Holiday World Travel Tips

Holiday World group

I’ve been visiting Holiday World for years — more than 40, I’d estimate, back since the place was known as Santa Claus Land, and was much smaller.

In recent years, my dad hosts my sisters and our families for a fun day at the theme park most years. Our 2016 visit was this past week. Here are some Holiday World travel tips from my latest visit.

  • This is not exactly news if you visit regularly, but — the park offers free sunscreen (although this is only in the Splashin’ Safari Water Park, as far as I could tell), and free Pepsi products throughout the park (including the delicious-to-me zero-calorie Lipton Peach Tea),
  • The cheapest way to purchase tickets appears to be to buy online at I’ve found several codes online: HOWOPO, DISCOUNT608, and more — but each gives the same savings: a $1 discount on the adult tickets only. I have not found any codes that discount the child/senior tickets (if you’re over 54″, you qualify for a child ticket). If you purchase your tickets online, you’ll also save time as you can enter through a line that was virtually non-existent, at least on the day we visited.

Holiday World Old Woman in the Shoe

  • Visit EARLY — both in the year, and in the day. Our visit this year was in May, which I really recommend (sorry that, at this point, May has ended …). The tickets were cheaper in May, and the weather was cooler. Having grown up in southern Indiana, I can tell you that the heat and humidity in that part of the country tend to build throughout the summer. Sure, it may not compare to Disney World-level heat in July, but still, treading across concrete walkways in 85+ degrees with humidity isn’t all that fun. As to visiting early in the day, this is a good strategy with any theme park. I recommend arriving when the park opens and riding any popular rides first thing. During our May visit, the kids walked onto many roller coasters or had minimal waits.
Holiday World train

We walked right onto the train — no line at all!

  • Food tips: the food here is reasonably-priced for the most part by theme park standards. If you like something a bit on the healthier side, I always like food at The Alamo in the Fourth of July area. They have tacos, burritos, etc. Other family members eat at Kringle’s Kafe in the front, Christmas section, where you can get burgers and fries, pizza, etc. This restaurant is air-conditioned. Those of us who get food at The Alamo carry it over to eat in the cool of the Kafe — no issues with this. Most days, this is probably a good idea, as The Alamo seating is all outdoors in a sunny location. Remember not to buy drinks, since they’re free throughout the park.

I was excited this year to try Dole Whip at the park — pineapple-flavored soft serve, popularly sold at Disney. I feel I need to explain this to you, since I asked an employee where to purchase the Dole Whip, only to get a quizzical look and, “WHAT kind of whip?” He followed that up with, “You might try the gift shop near the entrance.” I tried explaining, “No, it’s, like, ICE CREAM. Not a WHIP whip …” The next employee I asked had a similar reaction. Thankfully, an employee nearby heard my dilemma and directed me to Sweet Stuff, a small walk-up spot in the Fourth of July area across from the Celebrations Theater. I ordered my Dole Whip Float — and the employee told me they didn’t have any of the Dole Whip that day. My sister asked if they’d have it later, to which the employee shrugged and said she didn’t think so. So: they have Dole Whip! Maybe.

  • If you visit on a hot day, some ideas to cool off are gift shops and restaurants. The Hoosier Celebrations outdoor theater, in the Fourth of July area not far from the Splashin’ Safari entrance, has shows on the hour and a somewhat-shaded seating area (choose your seats based on where the sun is at the moment, and hope for a breeze). In the Thanksgiving section, which is a bit of a hike toward the back of the park, the Gobbler Getaway ride was new to us and was another good “cool” escape. I loved this ride as it reminded me of my favorite rides at Disney: the ones where you get into carts and are taken through a story. Along the way, you use your ray gun to shoot at bulls-eyes. I wasn’t real successful at this, but it was dark and cool and a nice respite.

Gobbler Getaway Holiday World

  • Let’s end with a (somewhat) humorous tale from the day: be aware that rules appear to be taken seriously here. We got into a short line to ride the antique cars, one of my favorite activities since I’m past the roller coaster stage of life.

… no single riders, you hear?

Four members of our party of eight got into the first 4-seater car, and the other three filled the next, leaving … me. But that was okay, I’d drive my own car. Or maybe not. The attendant looked at me and informed me that there had to be another person in my car. I told him the rest of my party was in the two that had just left. At that point, he called over to those in line, “Does anyone want to ride in this car?” Honestly, it was a little humiliating. Kind of like being rejected during sorority rush (not that I would ever participate in sorority rush, you understand). No takers. So, he said, “Ma’am, you’ll have to get out and go over there,” pointing to the ride exit. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP. I unbuckled my seat belt, and meekly walked over to the other side of the gate. In retrospect, it was kind of humorous in a “can you believe this?” kind of way, but still — the two things I had said I was looking forward to — antique cars and Dole Whip — and I was batting zero. Oh well. You’ll be happy to learn that, later in the day, I returned and made sure I had another rider so that I COULD ACTUALLY RIDE THE ANTIQUE CARS. It was a memorable trip around the track; of that you can be sure, my friends.

So there you go, my best tips for a fun day at Holiday World. If you have any ideas, or any memories of Holiday World or Santa Claus Land, leave them in the comments. If you got to try the elusive Dole Whip, let me know how it was. Or if you have questions, I’ll do my best to answer.


Holiday World’s Pat Koch

A Day At Holiday World




5 thoughts on “Holiday World Travel Tips

  1. I earlier asked if you had seen Pat Koch and was told you did not. I always enjoyed her presence at the park. I am encouraging our minister of music and his wife to go for the first time and take their daugthter. Holiday World is a wonderful place!

  2. Holiday World has greatly improved since I was last there with my daughter and grandchildren! At that time the water park part had just opened up, and my grandkids really loved that. I remember that we all got a bit of sunburn on that very hot day in June. For us it was a long trip there since we live in northern IN, but it was definitely worth it! Your recent visit sounds delightful!! It must get easier and easier each year as the young children in your family are so grown up now. This special time each year with your father and the whole gang will always be remembered fondly. The Antique Car ride sound like my kind of ride, because I am way past the roller coaster stage of life. 🙂

  3. Thanks for visiting us again! We apologize for the overzealousness of the ride operator at Lewis & Clark. While we prefer that a party of four not each drive their own car, there shouldn’t have been a problem with you taking a spin. And the Dole Whip unavailability has us stumped – apparently the machine “froze up” one day, so that might have been it. But that would have been an hour delay, not a question of non-availability. So sorry!
    –For Attic Girl’s question: Mrs. Koch retired from the park a few years ago. Thank you for asking about her!

  4. I enjoyed reading about your time at Holiday World. Sounds like it turned out to be a great time for all of you. I certainly remember the old Santa Claus Land. I loved going there as a child and took my two daughters there when we visited the area. The last time we were at Holiday World, I rode the antique cars. I have a picture of me riding in the back seat holding on for my life! My husband is in the front with our 12-year-old grandson who was driving. I also rode the merry-go-round several times. No roller coasters for me either. I remember the free drinks and good food. Lots of fond memories and always heard great things about the Koch family.

  5. I’d love to go there, having not been there since I was a preschooler, I believe. But since walking is no longer easy for me, it’s probably not a good place for me to go. I continue to be impressed that someone reads your comments about Holiday World. I wonder if all businesses do that. Glad you finally got to ride in the antique cars. Sorry you didn’t get you ice cream treat.

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