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18 September 2011

A visit to Holiday World & Splashin' Safari with Jumana Brodersen


Theme park master planner and IPM guest blogger Jumana Brodersen of The Jco recently visited Holiday World & Splashin' Safari in Santa Claus, Indiana, accompanied by a group of teens. She shared her photos and observations.

All photos by Jumana Brodersen unless otherwise indicated.
It was the last weekend of the season and crowded even though the day was rainy. Supplying the "holiday" factor are themed areas based on holidays: 4th of July, Halloween, etc. We indulged in a Thanksgiving turkey dinner for lunch.


I was impressed by how well they take care of the guests' comfort and thereby reinforce the value of the admission price. First, the free beverages: Scattered throughout the park are self-serve Pepsi Oasis stations that allow guests to refill whenever they like at no charge.

Photo: Holiday World

There's also ample seating in the food service and the family areas. Lockers and showers were plentiful. Handicapped access features were convenient and easy to locate. There's something for everyone: The patrons are mostly families and all were engaged. I'm sure that many of them are locally based and make frequent repeat visits.


The property is about 30% waterpark. Splashin' Safari has a nice balance of state-of-the-art water rides and attractions and will be adding another in 2012, the Mammoth water coaster. Holiday World's rides are mostly geared to youngsters, but there's a good roller coaster selection, dominated by the huge and hugely popular wooden coaster "The Voyage."


The architecture of the park is simple, and the natural terrain is beautiful.


Regional parks such as Holiday World have close relationships with their audiences. It's important for park designers and master planners to engage with the employees and managers who know the day-to-day reality of the property as well as with the top brass. The designer/planner brings strategic thinking and big-picture perspective, the operators and operations people bring intimate knowledge from their daily experience and interactions with guests, and the result is creative synergy. Visiting this park, I was reminded of Tim Cuddihy, a now-retired former colleague from my days at SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. He was general manager of Water Country USA (Williamsburg) and then became general manager of Aquatica (Orlando) for its opening and first years. Tim pointed out that you should always build your flatwater attractions first and then your slides.


The high-dive show in the Halloween section of Holiday World is excellent.


This park is doing most things right. But every property can use some improvement, and all must look for ways to refresh in order to stay competitive. Holiday World & Splashin' Safari would, in my opinion, benefit from some retrofitting to make the older section of the park flow as well as the newer areas, and tie the two more closely together. I think they'd also do well to add some more attractions to the theme park that would appeal to teenagers and adults. But it's clear that this unique park is beloved by its customers and that those customers are very loyal. --J.B.


Email Jumana Brodersen at jumana [AT] thejco. com.

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Jumana Brodersen master plans new children's area, Klump Island, for Tivoli Gardens
TripAdvisor names Splashin' Safari top water park 
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