Did you know located just three hours south of Indianapolis there is a town called Santa Claus, Indiana? And did you know in this jolly town you can find the nation's first theme park? It's true. Just a short drive away you will find the festive and wildly fun amusement and water park duo, Holiday World & Splashin' Safari. The combination of the amount of time it takes to get there and the number of activities offered for guests of all ages makes this spot the perfect destination for a family vacation. Last weekend, my husband and I woke our kids up bright and early Saturday morning with a fantastic surprise - we were heading to Holiday World. They stared at us in disbelief with groggy, half-opened eyes and as the reality of what we said began to sink in, they started to scream and yell and bounce in their beds. "We're going to Holiday World!" "We're going to Holiday World!" We piled in the car and off we went. When we arrived and saw the coasters in the distance, the screaming began again. One of my children declared this was going to be the best day ever. She was right. For those of you who have never been to Holiday World, here are some things you will want to know: \tThere are two parks included in admission. Holiday World is the theme park featuring four different towns: Christmas, Halloween, 4th of July and Thanksgiving. (Very fitting, given it is Holiday World after all.) Splashin' Safari is the water park featuring thrill rides, wave pools and areas for the smaller children including small water slides perfect for little ones who don't know how to swim yet. \tIf you plan to go for just one day and would like to enjoy both the water park and the amusement park, you will want to pack accordingly. Be sure you bring: bathing suits, swim towels, goggles if needed, life jacket or puddle jumper for little ones who can't swim yet, flip flops to change into when you are in the water area (You don't want to wear flip flops all day. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes in the amusement park.), bags to hold your wet clothes if you plan to change back into regular clothes and a hairbrush (this may not be necessary for everyone, but we brought one.) If you go for multiple days, I recommend having an amusement park day and a water park day so you don't have to worry about changing clothes. \tIf you are planning to spend a lot of time in the water park, you may want to consider renting a Cabana for the day. Photo courtesy of Splashin' Safari \tAll-day lockers are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are available in both parks. The regular size lockers are just $10 for the day and the large lockers are $15. \tDouble strollers ($15), wagons ($7), wheelchairs ($7) and scooters ($39.99) are available for all-day rental on a first-come, first-served basis. If you have little ones and plan to be at the park all day, I highly recommend taking advantage of a double stroller or wagon. We rented a double stroller and it was a life saver. In fact, when we arrived we rented both the stroller and the locker, but never ended up using the locker. Instead, the stroller doubled as a bag carrier. There was enough room to hold a couple of our children and a bag and we also put some bags on top whenever the kids wanted to ride. Consequently, we didn't end up using the locker. \tNear the entrance of the park is a Height Measurement Station where your child can be measured. They will then receive a wrist band that lets the employees know they have been measured and what rides they are big enough to ride. \tIf you plan to stay at the park until close, you may want to bring a lightweight jacket for the evening hours. We didn't need them because the park closed at 8:00 pm and it was a really hot day, but we brought them just in case. \tGuests receive FREE sunscreen and beverages all day offered at sunscreen stations and Pepsi Oasis stations located all throughout the park. \tIf you are there on a Friday evening, you and your family can enjoy the Friday Night Fireworks at 9:00 pm CDT. The fireworks run from June 30 through the month of July. \tA day spent at the parks is a long, fun day and I recommend looking into staying overnight if you are planning to stay until the park closes. We stayed in the family suites at Santa's Lodge, which easily accommodated our family of six. We loved our day spent at Holiday World and Splashin' Safari. We started our day at the carousel and then made our way to Holidog's Fun Town where we rode a roller coaster that even the four-year olds could enjoy. Between our family and the family we went with, we took up an entire coaster. We raced down the Jungle Racer, flew in the sky on the HallowSwings, and even spent some time with St. Nick himself - in June! The kids were amazed. We rode on roller coasters, played in a wave pool and slid down water slides, tried our hand at different games, ate yummy all-American food like hot dogs, french fries, pizza, funnel cake and so much more. Before we knew it, the time had come for the park to close. We made our way to the exit reminiscing about our exciting, festive day and talking about how we couldn't wait to come back again next year. We were exiting the park, but that didn't mean the fun was going to end. At Santa's Lodge they have a pool for swimming, a small pond where you can feed the fish and turtles and plenty of outdoor activities including: a zip line, paddle boats, rock climbing wall and bungee trampoline. This vacation was one we will never forget. The declaration that this was going to be one of the best days ever was accurate. This really was an incredible day. I think it is safe to say a tradition has been started. Holiday World and Splashin' Safari are located at 452 East Christmas Boulevard in Santa Claus, Indiana. Children ages two and under are free. Visit their website for more information on park hours, ticket pricing and available discounts. As a reminder, Santa Claus, IN is on CDT time so you will want to plan accordingly. Jennifer Thompson is a stay-at-home mom of four spunky, sweet, kind and sometimes a bit wild children. She has a passion for the written word and thinks that libraries and bookstores are the coolest places ever. When not hanging out with family or writing, she can be found enjoying a good cup of coffee, running, spending quality time with friends, working on some type of project around the house, planning the family’s next trip to her favorite destination – Walloon Lake, Michigan, or very possibly – reading a book. Jennifer enjoys writing about her parenting experience and outings with her children for Indy’s Child as a freelance writer and blogger and also keeps a personal blog, www.trulyyoursjen.com, that she has fun writing when time permits.