Holiday World In Santa Claus, Indiana

Holiday World is an amusement park with something enjoyable for the whole family. Located in Santa Claus, Indiana, it offers visitors thrilling roller coasters, Santa Claus Land, and water activities.

Holiday World, one of America's top rated theme parks, is located in the southwestern Indiana town of Santa Claus, which is the only town in America named for the legendary Christmas symbol. Even though German settlers named their community on Christmas Eve in 1820, there wasn't much in Santa Claus, Indiana, to honor their namesake for almost a century.

In the mid 1930s a local businessman built a "castle" for selling candy to visitors. Nearby a few toy companies built factories where they could build toys and sell them to visiting children. In 1935 a large granite statue of Santa Claus was erected near the main road.

But children visiting tiny Santa Claus, Indiana, were so disappointed to find out the "real" Santa Claus wasn't there and this bothered Louis J. Koch, the father of nine children. He created Santa Claus Land as a retirement project.

Santa Claus Land, the first theme park in America, opened in 1946. (Walt Disney constructed Disneyland in 1955.) The original park included a real Santa Claus, collections of antique toys, kiddie rides, a deer farm, and a wax museum. Because the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial was only a few miles away, there was also an exhibit of Lincoln memorabilia.

By 1984 changes were made because Santa Claus Land was considered a destination for preschool children only and not the whole family. Santa Claus Land became Holiday World in 1984 and, while the original exhibits were kept, the park expanded to include Fourth of July and Halloween attractions.

In 1993 a water park, Splashin' Safari, was added. This includes a wave pool, a family raft ride, a children's play area, and numerous water slides.

To celebrate the park's 50th anniversary in 1996, a wooden roller coaster known as the Ravem was added. This was named one of the U.S.'s Top Ten Roller Coasters by Forbes American Heritage magazine. It was also voted the nation's #1 wooden roller coaster by readers of Amusement Today magazine in 2000. Made of southern yellow pine, The single 24 passenger train has 6 cars seating 4 passengers each. The ride through thickly wooden terrain in the Halloween section features a 120 foot tunnel with 85 foot and 61 foot drops. There are also sharp curves and fog. The track length is 2,800 feet and the ride height is 110 feet. The ride reaches speeds of over 60 mph and lasts for 90 seconds. Passengers must be a minimum of 48 inches tall.

In 1999 a new area opened in the Fourth of July section with a large family-play-super-structure, jeep rides, and more.

The park's biggest expansion occurred in 2000 when another wooden roller coaster, The Legend, was added. The Legend is 50% longer than the Raven, with the world's first spiral drop of 77 feet and a double helix. The new ride roars through four tunnels, one of which is underground.

Amusement Today readers also voted Holiday World "Friendliest Park Staff" and "Cleanest Park" in 2000. That same year Holiday World also became the first theme park to include free cold beverages in its admission price.

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