As we’re all trying to deal with everything going on in our world, many are already looking forward to the wonder of Christmas. Even Hallmark got in on that idea and celebrated Christmas in July just a few weeks ago. Today’s #HistoryMonday looks at a town and its local attraction that celebrate the wonder of Christmas (bonus points: it has Hoosier connections).
On this day in 1946, Santa Claus Land opened in the town of Santa Claus, Indiana. The amusement park was opened by a Southern Indiana industrialist as a way to highlight the town’s connection to Christmas by virtue of its name. The local post office in Santa Claus receives most of the mail addressed to Santa at the North Pole and has fun with the name.
While amusement parks were nothing new in 1946, the idea of specifically themed amusement parks is what made Santa Claus Land important. Louis Koch felt that having a location that allowed children to see Santa not just during the Christmas shopping season was important for a town that bears Santa’s name. The amusement park featured rides, themed displays, and restaurants connected to Christmas. Eventually, a deer pen was constructed that featured fallow deer that were meant to evoke the idea of Santa’s reindeer.
As the theme park grew, it eventually added more of the usual amusement park rides decorated with the Christmas theme. Expanding on the idea of holidays year-round the park was renamed Holiday World in 1984.
Currently the park features 4 holiday-themed areas—the original Christmas, Fourth of July, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. Each area has their own themed rides and features along with music appropriate for the holiday played on speakers hung through walkways. Additionally, a non-holiday themed water park named Splashin’ Safari that was added in 1993.
Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari also is known for its 3 large wooden roller-coasters: The Raven, The Legend, and The Voyage. The coasters have worn awards both nationally and worldwide for safety and entertainment quality. The park itself has also earned awards for cleanliness and family-friendliness by industry experts.
Just over a million visitors frequent the park each year. While not as ubiquitous as Six Flags, Cedar Point, or Kings Island the park still maintains a popularity in Indiana and much of the Midwest. Since the park offers free drinks and sunscreen as well as reduced admission compared to the larger parks it does provide better value and many of the annual visitors will come multiple times during the year.
Growing up within an hour’s drive of Holiday World, making visits or seeing pictures from friends and family at the theme park were fairly common growing up and are still common even today. Since I can’t ride the coasters and many of the rides, I don’t make it over there that often but if given the invites I’ll go and enjoy the water park or being the coat tree for the more adventurous.
Have you ever been to Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari?