Holiday World, Santa Claus, Indiana, USA
Since I moved to Orlando, park travels dropped off drastically. Simply put, if it wasn't Disney or in Orlando, I haven't gone, save for a quick Carowinds trip two years ago.
Most of that was because I was dating the woman who would become my wife late last year. However, she knew how much I enjoyed parks, and she wanted to share in that hobby with me. In that spirit, we decided that for our first regional park trip, we would visit Holiday World for the very first time for both of us, and follow it up with Kings Island. Kentucky Kingdom was in the original plan, but time constraints forced us to nix it in favor of the other two.
Those parks were picked for a few reasons. The first was that I was down to four B&Ms left in the US that I hadn't ridden, and this would take care of two of them (Thunderbird and Banshee). Another reason was geographical convenience. Lastly, I'd never been to Holiday World before and Kings Island only gets better with each visit, of which this would be my third, so it seemed like a nice duo.
We landed in Louisville, grabbed a quick bite, and then made our way out to Santa Claus on what I can only describe as one of the nicest drives I've ever taken. We got to the park around two, and our time was limited as we wanted to get to Cincinnati at a somewhat reasonable hour. The crowds were light, so we weren't worried about missing anything, but it was still a bit of a rush. We'll be back again, though, and we'll take more time to experience the park then.
We started things off with The Raven. I had planned to go from the back of the park to the front, an idea I likely would have stuck with if I, again, had bothered to do my research and realized that the main entrance to Splashin' Safari was right at the front of the park, but whatever. I have to say that of the six new coasters I rode on the trip, The Raven was the only one that didn't earn five stars. It was a very fun ride, don't get me wrong, and certainly a solid coaster, but it's been bested.
Next up was a ride that I'd waited for since the day it opened: The Voyage. We sat near the front in a non-wheel seat hoping for as smooth of a ride as possible. As for the ride itself, well...I'm still not sure how I feel about it. It was absolutely exceptional, don't get me wrong, but I got off of the ride feeling like it was sort of too much of a good thing. I imagine that a bit more smoothness and dare I say a bit more airtime might have sealed the deal, but I just got off the ride feeling like had it been a steel coaster, it probably would've been the best coaster on the planet.
If I could change anything, I'd load the thing up with topper track to make it smoother and keep it from beating itself up, and then have the midcourse let the train through with some more speed. Then it might be able to unseat Boulder Dash at the top of my wooden coaster rankings instead of camping out probably just below my top five wooden rides.
Thunderbird was our third ride of the day, and we grabbed the back row on the left side. I have to say that for this one, if Holiday World was shooting for the stars, they sure succeeded. FINALLY, there's a wing-rider with some cajones! POVs do no justice to this ride. It was much snappier and more forceful than I expected, with speed throughout to the point I couldn't always be sure what was happening. It was absolutely fantastic, and I'm sad that I only got the one lap. We just didn't have the time later in the day to make it back to the ride.
We opted to break from our coastering after Thunderbird with a spin on the Gobbler Getaway. The ride was plenty of goofy fun, and rather impressive in terms of the detail and effort that were clearly put into the ride. It would've been helpful to see little red dots to guide our aim, but it was still a good time.
Our run of the dry side would then end with a spin on the last of the the park's four major coasters: The Legend.
Holiday World, you could not have picked a better name.
OH. MY. GOSH. This ride was incredible! How do people not talk about it more often? It instantly became my favorite at the park (my wife stuck with Team Voyage), and also one of the top wooden coasters I'd ever ridden. It rode much smoother than the other two at the park, and it had some impressive length to it! On top of that, it had laterals for days and probably the most terrifying helix ever designed. I felt like it would never end, and I had a death grip on that handlebar the entire time. What an exceptional coaster!
With the four credits under our belts, we moved on to Splashin' Safari. I had wanted to do this as a gesture of thanks to my wife for even agreeing to go on a coaster trip, and also because I know that while she'll ride pretty much anything once, she can only handle so much, and it just really isn't her thing the way it is for me. I felt like she'd appreciate the waterpark, but I would find out that both of us would wind up having a blast.
We only rode three water slides. I can't remember the name of the first, but it was one of those three enclosed black slides with the double-tubes. You can tell what kind of impact it had on us. ;)
Second was Zoombabwe. The size of the slide was extremely impressive, and I loved the views of the park from the top. Unfortunately, this slide also didn't really do too much for us. It was fun, for sure, but the wait we had didn't seem justified by the enjoyment of the experience.
Lastly, with little time left before the closure of the waterpark, we went to Wildebeest. I can safely say that the awards it seems to constantly win are well justified. I never much cared for Master Blaster-style rides, and this thing only put them further to shame. I laughed, I screamed, and both my wife and I absolutely loved it. Well done, Holiday World!
With the waterpark closed, I went back for encore laps on The Voyage and The Legend. I chose the first because I wanted to give it another chance in case maybe I spent the first lap focusing too much on making sure my wife was okay and not really focusing on the ride itself, but my opinion of it didn't change. It should've been the perfect coaster, and maybe it once was and could be again with some topper track or what have you to give it some durability, but it just came off as a ride designed to do as much as it possibly could because it could, and it just didn't set my world on fire. As for The Legend, I rode it just to make sure that it wasn't post-first-ride enjoyment that led me to call it my favorite coaster at the park. It wasn't. It's still the best one there, narrowly edging out the ultimate wing-rider that sat at the back of the park.
Having sagged a few final photographs, we made our way out of the park for our drive out to Cincinnati, but, and I'll explain this more in part two, we'll be back to this part of the country again, and Holiday World will be on the agenda. I can see why people enjoy this park so much. We had a fantastic time!
Very nice report! The same thing has happened to me; since relocating to Orlando, outside of trips home to Ohio to visit the folks and get to Cedar Point, my coaster trips have all but vanished. I got to Carowinds earlier this month for the first time in five years, and did a trip similar to yours back in 2011. Now that I don't work in the parks anymore and essentially have a 9-5, I am hoping to resume some park trips in the coming years.
When I was at Holiday World there was no Thunderbird yet, but my assessment of Voyage was exactly the same. It absolutely took my breath away and was a truly amazing coaster. But it beat me up and two laps was enough for me. Now, flip what you said about Raven and Legend and you have my take on things. I was very "meh" about Legend but absolutely fell in love with Raven. I rerode the thing in the back row all day and night and was just blown away by it each time.
I also really liked Splashin' Safari. One of the two water coasters was there (honestly not sure which one it was) with the other coming the following season. I had a full day there and absolutely loved the park. Your report just makes me want to go back even more.
Weird, I've never preferred Legend over Raven, but there have been years where Raven didn't ride very well. Voyage is the same. I guess you could say those rides have a lot of "personality."
I like the Legend more than Raven and Thunderbird (but not as much as the Voyage). The Legend used to be quite rough, but ever since they retracked part of it a year ago, it's been much better. The added air time hill adds a surprising amount to the coaster too.
Nice TR. With all the parks we've been to we've yet to go farther west than KI, so we've been planning a fall trip to hit Holiday World, Kentucky Kingdom, Kings Island. Looking forward to it.
Legend's rideability has gone up immeasurably since the helix is no longer *too* full of laterals for me...
Agreed that The Voyage is too much of a good thing. After 9 rides on it I felt as if I needed a chiropractor. Haven't been back to Holiday World since my one visit in 2011 so haven't experienced Thunderbird. After 6 years I don't remember anything about Raven and Legend, which is unfortunate. This trip was all about The Voyage. I went all the way to Santa Claus to find out why, year after year, The Voyage was ranked above El Toro in Mitch Hawker's poll and I still don't get it. My vote always went to El Toro. upsdownsandupsidedown
I think that a huge problem was that nothing on The Voyage stood out to me. I love rides with great length, but on The Voyage, it felt like all that length was used to take maybe three maneuvers to accomplish what could have been done with one. I actually felt like the ride should be shorter and not because it was too intense, but because it just spent so much time doing any one thing that I found myself almost getting bored with parts of it. In spending so much time in certain parts of the ride, I felt like potentially great moments were sacrificed in the name of adding more length, and despite the impressive intensity of the ride, which should have elevated its status in my eyes, it actually made me lose some appreciation for the experience.
To me, The Voyage should have been a super Boulder Dash, which in itself is basically everything I wished that a ride like The Beast would have been. Boulder Dash remains my number one, though, because it's unremarkable as far as most of its statistics are concerned (save for its length), often just finding creative ways to roll with the terrain for its first half, then delivering what is probably one of the all-time greatest airtime runs ever conceived to finish off the coaster.
In fact, that's probably a great point of comparison. For its return run, The Voyage zigs and zags back and forth through itself, using up a substantial amount of extra track for each airtime hill than a straight return run with more aggressive airtime. That would likely have yielded a more impressive roller coaster, although with a less powerful MCBR grab, perhaps it did have better air at one point. The whole ride just struck me as a substantially drawn-out short coaster.
Ah!! This makes me very excited about visiting the park... I rode The Legend when it opened and I really didn't like it at all. I heard with the PTC trains (that's what it's running now, right?) it is much better, so I'm happy to hear that you thought it was so good! I'm pumped to get on The Voyage for my first time as well, and I keep hearing very different opinions about it, so I'm very interested to see how that goes.
One quick question though: I know you said it was a light day, but what kind of wait times were you looking at? Are the operations pretty good there?
The wait times were borderline non-existent for the coasters. We had a hefty wait for Zoombabwe, but everything else was under ten minutes to almost walk-on.
Well, Wildebeest might have been closer to fifteen minutes, but the single rider line helped keep those boats full.
Operations, unfortunately, didn't impress me much. The staff were very friendly, but when we took our first ride on the Voyage, they were stacking with two trains, something that struck me as almost unfathomable given the length of that ride. They were cranking trains out on the second run, but even so, they were still pretty slow.
I was there last year and the park was dead so rerides on everything if we wanted them. The legend had just received a lot of new track and profiling and IMO it was the best coaster in the park.
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