Holiday World, Santa Claus, Indiana, USA
I really enjoy reading what others have to say here and I've been to several theme parks, but I never posted anything before. I finally decided to post a trip report. Hope this is the right place and hopefully people will find it interesting. If you find it too long, I have pros and cons at the end. Enjoy!
We (my wife and I) left Canada by car for Holiday World with great anticipation very early Sunday morning (July 26, 2015). On our first night we stayed in Selinsgrove, PA and I had planned to go at Knoebels for the evening. We got to our hotel tired and too late to go, so I was kind of disappointed. The next day we headed for Evansville IN, we stayed there for our trip to Holiday World. The weather was really hot and we had trouble finding a day with nice weather, it was 100-110F for 3 days with a mix of thundershowers. We were supposed to leave for Pittsburgh early Thursday morning and spend the evening at Kennywood. That did not happen because we stayed one extra day in Evansville (Thursday) so we could go to Holiday World during some great weather, no chance of rain or thundershowers, upper 80’s and low humidity. Super!
So Wednesday night we prepared our day at Holiday World and decided to bring our swimwear and try some of their highly rated water attractions.
We were up at 7am on Thursday morning, we open the curtains and it’s gorgeous outside as forecasted on several weather outlets. We left early so we would be there first and be able to find a good parking space, and we did. We took some back roads so we would see the Southern Indiana countryside, it was a nice drive and it really emphasized the fact that HW is in the middle of rural Indiana. It’s kind of charming and the new Thunderbird seems to spotlight the farm & rural theming with their new attraction.
When we got there I was surprised at how large the parking lot was, I thought this was a smaller scale regional park with smaller crowds (boy was I wrong), it looked as large as a Cedar Fair or Six Flags parking lot. We parked near the entrance and again I was surprised at how many people were already parked and in-line to enter the park, we were there almost an hour before…
So we waited and finally at 9:30 they opened the gates and we slowly got in as they scanned our tickets, it was sort of slow, where's the staff? We headed toward the Halloween entrance and it was roped off. It was 10:01 and the guy was having a blast making us wait. Looking at his watch, not just yet he said, what a… Some people love the feeling of power over others…
He finally opened this area. So I ran to get a locker in the Splashin Safari section. From there we went to the Raven, I wanted to do it progressively and end with Thunderbird (wrong move), more on that later.
The Raven; we waited in-line for about 30-40 minutes or so, not bad. I always do the first seat so I can see everything, so we did. It was a great little coaster with a nice punch and some nice airtime, but the thing that struck me the most is that it was short. Nice but short, almost too short. I was a little bit underwhelmed. We both liked it, but my wife seemed to think the end brakes were brutal, there is no mid-course brakes and the ride is short so a good set of brakes at the end is mandatory. We HAD planned on returning to the Raven to try the back seat later on. It didn’t happen. Rating: 6/10
The Legend is next; and was practically next-door, the line was short-ish and the loading and unloading process was better and faster than the Raven. Are the trains longer, maybe? I really liked this coaster, more than the Raven, I loved the swooping first drop and this thing was fast, in most reviews the Raven is better liked and rated higher than the Legend, I for one liked the Legend better. The backseat would’ve been nice and I had planned to return, but it did not happen, again. This one was my surprise coaster meaning that I liked it more than I thought I would. Kind of like Talon @ Dorney and Bizarro @ SFGA and possibly the Bat @ KI. Rating 7.5/10
Next, the Voyage! In a way, this was the reason I was here, but of course I was very excited about the Thunderbird too, possibly equally to the Voyage.
So the wait for the Voyage seemed about the same as the other 2, maybe 5 minutes more (45 minutes) from entrance of the queue to us loading into the first seat, acceptable for a world class & top rated coaster. Looking at that wooden monster I was so excited. I had heard about this ‘’Voyage’’ several years ago. I was not expecting to come here because it’s quite far, over 1500 miles from my home! The climb was fast and fun, faster than I expected it, but no El Toro. I kept looking behind me, look at that view. Hands up, wow it looks steep, what a drop it took my breath away and I loved it. My hands were up all the way until the end of the ride. What a ride it was, I loved it and it did not feel rough or painful in any way (to me), just pure bliss, I think this is now my favorite coaster of all time. The airtime was incredible, so much fun, I did not want it to end. I liked the length of the ride, just perfect. I liked it better than El Toro and the Beast. My top 2 coasters are now the Voyage and Banshee. This one knocked Boulder Dash off the podium, sorry Lake Compounce. IMHO, the Voyage is superior to all those 3 famous wooden coasters (El Toro, Boulder Dash and the Beast), because of the length of the ride, the airtime, the forestal setting and the numerous tunnels. Yes, my trip to Indiana was worth it because of the Voyage and I had several more rides on it, more about it later. Rating 10/10
Then we went to the Thunderbird, that bird busted my bubble (to put it mildly), for most of the rest of the day… The walk to that bird is quite the hike and I believe the park designers did it on purpose. So when we got there I took a few pictures in awe & wonder! My wife continued walking toward the entrance and noticed something I hadn’t noticed yet, the train was failing to launch properly and could not make it through the first loop. I said no big deal, these things are common on launched coasters. The riders on the Thunderbird train stayed there motionless on the launch track for 15 minutes or so in the hot sun. I was like what’s going on, people on the ground with us were wondering what was happening. Others said they tried to send it 3 times and it failed to loop. After that long 15 minutes, they slowly returned the train back into the “barn” and people got off. They tested it a couple of times empty and again it did not loop, but after a while it did. We went in-line and waited 45 minutes or so and employees told us they were testing it and it would be all-good to go soon. It wasn’t, after a while some supervisor came and gave some of us first in-line VIP passes. The staff was really nice about the situation, I told them I can’t go home without riding Thunderbird I drove 2 days to come here, this is possibly my only chance to ride Thunderbird, I’m not even from the US. They said sorry, but at this point we don’t know if or when it would re-open, I had a feeling of ''oh cr*p'', but smiled and said thank you. I’ve been looking at the progress and following the construction of this thing online since last year when it was announced (July 2014). All of us in the station left and they closed the ride. It was now 1 or 2 pm. It wasn’t windy at all, so I’m not sure why all the faulty launches. Power problems? Interestingly, a couple of weeks ago while watching the Thunderbird on the Holiday World webcam, I saw a few failed launches. I was like, wow what are the chances to see a failed launch right on the webcam… more likely than not I NOW guess. Staff told us that they understood our frustration, but noted that sometimes Thunderbird has smooth days with no issues and sometimes it’s troublesome…
We decided to ride the newly placed Crow’s Nest (Rating 5.5/10) it gives out a nice view of Thunderbird and Voyage (a bit). Afterward, we went for a walk in the 4th of July area and got some snacks and relaxed a little in that area of the park. We then decided to return to see what Thunderbird was up to. We walked back over there and as we walked no sign of the bird, we got there and sure enough; closed again. I was not impressed. We then decided to head to the water park.
I wanted to try Mammoth, the longest water ride in the world. So we changed and headed over there, well we waited close to 2 hours! 30 minutes of it was because the ride stopped because 3 of the giant tube-raft boats were too close to each other and they had to lower everyone one by one from the slide to prevent a crash or the bumping of boats, lifeguards were running around like ants. Good job on their part though. People in line looked annoyed and we were. Finally we got there and the ride was actually worth it, but 2 hours is a bit much. I don’t regret it though. Rating 8/10
After that we wanted to do Wildebeest, it was an 1 hour and 30 minutes wait, mind you this is on a weekday. Imagine on a Saturday! I’ve never seen a park this busy on a weekday, not even SFGA. We decided not to go. We then went on Jungle Racer (Rating 5/10); it’s a straight and fast waterslide that you ride on a mat. It was ok with a 20-minute wait, we then did Zoombabwe (Rating 7/10); the longest enclosed water slide in the world, it was fun, but I wished the water was cooler. Water was cold and refreshing on Mammoth. While climbing the tower to this waterslide (Zoombabwe) we checked through the trees and they started to test Thunderbird again, I was happy but unsure at the same time.
We left the waterpark area, changed from swimwear to our other clothes and headed toward Thunderbird. We get there, get in front of the line with our VIP passes and they started having trouble with the ride AGAIN, now it was not the launch, but there was some trouble with the sensors. Now I was livid and very grouchy it was now almost 6pm and the park was closing at 9pm. We took our pass back from the attendant and went for dinner to Plymouth Rock Café while thinking of our options. The food was great for a theme park, it was your usual thanksgiving feast, and we liked it. Nice change from greasy fast food usually found at theme parks. The staff at this food location was kind of disorganized and it was not that busy for dinnertime, yes busy but not overly so. At this point I was like this is it, I don’t think we will be able to ride Thunderbird. After our meal, we went back to Thunderbird, as we walked we saw actual people on the ride! Is it possible? I was like let’s f-ing run and get on that thing! We got inline and it was still going strong and sending out people on their flight (EXCELLENT), our VIP pass brought us in front of the line, but we still had to wait maybe 10 minutes. The current wait here without the pass was close to 1:30 to 2 hours! Finally, it’s our turn and we head for the BEST SEAT; front seat, left side since this is what Lauren Koch said online on the HW blog-videos. Here we go, what a fun ride, the launch aspect takes your breath away from the get go. It’s fun, but not too extreme. I like the wing coaster feeling, so smooth and has a flying feeling. I can’t wait to try Gatekeeper someday. The strongest force for me was the 3rd or last loop; with only one ride I have trouble remembering. It was a little short, which I was expecting. The heartline roll at the end is very slow and you really hang there, it was cool. I wish that I would’ve been able to re-ride it and experience Thunderbird at night. Alas, it was now 7:30 and the wait was 2 hours and who knows if this thing would stop working again. Everyone in the park was now here since it didn’t run all day! (Rating 8.5/10)
So I was like, I’m heading back to the Voyage for the back seat. By this time, rides for the Voyage were less than 20 minutes! Score! Again I say, the Voyage actually worked during the day while TB was not, so people were now all at Thunderbird and not at the Voyage. We did the back seat and we loved it. So much more intense, but a little rougher too. My wife liked the front seats better as it was less brutal. In my book, I don’t really consider the Voyage brutal or rough, but I understand the opinion of others. At this point, my wife was done and wanted to browse the shops for souvenir, I went with her and said here's my credit card get me this and that and I ran back to the Voyage, only 10 minutes wait times, it was almost walk-on; the time was more or less 8:30pm. It was now dark, I did the front, middle and back seat in that 30 minutes period. It was very satisfying. On the last ride of the night the attendant was quite a character, as we got off our seats he said to all of us, get off my loading dock or find a seat right now, what are you waiting for and started laughing! Of course we cheered and everyone got back on the train. The staff at the Voyage had the best energy that I’ve seen at the park, more so than any other coaster or waterslide at the park. The Voyage in the dark in incredible, with so many tunnels and quick turns it’s more memorable than the Beast! On my last ride I saw the LED lights of the Thunderbird train go by next to us, I guess it was still running… surprisingly.
As I walked off the Voyage I was happy and the Voyage saved the day. That infamous bird did not. We stopped by the lockers to get our stuff and headed back to our car, what a day! It’s the first time I had some sort of anxiety while at an amusement park, all because of Thunderbird, all of this left a bad taste in my mouth to tell you honestly. I blame B&M and not Holiday World!
Nonetheless, I don’t think that I would’ve like Thunderbird better than the Voyage if I had ridden it more than once. I hope that Thunderbird doesn’t begin a legacy of troublesome reliability and downtime… but unfortunately, I won’t have the best memory of it.
Theming for the Thunderbird is excellent; the craftsmanship, the decor, the landscape, the thunder and lighting effects when the train departs, all very good. But if the ride is unreliable, what is this all worth? It’s a new ride, bugs will come and go, by next season things should go smoother I hope, so I will give them a break I guess.
For a family owned and oriented park, I thought they were rude regarding the closing time of the park, there were signs inside the attractions saying that the line would close before closing time and that all rides stops at closing time. (9:00 o’clock sharp on this day). I’m not sure if that means that being in-line doesn’t guarantee you that you will ride the said ride or if you are not on the train at 9 o’clock sharp, sorry no ride for you buddy. No such things at Kings Island last year, where I was on the Beast at 20 minutes past 10pm…
I wanted to add a few comments regarding staff and cleanliness; as much as reviews and people praise these aspects, I did not find them better than elsewhere I’ve been to. Kings Island was as clean and as friendly as this place. Some staff, in particular the food outlets staff was not that friendly. The park was clean, but not more so than KI or even Dorney Park. I also saw some places that could use some TLC, paint and attention to details. I was underwhelmed with these aspects praised by so many others. I will give them (the staff) some praise for giving my wife and I some VIP passes or else I’m not sure if we would’ve been able to ride Thunderbird at all.
Excellent wooden coasters overall
Free drinks, sunscreen and parking
Unique steel coaster (Thunderbird)
Nice waterpark, if overly crowded
Wholesome, good food compared to other parks
Very long waits for a weekday (Can’t imagine weekends!)
Staff was not overly friendly
Park is not cleaner than other parks I’ve been to
Expensive souvenirs; more so than Cedar Fair or Six Flags, no really.
It's been a few years, but I have always found the staff at Holiday World some of the absolute best in the business, prices reasonable, and the place was Disney-clean. Let alone the fantastic line up of coasters and rides.
As for Thunderbird, it's a new ride with first time technology for B&M. Even with fantastic reliability, stuff happens. It is ok to be bummed over stuff like that, sure, but if you are "livid and very grouchy" at an amusement park because of one ride being down for a couple hours, I'd hate to see a bad day at the office.
I am jealous of your smooth Voyage rides though, my rides in late 2011 were good, but beat me up a good bit. Would love to ride it again when it is at its best.
Also, pardon my ignorance, but what on earth is a fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo? It reads as if it's a locker, in which case, why not call it a locker?
I've been looking forward to the Thunderbird since July 2014 and I also drove 1500 miles, so I guess I was entitled to be mad. I did not show it there (I was cool as a cucumber) and I was very nice about it to the staff, I was not going to be a child about it, nobody knew it but my wife. It was more of a disappointment than a angry feeling. I doubt to return to this park since it's so far and there's so many parks to visit. I only get to go to an amusement park once or twice a year. This was my one chance for Thunderbird, but I was able to ride it once I guess. I'm grateful for some awesome rides on the Voyage. It was running perfectly when I was there!
As for the locker thing, a fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo ?? LOL, I have no clue why that statement is there, I did not write that. Yes, I was talking about a locker. Gonna change it now. Perhaps someone hacked my account or something.
By chance did you post this on another message board first, then copy and paste it here? Because I know there's a Site Which Shall Not Be Named that automatically changes the word "locker" to that phrase, for some reason...
Thanks for that explanation. I was on said Voldemort site reading a thread about Darien Lake (very bored) a while back and couldn't figure for the life of me what a FFBFWMAG was... Then I saw it here and had a real WTF?!? moment.
But then again, what do I know?
Maritimer, did you end up making it to the Pennsylvania "K" parks you mentioned? You never mentioned them again.
The amusement park rises bold and stark..kids are huddled on the beach in a mist
No Mike, I was not able to, we drove from Evansville to NYC in one day, and what a long drive it was. I plan to stop to Knoebels next summer since we are going to Cedar Point (for the 1st time) and we will go through Pennsylvania again. I can't wait to experience their 2 amazing wooden coasters.
Well, Knoebels has THREE wooden coasters, not two. And only one of them is what I'd consider amazing..and its name begins not with a "P" or an "F", but with a "T."
The amusement park rises bold and stark..kids are huddled on the beach in a mist
Depends on your definition of amazing, I guess. Phoenix to me is amazing to the extent that if offers more ejector airtime than anything else I've ridden. However, on my recent visit I came to the conclusion that Twister is the most exciting of the three - much better than I remembered from my 1st visit a couple of years ago. Looking at Mitch Hawker's wooden coaster poll for last year, I see that Twister came in at no. 17 and that's pretty damn good! Flying Turns really can't be compared with the others b/c it's so different.
Very good points Bobbie!
As for Mike's comment, maybe it's just me, but Flying Turns is not a wooden roller coaster in my book, there's 2 wooden roller coaster @ Knoebels, even if it's made out of wood it's doesn't mean it's a wooden roller coaster. As another point of reference I don't consider Alpine Bobsled at Six Flags the Great Escape a roller coaster either. I'm not saying that I'm right or someone else is wrong, it's just my opinion.
I agree that Twister is great. I also had a much better ride in 2013 than I did 9 years prior. But Phoenix is in a class by itself.
We headed toward the Halloween entrance and it was roped off. It was 10:01 and the guy was having a blast making us wait. Looking at his watch, not just yet he said, what a… Some people love the feeling of power over others…
Based on my visits to Holiday World... seems more likely his watch and your watch (or phone) were just a few minutes apart. Don't hate on the guy for following the direction he was given...
The walk to that bird is quite the hike and I believe the park designers did it on purpose.
They did indeed. Can't find the exact park rep reference at the moment, but as part of the Thunderbird roll out it was noted Thunderbird will, several years out, be at the center of the park and more accessible.
Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
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