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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Holiday World: Home To A Thanksgiving Dark Ride And Much More!


Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, Indiana! There you'll find Holiday World, a popular theme park that got its start back in 1946.

Holiday World was originally called Santa Claus Land, celebrating all things Christmas. The park changed its name and added sections themed to Halloween and The Fourth of July in 1984.

George the Eagle, Holidog, and Safari Sam are Holiday World's mascots. Here they are standing in front of "The Voyage", a wooden roller coaster in the park's newest section, Thanksgiving, which opened in 2006.

In 2007, Thanksgiving got a new tilt-a-whirl ride called "Turkey Whirl." I love the ride's logo.


Holiday World may be the only theme park in the world with a Thanksgiving themed dark ride. "Gobbler Getaway" debuted with the opening of the Thanksgiving section in 2006. The ride vehicles in this attraction are equipped with "turkey caller" devices. The turkeys in the town of Autumn Falls have gone missing, and riders must round them up for Thanksgiving.



This interactive adventure was created by the Sally Corporation, which has installed similar dark rides at other theme parks (like "Scooby Doo Ghostblasters" at some Six Flags parks). "Gobbler Getaway" ends happily for the turkeys. The animated people of Autumn Falls decide to serve pizza for the Thanksgiving meal, which results in a turkey celebration extravaganza for the ride's finale. I think this concept is brilliant in its "outside the box" thinking. Bravo, Holiday World and Sally Corporation!

"HalloSwings" in the Halloween section is one of the best themed swings rides I've seen. It is designed to look even better at night!

It's great to see such a creative version of a standard amusement park ride. "HalloSwings" is in good company with "Silly Symphony Swings" at Disney's California Adventure and "Gotham City Crime Wave" at Six Flags Over Georgia.

Holiday World has received quite a few Golden Ticket Awards for outstanding attractions from Amusement Today over the years. The park is also an International Applause Award Winner. This "honors a park whose management, operations, and creative accomplishments have inspired the industry through foresight, originality, and sound business development."

Holiday World's Park brochure notes that Holiday World "is proud to be included among the previous winners, including Disneyland, Hersheypark, Cedar Point, EPCOT Center, Universal Studios Florida, Silver Dollar City, Europa Park, and Efteling." Holiday World won the Applause Award in 2005, and was the smallest park to do so.

In 2000, Holiday World started offering free unlimited soft drinks (courtesy of Pepsi) with park admission. Parking is free, too. It's no wonder they won the Applause Award.

Holiday World added a water park called Splashin' Safari in 1993.


Splashin' Safari continues to expand its thrilling selection of water attractions. Splashin' Safari also has free sunscreen stations!

I have not yet been able to visit Holiday World, but saw it from the car during a trip from Jasper, Indiana to Louisville, Kentucky in 2008. It looked like a fun place to visit.

I'm thinking it would be great if Holiday World had an Easter section. It could be sponsored by Peeps, the marshmallow treats made by the Just Born Candy Company. There are now Peeps for Easter, Christmas, Valentine's, and Halloween, so it would be a nice fit for Holiday World.

5 comments:

  1. I thought you were kidding at first. But I googled and sure enough, there is a Holiday World. Looks like fun.

    Searched through your blog Dan and came upon the September 18th post about your visit to the 1994 Indianapolis Museum of Art exhibit featuring Steve Ison's animation cel collection. This sure would have been terrific to see in person.

    I have the hardcover book which features this Ison collection, "Snow White...An Art in Its Making". Though I've never before seen the actual exhibit guide booklet that you have. This is quite a find. Would you be OK if at some point in the future, I re-posted your images of this booklet? Of course you'd be given full credit and a link back to your post.

    By the way, just became a follower.

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  2. OMG, I want to go to this park! I love dark rides and a Thanksgiving themed one is such a great and original idea. I've wondered why disney hasn't done a ride that could be changed depending on the time of year/seasons/holidays. It seems like they could do a dark ride with sets that rotated around to reveal a completely alternate version of the attraction for different times of the year.

    OR, how about an attraction that addresses all the holidays at the same time. I thought that would be a good idea for a Peanuts dark ride to have different scenes from all the different Peanuts holiday TV specials. If it addressed all the holidays, then it would never be "out of season" and it would never have to be given a seasonal "overlay."

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  3. A Snow White Sanctum: Hello, and thanks for becoming a follower! Your blog is fantastic---yes, share that Indianapolis Museum of Art Snow White guide with your readers. It was amazing to see this art collection in person, and to watch clips of some of the deleted film footage. I've been collecting Holiday World brochures for years, during trips to visit family members in Indiana (the first brochure shown in this post is from 1988). Gotta get there someday!

    TokyoMagic!: I'm surprised Disney hasn't built a permanent "Nightmare Before Christmas" ride yet! That covers at least two holidays (and they could have the Easter Bunny like in the movie, too!). An attraction with a flexible theme sounds cool to me! A Peanuts ride for the Cedar Fair parks seems like it would be a hit.

    I became completely obsessed with playing "RollerCoaster Tycoon 3" when it was released in 2004, largely because it introduced themed rides (including Halloween). I only stopped playing it because my PC no longer works. Well, that and I never got anything done because it was such an addictive game.

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  4. Thanks Dan. I'll let you know when I finally create the Steve Ison post.

    In regards to Holiday World, I have family in southern Michigan, and as a kid, we spent plenty of time in Indiana. Too bad we never discovered it then.

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  5. A Snow White Sanctum: Cool! I'm looking forward to your Steve Ison post!

    Holiday World is also promoted in Louisville, Kentucky (I used to have family there). During the summer, I remember seeing commercials for Holiday World/Splashin' Safari, Kings Island (in Cincinnati, Ohio) and Kentucky Kingdom (Louisville). Lots of amusement park choices there!

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