Cindy and I spent some along time with Jacob and took him into the wave pools and the lazy rivers because everything else had huge lines. We were hoping to try out Bakuli since it was the only new thing we hadn’t been on yet, but that wasn’t to be. We left the water park by the afternoon and stopped by to see the High Dive show, which seemed to be a cookie cutter show seen at other parks, then headed out. By then storm clouds rolled in and by the time we got back to the campsite it started raining pretty hard. We were hoping for Jacob to take a nap, but the rain hitting the canvas on the camper seemed more interesting to him.

We had some steak, beer, and by far the best corn on the cob ever, cooked by Jess. When the rain subsided it was back to the park for us. We split up again because we wanted Bryan, Jess, and Sarah to ride rides, and we’d do kiddie rides with Jacob. We ended up meeting on the midway and stopped by the gift shops to get a magnet for our fridge. I didn’t seem too eager to get a ride on Voyage after Jess, Bryan, and Sarah did it, so we skipped it and went over to Legend.


This is where I began to see the park’s flaws. Don’t get me wrong, I love the park, enthusiasts love the park, but try coming to Holiday World when an event isn’t happening, it’s just another park. During Stark Raven Mad and Fall Freak Out they pull out all the stops to make our stay enjoyable. They do this by rolling trains through the station on Raven without stopping, by running things to full capacity, by greasing up the tracks, the environment that set from the ride ops high-fiving you as you leave, being around people who love coasters as much as you do, it just makes Holiday World seem like it could do no wrong. However, they are a business and thus will make business decisions based on what’s going on in the park.

When the rain came through earlier in the afternoon, Raven and Legend were taken down to one train operation. Even though there were still quite a few people in the park. What was worse is that Splashin’ Safari had closed and the park was beginning to fill up. I don’t really mind Raven going down to a one-train op because it’s a short ride. Taking down Legend to one train is just agonizing, especially with the switchbacks in the old loading station. I don’t see a reason for a 4000 ft. long ride that takes 2:20 to complete, to run just one train. The queue was out to two of the switchbacks outside so having two trains going would have been a good idea, since it’s roughly a 30-minute wait. Yet Legend continued to run one train. This is something I’ve known for a while that Holiday World will do and its annoying, I’m not going to knock down the park for doing this, but I would like to remind people that Holiday World is still just another park at times, another park that just so happens to have three amazing wood coasters and a family with genuine love for the park running it.


We ended our night once again on a semi-night ride on Raven, since Sarah was done riding she stayed behind and watched Jacob. Jacob wasn’t happy about this, so after one ride we stayed with him and bought some pizza at the café to reward him for being such a trooper this weekend. He loved it. He ate the entire slice and left us the crust. I did get a taste of it though, best park pizza I’ve ever had! And for $2.64 including tax it was a bargain!


Overall, I was happy to be back at Holiday World, but Cindy needs to experience an enthusiast event there. We had a great time at the park despite all the people. We came in with the expectation of not getting a lot of rides in but we were pleasantly surprised with what we were able to get one. The park was clean as always, the staff was friendly, and everything was running great. Although there were some annoyances such as the “Baby Toss” policy, and the one train op on Legend, it didn’t derail our fun by any means. We are planning to hit the Fall Affair once the details emerge and see if Cindy can get some time off to do this. Plus we would get a sitter for Jacob since ERT wouldn’t be much fun for him.

Good job, Holiday World! Thanks for hosting us!

~Rob Willi

2.) On top of that, having the child wait in line it a terrible way to do things, especially when that child is 17 months old and cannot stay in one place at all

I couldn't agree more with this--and frankly, you're lucky you were only dealing with a child that young.

Kids have no patience to begin with...much less any desire to wait a half-hour to forty-five minutes for a ride they're not gonna be allowed to board. And the longer you keep the booger-eaters happy, the longer the family stays.

If memory serves correctly, the Universal parks have much the same policy (kids stay in the queues, too) BUT not only they can board the majority of the attractions, there's a 'land' or two (three?) completely skewed their way. Apples to oranges.

If I had to follow that policy with Da Babies when CBaby was short and Da Midget was a toddler? They'd never want to visit the park again. Never mind that they're tall enough now. They can carry a grudge like nobody you know...


*** Edited 7/17/2007 5:24:31 PM UTC by CoastaPlaya***

NOTE: Severe fecal impaction may render the above words highly debatable.

coasterqueenTRN's avatar
You will have to bring Jacob and Cindy to Holiwood Nights next year, Rob!

Glad to hear Jacob enjoyed his first visit! :) Well, for the most part anyway. ;)

Next time try the Plymouth Cafe. ;) It's probably one of the best deals I have seen as far as price and the amount of food you get.

Awesome TR, dude!

The Gobbler Getaway is pretty funny, although that grandma is pretty disturbing! ;)


*** Edited 7/17/2007 6:03:07 PM UTC by coasterqueenTRN***

HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar
Hey Tina,

I would love to do Holiwood Nights next year. We tried in 06, but going through a rough transition of parenthood, new homeowners, and other stuff, it wasn't going to happen.

This year, we decided to do a "ME Trip" (i.e. - just the three of us) instead of Holiwood Nights. I think next year we'll be ready to do a huge event like Holiwood nights. I'm on the fence about bringing Jacob. If he's tall enough to do Howler, it would be well worth it, if not. ERT wouldn't be much fun.

I think Sarah got the picture of Jacob putting pancakes on his head. That kid is sooooo much a little me! He was hamming it up once he saw we were laughing so hard.

CPlaya, I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks this policy isn't a good idea. I'm just glad we had guests around us who were a little more patient with him, even in those tiny queues. I think he was little more forgiving once we got him on the little rides. He even got to ride the carosel by himself for the first time.

~Rob Willi

I kind of agree with you regarding Voyage. It was a great ride and a walk on all day last year in Aug I might add but it wasn't what I expected. I think it was built up way too much to be amazing. Raven and Legend on the other hand were outstanding which could be due to the fact that I had no expectations.
Rob! Glad you had fun a HW! Hope everything is going alright with the family....catch you later!


Wow, looks like your precious little snowflake was a little more spontaneous on this trip compared to the others.

So you think Voyage is a great coaster, but kinda "meh" compared to others like Thunderhead? Man, I would have thought it to be king of all wooden coasters from all the "OMG *GASM*" comments I have heard. Ahh, I'll just have to experience it for myself sometime soon, hopefully next summer.

Hope you guys had a good time.

And next time I see you I want to see those pictures of Jacob, ahaha.

"Don't look back."

HeyIsntThatRob? said:

I got to grab a second ride in the backseat again, with the same reminder of the past. Even with my seatbelt on pretty tight, the ride op made absolutely sure it could be tighter. Dare I say I still feel ashamed to be associated with the group responsible for this?

"Group responsible for this?!" What "group" are you referring to?

The Bakuli line moves surprisingly fast, it was about 15 minutes for me from the bottom of the stairs two weeks ago. They dispatch so quickly that there's two tubes going in the bowl at the same time!

(BTW, just so it isn't one-sided here, If my true feelings were represented, Voyage would rank as my #1 coaster, and the next at about #39 or so. There's that much separation)

Chattanooga needs a [B][I]ITG2[/I][/B] Machine!
HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar

Railblazer said:
"Group responsible for this?!" What "group" are you referring to?

One person made a mistake, that person was a coaster enthusiast. I'm a coaster enthusiast. That night, because of one person's mistake, the trust of Holiday World was violated by the coaster enthusiast community. They trusted that we could ride roller coasters in a safe and fun matter and that wasn't the case.

I don't think I need to say anymore.

~Rob Willi

Wow, that Baby swap sounds awful. I've been looking forward to our first HW trip with kiddies but that gives me pause. I don't mind the 'no re-rides' thing as much, but making parent choose between hauling babies through 45 minute lines on hot days or not riding is not cool.

and Playa, we were just at Universal a few months ago and the few times we did Baby Swap we were able to do it the 'standard' way (Wait at the exit, hand off, new rider goes up and takes a ride. Some of the rides even had an official baby swap holding area (MIB, Popeye) that were quite nice.

"I've been born again my whole life." -SAVED
It's been a while since I've done Universal. My fifth-grader wasn't even five years old and I was doing Universal Express at that. So yeah, I'm foggy.

Besides, the queues at that park are half the ride experience. Did I say apples to oranges? I should have said apples to figs.


NOTE: Severe fecal impaction may render the above words highly debatable.

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