Amusement parks in Indianapolis celebrate some of America's special holidays and provide an escape destination for the entire family. They are also recognized for setting high standards within the theme park industry, capturing annual awards for creativity and originality. As part of a Huffington Post Travel series on family-fun parks, here is our guide to all the key information visitors need to know about Indianapolis-area amusement parks.
Vacation for some families means a leisurely drive through America's heartland, but they will soon discover "there's more than corn in Indiana." At Indiana Beach, one family's vision has turned a swimming area within a cornfield into the largest amusement resort and vacation playground in the state. The "beach" has 40 rides, a water park, games, fine dining, dancing and six roller coasters.
Wooden CoastersOf Indiana Beach's six roller coasters, three are wooden, including the award-winning Cornball Express, and Hoosier Hurricane, both with crazy turns and twists. Another coaster, Steel Hawg, is Indiana's first custom steel coaster and features a 111-degree first drop, the steepest in the U.S.
Time For An AdventureA third park, Adventure Point, recently opened, joining Indiana Beach's boardwalk rides and water park; it features a high ropes course and rock climbing. Family and children's rides include a Ferris wheel, merry-go-round and Air Crow, a ride in honor of the Indiana Beach mascot, I.B. Crow. Other attractions include annual festivals, mini-golf, swimming, water shows and the largest suspension bridge in the Midwest.
Food OptionsThe park offers fine family restaurants, boardwalk stands and cafes that serve everything from full entrees to snacks, sandwiches and corndogs. No outside food is allowed in the park.
Safety RecordThere are reports of at least two incidents, which includes two deaths and a paralysis, at Indiana Beach in the last six years. Indiana is one of nine states with limited government oversight of amusement rides.
Address: 5224 E. Indiana Beach Blvd., Monticello, IN 47960
Hours: Open daily early May through Labor Day, at 11 a.m. Open only on weekends in September. Closing times vary.
Price: General admission is $5 for all ages, except for children 2 and under. Tickets for rides vary according to height and the attraction, and range from $12.95 to $69.95. Season passes are available.
At Holiday World, visitors can experience some of the world's most original rides while celebrating four different holidays -- the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Halloween and Christmas -- at one location. Formerly called Santa Claus Land, the 120-acre park takes pride as "the nation's first theme park" and the recipient of several industry awards, including the world's friendliest and cleanest amusement park in 2010. Guests can expect extra customer care and amenities at Holiday World such as free, unlimited soft drinks -- another world's first for an amusement park.
Coasters, Coasters And More CoastersRoller coasters rule at Holiday World: the Raven is an award-winning wooden roller coaster featured on three television programs about amusement parks. The Voyage, located in the Thanksgiving section, includes a record five underground tunnels including the extreme air-time, extreme banking and extreme speed. There is also the Legend of Sleepy Hollow coaster where riders race through the woods as if chased by the Headless Horseman.
Family RidesHoliday World features several family and children's rides with patriotic and holiday themes, live entertainment and story time with Santa. Another attraction is the Splashin' Safari Water Park's Wildebeest, the world's longest water coaster.
Variety Of MealsA variety of dining-in options -- from salads to pizzas to hamburgers -- are served at holiday-themed cafes with names like Kringle's Kafe, Plymouth Rock Cafe, Barbecue USA and Goblin Burgers. Holiday World also offers pre-packaged, non-allergen food items and meals for diabetics and vegetarians, or for those simply counting calories and carbs. Guests with these special needs are encouraged to pre-order when they arrive.
Safety RecordOur research revealed no notable news reports of accidents or safety issues at Holiday World.
Address: 452 E. Christmas Blvd., Santa Claus, IN 47579
Hours: Open daily early May through Oct. 7, at 9:30 a.m. Closing times vary. A downloadable and printable schedule is available online.
Price: General admission: $42.95, juniors and seniors $32.95, and free for children 2 and under. One price gets you admission to both Holiday World and Splashin' Safari Water Park, free unlimited soft drinks, free sunscreen, free parking, rides, live shows and attractions, plus free inner tubes for the water rides. Season passes, group and single-day discounts are available.
Other Noteworthy Parks Near IndianapolisGreatimes Family Fun Park
Fastimes Indoor Karting
Richard Petty Driving Experience
Post Road Recreation Center
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