I had been tremendously looking forward to this event for a long time. Having never been to an enthusiast event nor Holiday World, I knew this would be a special treat.
On Friday morning I, my mom, dad, and four brothers piled into the car and drove the 2.5 hours to Santa Claus, IN. The town itself was much smaller than I originally had thought. Basically the center of the town lies inside HW! After getting off the highway we arrived at Lake Rudolph campground and checked in with plenty of time to spare. The campground itself is very nice and all the extra things they've put into it are definitely a plus. Since event attendees were allowed to check in at four, we decided to go ahead and take the shuttle bus (which was also very nice and air conditioned) over to Holiday World.
I checked our family in at the group sales window and we proceeded through the park entrance. And low and behold just as we walked in, the "Queen of Clean" (officially according to her nametag;) ), Mrs. Koch was there to greet us. You can definitely tell she loves her park. Like my mom mentioned later, "How many parks do you go to that you can meet the owners", and on top of that, they're out there greeting guests every single day!
Before the event started we had to try out some of the other things the park has to offer. Immediately the free soft drinks came to mind. This has got to be one of the greatest ideas that a park has come up with. We all loved these Oasis building, and they're conveniently placed all over the park so you don't have to go out of your way. My mom noticed that at 5:00, the diving show did it's last run of the day, so that was what we did first. It was a good show; I especially liked the fire diver. I got a pretty neat picture of it as well.
We also did a couple other rides before diner and ERT - Thunder Bumpers, Freedom Train, and I rode Howler a couple times with my youngest brother Matthias, who's 3. The park then closed for the day, so we had to head toward the picnic grove. During that time, Will and Paula spoke about safety and the event agenda, and Mrs. Koch said a prayer. And then we were off to the races. Hundreds of enthusiasts poured out of the gates either back toward Halloween or into the new Thanksgiving section. Since this was our first time to the park, I opted to go back toward Raven first.
Although I knew Raven was modeled after PKI's Beast, I never knew it was this close to it intensity wise. Wow! I got back in line again, this time waiting for the back......well they were having a lot of trouble getting both trains to work simultaneously, so eventually I had to either get out of line or miss diner.......I got out of line.;) Dinner was very tasty; they have really good pizza there! Since my two youngest brothers Matthias and Mark aren’t ready for the big coasters yet (not to mention they're too short), Gobbler Getaway was the most obvious option open to us. So we headed down there for one ride after dinner before it closed for the night. It was a very well done ride. I especially thought the queue was well done with the big windows, wood floors and everything.
Now Gobbler was closed, so now what? Well that's too obvious; Voyage is right next door.;) While the others headed back to Legend, Peter (who's 13) and I got in line for Voyage right behind the famous "Ed". He seemed to get lots of "Don't break this one Ed, please!" comments.;)
Now by this time night had fallen, so our first ride on Voyage would be in the DARK. There really is no good way to describe Voyage after your first ride. On my first ride, there wasn't much to think about except how out-of-control the coaster really is. The best part of it all was the triple down, in the dark, on my first ride.......WOW! That was killer air, especially on the third hop. And after that first ride as we sat on the break run, I just felt like laughing. I knew after that ride that Voyage was my new favorite woodie.
We met up with my dad after that and took a ride on Legend. It was a great ride as well, although no where near the Voyage we had just experienced. I especially like the howling wolf at the top, that's a nice touch. And then for the last ride of the night, my dad, Peter and I went back to Voyage. There really isn't that much else to say about it. This is just a great coaster.
As we were walking out the front gate, my mom and I met Paula. I told her about how much I enjoyed the Holiblog. And she told us an interesting tidbit about how the Gravity Group were the people who sent her all the little pictures about Holidog's journey. She hadn't even known that until Friday night when they told her!
We then took the shuttle back to the campsite and took a good night's sleep (with an extra hour thanks to CDT) before heading back to the park in the morning.
Saturday started out very hot just as the forecast had said. The high was 90 degrees, and it didn't take long to get up there. The good thing about this was that morning ERT was in Splashin' Safari. We got to the gate about 8:40 and waited around with the rest of the enthusiast crowd before they opened the gates, and then proceeded down into the waterpark from there. One thing that I did not realize about HW before this trip was how many ups and downs and hills are contained in the park. They've really done a good job with the landscaping around it all.
As we arrived in Splashin' Safari most people had decided to get in the line for breakfast, so we decided to skip that and walk on ahead to Bahari. This waterpark is the real deal and it is really worth half your visit to the park to experience this area. All the slides and pools are placed in great position with their surroundings. I especially liked the placement of Zinga inside of Legend's turnaround; that adds a lot to the area.
After exploring Bahari for a while, we decided to try out Jungle Racer. This is really a neat slide and definitely should be a staple at any waterpark. It has great capacity, and the line for ERT was non-existent, so we ended up riding it about 5 times before the morning was over. I especially like that pop of airtime you get going over the last jump. It almost feels like you're about to fall off because you're going so fast.
We then moved on to Zinga since Mark (who’s 7) had never ridden a Tornado, and the height restrictions actually allowed him to ride this one. The line for it was much longer than it was for Jungle Racer, but the ride was just as enjoyable as the PKI and SFKK versions. This is also a great ride to have at any waterpark with all its visual appeal. After riding Zinga, the line for breakfast was nearly gone. We got some food and proceeded on to the other ride offered for ERT, the new Bahari River. It was definitely good for a lazy river, but right now the ride seems out of place. I'm thinking that when they expand the waterpark some more it will fit quite nicely, though.
By this time ERT was nearly over. We got in line for Zoombabwe just after ERT ended. It was a fun slide as well. I think it's a great idea to have all those holes in the slide shaped like tiki heads. It's a great way to add extra effects to the ride without any extra cost. When we were done with that ride we spent some time in Monsoon Lagoon before heading back out into the main park. You could seriously spend a whole day in there because there's so much to do, but today we had to try out the rest of the main park.
The rest of the afternoon was spent trying out all the rest of the flat rides, water rides and such, as well as trying Legend and Voyage in the daytime. I especially liked Liberty Launch. It seemed much more intense than I remember CP's Power Tower was, and on top of that they launched you up twice - a very solid drop ride. We also got on the flying scooters (I still don't get the snapping thing, but I saw a lot of enthusiasts trying it out) and the Frightful Falls log flume which was suprisingly wet for a log ride. Then just before the 4:00 walkback, Peter and I rode Voyage in the daytime while the others took another couple spins on Gobbler Getaway. It's still my favorite coaster anytime, but nothing can beat those out-of-control night rides during ERT.
The photo walkback of Voyage was very enjoyable. It was really cool seeing the ride go by while we were back there, and I got a bunch of pictures. It was tiring though; Matthias fell asleep while we were back there, so my dad had to carry him all the way back to the front. Some guy even came up with his camcorder while filming and said "Now there's an enthusiast!". We all got a good laugh out of that.
After the walkback we had a little more time before dinner, so we got on a few more flat rides, Raging Rapids, and I rode the Raven again with Paul (who's 10). Then we walked back to the picnic grove and enjoyed all the hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, macaroni, ect. Point is, it was all great food. :p We also took a look at the silent auction table. When dinner was over, it was back to Thanksgiving for one last ride on Gobbler for the whole family.
Then everyone retreated back to the campground minus and me and Peter. But before the rest left though, we got the chance to meet Will Koch, who was hanging around the Thanksgiving plaza. I told him that I really enjoyed the event and especially Voyage and my mom asked him some things about working in the amusement industry. Since I'm now eligible to work at a lot of places, she's been wanting me to get a job, and a park has always been one of the places I thought I'd like to work. The only problem is, the nearest one is at least 1.5 hrs. away, so it might be a while before I get that chance. But the info we got from him was good to have.
After the others were gone, Peter and I immediately hopped onto Voyage for another night ride. I expected the line to be fairly long now, but I was wrong. There was even less of a wait with the three trains they were now running and with their speedy operations, we were up in the station within 5 min. and soon on our way. There is still no good way to accurately describe how great this coaster is. My advice - ride it for yourself! Probably my favorite part besides the triple down, is just the undulating hills and valleys after the MCBR. The way the train grinds through those valleys is just crazy, and it creates an awesome sound as well as the totally out-of-control feeling.
We headed back to the other end of the park, rode Legend once, and got 4 rides on Raven (3 of which we didn't have to give up our seat) and one in the back. IMO the back makes this coaster so much better, and it’s already very good. The air is so much bigger everywhere and especially on the drop back into the woods and it's all out-of-control until the very end. Then we backtracked again and went back to Thanksgiving, riding Legend on the way there. Then we got two more rides on Voyage, the first of which was in the front. That really doesn't change anything, the only thing I noticed different was the huge amount of hangtime over the first hill, other than that it's the same great Voyage. As I said above we got one more great ride on the Voyage before ERT was over and then we retired for the night. All told we got 9 coaster rides Saturday Night as opposed to the 4 Friday night – not bad.
Sunday was a day full of relaxation at the campground, and we did a little sightseeing around the area. And then Monday we packed up and drove back home, tired but happy. Thanks to all the people at Holiday World who made this such a fun event. I'm really looking forward to my next visit to this great park whenever it may be.
Thanks for reading,
Yeah B&M Guy, I wish I could've gotten to ride Rumbler on Sunday, but my mom thought it was too much. And Beech Bend probably wouldn't accomodate our family as well anyway. I'm actually considering going there as a side trip later on in the season, so hopefully that works out.
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