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Photo TR: Holiday World & Santa Claus, Indiana

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Santa Claus, Indiana is one of my favorite places in the whole wide world. Why? Well, Holiday World is a pretty good start. But there's more to it than that. Virtually the whole town, you see, is themed.


This was to be my fourth visit to this little town and its no longer quite so little park. But my girlfriend, Misty, had never been before. Would she like it? Read on....


Goodbye, Santa Claus! We'll be back. (When is that Holiwood Nights thing again?)


The inside of Santa's Lodge. A bit overpriced, but worth it to me to stay in town (since it's the only hotel in Santa Claus, that is).


Sadly, it needs better upkeep. The greens are worn through in spots, scenery is broken or missing, and Frosty seems to have mange.


I'd never been able to play the mini golf here on my previous visits, but it looked pretty cool.


Even the grocery store is themed (if, you know, a name can be considered theming).


Hey, who's that handsome and non-idiotic fellow?


A view of the inside. There are displays dedicated to the park, the town, Santa, and Christmas in general.


The Santa Clause Museum is well worth checking out--if for no other reason than to see early plans for Holiday World expansion.


Among other things, they have over 30 different flavors of candy canes.


On my last visit, this was still being restored. It was worth the wait.


Ah, but there's more to Santa Claus than just Holiday World! This was (apparently) the first Santa statue in the town.


Did Misty like the park? Hmmm, seems like. In fact, she has declared it "the best park ever." (I might not go quite that far, but it's definitely one of them.)


It was Wacky Hat Day in The Voyage Gift Shop. I really do like the ride. It's even in my top ten. I'm just ready to get off about halfway back to the station.


Still, it's a spectacular ride, and I'm skeptical that any other park would be behind it like HW is. I don't think I could marathon on it, though.


However, for me, it's just a bit too long, and the ending seems repetitive. I think maybe more straight bunny hops back to the station would have been better.


Two years in, and Voyage is still running great. (Also pictured is the new attraction in the water park, Kima Bay.)


A view of Thanksgiving from Voyage's station.


Especially considering the slightly more upscale style food. Still, the price was right: less than $20 for everything you see here.


I was disappointed to find that this gigantic eatery had no inside seating. How odd.


Hunting for turkeys. Hmmm, well, I found a horse.


The only animatronic in the park, and it could scarcely be better placed. However, if you listen carefully, Granny is actually a witch!


Gobbler Getaway adds so much to this park. At least, for me. Yes, the wood coasters are awesome. But you're just not a complete park without a dark ride.


We rode it twice, just because it was so cute.


Hooray for the Turkey Whirl!


And now on to the park's newest section, Thanksgiving.


The "Freedom Train," as it's now known, is the only original attraction left in the park. Here's some of the Fairy Tale stuff you see while riding it.


I don't think I ever even saw this kiddie jeep ride on my previous visits. "I'm the fittest guy on the track."


Nothing too special about this kiddie coaster--except for the train, which is pretty cool.


Proof that HW is not embarrassed by this statue's pose: You can actually buy hats and key chains with him standing this way.


Holidog's Fun Town has a pretty cool sign.


HW's new carousel. I hadn't realized that it replaced the bumper boats. It seems a bit small. A Christmas location and theme might have been better.


The town's original post office now houses a doll collection. Odd, but at least they preserved it.


The 4th of July is where most of the park's flat rides are, but there's really no "anchor" attraction, and the theming here feels thin and random.


You know you're in trouble when the best part of a park section is a gift shop. (It is a really good gift shop, though.)


And a quick stop off for a Walking Taco! (Yes, it's a bag of Fritos with some taco meat and cheese thrown in it.)


And now we leave Halloween for 4th of July.


I love the theming on this ride. I could have included ten pictures of it, but it would have thrown the whole report out of whack.


Little Known Holiday World Fact #3: Holiday World offers its guests free soft drinks throughout the day.


Still, it's a bit too lateral-y for my taste. Interestingly, its main claim to fame used to be its pure wildness. But The Voyage has upstaged it a bit.


Including one of my favorite elements on any ride anywhere: The mid-course camelback that rides like a double down, even though it isn't one.


The Legend was running pretty well, also. Though it remains a bit of an odd duck, it still has some great moments.


A pretty good overview of the park's Halloween section, if I do say so myself.


Hooray for ridiculous signage!


Frightful Falls is the park's log flume. And like much of HW, it is a triumph of minimalism.


Did I mention that Raven was running well? And that it's hard to photograph?


Little Known Holiday World Fact #2: The Raven has a turn out over Lake Rudolph. I believe I am the first person to ever get a photo of it.


Like all of HW's coasters, though, it's a bit tricky to photograph.


Misty liked it, too. In fact, it's now her favorite coaster anywhere.


So I am happy to report that that trend has been reversed, and that The Raven is once again in my top ten.


Unfortunately, on my next two visits, it was rather blah, and had almost no airtime.


Okay, on to the good stuff. On my first visit to HW, The Raven blew me away.


Misty proves her prowess at Skeeball. (I helped a little.)


I really enjoy unusual signage. This one is in the glass blowing shop. I'm thinking of having a shirt made up that says this.


Little Known Holiday World Fact #1: Holiday World has very good pizza.


The interior of Kringle's Kafe.


Kringle's Kafe opens before the rides and closes after they do. Because the Kochs are smarter than corporate bean counters.


I don't do shows. Nice theming on the building, though.


And here are the crowds I was worried about here at the end of June. But the park handled them very well, especially on the coasters.


Every one of my previous visits had been during a month of May.


You know it's going to be a long TR when I start with the parking lot.

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^ Thanks.


One thing I forgot to mention: We saw Pat Koch walking around the park at one point, but in the moment we were too chicken to stop her to say hello, since she looked like she was in a hurry. I kind of wish we had, in retrospect.


Later, we talked to a foods employee that mentioned that Pat had helped out in their kitchen that morning, and then ate there.


To me, the important part of all that is not so much that the owner is willing to work in the kitchen (as much as that might show her character), as that she actually experiences the park in a hands-on way, instead of just looking at a report that gets emailed to her each morning in her office across town or something.

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I think I saw you guys when I went up on the 1st. I remember seeing that MM shirt in line for Voyage (I was wearing my long sleeved Phoenix shirt.)


Anyways, about the park: EPICLY AWESOME wooden coasters (Voyage put up a good fight and now tops Phoenix as my fave), but the flat selection is sort of meh. They have a few fun ones, and I liked Frightful Falls, but the park seems to be lacking in inverted rides. It could really do with a top spin of sorts I think. Oh well, Free unlimited drinks and some of the greatest wooden coasters I've been on made up for that.

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I think I saw you guys when I went up on the 1st. I remember seeing that MM shirt in line for Voyage (I was wearing my long sleeved Phoenix shirt.)


I didn't spot you, sorry. If I'd seen the shirt, I would have said hi or something.

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I noticed in the Legend Lot "the auxilary lot" that they now have trams. Surprising at first, but not quite so now knowing the park's growth in size and attendance.


About Kringle's Kafe opening before the rest of the park... there aren't a lot of fast food places near the park that I know of. The reasonable prices for food also soften the blow.


And I have to admit I'm bummed they took out Thunder Bumpers... even though it had low capacity. At least the water park keeps growing.

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About Kringle's Kafe opening before the rest of the park... there aren't a lot of fast food places near the park that I know of.


That's an interesting point. In town, outside of Holiday World, there's the restaurant at Santa's Lodge, pizza at Frosty's Fun Center, and another pizza place and a Subway in the Kringle shopping center...and that's about it, really.


But, whatever the reason, I still love that I can walk into the park first thing and get food (or grab some on the way out).

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