Day Trip to Holiday World Theme Park and Splashin ‘Safari

What happens when you combine Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and roller coasters? You get a fun, affordable day at Holiday World & Splashin ‘Safari.

Whether you have small kids or teens – or just love theme parks – this 73-year-old vacation-themed family-friendly amusement park in Santa Claus, Indiana offers plenty of action and good value for money, at least compared to many other theme parks.

Holiday World receives around 1 million visitors a year and my recent visit with my two daughters and three grandchildren (ages 5, 3 and 2) was a success.

11 Holiday World highlights

Day trip: The ride from Nashville to Santa is about 2.5 hours, so you can make it a day trip. We opted for a mini vacation and spent a day and a half in the park and two nights in a cabin at the adjacent Rudolph Lake campground.

Photo shoot: The entrance area where Santa Claus resides during his off-season opens at 9:30 am, which gave us plenty of time to visit and take photos with Santa before the park officially opens at 10am.

One ticket, two parks: A ticket gives you access to two adjacent parks which together have more than 60 rides. There are centrally located changing rooms and plenty of lockers where you can safely store your valuables.

Children’s rides: The park displays height restrictions at each exit. There were more than enough rides for our 48 inch 5 year old and plenty for our 36 inch toddlers as well.

Raging Rapids: Our favorite ride was the Raging Rapids. Our whole group was able to ride together. Similar to the wet and wild Grizzly River Rampage, my daughters and I fondly remember Opryland USA 30 years ago this ride left one of our little ones cry (briefly), but the rest of us were laughing. and we were all soaked.

A small group can ride Raging Rapids together at Holiday World.

Watubee: Everyone loved the Watubee Water Raft Ride except me. You have to climb six floors to get on the family raft which takes you on a large green water slide with twists and turns. I walked up to roughly the fifth floor and started to get dizzy and had to make an embarrassing but necessary descent.

Strokes with children: Kids’ favorite rides were the Howler, a kid-friendly roller coaster ride in Holidog’s Funtown; Star carousel; and Kitty’s Tea Party tea cups.

High diving theater: The dive show featured awesome dives, stunts, and predictable cheesy humor. The amphitheater is a great place to sit down for a bit, especially if you can find a place in the shade.

Relax: Other places to relax and cool off in the park are the Lazy River and the Bahari Wave Pool, neither of which had lines.

Free drinks: Free Pepsi kiosks with self-serve Pepsi products, lemonade, water, iced tea, Gatorade, and other drinks kept us hydrated.

Holiday World drink kiosks allow park visitors to get as many drinks as they want.

Friendly and clean: The park was immaculate and has plenty of shade. All of the workers, who were mostly teenagers and students from the area, were attentive and happy to help, all saying “my pleasure” after their help.

A tough battle

Our only real gripe, which is more of an FYI, was the uphill path we had to take to get out of the park after a long, hot day of fun.

The walkways from the entrance, through Holiday World and into Splashin ‘Safari are slightly downhill. Pushing three kids in the rented double stroller was easy on entering.

But we had to get the kids out and walk out, and the adults took turns pushing the stroller back to the entrance. Phew.

Following:Best deals to visit nearby theme parks, Dollywood, Six Flags, Kentucky Kingdom, Holiday World and more

Popular roller coasters

Holiday World’s two most popular roller coasters, The Voyage and Thunderbird, both located in the Thanksgiving region, are ranked among the best roller coasters in the United States.

The Voyage is a 1.2 mile hybrid wood coaster that opened in 2006. There are several track crossings at speeds of 67 mph, as well as five underground tunnels, three 90 degree bank turns, and numerous drops. spectacular.

The $ 22 million Thunderbird, which opened in 2015, is a launched wing coaster that hits 60 mph and features exciting loops and twists.

These large roller coasters, as well as two older wooden roller coasters, The Legend and The Raven, were not an option for our group due to height restrictions and some fear issues. But them, along with the water roller coaster The Mammoth and Wildebeest in Splashin ‘Safari, were clearly the main draw for teens and young adults who rushed through the opening doors to line up.

The $ 22 million Thunderbird, which opened at Holiday World & Splashin 'Safari in 2015, is a launched wing coaster that hits 60mph and features exciting loops and twists.

Ticket offers

The standard ticket price, which includes both parks, is $ 54.99 for general admission and $ 44.99 for those 60 and over and anyone under 54 inches tall. You can add a second day for $ 30. Children 2 and under enter for free.

If you buy online at, you can save up to $ 25 per ticket with Choose Your Price discounts. This brought our price down to $ 39.99 for the adults and $ 29.99 for the kids and me, the senior.

Ms. Cheap readers get an additional $ 1 discount using code TENNESSEAN.

Some advice

With the park divided into four themed zones – Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and July 4th – along with the Splashin ‘Safari Water Park, having a map is a big help.

Check for daily show times before your trip. The site also provides information on ride height restrictions.

Grab reusable cups for refills at Pepsi Oasis drink bars. Paper cups are provided, but having an insulated cup will keep your drinks cool and minimize waste.

If you plan to go to both parks in one day, which is definitely doable, take a change of clothes and water-suitable shoes.

Santa’s Merry Marketplace is a spacious, air-conditioned dining room near the park entrance with several food choices, including allergen-free and gluten-free options.

You can rent double strollers for $ 17 or carts for $ 10. The park also rents out wheelchairs and motorized scooters.

If you’re planning on going to the park for a second day, the best value is buying $ 30 tickets the next day while you’re there on the first day.

Saturdays are the busiest days, with weekdays and rain forecast days being the least crowded.

Splash Safari at Holiday World


While most theme parks have parking fees and beverage charges, Holiday World offers its visitors a welcome break with free parking, free sunscreen, and free soft drinks. There are also free life jackets and free tubes to use on the Lazy River.

Directions from Nashville

Take Interstate 65 to Bowling Green, Kentucky. Take the William Natcher Parkway exit toward Owensboro. Take US 231 North. After approximately 42 km, exit east on State Road 162, which will lead you to Santa Claus.


The Rudolph Lake Campgrounds and RV Park offer RV and cabin rentals, as well as tent and RV camping.

Our 400 square foot two bedroom “Holiday Cottage” cost $ 269.92 per night. The campsite provides bottom sheets, but we had to bring our own towels, top sheets and blankets. The little house style cabin was clean and had everything we needed including a screened porch.

The campsite offers a free and friendly shuttle service to and from Holiday World, a large swimming pool, a small water park, as well as daily art activities and other family activities.


Contact Ms. Cheap at 615-259-8282 or [email protected] Follow her on Facebook at, and at, and on Twitter @Ms_Cheap, and find her every Thursday at 11 am on WTVF-Channel 5’s “Talk of the Town”.

Harold B. McConnell