The history of Santa Claus Land and Holiday World
Indiana Trips,  Travel

Whatever Happened To Santa Claus Land

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Many remember an amusement park in Indiana where it was Christmas every day. The famed Santa Claus Land was a magical place full of festive decorations, joyful attractions, and of course, Santa Claus!

The History Of Santa Claus Land

In the small town of Santa Claus, Indiana, a man named Louis J. Koch wanted a place where travelers could always visit Santa; thus, Santa Claus Land was opened in 1946. Small in stature but big on fun, this theme park opened without rides. The first ride was the Santa Claus Land Railroad, which retired in 2012.

Santa Claus Land Map

Santa Claus Land’s history is documented at the Santa Claus Museum and Village. It features vintage souvenirs, brochures, photographs, and newspaper articles.

From there, the park grew, adding animals, a Jeep-go-round, a Willie Bartley Water Ski Thrill Show, the Santa Claus Choir, and more reindeer-theme rides.

While amusement parks were already established, it was having all their attractions based around a central theme that made Santa Claus Land America’s First Theme Park.

Santa Claus Land Tamborine

Santa Claus Land Souvenirs

So, What Happened To Santa Claus Land?

As the park’s success continued to grow, so did the park.

Knowing that they could celebrate more than the spirit of Christmas, the park expanded in 1984. Sections of the park opened for Halloween and 4th of July. With the new expansion came a new name, Holiday World.

Splashin’ Safari Water Park was opened in 1993. It has now grown to nearly 40 acres, featuring the World’s Longest Water Coaster, Mammoth. It’s also home to Wildebeest, the park’s first water coaster to open in 2010, earning the title of #1 Water Park Ride In The World for 12 years.

Santa Claus Land | Santa Statue Photo

Wait? Thanksgiving Was The Latest Addition?

That’s correct. The latest addition to the park was in 2006 when a new holiday was added, Thanksgiving. It’s stuffed with incredible attractions. Thousands flock to ride The Voyage each year, a record-breaking wooden roller coaster, while America’s only launched wing coaster, Thunderbird, continues to be a fan favorite.

In 2024, Thanksgiving will welcome its newest addition to the table, the Good Gravy! Family Coaster!

Christmas Today At Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari

Strolling into Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari today, guests are greeted by the sounds of Christmas Carols, festive shops, and cheery restaurants.

Christmas is the first section of the park that guests experience. Sip on a frozen hot chocolate from the Polar Expresso, and ride on Reindeer Games. Don’t forget to snap a selfie with the “Greetings from Santa Claus Land” mural near the theater.

As you venture into the 4th of July, pay tribute to the original 1946 Engine that was a part of the Santa Claus Railroad. A reminder of the decades of incredible memories that America’s first theme park, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, has brought to millions of families.

Take a photo by the Santa Claus Land mural during your next visit.

Original engine from the Santa Claus Railroad

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out these additional Holiday World articles:

How To Beat The Crowds At Holiday World

Everything You Need To Know About the Pre-K Pass at Holiday World

17 Festive Things To Do In Santa Claus, Indiana

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history of Holiday World and Santa Claus Land