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Beat it Disney World, I’m Headed to Holiday World & Splashin Safari!

The Voyage Roller Coaster at Holiday World & Splashin Safari

I am headed to one of my favorite places on earth today.  I swear…I’m not being partial just because I live literally 3.3 miles (approx 8 minute drive) down the street from Holiday World & Splashin Safari, my husband has brainwashed me to love being a country girl, or I am being paid in any way/shape or form. I just want everyone to know Holiday World & Splashin Safari is SERIOUSLY one of the BEST amusement and water parks I have EVER visited.  NO JOKE. Can you tell I’m really trying to convince some of my friends from the lands of far-far-away to come visit us in the boonies to check it out?

Holiday World and Splashin Safari’s mantra is #1 For Family Fun, and I have to agree-but will say it is also a great time if you do NOT have a family.  My first visit was when I was 27 and we lived in Florida at the time.  I had heard so much about the park, I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to the hype.  When we left I was in awe of how much fun we all had, it was absolute blast!  We had season passes to Universal Studios for two years and I even went out on a limb to say I enjoyed Holiday World & Splashin Safari more!  I’m sorry Mickey Mouse, I appreciate all of the babysitting you do for my 1.5 year old when I need to unload the dishwasher; but I do not foresee us making the visit South for a LONG time.  We have a stellar park in our backyard that won’t cost me my right arm and left flap jack to enjoy, and to be quite frank is really is more enjoyable than Disney to me (from a parents perspective).

Here are the top 10 reasons why I LOVE HOLIDAY WORLD & SPLASHIN SAFARI!

1)  It is affordable!

  • Can you say FREE parking?
  • Free Pepsi Soft Drinks (Gatorade, juice, lemonade, and water)
  • Free 30 SPF Waterproof Sunscreen
  • Free Inner Tubes
  • Free Lifejackets
  • Cheap ticket prices, even CHEAPER season passes.  Early in the year I think we paid $109

2)  Reputation: The awards and recognition speak for themselves! Holiday World & Splashin Safari is frequently featured on The Travel Channel, so be on the lookout.  Be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter, their social media is excellent for updates and fun facts.

  • For the 12th consecutive year, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari were named the #1 Cleanest Park at the Golden Ticket Awards Banquet outranking such parks as Disney World, Kings Island, Dollywood, and Cedar Point.
  • Named #1 Friendliest Park for the thirteenth time at the Golden Ticket Awards Banquet.
  • Voyage has been voted the #1 Wooden Roller Coaster on the Planet every year since 2007.

  • Splashin Safari is named #1 in the nation by TripAdvisor.com, the world’s largest travel website, when they released their “Top 10 Water Parks in the U.S.” list (Do you know there are 1000 water slides in the US?)
  • Pilgrims Plunge is the world’s tallest water ride, is a classic “shoot the chute” ride, featuring an open-air elevator which lift boats filled with riders 135 feet in the air.
  • Wildebeest water coaster was named the world’s #1 Water Park Ride for the second year in a row, and The Mammoth is The World’s Longest Water Coaster.

3) Friendly, safe, organized, and most importantly FUN for all ages.

  • Before you arrive download the free “Holiday World & More!” app and while at the park take advantage of access to free Wi-Fi.
  • Visiting with small children?  Keep your cell phone handy and pick up free Phone Find Wristband.  If you were to get separated from your child, your phone number is listed so they can call you to reunite you.
  • Need a double stroller, wagon, wheelchair, or scooter?  They are available for all-day rental so be sure to check out their website for prices.

4) The place is immaculate!  It isn’t even funny how clean it is! (I may even go so far to say it is cleaner than my own house-EEK!)  You rarely see trash on the ground and if you do there is someone two steps behind you picking it up (that never happens at our house).  The bathrooms are pristine, especially for a water park!  The family restrooms are great if you have little ones.  The tables at the restaurants are always clean and trash barrels are never over-flowing.  The rides are even clean!

5) Lines that aren’t so long you waste your entire day waiting and are disappointed.

  • You will obviously wait longer for the Wildebeest and Mammoth but it’s SO worth it!
  • Ride as a single rider if you are in a rush and don’t mind not going with your group.
  • Go mid-week, off season to have the park more to yourself.  Best times to avoid long lines and crowds is May, early June, and September through October (just be sure to check their calendar to see when they are open!)

6) Food that tastes halfway decent and won’t cost you a ridiculous amount.

  • They are allergy friendly (which is important to someone like me who has a kid allergic to peanuts).
  • Check out their website which lists all of their restaurants, menus, and prices here before you visit.  Also, see which ones have Air Conditioning if it is hot out.
  • How affordable is this?  If you buy the Family Meal Deal: Whole Pizza (Pepperoni, Sausage or Cheese), 8 Breadsticks and 4 Cookies it is $29.99?!?
  • Looking to fill up and cool off before you head home at the end of the day? Head to Plymouth Rock Café in the Thanksgiving section which has A/C.  You can get an Adult Meal: Choice of fried chicken, roasted chicken, baked ham, baked turkey, turkey leg, or chicken and dumplings; choice of two Sides; choice of roll or cornbread for $10 bucks which is a TON of food.  Or for three sides it is $11.49.  Keep in mind drinks are free and the entrees are HUMONGO.  The reason I say eat this at the END is so you don’t puke on a rollercoaster it is so much yummy food and the best value at the park by far.
  • Have kids that get moody if they get hungry?  Avoid prime time!  Try eating a bit earlier or later, between 10:00 and 11:30am or 1:30-3:30 there are very short lines for lunch and then dinner between 4:00 and 6:00pm.

7) Plenty of areas to rest and relax.  It can be a long day for someone driving a distance out of town on a hot day.  Whether it is under a shaded tree on a bench or in an air conditioned building you have options in the heat of summer.  There is also an air conditioned Nursing Mother’s Room which I give them props for.

8) Both parks are smoke-free! They do offer designated Smoking Areas but I have never smelled smoke.

9) Variety of entertaining shows starring excellent talent from all over.  A high dive stunt show is scheduled throughout the day. (Another reason to sit down and take a breather).  Santa’s Storytime occurs throughout the day for the younger ones to enjoy as well.  Be sure to check out the show times when you arrive.

10) Always adding something new…whether it’s a big ride, play area, water coaster, or concept Holiday World always tries to improve-even despite the cost to do so.  I’m excited to see what 2013 will bring?!?

  • New in 2012: Bahari River Cabanas! I was so jealous when we first went on the lazy river to see those chill-axing in the Cabana equipped with table and chairs, chaise lounges,  ceiling fan, fridge, bottled waters, locking.  If only they served booze!  GREAT idea for a birthday party, family reunion, or a bigger group.
  • Happy Halloween Weekends starts in October 2012.  “This family-friendly special event will include the rides you love at Holiday World, plus lots of fun seasonal activities and Holidog’s 3D Adventure in our Holiday Theater”.  The corn maze aerial view looks amazing!  Stay tuned for my review!

I am NOT an “amusement park expert”.  I have visited MANY amusement and water parks in the past 33 years. If you consider all of the reasons listed above and compare it to let’s say Walt Disney World or Universal Studios I can tell you a few things I know for sure:  You will not only come home richer, you will be able to ride more rides (and waterslides in the same park-check the calendar first of course), not feel guilty about the cost of eating a meal AND buying a funnel cake, playing games with your kids, buying souvenirs, and I guarantee you will be well hydrated upon leaving the park.  Don’t get me wrong, we will eventually travel to see my man Mickey!  It just won’t be until my kids can TOTALLY enjoy it (i.e. talk/wipe/walk around all day without stroller/past major meltdown stage) and we have enough money saved to do it all and not stress about it.

Holiday World & Splashin Safari has come a long way from when it opened year round as Santa Claus Land (possibly the “first theme park in the world”) in 1946.  In the 70’s it changed to Holiday World and expanded throughout the years to summer hours only, introducing 4 themed holiday sections and Spashin Safari (the water park) spanning over 100 acres!  Each section features rides, restaurants, games, and shops that relate to the section’s respective holiday. When you arrive you walk through Christmas, (the main street area) playing Christmas music to make you jolly and of course the classic Holiday World Picture in front of Santa, then you pass through Halloween, 4th of July, and Thanksgiving.  On your way out be SURE to buy some fudge!

FYI I grew up in Rhode Island and was fortunate to visit nearby parks on field trips or road trips with friends and family.  I can remember visiting Story Land, Santa’s Village, Rocky Point Amusement Park, Lincoln Park, Six Flags New England, Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, Canobie Lake Park, Water Country, Water Wizz, Disney World, Epcot, MGM, and Water Country all before I graduated high school (I’m sure there are a few more I can’t recall). Fast forward to my adult years (3 years in Florida) and I visited Six Flags Great America, Holiday World & Splashin Safari, Disney World, Epcot, MGM, Animal Kingdom, Busch Gardens, Wet N’ Wild, Blizzard Beach, and Universal Studios

  1. christine Reply
    We love, love, love this park, too. Unfortunately, it's a whole lot longer than 3 miles for us to get there. More like three hours. One of my favorite things about it is the fact that for every "big kid" ride, there is an area nearby for the little kids. Our family, with a wide age range between kids, don't have to split up all day long.
    • Marissa Reply
      Yes, Christine-excellent point that you really don't have to separate for hours upon hours. You can hub and spoke from one area and be able to hit rides for all ages. Glad to know someone else enjoys the park as much as we do. Not sure if you are into camping but Lake Rudolph is pretty nice and they just opened Silent Night Cottages that look gorg if you wanted to spend the night! Have a great rest of your summer, thanks for reading my blog!
  2. Amber Reply
    It sounds like a great park. I hope you had a great time!
    • Marissa Reply
      We had a blast, I love that place. It was actually the best visit I've ever had because it was EMPTY!! Kids are back in school so there was no lines at all!

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