My boyfriend and I had been talking all summer about taking a trip to Holiday World. On Thursday night, I had him talked into a "twilight trip" to Kings Island, then pulled a bait and switch, substituting an all-day trip to HW on Friday instead.
We left Indianapolis at about 7:00 a.m. on Friday, and stopped at the Kroger around the corner from my house for tickets. Alas, we spotted no Holiday World tickets on the "gift card wall" and the customer service counter wouldn't open for another hour. Since we selected a route consisting of state highways, we passed through my home town of Bloomington at around 8:00 a.m. and stopped at the Kroger there, where the customer service counter was open, but we were informed that Kroger doesn't sell Holiday World tickets. However, one of the nice ladies at Kroger used to work at the Marsh Supermarket across the street, and let us know that Marsh may be able to help us. Indeed, we purchased two adult one-day passes at Marsh for the discounted price of $39.99 each - a dollar less that we would have been able to purchase them online. Tickets in hand, we continued on a series of scenic state highways for another two hours, passing through several small-to-tiny towns I had never heard of, even though I'm technically from "around those parts."
We arrived at the park at 9:20 a.m., thanks to a change in time zone I was not anticipating. Most of Indiana is on Eastern Daylight Time, but apparently not Santa Clause, so we gained an hour. This was a fine turn of events, except we lamented the fact that in hindsight we would have had time to sit down somewhere for pancakes instead of going through a McDonald's drive through for breakfast (he hates eating in the car). Since we arrived 40 minutes prior to the park opening, we drove right up to the front of the parking lot (parking is included in the price of your ticket, btw, so no extra toll booth). A short walk brought us to the front entrance, where they were just opening the gates. We strolled into the first themed area (Christmas) grabbed a park map, and waited for the ropes to drop to the other sections of the park.
At 10:00 a.m. sharp, the ropes dropped and we headed straight for Thunderbird, which is located in the Thanksgiving section of the park - furthest away from the entrance. I experienced a little anxiety as my short 40-something legs were passed by many on the way to Thunderbird. However, when we arrived at the queue, we only had to wait one cycle to ride in the back of the train. The ride itself was really great, although a bit short in duration. I have ridden Gatekeeper and I like the wing seat configuration. The launch was fun, but not super intense (less so than Top Thrill Dragster, probably even less than Flight of Fear). As you would expect from a new B&M, the ride was extremely smooth. I won't recount every single element, but we both agreed the barn elements were awesome.
We exited Thunderbird, helped ourselves to a cup each of a "free" Pepsi product, and got in line for Voyage, my favorite of the three wooden coasters we would ride that day. We waited about 15 minutes for seats in the center of the train. The most surprising thing about Voyage was definitely the many high-banked elements. It's also a long-duration ride, which was good since i was enjoying it so much.
Next up, we got in line for The Legend, located in the Halloween section. Even though many of the switchbacks were closed, it was still about a 45-minute wait. I liked The Legend, but I didn't love it. Maybe because I had just ridden Voyage. It was a rougher ride for sure. Also, like Voyage, there are only two rows per car, so no way to avoid riding atop a wheel.
After The Legend, we decided to take a coaster break and got in line for Frightful Falls, the log flume ride. I like log flumes, and I liked this one very much. Just the right amount of spray at the bottom of the drop.
We then watched a bit of the open-air Dive! show, featuring two springboards and three levels of tiny still platforms. We enjoyed the dives we saw, but the timing was off somehow, with some long-ish delays between stunts. So we watched for about 15 minutes from the sidewalk, then went on to the 4th of July section.
We waited in line almost an hour to ride the Liberty Launch. The line itself wasn't long, but the little launcher can only accommodate 12 riders at a time, so the line moves slowly.
While in the 4th of July section, we decided to have lunch at The Alamo, an outdoor Mexican restaurant. I waited about 30 minutes to order our food, and my BF was on lookout duty for a table. When I got to the counter, I was informed that once I ordered, there was another 30-minute wait for any food to actually come out of the kitchen. The employee also told me that the park was extremely crowded, and I probably would encounter the same situation anywhere I went for food. I went ahead and ordered and was given one of those buzzing devices to alert me when our food was ready for pickup at another window. My BF had not been able to grab a table in the time I was waiting to order (there were lots of people scoping out tables who were more "assertive" than he). So we took a seat on a nearby rock wall and eventually a table opened up and we moved there. After about three minutes, a man asked if he could join us and we said "sure." Then the rest of his family showed up and also helped themselves to seats at our table. Although I thought it a bit forward, we made chit chat about the park until our buzzer alerted me that our food was ready. It was chaos at the food pick-up station, as there was a large crowd gathered there, but mostly they were people waiting for their buzzer to sound. So even though my buzzer was vibrating and the lights were going off, I couldn't physically make my way to the window to pick up my food because so many people had set up shop in front of the window to wait it out. Finally I asked all the people in front of me, one by one, if they're buzzers had buzzed yet, and made my way to the front. By the time I made it back to the table, our new friends had vacated, opting to eat somewhere else in the park. My boyfriend had the nachos supreme and I had the chips and queso, and added rice and guacamole. The portion sizes were good, not too small but not too large and the quality of the food was good.
We then headed back over to The Raven, and the line had shortened significantly, so we finished up our tour of the wooden coasters. I enjoyed The Raven, but my boyfriend's toe found a non-capped bolt inside the car that managed to give him a good jab in spite of the fact that he was wearing sneakers. Again, there was no "middle" row, so another rough ride, but not as rough as The Legend had been, IMO.
The day was heating up, so we went to the car and retrieved our water park bag. In hindsight, we should have rented an all-day locker in the Splashin' Safari section when we first arrived. Only two of the five rental kiosks were working, so we waited a while in line to rent a locker. Prices are $10 for a regular sized locker and $15 for a large locker. We only had one tote bag so we opted for the regular size. Once we paid, a wristband with a barcode printed out at the kiosk which we could use to access our locker for the rest of the day. Next problem: it was almost impossible to find an available locker. They have lights in the locker bays to indicate sections where there are available lockers, but they were all red, indicating the lockers in that area were in use. We finally located a section with a green light, scanned our wristband, and a locker door popped open. Hooray! We were lucky though, as we were barely able to stuff our tote bag into the locker. And a sign at the rental kiosk clearly stated that once you purchased a regular-sized locker, you could not upgrade to a large size. That would be fair, had there been sample lockers at the kiosk so people would know for sure which size they needed. FYI, the "regular" size at Kings Island is probably 50% larger than the "regular" at Holiday World. Or at least it seemed that way, since that same tote bag fits fine when I take it to KI.
We went straight to Mammoth, one of the two "water coasters" in the park featuring LIM technology to moved the multi-person boats along the course. There was a sign proclaiming a one-hour wait from the point in the line where we started. Unfortunately, it took us closer to two hours to make it onto a boat. Once we did though, what a great ride! If the line hadn't taken so long, I would definitely have ridden Mammoth again. The LIM lifts were fast and smooth, and there were lots of tunnels and airtime hills, not to mention spraying and splashing throughout.
By this time we were pretty tired, so we floated a couple of laps around the Kimba Bay lazy river. So relaxing, with just a couple of splashy elements.
Finally, we got in line for the second water coaster, Wildebeest. There was only a 30-minute wait for this one, probably since the water park was closing soon (6:00). This may have been my favorite ride all day! Alot like Mammoth with the LIM lifts, but the vehicles were 4-person in-line rafts, instead of 6-person round rafts (like Mammoth). It really felt like a water roller coaster! We would have ridden this again, except they had stopped letting people in the queue by the time we exited, even though it was only 5:45. In fact, I would I sampled many of the other water attractions, had there been time.
So I waited in a massive line for a women's changing room to change back into dry clothes. The dry rides were open for another hour, but we were pretty tired and the hike back to Thunderbird seemed far, plus now we had a heavy bag of wet towels and suits to lug around. So we got in line at the Funnel Cake Factory (about a 20-minute wait), and shared a heavenly funnel cake with cream cheese icing and a final free water before heading back to the exit.
Overall observations: A great family park! The complimentary/included Pepsi products and parking were very convenient and appreciated. True to Holiday World's reputation, the park is kept clean and the staff is friendly. If I had young children, I would probably frequent this park.
The one thing that bugged me: Abuse of the single-rider lanes. As I mentioned, the park was very crowded, and all the lines were long (except first thing in the morning). Many of the rides had single rider lanes, which I am generally in favor of, when used correctly. However, we waited two hours to ride Mammoth, and our boat included a mother and daughter who waited less than half that time in the single rider lane, even though they weren't single riders at all. The same thing almost happened on Wildebeest, except the employee expediting loading split up the two girls who were holding up that line, waiting to ride together. Same thing on the Liberty Launch. I personally don't mind the idea of the single rider lane as long as it's truly used to make the most of the seats available on the ride. Holiday World doesn't offer any kind of Fast Lane-type upgrade, which is fine, but I saw a lot of abuse of the single rider lanes. Also, I found it odd that the park closed at 7:00 on a Friday in August...