Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari’s claim that it’s number one in family fun is absolutely accurate. This place is amazing! If your family is looking for a great day trip or overnight for the summer, this is the place to go!
Holiday World is only four hours north and is tucked just inside Indiana’s southern border, in Santa Claus, Indiana. That’s right, the park is situated in a town called Santa Claus, which makes the experience even more exciting for kids because the park offers visits with Santa all year! For now, Santa visits are virtual, but I imagine Santa will return to the park for story time and visits as soon as he can.
So, what makes Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari so awesome? Easy, the price and value, cleanliness, rides, staff and FREE parking, FREE sunscreen and FREE drinks.
The Value of Holiday World Tickets
There are so many reasons the value of Holiday World is perfect for families. For starters, there are several freebies included with the price of admission, which at other parks could add up to a decent chunk of change. Parking is free and there are a few parking lots. Get there early, before the gates open to snag a spot close to the entrance; however, a trolley runs through the parking lots regularly, so cars parked farther away don’t need to wait long. During our recent visit, I didn’t see the trolley, so it’s possible it’s not running due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Once inside, there’s a sunscreen station to the right of the large fountain and its free. No need to worry about the little ones, or adults, turning into crispy critters as there’s plenty of sunscreen stations to lather up and protect against the sun’s harmful rays.
The next awesome perk are the free drinks. Drink stations are located in every themed area as well as near restaurants and snack carts. A family of four can easily save at least $20 a day simply because of the free drinks. Each drink kiosk offers Pepsi products, including: Mt. Dew, Gatorade, Sierra Mist, lemonade, Dr. Pepper, SoBe water, and more. Lids and straws are not available, but a family could take a sippy cup to the kiosk and easily get a little one water.
Tickets are cheaper if purchased online and families can choose the “pick your visit” option which shows different prices for different days. There’s also discounted rates for military, first responders and nurses. Children three and under are free.
I’m not joking when I say Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari is cleaner than Disney World. There are trash cans about every 30 yards or less, including in the water park, and the result of this shows. We’ve been visiting this park for five years and I’ve never seen an area look dirty. Ever. I’ve been to Disney a dozen times and there’s always a few areas where a cup was left or the trash is getting full, but not here. I can’t reiterate it enough, this place is immaculate, and I’ve never seen a soggy, dirty diaper sitting out or in the bathrooms.
Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari Rides
Kids of all ages will love this place as there is so much for them to do. For little ones through toddlers there’s Christmas land, located just inside the park to the left, and its nothing but rides for small kids. Parents can help strap their kid in and let them go around on the fish, seahorse, rockets or take a ride in Santa’s sleigh. There’s about half a dozen rides, which is great for little kids as they usually want to ride the same thing over and over again anyway.
There’s also Holidog’s FunTown that includes a splash pad in the middle, a small roller coaster (parents may have to accompany the child if they’re under 42 inches) and a few pint-size rides perfect for kids. One of our favorites is the train that takes you around various nursery rhymes. Each of the other theme areas have rides younger kids can ride, but usually with an adult or someone over 16 years old.
Rides in the Water Park
Our kids’ favorite place in the water park are the waterslides designed specifically for kids. Our started going down these slides at age two and haven’t been disappointed, scared or hurt. There are two of these areas, one where the slides end in a giant, shallow pool and another where the rider ends at the bottom of slide then gets out. Each of these areas have multiple slides of various widths and with or without tunnels, so kids should be able to find something they love. In addition to these, there’re two splash pads and a lazy river, and some of the bigger slides allow kids under 42 inches to ride with an adult.
Once kids reach 42 inches they can ride several of the larger slides with a grown up. We love the Zinga, Wildebeest and Mammoth. The new water ride, the Cheetah Chase, was down during our visit, but it looks cool and will be on our list for the next visit.
Cabanas and other “landing zone” type areas are available for rent, but reservations are required.
What to Expect from your Holiday World Visit
The staff at Holiday World is true Hoosier Hospitality, although some may be from Kentucky. Everyone seems interested in their jobs and set on making sure visitors are having a good time.
For families that travel with a dog, Holiday World has the Holidog Inn. For $10 a pet can stay in an outdoor kennel (there’s a canopy over it and fans blowing toward the crates) or $20 for an indoor, air conditioned crate. Owners are responsible for taking their pet out to use the potty and any food or treats, but staff will make sure there’s plenty of water for the four-legged family members. All crates were clean and the dogs we saw looked happy.
We usually visit on Memorial Day weekend and have never had a problem with excessive lines or overcrowding. The only time it seemed a little busy was when the park closed early the day before and those people were given free passes to come back the next day, the day we visited, but the fact they offer free admission for visitors if the park closes early due to severe weather is a great perk.
Where to stay
Families wishing to spend the night to explore the park a second day, or check out the quaint town of Santa Claus, have several lodging options. There’s tent and RV camping just outside the park at Lake Rudolph, and there’s also lots of options for cabin rentals and hotels in the area and in the nearby towns of Jasper and Ferdinand.
Parent Tips for a Perfect Holiday World Visit
- Once inside the park head straight past the stores on the right and go around the corner. Here you’ll find a measuring station where the staff will measure your kids’ heights and give them an appropriate wristband. This allows the child to ride on rides without having to be checked for height each time. The staff at the ride may look at the wristband, but the child won’t need to stand by a stick to get onto each ride.
- I highly recommend reserving a locker in the water park near a family bathroom for changing purposes. Some of the bathrooms/changing areas can get busy in the afternoon and using the family bathroom for everyone can be easier, plus it makes sure everyone uses the potty.
- Christmas land can get busy when the park opens. Toward the end of the day, a few hours before the park closes, this area is pretty slow and is a great time for kids to ride their favorite rides as many times as they wish.
- Check out the DIVE show. They have six professional divers who spend 30 minutes doing amazing dives. During one dive, the diver is wearing a suit that catches fire, and sometimes they even jump from a platform that’s about 100 feet in the air. It’s amazing.
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