Safari Sam’s SplashLand – Kids’ Zone

Holiday World, USA

Holiday World

World’s First Theme Park Never Stops Transforming

Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari is considered the world’s first theme park and, according to two recent online polls (conducted by USA Today™ and TripAdvisor®), is ranked among the best of America’s 1,200 water parks. Pretty impressive for a park in a small Midwest American town called Santa Claus, Indiana; population 2,500.

So how has this water park – which is only open for half of the year – managed to enjoy such success over the past 20 years? According to Matthew Eckert, President & CEO, success can be attributed to:

  • Honoring its storied history
  • Having a passion for delivering family fun
  • Being dedicated to constant innovation

Delivering excitement on a foundation built for family fun

The idea for Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari was inspired by a father’s desire to bring family fun to America’s heartland.

Louis J. Koch, a retired industrialist from nearby Evansville, first visited the town of Santa Claus in 1941. According to Eckert, “Mr. Koch had a large family that included nine children. He envisioned a theme park for Santa Claus, IN because he was concerned about the possible disappointment of children visiting the town and discovering that Santa didn’t live there.”

After years of planning, and a construction delay caused by World War II, Louis Koch opened the new theme park – called Santa Claus Land – on August 3, 1946. Shortly after opening, Louis’s son Bill took over, successfully operating the park for nearly 40 years. In 1984, the park was renamed Holiday World and two of Bill’s children, Will and Dan Koch, took over the park’s operation. In 2012, long-time employee Matt Eckert became President & CEO.

In 1993, the park welcomed a new era with the addition of the safari-themed water park. Since then, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari has welcomed millions of guests and, more than 20 years after opening the water park, continues to be one of the most popular in America.

“ProSlide’s focus on constant innovation is one of the things that drives our ongoing relationship, they are always bringing us new ideas that other ride manufacturers simply don’t consider.”

Matt Eckert, Holiday World

Constant innovation has resulted in huge success

When the water park first turned on the taps in 1993 it had just a handful of attractions. But, the management team at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari is not easily satisfied by past achievements. Today, the water park boasts 23 amazing attractions, including the two longest water coasters on the planet and the world’s largest enclosed waterslide.

“ProSlide’s focus on constant innovation is one of the things that drives our ongoing relationship,” says Eckert. “They are always bringing us new ideas that other ride manufacturers simply don’t consider. For example, we have a large hill located on our property, within the boundaries of the water park. Back in 2008, the ProSlide team suggested using the natural topography to our advantage. Now, we have Wildebeest and Mammoth – the two longest water coasters in the world – running down that hill. Leave it to ProSlide to create such amazing water coasters.”

“Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari were early adaptors for linear induction motor (LIM)-powered water coasters and they remain the only water park in the world with two of them,” says Rick Hunter, ProSlide President and CEO. “As soon as we showed them the concept for this industry-changing ride, they just got it. There’s something special about working closely with a group of fellow entrepreneurs who love the industry as much as you do.”

ProSlide has worked closely with the Koch family and, together, have built 11 attractions in the park since 1996, starting with the Watubee ― a 625-foot long family river rapids ride (ProSlide MAMMOTH) that stands six-storeys tall and allows for up to five riders simultaneously.

“Over the course of nearly 20 years together, we have delivered the most innovative attractions using the right mix of rides,” says Eckert. “Our guests look forward to riding their attractions again and again.”

Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari continues to garner accolades

Between the two co-located parks, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari has received more Golden Ticket Awards (‘People’s Choice’ awards presented by Amusement Today ) than any other amusement park in the world, with 47 honors recognizing outstanding customer service and attraction innovation: Friendliest Park (13 awards), Cleanest Park (15 awards), Best New Waterpark Ride (4 awards) and Best Waterpark Ride (5 awards).

In addition, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari was awarded a Best Water Ride award from the World Waterpark Association (WWA) in 2010, for the Wildebeest (a ProSlide HydroMAGNETIC® ROCKET™), and was twice named America’s “Top Value Park” by Consumers Digest (in 2007 and 2012).

“For us, it’s never about building a standard water ride,” says Hunter. “It’s about working together to create a killer attraction for their park. We’re proud to contribute to the ongoing success enjoyed by Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari.”

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Fast Facts

  • Opened: 1993
  • Size of park: 16.2 hectares/40 acres
  • Annual attendance: 1,100,000
  • Ride mix: 11 ProSlide rides, including a TORNADO 60, HydroMAGNETIC ROCKET, HydroMAGNETIC MAMMOTH, TurboMAMMOTH, BehemothBOWL 60, 10-lane ProRACER and PIPEline.

First Place Awards

  • Golden Ticket: Friendliest Park (1998–2008, 2010–2011)
  • Golden Ticket: Cleanest Park (2000–2014)
  • Golden Ticket: Best New Waterpark Ride (2006-2007,
    2010, 2012)
  • Golden Ticket: Best Waterpark Ride (2003, 2010–2015)
  • WWA: Best Water Ride (2010)
  • Consumers Digest: America’s “Top Value Park” (2007 and