As one walks through the gates of Holiday World, the feel is that of a theme park. The sounds and smells are the definition of sugar-coated summer fun. Rides peek over the gate, foreshadowing the destinations that will claim your stomach and make your laughs linger a little longer. This is Holiday World.
However, the free drink “Oasis” spots – each drink station has doorways designed to blow air that keeps flies and bugs away from the superbly-clean drink stations – scattered around the park. First thoughts that came to my mind when I heard about these free drinks: The cups were likely the size of rinsing cups a masked dentist hands you while you recline uncomfortably in a chair. The flavors were limited. The food prices made up for anything that would be free.
I was wrong on all three counts. The sizes were generous; I’ve seen restaurants serve smaller cup sizes than Holiday World’s. There was every flavor I’d ever seen and some I’d never heard of before. I quickly relived my days of making “suicides,” turns out taste buds outgrow Yoo Hoo, but never mixing five soda flavors. The food prices, at nearly 20 different themed restaurants or food stops, were incredibly affordable: Two corn dogs, fries and cookies totaled below $6.
At first glance I thought, “Holiday World mission makes sense.”
However, Paula Werne, director of communications at Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari, told me Holiday World’s consideration for its guests goes deeper than a mission. It’s a way of life.
“The first thing you do when you invite someone in their home is offer them a drink, you don’t charge them for that drink,” Werne said of the free-drink policy. “This is our home and we’re happy to welcome guests into it.”