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Grooving Griswolds —

June 10, 2011

Following my week in New York, our family embarked on our first ever family vacation.

So, on a Monday afternoon my parents, Veronica, the children and I departed with visions of “National Lampoon’s Family Vacation” in mind.

Destination: Holiday World

There are a few reasons we chose Holiday World, but mainly because the city of Santa Claus, Indiana (yes, that’s the real name of the town where Holiday World is located), was close (three hours from St. Louis), inexpensive and family friendly.

But what really caught me eye while planning this trip was the fact that this amusement/water park seemed to be fat friendly.

My first clue was the fact that on their website they post the height and weight restrictions of all their rides.

Compare this with the world”s largest amusement park corporation: Six Flags. Not a single damned indication of the weight limits of their water rides or thrill rides.

If you’re fat and seeking thrills, then buying a ticket to Six Flags is a gamble: you might fit, you might not. Who knows how they enforce whatever size limits there are. Maybe there’s some secret policy the staff follows or maybe it’s arbitrarily enforced by snarky teenagers.

Whatever the case, Holiday World accommodates fat thrill seekers by posting not only the weight limits, but also the seatbelt sizes (and extender seatbelt availability) and a test seat for their roller coasters (at the BEGINNING of the line), so you know precisely how much space these rides have long before you stand in line for hours.

I was actually kind of surprised by some of the weight limits. For example, this is Bakuli:

Me and Methuselah rode it once. It was awesome.

It also has the following weight restriction:

[R]iders’ maximum total weight must not exceed 600 pounds per 4-passenger inner tube; maximum 4 riders per inner tube, including no more than 2 adults; on this ride, an adult is 5’6″ or taller.

Two adults weighing 300 pounds each can still ride Bakuli. How fucking awesome is that?

The same goes for Zinga and ZOOMbabwe. Meanwhile, two rides (Wildebeast, the world’s longest water coaster, and Watubee) accommodate up to 800 pounds.

And if there aren’t weight restrictions listed (as with many of the body slides) then anyone can participate.

If businesses want to attract fatty dollars, then this is the way to do it: don’t drag your feet and complain about the scourge of the fatties; accommodate us and our families and we’ll happily throw our money at you!

And it’s not only the accommodations for fatties that make Holiday World and ideal family vacation, the staff is incredibly friendly (and they have the Golden Ticket Award for World’s Friendliest Staff to prove it), professional and committed to safety (and, again, they have the award to prove it).

Several times I saw a “child” drowning, only to see the vigilant lifeguards leap into action and pull the rubber dummy out of the water quickly. I also so an adult pretending to drown in the wave pool get rescued.

After spending merely an hour in the park, our family experienced firsthand both the commitment to friendly service and safety. Our middle child, Linny (4), was running through some fountains when she ran face-first into another child running the opposite direction.

Her nose began pouring blood and within minutes the park’s EMT arrived on a Segway to check her injury, provide ice, and spray peroxide on my bloody shirt, as well zipped away to find me a replacement shirt for the rest of my day. The only thing he couldn’t do anything about was the fact that as I sat her on my lap and pinched her nose, she said, “I have to pee” as I felt the warm rush down my leg. Luckily I had swim trunks to replace my regular shorts.

Now, these things I’ve mentioned are the bare minimum you want in an amusement park, but Holiday World goes beyond that. Get this: free parking, free sunblock stations throughout the park and free soft drinks throughout the park (although, it is highly recommend that you stay hydrated with water if you’re there for long stretches).

All of this makes Holiday World sound pretty fucking awesome right? Well, here’s the cherry on the icing on the cake: not once in our entire trip to Holiday World or Splashin’ Safari (the water park) did I ever feel like other people were judging us or staring at us because of our size.

Whether this is because there were so many other fat people, the presence of fat lifeguards or because Indiana’s such a laid back state, I only felt self-conscious when contemplating the removal of my shirt. Apart from that, Holiday World seems to be a judgment-free zone.

The only negative thing I can say about Holiday World is that the town itself is fairly barren. There are a few shops, but if you go to Holiday World, that’s going to be your primary destination.

Other than a lack of external options, Holiday World is  perfect for little kids (plenty of rides for even the youngest thrillseekers), perfect for families and perfect for fatties.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. June 10, 2011 12:13 pm

    that’s really odd…we drove through there on our way to Cincinnati, Ohio for a family vacation and a phish show. (this was just last week) Bob n i are thinking about going ther next year or when the kids get back from altoona. thanks for your review…we saw it on the way out and got flyers for it at the hotel…sounds like a fun trip and only a seven hour ride from here.

    • June 14, 2011 8:31 am

      Hi Erin,
      Definitely check it out. It’s perfect for families and fatties alike, although much of the appeal for us was that it was just a three hour drive. But if your kids can take seven hours, I’d say it’s probably worth it.

      And a Phish show? Awesome! Wish I could go to one some time.


  2. vesta44 permalink
    June 10, 2011 4:53 pm

    This sounds like an awesome place to go. I’ll have to check out their website and see what all is offered – it may be a place that Mike and I would like to go and take the grandkids.

    • June 14, 2011 8:32 am

      It is the perfect place for fatties to visit. And your grandkids will love it!


  3. Bree permalink
    June 10, 2011 5:18 pm

    I’m glad you had a good time and that they post height & weight restrictions. People should know beforehand so they won’t get tossed out while they’re trying to get on the ride.

    Usually water rides are a lot more fat-friendly. I’ve been to Water Country USA in Williamsburg, Virginia and had no problems getting in the riding tubes, there was always staff to hold them down. My thing was when I shot out of the ride into the pool, I always came out backwards because my tube would shift during the last turn! I had a little kid ask me how I did it because he thought it was cool.😉

    • June 14, 2011 8:34 am

      I always seem to wind up backwards too (damned gravity), but I’m not a big fan of it. I like to see where I’m going.:)

      I think it’s incredibly considerate for them to post everything up front and to include the sample seats for the roller coasters. I just read another account of a person waiting to get to the ride, only to be harassed for being too large. It pisses me off.


  4. June 15, 2011 10:21 pm

    I’ve lived in Indiana my entire life, and many of my childhood memories revolve around Holiday World. It truly is one of the best things about living here. The park is clean, friendly, and so affordable! And you’re right, it is “fatty-friendly.” I love Love LOVE Holiday World! Thank you so much for visiting, and we hope you visit our great state again soon!:)

    • June 16, 2011 8:17 am

      Hi Alaina,
      Welcome to Fierce Fatties.

      Holiday World really seems to go out of its way to make every single one of its customers happy at whatever cost, which is pretty rare in these penny-pinching days. I even met Pat Koch out front and told her what a great park she had. Thanks to our great experience, I would love to drive some traffic there. It was really fun!


  5. Danica permalink
    June 17, 2011 10:54 am

    My boyfriend and I went to Disneyland for my birthday. He’s 400lbs and I’m 370 and I did worry about whether or not we’d be allowed on rides and if we were if we’d be able to sit together. We went on many rides there and had no issues. It was a pleasant surprise! I’ve never been to Holiday World, but when I go back to Indiana I’ll look it up! Thanks for your post!

    • June 17, 2011 1:08 pm

      That’s awesome. I had no idea Disneyland was so size friendly.

      Welcome to Fierce Fatties!


  6. June 17, 2011 5:57 pm

    That is amazing! I wish more vacation spots would be like that. It makes me want to go there even more. I avoid some theme/water parks because they do not make their requirements obvious and that “chance” I can ride it just isn’t worth it.

  7. Terry permalink
    June 17, 2011 6:25 pm

    I hate six flags! I’m a little over 300lbs and I’ve only gone to one in recent years, but I was too big for all of the roller coasters (they have a seat at the entrance to see if you fit) and the only one I attempted to go on I was made to leave because the harness wouldn’t lock even though it was tight and seemed fine. I’ve avoided all amusement parks since I was 19 (when I was around 240) because of that fear of not being able to go on the rides or being kicked off.

  8. Meg permalink
    July 2, 2011 11:40 am

    I’m planning on going to holiday world with a bunch of friends next week. After being scarred at six flags over GA on the ‘great American scream machine’ (wooden coaster), I’m scared of not fitting on the wooden ones at holiday world. I weigh 225 pounds and I’m around 5’6″… the problem for me is my wide hips. Do you think it’s fatty hips friendly, too?

    • July 2, 2011 1:13 pm

      I didn’t go on any of the coasters, but all of them have a sample seat at the beginning so you’ll know prior to waiting. Sorry I can’t be of more help! Let us know how it goes when you get back!


  9. Angela permalink
    June 21, 2013 11:19 am

    My family and some friends are going to Holiday World tomorrow and I am so glad I saw your post. I had no idea about the extenders. Thanks!!

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