I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
July 9, 2022
Supposedly, everyone’s in Europe right now, which is fine with me because it means the lines are shorter at Holiday World. America’s first theme park happens to be just two and half hours from Nashville in (heh) Santa Claus, Indiana. It is big, with both a sizable amusement park and an equally impressive water park, it is surrounded by cornfields, and it is definitely one of my greatest guilty pleasures in life. I know some of you think sunning yourselves on a pontoon boat or gossiping with your neighbors at the community pool is the perfect way to spend a hot summer day — Personally, I’d rather be at Holiday World, strapped in next to my daughter on the Thunderbird and screaming my head off as we go upside down for the 57th time that day.
You can understand, then, why I jumped at the chance to write blog posts for the theme park this season. Yes, friends. this year I am a Holiblogger, and as a result of my need for ‘research’, we’ve already gone to Holiday World twice this summer, which means my teens think I’m about .002% cooler than they did a couple of months ago.
My first post is up on the Holiday World website now and it’s all about our most recent trip to see the amazing (truly) Holidays in the Sky drone show that’s happening there now through July. Picture 300 drones in the sky forming all kinds of amazing 3D pictures accompanied by music and that’s what this is. It’s every bit as awe-inspiring as you’d imagine, and it’s also probably the future of light shows.
I also wrote about our stay at Sun Outdoors Lake Rudolph, which is located right beside the park and could best be described as glamping. Our cottage was very clean and the bed was comfortable, which was honestly all I cared about at the end of a long day at the park, but y’all, something’s going on in that place that I need to investigate further. Pretty much every cottage, cabin, and RV site was occupied by one or more families and the place was a total social scene, with people riding around greeting one another in rented golf carts and music playing and kids running around everywhere and lots and lots of grilling out, from sun-up to midnight and all kinds of scheduled activities like dog parades and arts and crafts and karaoke nights. It was like a world within a world and I kind of wanted to be part of it for a little while… but alas. I was too tired, and also a little sunburned. The camping resort life remains a mystery to me. For now.
Anyway, I suppose I could cut and paste the post I wrote for the Holiday World website here and be done with it, but since I like to tell people I do what I want on this blog, I’m going to keep the tradition going and tell you a different Holiday World story instead. One that involves blood and mischief and bad behavior. My bad behavior.
If it’s a hot day when we visit Holiday World, we generally spend most of our time on the waterpark side, which is called Splashin’ Safari. This particular water park puts all the others I’ve visited to shame, mainly because of its three water coasters, which are, as the name suggests, hybrid water slide/ roller coasters. The water coasters at Holiday World are powered by ‘linear induction motor (LIM) technology,’ according to the Holiday World website, which shoots the boats uphill using ‘an alternating magnetic field beneath the slide surface.’ I have no idea what that means, but I’m in favor of it, because it makes the boats go really, really fast.
We love the water coasters so much that we will wait in longish lines to ride them, even when the five-year-old redheaded kid behind us head butts my elbow so hard, it bleeds, which is what happened on our most recent visit. Sometimes, you’ve just gotta suffer for the things you love. And besides, the kid was really, really cute. “You’re gonna get wet!” he called out helpfully to us once we were seated on the ride and headed up the conveyor belt. Thanks, kid. Noted.
But as much as we love the water coasters and slides, I’m almost ashamed to admit that my favorite part of Splashin’ Safari just might be Kima Bay. I know it looks like it’s for kids, but it’s actually for adults — It’s just that no adults seem to have realized this fact except for me. Kima Bay has a whole bunch of mini-water slides that are really fun and have no lines. It also has a whole bunch of opportunities to dump buckets of water on unsuspecting people’s heads, and in my experience, there’s no better way to let off steam when the whole world is on fire than by dumping a bucket of water on an unsuspecting person’s head.
That’s exactly what was on my mind as I raced my son up the Kima Bay stairs toward the purple slide, which Kima superfans know is the absolute best slide on the structure. I was so excited to be back, I even stopped and did a little dance on the landing to embarrass my son — and that’s the precise point when I was gobsmacked by a full bucket of water dumped squarely on top of me. Yep. This player had been played, before she even started the game. I looked up in surprise, only to find our favorite redheaded five-year-old on the landing above me roaring with laughter, still gripping the overturned bucket.
“You!” I shouted. “YOU!!” I shook my fist at him and took off up the stairs after him and he shrieked merrily and ran away. That left the bucket, now filling again with water, in my control. My son joined me on the landing and we analyzed the merits and deficiencies of the people passing by directly beneath us. “No little kids and no grown-ups,” I said, “unless it’s a mom.” A ten-year-old boy ran by and we flipped the bucket. It hit him like a bullseye and he howled in shock, then looked up at us and burst into delighted laughter.
“That was kind of perfect,” I told my son. He agreed. “I like to bring joy to others,” I murmured. Just then, another boy started run underneath us, then looked up at us and stopped short.
“You can go,” I called down. “I won’t flip it.” He started to run and I started to dump the bucket. He stopped. I stopped.
“I was just kidding,” I said. “You can go.” Again, he made a move. So did I. We both paused again. It was a standoff.
“Really, you should go,” I said. “It’s okay.” He made a break for it and I quickly flipped the bucket, just barely catching the backs of his legs. He turned back, stuck out his tongue at me and danced a jig while holding his thumb and finger to his forehead in the shape of an L. My son and I high fived. Loser achievement: Unlocked.
We spent the next half-hour or so riding all the Kima Bay slides over and over again, giving mini-sermons to the preschoolers who tried to break in line (well, that was me — a mom’s job is never done), and getting thoroughly soaked. I really felt like a kid again, and I could tell my 15-year-old did, too — Seeing the look of pure joy on his face each time he went down one of the slides ahead of me was going to be, I knew, one of my greatest gifts of the summer.
I decided then and there that if my fantasy involving a reclusive billionaire who loved reading my blog and left me their vast fortune ever did come true, I would buy Kima Bay, have it installed in my backyard, and invite all my adult friends over to play on it all summer long, so that I could see that same look on all of their faces. I felt sad for all the moms and dads sitting in the beach chairs around Kima Bay who didn’t seem to understand the fun they were missing out on. Meanwhile, they probably felt sad for the mom running up and down Kima Bay’s many steps like a very wet and very hyped up Richard Simmons.
Once we decided we’d had enough, we headed back down to the Kima Bay entrance — only to discover that the buckets were now manned by a new group of little boys, led by a lifeguard. My son got through unscathed, but only because they’d clearly set their sights on me. I paused and pretended to make a break for it, trying to get them to dump their buckets before I ran underneath.
“Nope,” the lifeguard told the boys. “Not yet.” This was going to be harder than I thought.
I gave the lifeguard my toughest, meanest stare. He leaned out over the railing and gave it right back. This guy meant business. After a five second staredown that felt like five years, I realized he wasn’t going to break. I had no choice but to make a run for it and hope for the best.
“Go!” the lifeguard shouted to the boys as I took off beneath them. Instantly, the buckets overturned and I got splashed. Big time. I ran down the stairs where my son stood waiting at the bottom, shaking his head.
“Whoa!” he said. “I can’t believe the lifeguard got you!”
“I know, I need to speak to his manager,” I said, wiping water from my eyes.
I realize this story is ridiculously silly. But I’m telling it to you because this is Holiday World for me — a collection of memories with my family that we’ll revisit and laugh about for years to come. A great theme park like Holiday World sets a stage that makes these kinds of stories possible, and that, I think, is priceless.
Want to see Holiday World for yourself? (You do. Trust me.) I’m giving away 2 tickets — and entering is easy! Just enter your name and email in the form below and you’ll be entered to win. Holiday World will choose a winner at random when the giveaway is over. Good luck!