Thanksgiving Land. The thing that most interested us and most caught our eyes was ``The Voyage'', Holiday World's newest world-class wooden roller coaster (it opened in 2006). The station's got a 17th Century Sailing Ship theme. It's also a very long roller coaster, the second-longest wooden the world (after Kings Island's ``The Beast''); it also boasts the greatest airtime among wooden roller coasters (over 24 seconds --- in a ride lasting two minutes 45 seconds --- of weightlessness), and the largest number of tunnels (five), which doesn't sound like much except that going into tunnels at top speed is exciting, the faster the train and the narrower the tunnel the better. The ride also goes onto its side, or near enough, for quite some time, which just goes against what you expect in a wooden roller coaster. It's not like any law of physics prevents wooden roller coasters from going sideways, or even having loops; they just as a rule don't.
bunny_hugger had talked up this roller coaster for ages, possibly years, and worried that she'd built up the coaster (and Holiday World) to the point that it couldn't live up to expectations. It could have happened, but didn't. For all that bunny_hugger talked up Holiday World and its features I wasn't at risk for ``anticippointment''; it's just that good a park.
Thanksgiving Land keeps its theme for the rides in it. The Tilt-A-Whirl, for example, instead of having the normal cup-shaped cars, has them shaped as turkeys, and the swinging ship is made to look like the Mayflower, or at least like something that could be the Mayflower, instead of the standard Viking or Pirate Ship.
The Sally interactive dark ride --- ``Gobbler Getaway'' --- is themed around the idea that you in the car are looking for escaped turkeys who're hiding all over an old-time farming community. This is a really great dark ride, by the way. It's introduced by an animatronic grandma-ish figure who explains how the great gobbler getaway happened centuries ago and you were going back to it and recover all her ancestor's escaped turkeys before Thanksgiving arrived and I couldn't help noticing her bookshelves were stocked with Reader's Digest Condensed Book volumes. The important thing is it's a funny ride, with the turkeys popping up as you shoot the targets in a lot of silly poses and settings, often quipping as they're caught in, say, a dressmaker's dummy about how they look good in this. It's an amusing ride and we rode it a couple of times, enjoying different stunts popping up each time.
Also in Thanksgiving Land we could see the preparation work being done for a mysterious new ride. Holiday World had promised it would have a major new ride for 2015, and it was being secretive about what it was doing up to an announcement it had scheduled for late July (at which point allegedly it would be impossible to hide what they were doing). We could make guesses at it --- later when we encountered Santa Claus, he asked what our guesses were for the new attraction --- I answered what I thought would be great if they put in though I knew they wouldn't (an Old Mill ride --- a tunnel-of-love thing --- with scenes of the Pilgrim voyage and settlement and all that, probably omitting King Philip's War for reasons of it's an amusement park after all). bunny_hugger's guess was much nearer the mark. The location of the ride is obliterating a defunct shoot-the-chute ride named Giraffica, which, when we were there, still had the station and the empty water trough and statues of giraffes and other animals that turned out to be anatomically correct and male, for reasons that I suppose the park best understood.
We ate in Thanksgiving Land, in a restaurant that offered plates of Thanksgiving-appropriate meals. We passed on the turkey and gravy, naturally, but could fill out the plate with yams and stuffing and mashed potatoes and cobbler for dessert and all in a nicely air-conditioned place. We'd recommend it to a couple we met on line for a roller coaster later as being a very filling and economical meal --- it was under ten dollars for the food, and the drinks were free --- and if it's odd having Thanksgiving dinner when it's 92 degrees and muggy, so what?
There's a modest kid's section, apart from Christmas Land (where most of the rides are kiddieland-size rides), where a live show was going on in which Safari Sam --- their crocodile mascot for the water park --- and a pair of performers who couldn't quite nail the notes they were going for were learning how to be surfing women. They had a couple kids come up past the yellow stripe on the ground marking the stage, but they're used to handling those interruptions and it didn't slow the show down. The area also has a large statue of Holidog, the park's leading mascot if you don't consider Santa Claus a mascot for the park, who's this cheery yellow dog in cape and ball cap. We got pictures beside that too, of course.
From the kids' area --- I guess it's called Holidog's FunTown --- is a little railroad train that rides around a set of fairy tale sculptures. It's like a very modest version of the fairy-tale forest outside Idlewild, though everything's in quite good shape. Also from the ride I got a glimpse of the dot-matrix sign outside the main parking lot and saw that it was into the 90s, so we had further evidence that it was a really hot day. Fortunately, besides free drinks, the park also offers free sunscreen to patrons and we could touch up our skin in the desperate struggle to not burst openly into flame.
Holidog's FunTown also has a little roller coaster, for the kids, a Wacky Worm-style ride. It doesn't seem to be exclusively kids-and-their-parents only but we left it unridden anyway. A ride that small can be pretty hard on the knees, especially when you've got legs my size that would barely fit in the seats.
Trivia: By October 1865 the Central Pacific railroad had laid 135,000 redwood ties, 6,000 tons of iron rails, and had built 215 stone or brick culverts. It had six locomotives and 134 freight and passenger cars. Source: Empire Express: Building the First Transcontinental Railroad, David Haward Bain.
Currently Reading: The Life Of Elizabeth I, Allison Weir.