Best Darn Water Park in the Midwest

A lot has changed since 1946—but in Santa Claus, Indiana, where family fun reigns and visions of sugarplums dance through children’s heads all year long, Santa Claus himself has been welcoming visitors into his home away from the North Pole ever since his sleigh touched down seventy years ago.
An easy drive from three Midwest cities
Originally called Santa Claus Land, the holiday-themed amusement park—now Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari—is a short drive from many nearby Midwest cities: three hours from St. Louis; a little less than three hours from Indianapolis; about two and a half hours from Cincinnati; a little more than an hour from Louisville; and two and half hours from Nashville, TN. Highly touted as one of the world’s friendliest and cleanest parks, the 165 acres of rollercoasters, waterslides and adventure situated in southern Indiana has free sunscreen, free drinks (non-alcoholic) and free parking—no wonder it’s also been named the nation’s Top Value Park twice (2007 and 2012) by Consumers Digest.

Rides you need to find
Although there are plenty of rides for all ages and all different levels of daredevils, four of the parks best known attractions which continue to receive accolades year after year are:

  • Wildebeest: Voted the #1 Water Park Ride in the World
  • Mammoth: Certified by Guinness World Records, as the World’s Longest Water Coaster
  • Thunderbird: America’s only launched-wing coaster
  • Voyage: Named the nation’s top wooden roller coaster by TIME magazine, it holds the record for most air-time on a wooden roller coaster at 24.3 seconds

New for the park’s 70th birthday 
To help celebrate 70 years of thrill-seeking adventure and family fun, the park’s first ride—The Freedom Train—is on display along with a Memories Mosaic made up with over 7,000 crowdsourced photos taken over the past seven decades. Also new this year:

  • New Boats: Mammoth water coaster’s new boats have added legroom—only you don’t pay extra like you do on the airlines.
  • New Food: Peanut butter burgers, kettle corn, Dole Whip soft serve, gluten-free desserts and Big Red—the latest addition to the parks huge supply of FREE soft drinks including Pepsi products, Gatorade, lemonade, iced tea, coffee and water.
  • New News: Holiday World Podcast, with biweekly news and musings from two fourth-generation owners, the park’s president, plus guests.

Make it an overnight trip
While you can easily drive to and from the park from many Midwest cities, to get the most out of your trip book a few nights at Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort where you can stay in one of Rudolph’s Christmas Cabins, a Holiday Cottage, a fully equipped RV or even drive your own! The accommodations have ample space and you can grill out, cook a meal indoor depending on what type of lodging you choose, or hop on one of the reindeer (well, technically you’ll be hopping on a bus aptly named Dancer, or Prancer, or Blitzen) that will take you to Holiday World where you can enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner—or something as simple as a chicken sandwich.

So, what are you waiting for? Make your plans to visit Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort and Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari today—and while you’re there, have a piece of birthday cake for me.

Article originally published by MapQuest, summer 2016.