Monday, June 28, 2010

Holiday World, Santa Claus, Indiana

Tucked away in the middle of cornfields and countryside is an amusement park in Santa Claus, Indiana, called, Holiday World. I'd never been there before.

We stayed approximately an hour down the road in Evansville, Indiana (see previous post about Evansville) and headed to the theme park on a Tuesday afternoon after a morning in the hotel pool and lunch in a restaurant. Ticket prices at Holiday World are discounted in the afternoon and we were hoping the temps would be a bit cooler during the extreme temps the region was experiencing.

My sister led the way from our hotel in her vehicle; I followed in mine. My eldest daughter went to the theme park with my sister's family last summer. She told me that you drive on little curvy roads for a long way out in the middle of nowhere, and in the middle of a cornfield, you suddenly see the park. She was right.

The narrow two-lane road is curvy and the area is rural. There are little churches and cemeteries (reading the Santa Claus cemetery sign creeped me out a little bit). The church closest to the park is, appropriately enough, named for Saint Nicholas. If you didn't know there is a gigantic amusement park on that road, you'd never guess that there is one.

Arriving at 3 pm has advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages is parking very close to the entrance to the theme park. We found parking spaces just beyond the handicapped section near the front entrance. (There is a tram that will transport you from the massive parking lot to the entrance of the theme park if you park way out in the back 40.)

Another advantage, on this particular day, anyway, is that after we paid, we headed for a big roller coaster, The Raven, and walked right on. No waiting. We did not wait for a single ride the entire afternoon and evening.

The disadvantage in arriving at 3 pm is that there is not enough time to see and do everything. My sister's children are little, and they needed the short days (which benefitted my daughter who is on the autism spectrum as well), but we should have done what they did and arrived a day earlier and attended TWO half-days in a row or one or two full days.

The park houses a huge water park and a gigantic amusement park with rides for any size. There's a section for the really littles, the littles, and rides for individuals 48" tall or taller.

The admission cost is based upon your height. My children were charged adult prices because they are tall enough to ride the adult rides. At the ticket office, the attendant asked me if we had any coupons - NO, I live EIGHT HOURS AWAY, where would I get a coupon? (She told me I could get them at Wendy's - well, I'm tired of Wendy's - it's one of our few food options on a GFCF diet, and while we were in the area, we were enjoying NOT eating at Wendy's - please see my post on a gluten free Evansville.) And they wouldn't give us a dollar off without a coupon, even though we had no access to them. That was bothersome in principle, because we're not locals, and we traveled approximately 500 miles, although it was a small discount.

Water, soft drinks, and sunscreen are included in the admission price. Instead of paying movie theater prices for a soft drink or Gatorade during our visit to Holiday World, we walked up to any food service area or drink station and helped ourselves when we were thirsty. And on a day when temps and humidity were unusually high, we did that a lot.

Holiday World is FOOD ALLERGY FRIENDLY. I downloaded a list of allergen free foods served in the park before we left so that I knew where we could purchase what food item. At the end of the evening, my daughter w/ autism (and food issues) ate an order of Ian's chicken nuggets AND an order of Ian's turkey popcorn dogs made especially for her. There is one big problem with the food choices there: the french fries are coated in wheat to keep them crisp, which means that one of the easiest foods to prepare gluten free is NOT gluten free at this theme park. And it's a favorite food of so many kids who are gluten free... *sigh*

There is an accessibility guide that includes info on how to avoid waiting in line for kids who have trouble waiting in line (as in autism). We didn't use that option in the park.

Arcade Diving show

Lewis and Clark Trail

There's a place to cool off if you need to. I posted a picture here. This ride got me soaking wet - I was in the spot to get all the showers and was absolutely drenched when I got off. That was a good thing on such a hot day.

We didn't wear swim suits. We didn't plan to go to the water park part of the park. We should have worn swim suits, anyway. There are enough water features and water rides that a swim suit is necessary. Everyone else seemed to be wearing swim suits. Because we weren't planning to do the water park, I had no beach towels, which was a mistake. We needed beach towels. This mama was *soaked*.

Wear comfortable shoes. They're an absolute necessity. A backpack is a good idea, too - we had one small one. If I'd have been able to find two small ones, we would have used them. And if I'd have seen backpacks for sale in a gift shop, I'd have bought one. (There may be backpacks in the gift shops, but my daughter w/ autism wasn't too keen on going inside the gift shops, so I didn't get much time to look for one.)

We had a fun time. We were worn out when we were done with our half-day. We would consider returning for another visit if we were in the area (it's quite a drive for us) - I give it thumbs up for being food-allergy friendly and autism friendly.

Holiday World has a facebook page HERE.

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