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Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016

Short drive provides full day of fun and memories for families

Posted Friday, June 15, 2012, at 3:02 PM

If you're looking for a day filled with fun for your family, look no further than Holiday World & Splashin' Safari in nearby Santa Claus, Ind.

The theme park has been on the receiving end of many awards -- most recently rated the No. 1 water park by TripAdvisor, an online travel site.

For the past five years, Holiday World's Voyage roller coaster has been named the #1 Wooden Coaster on the Planet at the annual Golden Ticket Awards in September 2011. The park's Wildebeest water coaster was named the world's #1 Water Park Ride for the second year in a row. This year, the park added the Mammoth -- the world's longest water coaster.

For the 12th consecutive year, Holiday World & Splashin' Safari were named the #1 Cleanest Park, outranking such parks as Disney World, Kings Island, Dollywood, and Cedar Point. The parks also received the designation of being the #1 Friendliest Park for the 13th time.

From the moment we stepped out of the van -- enjoying free parking -- my kids were in awe. It was the first amusement park trip for my three-year-old twins and they were whipping their little heads around trying to see everything.

As we approached the entrance, we were greeted by none other than Pat Koch. I think it's neat that she takes the time to greet her guests. It's sort of like running into a celebrity.

The day we chose to visit Holiday World & Splashin' Safari was extremely hot. Like near 97 degrees hot. So, it's an understatement to say that my family appreciated (and enjoyed) the free unlimited soft drinks. It was a blessing as we were able to enjoy the park in a hot day and stay hydrated.

We spent half the day enjoying family rides, such as Raging Rapids, Frightful Falls, and Gobbler Getaway. The twins rode their first roller coaster -- the Howler, located in Holidog's Fun Town.

I insisted we ride the Freedom Train, which has been in the park since 1946. It brings back memories of visiting Santa Claus Land when I was younger. My husband insisted we ride the Eagles Flight -- a memorable ride from his childhood. I love roller coasters, I do not like anything the spins in circles. I toughed it out for the kids, but exited the ride with a slightly queasy stomach.

We enjoyed lunch at Plymouth Rock Café. It's our favorite place to eat in the park -- and the dining room is now air conditioned. It was a welcome break from the heat. One of the many things I love about Holiday World is the reasonable food prices. So many other parks have ridiculously high prices for food and drinks. At Holiday World, food is reasonably priced and drinks are free.

No trip to Holiday World is complete without a stop at Splashin' Safari.

My husband loves the Congo River. I think he could float there all day -- but we have four kids and relaxing in a lazy river is impossible. We normally end up trying to keep up with the kids, but it was fun nonetheless.

I have always been a fan of the Wave. It reminds me of week-long vacations to Myrtle Beach, SC, with my grandparents when I was younger. My older kids love the Wave; however, the twins were a little leery of the waves crashing down. We decided to sit at the edge and count the waves as they crashed over our feet. We kept cool and used the waves as a learning tool.

Monsoon Lagoon was a popular stop for us as the older two could run around, taking part in many water activities. The best part of Monsoon Lagoon was waiting for the 1,000 gallon gigantic bucket to fill up and spill over. The twins loved when it spilled over and were anxiously anticipating its next dump.

Without a doubt, all of my kids enjoyed the Safari Sam's Splashland.

They could run into sprinklers or go down slides sized perfectly for them. I didn't think we were going to get them out of there. I think they could have run around there all day.

All in all, it was a fabulous day filled with fun for the whole family. Normally, we ride roller coasters and the big water slides with the older two kids, but we stuck to rides the entire family could enjoy this trip and it proved to be an awesome day.

The twins had so much fun they were asleep before we even got out of the parking lot. They were exhausted from trekking all over the park. So if you're looking for some family fun close to home, check out Holiday World and Splashin' Safari for a day filled with family fun.

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Halea Franklin
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