Grooving Griswolds —
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.
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?
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.