Family Fun Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari Amusement Park in Santa Claus, Indiana

Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari is a combination amusement park and water park that puts family fun, safety and frugality first. Each year thousands flock to this epicenter of entertainment to experience new thrills and revisit favorites from the past. The park opens May 6, 2011 and my family can’t wait for our annual excursion.

Holiday World was originally named Santa Claus Land and opened in 1946. It was the first amusement park to center on a theme: Santa Claus and Christmas. It took its current name in 1984 when in order to appeal to broader customer base, it added attractions centered on Halloween and the Fourth of July. One our favorites, because we like to get dizzy, is called Revolution and is located in the Fourth of July section but it started life as the Arctic Circle.

The water park, Splashin’ Safari, was added in 1993. A children’s water play area called Crocodile Isle, the Congo River which simulated floating lazily along a river and a couple of water slides were the initial offering. Today, the water park is as big an attraction as the amusement park. We spend more time here, frolicking in the Bahari Wave Pool, racing down the 5-story toboggan-style water slide called Jungle Racer and careening through the six water slides and multiple tubing rides.

Among the newer attractions is the Wildebeest, billed as the world’s longest water coast at 1/3 of a mile. Featuring a 45-degree angle drop from four-stories high, the ride lasts an amazing two-and-a-half minutes. One our favorite water rides is Bakuli. After climbing to a dizzying height of seven stories, you climb into four-person rafts and are sent into a dark water tunnel. When you least expect it, you are dropped into a funnel shaped bowl where the raft circles as it draws ever closer to the center. Entering the vortex, you are once again sent on your way in the dark until you emerge at the bottom into a shallow pool. The experience is what I imagine it would be like to be “flushed,” only cleaner.

Aside from the great rides, Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari offer a host of amenities to make families welcome. Free sunscreen is available at stands throughout the park. All soft drinks are free and unlimited. How can you beat that? They offer 19 restaurants and snack kiosks throughout the park and provide allergen free menu choices. Children under two enter free. General Admission for 2011 is $42.95 for adults, $32.95 for seniors (60 and up) and for anyone under 54 inches tall.

The website provide options for planning your visit, ways to find discounted tickets and group ticket as well as park maps and information about all the attractions. You can also find directional information on the website. Located in Santa Claus Indiana, the park is a two-and-a-half hour drive for my family from southern Illinois. For us, the round trip drive is well worth it and we will be visiting again this year. Park hours vary throughout the season so check the site before going.

Personal Experience and The Holiday World website