Secrets of Holiday World

As a travel writer, I love discovering secrets that make a destination even more special – and Holiday World is no exception! We’ve been visiting the park for over a decade now and most of the tips I give friends and readers are pretty obvious to anyone who’s visited Holiday World a time or two:

  • Take advantage of the free drinks, free sunscreen, and free parking.
  • Try to go midweek, when the lines are much shorter.
  • Crowds are lighter in May and June.
  • Park across the street in the Legend Lot and take the tunnel under the street to get to the gate. It’s often a much shorter walk!

But for this post, I wanted to go a little deeper. I wondered what kinds of secrets Holiday World employees and superfans had to offer.

So I asked them!

Here are their responses grouped into a few categories:

Secrets Outside the Front Gate

“If you’re approaching the park from the west (Coming from US-231) and think you’ve passed the parking lots, FEAR NOT! You can find the Legend Lot by turning right at the traffic light. No U-Turns necessary!” – Stephen R, Park Employee

“Park in the Legend lot on the bathroom side. Perfect for a bathroom stop before entering and just before starting that trip home.” Michaeline C, Season Passholder

“[The Legend lot is] also a great place to quickly change clothes before the drive home. My son and I pack light. We wear our swim trunks into the park, we leave dry clothes in the vehicle and do not change out of our water park clothes until we get to that restroom.” – Mark S, Season Passholder

Secrets on the Best Timing

Happy Halloween Weekends are the perfect time to visit with smaller crowds, cooler temperatures, and new attractions.” Ashley B, Park Employee

“Buy your meal for the day after 3pm. The lines are shorter.” – Susan M, Season Passholder

“Start your day in Splashin’ Safari as soon as the ropes drop, instead of starting in Holiday World. Most Guests start in Holiday World and then head to the water park. By doing Splashin’ Safari first, you beat the crowd and then you can do the dry park while everyone else is in Splashin’ Safari.” – Ashley B, Park Employee

Holiday World Secrets Blog Post - Water Park

Food Secrets

“The Polar Expresso is a MUST. When they make it, they toot the choo choo whistle! Fun for everyone.” – Britney W, Season Passholder. (You’ll find the Polar Expresso inside Santa’s Merry Marketplace)

“You can bring in snacks. Our secret lunch spot is inside one of the buildings marked as a tornado shelter, in between Muziki Bay and Sam’s BBQ. It’s air-conditioned, has bathrooms, soda fountains, tables and chairs, and is always empty. It’s marked as a tornado shelter, but it’s always been indoor dining for the water park. You can use it anytime the water park is open.” – Valerey H, Season Passholder

“Best family dining deal – family pizza deal at Santa’s Merry Marketplace, located by the entrance fountain. Especially if you have a season pass discount!” – Tricia S, Season Passholder. (The meal consists of a 16″ pizza, eight breadsticks, and four dipping sauces. You can also find it at Safari Pizza in Splashin’ Safari)

Holiday World Secrets Blog Post - Foods

Best Value Secrets

Season Passes go on sale the year before. The cheapest prices are usually in September the year before.” – Ashley B, Park Employee

“If you are looking to save money, you can bring your own lunch and get your hand stamped and use one of our shelter houses in the parking lots to eat a meal. Then return to the park with your hand stamp.” – Ashley B, Park Employee

“Buy a mystery box! You can get shirts, beach towels, cups, magnets, kids toys, anything in the gift shops they have. They are definitely worth the value. And they are wrapped up like a Christmas present. My kids love it!” – Lara H, Season Passholder

“Buy the Games Playbook! You get a fast pass to one ride with it. It costs $20 but you get $15 in coupons, a $25 game voucher and 1 fast pass!” – Lara H, Season Passholder

Holiday World Secrets - Games Image

Secrets for Staying Comfortable

“If a family member has trouble walking, arrive early or bring their wheelchair or scooter if they have one. The scooter rentals go quickly.” – Brooklyn G, Season Passholder

“For nursing moms looking for an air conditioned and quiet place to feed, check out the nursing mother rooms! Near the park entrance, Santa’s Merry Marketplace has a room with a rocking chair, outlets, sink, and changing table. The second space is in First Aid at the entrance of Splashin’ Safari, it includes a refrigerator, outlets and lockers for pumps (at no additional cost!), rocking chairs, and fans. Moms can feed wherever they choose in the park, but sometimes I preferred to have a quiet place to feed an undistracted baby so we could both get back to the fun!” – Sabrina J, Park Employee

“Charge your phone in air conditioning at Santa’s Merry Marketplace or Plymouth Rock Café.” – Tammy J, Season Passholder

“There are dog kennels!” – Ashley B, Park Employee (The Holidog Inn is located just inside the Front Gate at Holiday World Services, and is first-come, first-served. Air-conditioned kennels are $20 for the day; outdoor kennels are $10 for the day in 2022)

Some secrets have been lightly edited for clarity.

Feel free to add your own secrets in the comments of this post!

Be sure to follow the adventures of all the HoliBloggers this summer. Each blog post will have a sweepstakes where you can enter to win two tickets to Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari.

Entries accepted through Friday, August 26 at 9pm CDT.

HoliBlogger Lindsay FThis blog post was written by HoliBlogger Lindsay F.

Lindsay Ferrier is a travel writer who lives with her husband and two teenagers in Nashville, TN. Before starting her popular lifestyle blog, Suburban Turmoil, she was an Emmy Award-winning TV news anchor and reporter in Nashville and Columbia, S.C. She’s been coming to Holiday World for 20 years and consider herself to be Nashville’s number one Holiday World fan!

Your Kids World Guide + A Getaway Giveaway!

We’ve reached the end of daily operation and that can only mean one thing… It’s time for Kid’s World to return. Where Kids Rule the World!

Scroll to the bottom for your chance to win our Kids World Getaway Giveaway!

Kids World runs weekends from August 20 to September 18

What is Kids World?

It’s everything you love about Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari plus fun tailored just for kids! All your favorite attractions will remain open, and we’ll have special food items, entertainment, and activities chosen just for kids!

Kids World Entertainment

The Hoosier Celebration Theater stage will be alive all day with performances of the Wild & Wacky Magic Show, Comedy Juggler Matt Jergens, Holidog’s Dance Party, and a Holidog and Friends Meet & Greet! Stilt walkers will be making appearances throughout the day in Christmas Plaza, Splashin’ Safari Plaza, and Thanksgiving section. Visit for showtimes on the day of your visit!

Stilt Walkers will stroll the park during Kids World

Themed Zones

Holidog’s Fun Town will be the home of the Bubble Zone with multiple bubble machines, large bubble wands, and Holiday World Team Members will be there to help facilitate the fun!

Make some noise in the Percussion Zone in Pilgrims Plaza, just across from Mayflower. It’s a howling good time with tons of instruments you can play!

The Percussion Zone for Kids World

Scavenger Hunt

Trek through Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari to locate balloons with special images on them to complete your quest. Place the sticker that matches what you see on the balloon on your map to mark your progress! You can purchase your Scavenger Hunt kit – and pick up your prize – at St. Nick’s or Safari Outpost.

Maps don’t have to be completed to pick up your prize, every map is a winner right from the start!

Scavenger Hunt Maps help outline where to search for balloons to complete your quest during Kids World

Kids World Treats

From Mini fudge cone treats, Udderly Blue TwistCorn, plastic brick-shaped rice crispy treats we pull out all the fun sweet treats just for Kids World!

During Kids World, we’ll have special kids meals with chicken nuggets, corn dog bites, and even a BBQ Pork Slider sandwich. Check out our online menus to see everything.

New Food Offerings during Kids World

Both parks will be overflowing with bubbles and balloons over the next few weekends, but we’ll still have all your favorite rides and attractions. The party’s just getting started!

Kids World runs weekends from August 20 through September 18!

Remember, our best ticket prices are always online. Visit to get yours now.

Enter now and you could win our Kids World Getaway Giveaway!

The prize package includes:

  • Four Tickets to Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari for the 2022 OR 2023 Season,
  • Two Scavenger Hunt Map Kids to use during Kids World this season, PLUS
  • Two Overnights at Sun Outdoors Lake Rudolph in a Holiday Cottage valid through September 11, 2022

Giveaway ends at 7pm on Thursday, August 18, 2022.

But first, please read through these instructions and rules:

  • You must be at least 18 years old to enter and you must not have won tickets from Holiday World in the past 12 months.
  • Employees of Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, Koch Development Corporation, Sun Outdoors Lake Rudolph, and the immediate family members of employees are not eligible to enter.
  • By entering, you agree to be added to our e-newsletter list (you may unsubscribe at any time by following the directions in your email).
  • Use the widget, below, to enter daily. There are lots of options, so you can earn extra entries by posting here on our HoliBlog and tweeting about this contest. You can also follow us on Pinterest, and visit us on our Facebook page.
  • All prizes are non-transferable and not for re-sale. Each winner is solely responsible for reporting and paying any and all applicable taxes related to the prize(s). Tickets to Holiday World must be picked up at Holiday World.
  • If you win our Kids World Getaway Giveaway, please note you must be at least 21 to phone in your two-night Holiday Cottage reservation at Lake Rudolph. *Here are the dates the cottage will be available: August 7 – September 11, 2022 ONLY.
  • View full rules through the widget below.

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Everything You Need to Know About Taking A Toddler to Holiday World

Having four kids with such a wide range of ages means that some travel destinations don’t work for us right now. It’s just one of the many reasons why we love Holiday World! Taking a toddler to the theme park is actually so easy to do and I’ve got some tips to make the trip even easier.

Everything You Need to Know About Taking A Toddler to Holiday World

Traveling as a family is something that we love to do together and we’ve been to quite a few theme parks together.  I’ll be the first to admit that some parks are not at all designed for the entire family. Dare I say, even, boring for toddlers.

Holiday World is not that type of park. Holiday World is about the entire family. So we can enjoy time together on our family vacation. Toddler and all!

Wagon and Stroller Rental

As soon as you enter the gates you know that you’ve arrived at a place that is toddler friendly. On the right you will see so many wagons and strollers that you can rent. These are available for rent on a first-come, first-serve basis at St. Nick’s Rental Depot. The daily rates for 2022 are:

  • Double strollers: $17
  • Push wagon with shade: $12
  • Pull wagon: $8

You’re also free to bring your own stroller as long as it’s not self-propelled or self-steered.

Family Restrooms, First Aid, and Nursing Mothers

You’ll find tons of family restrooms throughout the park. There’s even a specially designed First Aid facility that also houses a nursing mothers’ room. You’ll find it as you enter Splashin’ Safari.

While mothers are welcome to breastfeed anywhere in the park, Holiday World knows that sometimes moms and babies want some quiet time away from the crowds. Holiday World has thought of everything for this space from rocking chairs to free lockers to hold mom’s breast pumps to electrical outlets to charge your phone or plug in the pump. There’s even a fridge for you to use!

Another smaller area is found near the restrooms in Santa’s Merry Marketplace. Both areas are air conditioned, clean and also the perfect spot to escape the heat with your toddler when needing a rest.

Things for a Toddler To Do: Rudolph’s Reindeer Ranch & Holidog’s FunTown

There are actually entire areas of the park that are designed specifically for the younger kids in mind and particularly toddlers! Rudolph’s Reindeer ranch has so many kiddie rides. It feels like a carnival within Christmasland.

Then over at the back of 4th of July, toddlers will enjoy running around on a ginormous playground in Holidog’s FunTown and experiencing more fun rides designed just for their size. 

Food for Toddlers

You’ll find lots of food options for toddlers to enjoy at Holiday World. Even delicious meals that are just the right size. Holidog’s FunTown has its own food station in Hot Diggity Dogs. Basically every food that a toddler loves to eat can be found here. Hot dogs, chicken nuggets, fries and more!

HoliBlogger Tips

I find that sometimes my toddler just needs a quiet and cool place to nap while everyone else is running around the park. Depending on the time of day (particularly non rush food hours) I like to head over to Plymouth Rock Cafe. It has a large air conditioned eating area and it’s the perfect place to park with a sleeping toddler in a stroller. I just sit down at a table with a soda and take a rest myself!

Many people don’t know this but “Parent Swap” is available for rides where one adult needs to stay behind with a small child. Simply stand together in line (or have the adult and smaller child wait at the exit gate) to then switch out. This way both adults can experience the ride and even take another guest on with them!

Holiday World is the perfect place for the entire family to have a fun vacation together.

There’s something for everyone. Toddlers, too!


Be sure to follow the adventures of the HoliBloggers. Each blog post will have a sweepstakes where you can enter to win two tickets to Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari!

Entries for this Giveaway will be accepted through Tuesday, August 16 at 11pm CDT.

This blog post was written by HoliBlogger Tara S.

Tara Smith has a degree in psychology with emphasis in community health, but has been a mom blogger for over a decade and lives in St. Louis, MO. You can find her blog at As a busy mom of 4, she likes to do fun activities with her family and travel. She also likes to sew, craft, make recipes and inspire others in motherhood. Tara and her blog have been featured on News 4 Great Day, Show Me St. Louis and in Country Sampler Farmhouse Style Magazine.

Get Ready for HoliBlogger Central

Today is Blogger Day. And we’re celebrating that here on the HoliBlog.

Our blog was started way back in April 2005. Back before Holiday World had a Thanksgiving section. Back before The Voyage and Thunderbird’s iconic silhouettes were part of our skyline.

The HoliBlog looked a little different when it launched in 2005.

The HoliBlog used to look a little different.

We’ve had a lot of contributors to our blog over the years.

I remember being nervous about adding my voice to the mix back in 2017 when I joined the Communications Team. I quietly made my blogging debut here in August talking about operating Reindeer Games in a blog post called “My Second First Day” and then turned my attention to Happy Halloween Weekends with blog posts about transforming the park for our fall event and tackling our corn maze. Since then, I’ve gone on to blog about a wide range of topics to help our Guests plan a trip to Holiday World and help pull back the curtain.

This year, I had the honor of contributing to the HoliBlog in a different way.

Early this spring, I launched the HoliBlogger program. I was in search of bloggers who could help tell Holiday World’s story through their eyes. And I picked 7 wonderful bloggers to join the ranks of those who have written for the HoliBlog.

And you can read all about this year’s story-tellers in a blog post I wrote called “Introducing the HoliBloggers.”

It’s been a joy working with them to decide on which topics are the best for them to cover, putting their stories into the HoliBlog, and sharing those blog posts with all our Guests and fans online. I still get excited each time I open my email inbox and see that one of the HoliBloggers has sent me a new blog post that I’ll be able to add to the HoliBlog.

I want to ensure that their stories are still easy to find, so I’m introducing the first version of what I’m calling HoliBlogger Central. It’s a single location where I’ll group all of the published blog posts into easy-to-navigate categories to help find the topics that are most interesting to you or most helpful if you’re planning a trip to Holiday World.

Trust me when I say that we’ll have to add more categories as the year goes on, and some blogs may move around or may be included in more than one list.

So here goes. Welcome to the first version of HoliBlogger Central.

Planning A Trip to Holiday World

Tasty Treats For Your Visit

Making the Trip to Holiday World

Telling A Story with Pictures

And even though our drone and fireworks spectacular has come to an end this year, you can still read all about it thorough these blog posts.

All About Holidays in the Sky

Be sure to follow along with the HoliBloggers. They’ll continue to bring fresh content through next spring, so you’ll want to check back regularly.

They still have a ton of stories to tell, but some topics you’ll see them writing about in the coming months include:

  • In the Kitchen With the Foods Team at Holiday World
  • The Best Rides When You’re Too Short for Coasters
  • Tips for A Sensory Friendly Visit
  • How to Plan An Awesome Date Day, and
  • The Holiday World Ride & Slide Challenge

Plus, each HoliBlogger post will include a giveaway where you can enter to win a pair of tickets to visit Holiday World. What’s not to love?

Happy Blogger Day, everyone!

Equal Parts Holiday World and Santa Claus Land

Tin Smith sign reads Geo. Koch 1873

Today is our 76th Birthday! 

In finding the words to share about today, I started diving into all the things I’ve learned since we began working on our commemorative book: “Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari: 75 Years of America’s First Theme Park.” Shameless plug: buy your copy of our book here


The world was changing in 1946, and while we were the first theme park, we were barely the first. Many similar attractions were opening around the country, yet we were just shy of a decade before the opening of Disneyland. Coming out of the war, people just wanted to have fun, and amusement parks and the entertainment industry were booming. But I’m still amazed that my great-grandfather, Louis J. Koch, had the vision and drive to build Santa Claus Land. After all, his family business, George Koch & Sons had found great success making tin horns at his family’s tin shop during World War II, when toys couldn’t be imported.

Tin Smith sign reads Geo. Koch 1873

Boulder Canyon includes a tribute to my great-great grandfather, who started the tin shop. Louis J. Koch and his brothers named the business after their father passed.

And then I started thinking about the early 1980s, when my grandfather, Bill Koch, decided that Santa Claus Land was too limiting a concept. He decided we should become Holiday World. He smartly started easing the name in, adding “It’s a Holiday World of Fun!” to marketing materials for a few years before the name changed. 

And it hit me. The name change happened 38 years ago. And that name change occurred 38 years into Santa Claus Land’s story. 

We’ve been Holiday World as long as we were Santa Claus Land. 

And yet, there are so many people out there who tell me this place will always be Santa Claus Land to them. 

I love that. 

I’m forever grateful that my grandfather had the vision to expand our park beyond just one holiday. It opened up a world of theming for Frightful Falls, Raging Rapids, The Raven, The Legend, and so many more attractions. 

It’s also incredible to think about the way the industry started to explode in the late 80s and early 90s. 

In 1984, we built Frightful Falls. We added Banshee in 1986. And it was another four years until we added Raging Rapids. In 1993, we began Splashin’ Safari, added the Wave in 1994, and of course, added The Raven in 1995. From there, it kicked off years of new attractions every year. And the rest of the industry was doing the same. 

In 1993, our water park looked like this: 

By 2000, my dad was introducing Free Unlimited Soft Drinks, and building The Legend. Meanwhile, I was playing Roller Coaster Tycoon. And telling my dad about how free soft drinks flopped in “my parks.” He responded that a simple computer game, “doesn’t get what we’re doing here.” Of course, he was right. 


And here we are in 2022, and the original water park is now the plaza for our existing water park. 

It’s incredible to think that our footprint has increased faster in the last three decades than it did in the first four, but it couldn’t have happened without each generation moving the park forward. My great-grandfather had the vision. My grandfather lobbied to move Interstate 64 closer to us to drive traffic and expanded us beyond Christmas. It all set my dad up to grow the park with the best attractions in the world, but he still had the vision to build a specialty in wooden coasters, and build the best water park attraction in the world, Wildebeest. And that all set us up so that my siblings, my mom, and I can tell stories with our attractions. We can even complete the theming my dad wanted all along but had to cut from the budget to keep us competitive in the mega-park generation of the 1990s and 2000s. 

I love to take August 3 each year to remember the three generations who so wonderfully shaped the history of this park and appreciate how far we’ve come. As we move into a time where we’ve been Holiday World longer than Santa Claus Land, I hope people appreciate the way Santa Claus Land shaped who we are today. 

We believe in Santa Claus. And we always will. 

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Dietary Restrictions Won’t Stop You from Visiting Holiday World

It’s pretty common to have some sort of food allergy, sensitivity, or restriction in a family these days.

In our family, I’m the one. I have to eat vegetarian, and I have a gluten sensitivity. It can be hard to find places to eat with the family – especially at a theme park – where I can actually feel like I’m eating WITH the family. A lot of restaurants have made huge strides in offering vegetarian and gluten free options but not a lot of places like theme parks or zoos, etc. have come that far yet.

Much to my delight, dietary restrictions won’t stop you from visiting Holiday World and enjoy every bit of the fun with the whole family!

Holiday World even makes it so simple to find foods by restriction type AND where they are throughout the park. There is an Allergen-Friendly Menu, a Gluten-Free Menu Guide, and a Healthier Options Menu. While we’re there, I just keep the main food and snacks link up on my phone’s browser, so I know what I can get depending on which part of the park we’re in throughout the day.

Dietary Restrictions Won't Stop You from Visiting Holiday World

The biggest selection of food and these menu options can be found right at the front of Holiday World in the Christmas Section at Santa’s Merry Marketplace. I prefer to go there when we’re doing full meals.

A note that Impossible burgers are not gluten free, but I don’t personally have issues when I eat them. I did ask for a gluten free bun with an Impossible burger, and the staff was on top of it by making sure I knew the burger wasn’t gluten free and ensuring that I got what I needed. One thing important to mention, if getting a veggie/Impossible burger cooked, it will take at least 10 minutes. Another mom and I were just standing up there while our families had already eaten almost their entire meals. My recommendation is to go ask them to start it 10 minutes before you go back in line to order the rest of your family’s food. I made sure to do that the second time, and it was so much easier for everyone.

HoliBlogger Courtney at Santa's Merry Marketplace | Dietary Restrictions Won't Stop You from Visiting Holiday World

The biggest restriction I have with my gluten sensitivity is with breads and other baked goods. Their gluten free bun was one of the most delicious I’ve ever had, their gluten free brownie was just as good as a regular one, and my absolute favorite treat in all of Holiday World is their funnel cake!

I got mine at George’s Gluten-Free Pizza & Snacks in the 4th of July Section. I have never been able to get a gluten free funnel cake before, so this was such a treat and brought back so many wonderful childhood memories. My daughter doesn’t have any dietary restrictions, but she was game for helping me eat the funnel cake (it was way too big to eat by myself!). She even said it was just as good as a “real” funnel cake.

HoliBlogger Courtney at George's | Dietary Restrictions Won't Stop You from Visiting Holiday World

I found most all of my vegetarian options on the Healthier Options Menu. There was so much delicious food to choose from for me, I can’t wait to go back just to try more!

The kids may be excited about all the fun rides, but I just want the fun eats!

Next time you plan a trip to Holiday World, make sure to check out their special menus and all their tips they’ve included on the website. It’s so user-friendly and makes planning snacks and meals a breeze.

Thanks, Holiday World, for thinking of us with dietary restrictions and making the experience so magical for everyone!

Be sure to follow the adventures of all the HoliBloggers this summer. Each blog post will have a sweepstakes where you can enter to win two tickets to Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari.

Entries accepted through Wednesday, August 10 at 7pm CDT.

This blog post was written by HoliBlogger Courtney S.

A Cincinnati mom that spent my teen years in Indianapolis, I remember Summers at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari fondly. My family and I love travel and theme parks. I own the Cincinnati, Dayton, and Louisville Mom Collectives where we provide the best in trusted recommendations, tips, tricks, and resources to families in our communities. In my rare free moments, I like to write, read, draw, paint, game, go to the park, go to art museums, and try new foods.