Historic train on track for Holiday World display

Photos courtesy of Holiday World


Let Freedom ride.

In an announcement this week, Holiday World broke the news that its original ride, the Freedom Train, will be returning as a display for a celebration of the park’s 70th birthday season. The Freedom Train debuted in 1946 when Holiday World was still called Santa Claus Land and the ride was originally called Santa Claus Land Railroad. It featured B&O blue, a color used on a famous passenger train from the Baltimore area, along with red trim. After some archival research, Holiday World personnel was able to restore the train and its colors and it will be on display — not to ride — in the park’s Fourth of July section for the upcoming season, which will kick off Saturday, April 23.

“We didn’t want to say goodbye to (Freedom Train) altogether,” said Paula Werne, the director of communications for Holiday World.

The train was retired three years ago and replaced by the Holidog Express. The announcement to bring back the Freedom Train for display came in a new fashion for Holiday World as well, since the news broke on the theme park’s inaugural episode of the Official Holiday World Podcast. Werne said the podcast should give interested parties behind-the-scenes access to the park as well as a peak into the wit and playful relationship of Holiday World President Matt Eckert and Lauren Crosby and Leah Koch, sisters who are fourth-generation owners of the park.

Koch, Crosby, Eckert and Werne are planning on hosting the podcast together — it’s available on iTunes — and will have new episodes every other Friday. Werne said she thinks it’s the only theme park podcast, although there are podcast for roller coaster enthusiasts. Werne added that the podcast crew is planning to interview park staffers and also ride manufacturers as well to be able “to give everybody a voice.”

Also this offseason, Holiday World has invested $2 million in improvements to its three wooden roller coasters — The Raven, The Voyage and The Legend.

“That was the entire cost of The Raven when it was built,” Eckert said of the coaster that debuted in 1995. “We’re serious about keeping our award-winning coasters in top shape for the future.”

Most of the work has taken place on The Legend, a “Sleepy Hollow”-themed roller coaster that will now have a tunnel added to the end of the ride. In “Sleepy Hollow,” Ichabod Crane isn’t free from the headless horsemen until he crosses the covered bridge. In The Legend, the new tunnel will act as the bridge for riders.

“That’s when you know you’re safe,” Werne joked.

The park is also adding a double-down feature to The Legend, which will create two separate drops that happen close together, instead of just one drop all the way down. A double-down gives the effect of big air and is the moment that takes a rider’s breath away, Werne said. Last year, the park debuted Thunderbird, America’s first launched-wing coaster, to much fanfare.

When asked if the park had any other big upcoming announcements, Werne said they have plans, just not any they can discuss at the moment.

“We always have plans,” Werne said. “Fun plans for the future.”     

To watch a timelapse video of the train being painted, CLICK HERE.   

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