Santa Claus, Indiana
The town of Santa Claus, Indiana is one of the world’s greatest tributes to the jolly old elf. Formerly Santa Fe, the town’s name was changed to Santa Claus in 1856 due to a U.S. Postal Service conflict. In the century and a half since, the entire town has become one giant homage to Santa Claus and Christmas. Everything from the street names to the specialty retail establishments keep the holiday season alive year-round in this southern Indiana town.
Santa Claus, Indiana has been flying high on the Christmas radar since before the Civil War. In the early 20th century, it became one of the most popular places in America for children to send their letters to Santa. In the 1930s Christmas-related retail establishments began popping up all over the town, including Santa’s Candy Castle and Santa’s Workshop. However, the biggest and most popular Christmas attraction in town is the Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari theme park.
Holiday World claims to be the world’s oldest true theme park. Opened in 1946 as Santa Claus Land, it predated Disneyland in California by almost a decade. It is a permanent tribute to Christmas, with decorations and visits with Santa Claus throughout most of the warmer months of the year. In 1984 the name was changed to Holiday World and incorporated new sections for Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day and Halloween. It is now one of the most successful, independently operated theme parks in the Midwest.
Santa Claus, Indiana is at the extreme souther end of the state, approximately 50 miles west of Louisville, Kentucky and 170 miles south of Chicago. Holiday World is generally open mid-May to early September and on weekends through mid-October (hours vary daily). Admission is $42.95 for adults and $32.95 for children and seniors. Web: www.santaclausin.com (official website of the town), www.holidayworld.com (official website of the them park)