Santa Claus, Indiana is one of my favorite places in the whole wide world. Why? Well, Holiday World is a pretty good start. But there's more to it than that. Virtually the whole town, you see, is themed.
This was to be my fourth visit to this little town and its no longer quite so little park. But my girlfriend, Misty, had never been before. Would she like it? Read on....
You know it's going to be a long TR when I start with the parking lot.
Every one of my previous visits had been during a month of May.
And here are the crowds I was worried about here at the end of June. But the park handled them very well, especially on the coasters.
I don't do shows. Nice theming on the building, though.
Kringle's Kafe opens before the rides and closes after they do. Because the Kochs are smarter than corporate bean counters.
The interior of Kringle's Kafe.
Little Known Holiday World Fact #1: Holiday World has very good pizza.
I really enjoy unusual signage. This one is in the glass blowing shop. I'm thinking of having a shirt made up that says this.
Misty proves her prowess at Skeeball. (I helped a little.)
Okay, on to the good stuff. On my first visit to HW, The Raven blew me away.
Unfortunately, on my next two visits, it was rather blah, and had almost no airtime.
So I am happy to report that that trend has been reversed, and that The Raven is once again in my top ten.
Misty liked it, too. In fact, it's now her favorite coaster anywhere.
Like all of HW's coasters, though, it's a bit tricky to photograph.
Little Known Holiday World Fact #2: The Raven has a turn out over Lake Rudolph. I believe I am the first person to ever get a photo of it.
Did I mention that Raven was running well? And that it's hard to photograph?
Frightful Falls is the park's log flume. And like much of HW, it is a triumph of minimalism.
Hooray for ridiculous signage!
A pretty good overview of the park's Halloween section, if I do say so myself.
The Legend was running pretty well, also. Though it remains a bit of an odd duck, it still has some great moments.
Including one of my favorite elements on any ride anywhere: The mid-course camelback that rides like a double down, even though it isn't one.
Still, it's a bit too lateral-y for my taste. Interestingly, its main claim to fame used to be its pure wildness. But The Voyage has upstaged it a bit.
Little Known Holiday World Fact #3: Holiday World offers its guests free soft drinks throughout the day.
I love the theming on this ride. I could have included ten pictures of it, but it would have thrown the whole report out of whack.
And now we leave Halloween for 4th of July.
And a quick stop off for a Walking Taco! (Yes, it's a bag of Fritos with some taco meat and cheese thrown in it.)
You know you're in trouble when the best part of a park section is a gift shop. (It is a really good gift shop, though.)
The 4th of July is where most of the park's flat rides are, but there's really no "anchor" attraction, and the theming here feels thin and random.
The town's original post office now houses a doll collection. Odd, but at least they preserved it.
HW's new carousel. I hadn't realized that it replaced the bumper boats. It seems a bit small. A Christmas location and theme might have been better.
Holidog's Fun Town has a pretty cool sign.
Proof that HW is not embarrassed by this statue's pose: You can actually buy hats and key chains with him standing this way.
Nothing too special about this kiddie coaster--except for the train, which is pretty cool.
I don't think I ever even saw this kiddie jeep ride on my previous visits. "I'm the fittest guy on the track."
The "Freedom Train," as it's now known, is the only original attraction left in the park. Here's some of the Fairy Tale stuff you see while riding it.
And now on to the park's newest section, Thanksgiving.
Hooray for the Turkey Whirl!
We rode it twice, just because it was so cute.
Gobbler Getaway adds so much to this park. At least, for me. Yes, the wood coasters are awesome. But you're just not a complete park without a dark ride.
The only animatronic in the park, and it could scarcely be better placed. However, if you listen carefully, Granny is actually a witch!
Hunting for turkeys. Hmmm, well, I found a horse.
I was disappointed to find that this gigantic eatery had no inside seating. How odd.
Especially considering the slightly more upscale style food. Still, the price was right: less than $20 for everything you see here.
A view of Thanksgiving from Voyage's station.
Two years in, and Voyage is still running great. (Also pictured is the new attraction in the water park, Kima Bay.)
However, for me, it's just a bit too long, and the ending seems repetitive. I think maybe more straight bunny hops back to the station would have been better.
Still, it's a spectacular ride, and I'm skeptical that any other park would be behind it like HW is. I don't think I could marathon on it, though.
It was Wacky Hat Day in The Voyage Gift Shop. I really do like the ride. It's even in my top ten. I'm just ready to get off about halfway back to the station.
Did Misty like the park? Hmmm, seems like. In fact, she has declared it "the best park ever." (I might not go quite that far, but it's definitely one of them.)
Ah, but there's more to Santa Claus than just Holiday World! This was (apparently) the first Santa statue in the town.
On my last visit, this was still being restored. It was worth the wait.
Among other things, they have over 30 different flavors of candy canes.
The Santa Clause Museum is well worth checking out--if for no other reason than to see early plans for Holiday World expansion.
A view of the inside. There are displays dedicated to the park, the town, Santa, and Christmas in general.
Hey, who's that handsome and non-idiotic fellow?
Even the grocery store is themed (if, you know, a name can be considered theming).
I'd never been able to play the mini golf here on my previous visits, but it looked pretty cool.
Sadly, it needs better upkeep. The greens are worn through in spots, scenery is broken or missing, and Frosty seems to have mange.
The inside of Santa's Lodge. A bit overpriced, but worth it to me to stay in town (since it's the only hotel in Santa Claus, that is).
Goodbye, Santa Claus! We'll be back. (When is that Holiwood Nights thing again?)
One thing I forgot to mention: We saw Pat Koch walking around the park at one point, but in the moment we were too chicken to stop her to say hello, since she looked like she was in a hurry. I kind of wish we had, in retrospect.
Later, we talked to a foods employee that mentioned that Pat had helped out in their kitchen that morning, and then ate there.
To me, the important part of all that is not so much that the owner is willing to work in the kitchen (as much as that might show her character), as that she actually experiences the park in a hands-on way, instead of just looking at a report that gets emailed to her each morning in her office across town or something.
I think I saw you guys when I went up on the 1st. I remember seeing that MM shirt in line for Voyage (I was wearing my long sleeved Phoenix shirt.)
Anyways, about the park: EPICLY AWESOME wooden coasters (Voyage put up a good fight and now tops Phoenix as my fave), but the flat selection is sort of meh. They have a few fun ones, and I liked Frightful Falls, but the park seems to be lacking in inverted rides. It could really do with a top spin of sorts I think. Oh well, Free unlimited drinks and some of the greatest wooden coasters I've been on made up for that.
Proud Coney Island Ride-op for 6 years! Kings Island MSD/Racer crew of 2011 Kings Island Vortex/Windseeker crew of 2012-2013 Best Coaster Ever: Phoenix Top Steel: Intimidator 305 (Maverick in CLOSE 2nd)
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