TR: Holiwood Nights (8/6/09) - Holiday World
Santa Claus, IN
September 26, 2009
At the end of the last chapter, you may recall we arrived at our hotel just outside Louisville, KY after driving 3 hours from Indiana Beach and arriving around 1am. So, we had a short night, and hot on the road around 9am which should have been great timing as it would get up to Holiday World right around 10am. Well, recall that massive road construction project on I-64 that stretched clean across the great State of Indiana that I mentioned in the Holiwood Nights trip report? Well, it's still there, and that delayed our arrival at the park to about 10:30-10:45am.
We turned off I-64 and headed back the 7 mile drive to the park until we came to the intersection where you make the turn right by Holidog's Funtown. You may recall on my last visit we commented on the new traffic light, and that it looked like they were building a major new parking lot entrance. The new parking lot entrance was open, and staff were enthusiastically waving us towards it. Still no tollbooths, but the long windy access road takes you all the way to the back of the Legend Lot. The Legend lot itself is still gravel except for a few key places. Here parking attendants guided us to a parking space, then we walked to the end of our row and boarded a parking tram, just like those big name parks used to do. In this case the parking tram can only take you as far as the front of the Legend lot where a tram station has been built. Owing to the design of the tram station, for some people it may be shorter to walk BACK to tram stop 1, then have to walk clear around the fenced off tram circle. The tram lets you off right across from the tunnel, where further fences ensure you walk to the front gate by walking around the perimeter of the lot, not through the lot.
We were dismayed by the flood of people we saw pouring into the park. Pat Koch was standing at her usual post by the front gate welcoming people into the park. I had "won" some tickets through a television station promotion where they would let you buy tickets 2 for one. We entered the park using our $20 Media tickets instead of buying $40 general admission tickets.
Once inside the park, we realized we were hungry, so instead of heading right to a ride, we headed directly to Plymouth Rock Cafe. On the way there, we could see the lines for Paul Revere's Midnight Ride, Rough Riders, and Turkey Twirl, so its going to be that kind of day. What happned was our coaster trip happened to be the only summer like week we had all summer. Luckily, others must not have been hungry yet as we walked right up to the serving counter at Plymouth Rock. It's a cafeteria that offers your standard Meat Plus Three service. It's around $7-$10 depending on your entree choice, but for that I got a nice serving of roast turkey, sweet potato, green beans, fried apple, and a roll. Drinks, of course, are always free at Holiday World. The come-on here is the deserts are about $3 each, but of course we got one of those too. Pumpkin pie anyone? When the place first was announced they said there would be indoor seating, but that didn't materialize. We went outside and had a nice filling lunch, this realy is one of the better theme park dining bargains.
After lunch we checked out the line for Gobbler Getaway, full, and headed to Voyage. The line for Voyage was just backing up into the outside queue area, and although we feared the big indoor queue area may be open, we do need to ride something while we are here. We enter the Voyage queue, and upon entering the station building, were delighted to learn we were being sent directly upstairs instead of down into the basement to the large queue maze of doom. I don't think I've seen that lower level used since 2007.
We got up to the station and took seats near the back in 6.2. We noticed one thing, we saw a train take off, we saw a train pull in, we then saw a train on the back brake. Obviously they were runnign three trains today. So onto out ride, up the lift hill, and yes 5 airtime filled hills on the outbaound leg, then the nastiest turnaround you will see on a wood coaster, complete with drops, twists, 2 90 degree banks, and it just very intense. You take the first drop of the return leg and come out on the mid course brake, which is only like 6' off the ground, thanks to the terrain. You don't slow at all on the mid course, then you enter into the long tunnel and its a deep triple down in the dark to get the party started for the return leg.. The return leg weaves itself back and forth through the outbound leg structure while producing nice lateral and airtime moments of its own. You then get back near the station, after the final 90 degree bank turn, but don't think you are done, after a track job to align yourself witht he station house, you go through a tunnel in the lower level queue area, then come back up, then right back down into a tunnnel under the midway, where you pop up for the final turnaround right nect to the Pepsi Oasis building. The final brake is on a high section of track right above the big Thanksgiving banner as you enter the section. It's just a right hand turn and a slow return to the station from there. It may not have been running as intense as the post storm rides in May, but it was holding its own quite nicely. Eric's big complaint is the ride doesn't give you a chance to catch your breath, its just non stop intensity all the way through. We go back for another ride, and this time wait for the back seat. Yup, Voyage still has it, and is already starting to warm up.
We next head to Legend. WE walk down the stairs into the Legend quee area, and discover its queue area to be half full, and the indoor queue area to be full. We then deicde since we have waited that long to go ahead and wait for the back seat. I don't think I have waited this long for Legend since its one train days when it first opened. Like in May, I can say they are doing good things with Legend, it is running like it did when it was new, and the Four Turns of Doom are quite powerful.
We then headed up to Raven, and walking through the Raven queue I can see we must have just missed a crowd since the Raven queue was set up for its long configuration, but the line was just to the bottom of the steps. We, of course, waited for Raven's back seat. At least they had two trains on Raven and Legend. I'm not so sure about Raven, when I first rode it 1996, I thought it was great, but now probably thanks to having Voyage in the same park, the Fifth Drop doesn't do it for me anymore, and the whole ride seems short. I mean the first drop is good, and there are still laterals in the Lake Rudolph turn and the S turn after the big drop, it just doesn't seem as good as it used to.
We then decided to check out Splashin Safari. Visiting a water park in a park is a huge time investment. We did do the gift shop run on our way out to the parking lot, then hiked all the way back to the car, got swim bags, hiked all the way back into the park. Got into the park just in time to see Santa mingling in the fountain area. We headed to Splashin Safari, got in another line to rent lockers. Here locker rental is $10, just like the big name parks, but here you get $7 back when you return the key, not like the big name parks. I then headed into the bathhouse, and I don't know if I just hadn't noticed them before, or if they are reading my trip reports, but there are private changing rooms in the bathhouse, not many of them, but they are available. After getting changed and a quick shower (clever the way the have the pull rope mostly tacked down to the wall so it isn't hanging in the middle of the aisle), then it was to the self serve free sunscreen station to slather excessive amounts of free sunscreen all over the exposed parts of my body.
We then decided to go ride Pilgrims Plunge first. As we were walking through the waterpark we were talking about how this water park looked on our first visit in 1996. At the time they had a wave pool, a kids pool, a lazy river, that one slide tower nearest the park, and maybe Wautubee, but I'm not sure about Wautubee. They have since expanded with a long row of water slides (Otorongo, which is three slides), ZoomBabwe, Zinga (funnel slide), Jungle Racers) as well as add two or three wet water activity areas, including two of those water slide/play structures with the pourng barrels. Lately they have added a second wave pool, a second lazy river, and Bakuli (toilet bowl slide). Next year they get a watercoaster. They have easil built this up into a complete waterpark that could easily stand on its own. It is also quite huge now. This year the park added the Pilgrims Plunge shoot the chutes ride and placed it so it falls on the border of Splashin Safari and Thanksgiving. So we headed all the way to the back of Splashin Safari, then down a path that goes under Voyage. Remember that little gate I mentioned was blocking the path that people were jumping over in May, well its been replaced by a more substantial gate. So we go through the tunnel under the Plunge observatio area to come up the hill right by the Pilgrims Punge exit.
At this point there is a 'customs' station to make sure those Splashin Safari guests don't make it into Thanksgiving without propper atire. We pressed on and followed the numerous, large, "ENTER HERE" signs. Oh no, a totally full queue house, at least we have the worlds largest fan to keep us cool. You know what else, now that the park has ordered and received extra boats for the ride, the line really never stops moving, its like a 20-30 minute walk to get onto the ride. I was happy to see, that due to the extra boats they were needing to stop the boats in the station, hey I win all the way around on this. We get seated in the middle of a boat, pull down the lap bars and are on our way. Right after you leave the station you go down a long meandering river, and it was quite clear our boat was listing to the left, yeah not a lot of planning went into that seating arangement. After the meandering river you come to an area where you stop and wait for an elevator, then you get onto the elevator. I think we got the most wet sitting still waiting for the elevator to rise as water from above kept raining down on us. The elevator is fast, quiet, and creepy with the way it bows out. Once to the top you pause a few seconds before it pushes you out of the elevator and down the drop. You get to the bottom of the drop, and just when you are thinking "Is that it?" you get hit by the splashdown. Don't worry, you honestly don't get that wet. Then its the long run out, then the jouney past all the coin operated water geysers. Finally you hit the lift hill up into the station, and you exit. At this point they have temporary barriers that lead you past the on ride photo booth, but those can easily be avoided. I did note the lift hill does allow excess water to drain out of drains in the back of the boar. We then took the long walk back to Bahari River.
Bahari River is the parks newer lazy river. We were surprised to find no line for it, and in fact wound up going around three times, yes taking the longer path each time. I took great delight in trying to navigate myself into as many water falls, sprayers, and the like as I could. There is just something peaceful about a lazy river, even if I think they may have let a few too many people into this one as we kept getting jammed up.
After Bahari River, we took a look at Bakuli, the 60 minute wait didn't sound appetizing, but we walked up to the observation deck. Man, they have this planned out well, it seems that practically every raft makes exactly two spins around the toilet bowl, guided by water jets. We were surprised to see they would let multiple rafts into the toilet bowl area at one time. Still seeing as they were only putting 2 people in a raft, we decided to wait for another visit for this one.
In fact we decided we were out of water park mode, changed back to street clothes, returnied locker keys, and headed back to Thanksgiving. We ended the day with two more rides on Voyage, yes back seat, and yes they were even crazier than early in the day. We then did a photo walkthrough of the park, hit the gift shops, then headed out. I like how the Legends transfer track is now labeled as something like "Stable 2"
We exited the park, collected our car, and headed out the old entrance to the Legend Lot, and drove over to the post office. Eric wanted to send one of his young relatives a postcard from Santa. We had the postcard prepared, but the Santa Claus post office does not have a stamp vending machine for selling stamps after hours. Luckily Holiday Foods was able to set us up with some stamps. So the postcard gets mailed, and while in the post office we run into Will Koch. Talk for a few moments and are then on our way to St. Louis.
Six Flags St. Louis is a huge park I haven't been to, Eric hasn't been there in a good 10 years or so, it's Friday and with the way huge crowds have been following us, we figure we'd need all the time we could get at Six Flags St. Louis, and we also decided it would be good to get a good nights sleep, so we left Holiday World early, and set outrselves up at a hotel just 15 miles east of St. Louis. A quick drive through dinner of Culvers to end the night. Oh, and that I-64 road work followed us most of theway to St. Louis.
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