Just did our tenth annual trip to Holiday World. Understand that my thoughts below represent the perspective of someone who has been to HW each year for ten years. I can see someone visiting this summer for the first time and still loving it. However, for us, a lot of the shine is off the penny.
Just back from two days at Holiday World. We were in Holiday World on July 19 and 20. This is our 10th straight trip to Holiday World. We started coming in the summer of 2012. I think it's fair to say we have seen quite a bit change at Holiday World over the years. Some good, and some not so good. Unfortunately this, our 10th trip, was probably my least favorite of the ten. And I have to say I have seen this coming - the slow degradation in the quality of service and value. This is not the same experience that it was 10 years ago, or even 5 years ago. And at this point, if my wife or children said - Dad, let's go someplace different next year? I wouldn't try to talk them out of it. The Good about our trip this year: 1. The new security lines. Fantastic, fast. I complemented the managers near the front gate on this improvement. Very well done, much faster and quicker than in years past. The bad about our trip this year: 1. Legend and Cheetah Chase were both down for both days. In ten years, I have never seen a marquee ride out for a single day, let alone two marquee rides on two consecutive days. This made the lines for all other marquee rides much longer. As a seasonal park, they simply cannot afford to have this happen - whatever the reason - because it devalues the experience so much. 2. Mammoth wasn't operating at opening on July 19. Never seen that happen either. This meant the Wildebeest line was...a beast. Everyone flocked there. With no Cheetah Chase operating either, you can imagine the impact on the rest of Splashin Safari. I believe they got Mammoth up by noon, but the impact was already felt. 3. The Wave pool (the old, 80s looking one) wasn't open at all on July 20. 4. Zynga wasn't operating at opening on July 20. Didn't open until around 2pm. We were told "staff shortages" was the reason. So we headed to Watubee to ride that.... 5. Which promptly closed as well as we walked up. They said they had to repair something on the ride that wasn't working properly. So, on the morning of July 20, at opening, you couldn't ride Cheetah Chase, Zynga, or Watubee. And The Wave was closed, putting tremendous pressure on the remaining Bahari wave pool. Bahari itself closed for long periods of time and was having trouble with its wave machine later that day. I have literally never seen anything like this happen in ten years of enjoying Splashin Safari. And you can imagine the additional pressure this put on the lines at Mammoth, Wildebeest, and Bakuli. 6. Speaking of Bakuli, on July 19 and 20, they only had one side loading people. Normally they have staff to load from both sides. Not this year. So that line was always super long. And this was a Monday and a Tuesday. 7. They are having serious supply chain issues in other ways. The new candy store by Gobblers Getaway had ZERO taffy. Zero. I asked and they said "we are having a hard time getting it." The fudge place in the new Christmas Cafe had way less selection in fudge than they normally have had in years past. Udderly Blue Ice Cream just closed for the day on July 20 because they said they ran out of supplies. This happened around 1pm. The day before they had run out of Wild Cherry flavor, a day later they were just closed for good. 8. They had far fewer drink stations open than in years past, making drink lines very long. For example, in the bathroom building between Mammoth and Bahari Snacks, they have 4 drink stations and in years past they have usually had 3-4 of them open. This year? 1. That's right, 1. Always had a long line on a Monday and a Tuesday. 9. We went to order a Ben's Pretzels near Bahari on July 20, and the nice young woman said "I can't sell pretzels right now, I have no way to do a transaction." Ok. Compared to years past, Holiday World shows all the signs of dealing with serious staffing, training, and management issues. It pains me to say that given all the fun we have had here in the past decade. I hope they can turn it around, but right now it feels like the bottom line is winning over guest experience.