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Holiday World: Then & Now

By HoliBlogger Courtney S.

Even though there were five of us kids in a very middle class family, my parents did everything they could to take us on new adventures and let us have the best childhood we possibly could. The theme parks we would go to growing up were mostly in Indiana and Kentucky and some of my favorite memories were staying at Lake Rudolph and then going to Holiday World back in those days!

Having my own little family now and trying to give my daughter all the fun and memories I had, I was super excited to bring our tween/now teen to Holiday World this past season to explore it all for herself. Stepping back in the places I hadn’t been since I was a teen made me start to reflect on Holiday World then and now.

It was just as amazing as we remembered.

When I last went, we were living in Indianapolis, and it was an easy road trip down to Southern Indiana, being greeted by a town where it’s Christmas all year-round.

We have lived in Cincinnati, Ohio most of my daughter’s life, and that was just as easy a road trip to Santa Claus, Indiana.

One of their wooden roller coasters, The Raven, is similar to The Beast at Kings Island in Cincinnati. They both go out into the woods and hug close to the ground. The Beast had been my daughter’s favorite wooden roller coaster, so she couldn’t wait to ride its counterpart at Holiday World. It was the first thing she did when we got in the park. She had a blast!

Besides all the nostalgic memories that flooded me when we checked into our cottage at Lake Rudolph, I was flooded by the memories in Holiday World as well. We never got to stay in a holiday cottage at the campground and RV resort when I was a kid, so it felt super fancy this time around. If we hadn’t been so excited to take Adilyn to Holiday World for her first time, I might have slowed down and shared some old camping stories with her.

Even though Lake Rudolph is owned by Sun Outdoors now, they’ve still kept all the same delightful charm that was always there. We took the shuttle and got dropped off right at the front entrance to Holiday World (saved our walking legs for the park instead of the parking lot!).

When I had been younger and going to Holiday World, I had been way too scared to try roller coasters.

I think I was 16 by the time my mom finally coerced me onto one at another theme park, and she still has the picture of me crying and terrified while everyone else had their arms up, having the time of their lives. She has been in the process of moving across the country this past year, so I haven’t been able to track down the photos from back in those days. I wish I had been able to, so I could share with all of you, but the vivid imagery is still firmly planted in my mind.


My two favorite rides at Holiday World had been the Mayflower ship that swings you high into the air as the ship rocks back and forth, and the HallowSwings. I had tried a smaller version of the ride when my daughter was a little younger and we’d gone to a carnival. It took everything within me to not puke all over those poor kids as we swung round and round! My former thrill-ride loving self is not what it once was, much to my dismay.

Knowing this, I didn’t even attempt the swings at Holiday World this year. I DID get on the Mayflower, so proud of myself and saying how it looked so much smaller now as an adult. Whew! I got in the last row on the outside, which my daughter insisted on, and I have not screamed that much in years. Other moms were looking at me while I held on for dear life, and I didn’t care one bit. My hubby captured the whole ride on film, and we laughed so hard rewatching ourselves over and over. Even my daughter, with her young and able body, had held on for dear life right next to me.

I loved creating those memories with her.

As we walked all over the park and went to Splashin’ Safari, I realized that there was so much more there than I could even remember.

Being back as the parent now and being the one footing the bill, I was surprised by how affordable the food and the souvenirs were. It’s no wonder it had been one of my parents’ favorite places to take us and make us feel like we had the world at our fingertips.

Holiday World is a first-class act and the perfect place for families. Now that I’ve rediscovered it, and my family loves it just as much as I remember loving it then, we can’t wait to go back again and again now.

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Entries accepted through Thursday, December 15 at 2pm CDT.

This blog post was written by HoliBlogger Courtney S.

A Cincinnati mom that spent my teen years in Indianapolis, I remember Summers at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari fondly. My family and I love travel and theme parks. I own the Cincinnati, Dayton, and Louisville Mom Collectives where we provide the best in trusted recommendations, tips, tricks, and resources to families in our communities. In my rare free moments, I like to write, read, draw, paint, game, go to the park, go to art museums, and try new foods.