by Jim Winslett

Holiday World and Splashin' Safari followed up the amazing success of Raven with another wooden coaster. This one, located in the Halloween section of the park, is called Legend and is themed after the story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" about Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman.

Who doesn't love a purple coaster train?

The success and increased attendance the park gained from their signature coaster allowed them to up the budget a bit for this coaster and it shows. This is not a small ride. 


The lift is tall and as you round the sharp right turn at the top, you hear a wolf howl. I'm not sure what a wolf has to do with the Headless Horseman story, but that doesn't really matter. Shit is about to get real. 

Note the small number of hands-up riders

Like its little brother Raven at the front of the park, Legend uses the natural terrain to make a drop substantially deeper than the lift hill would indicate. This one seems HUGE and twists to the left as it enters the first of many tunnels. It races back to the sky and threads a big waterslide complex before wrapping around it in a huge swooping right-hand drop-turn, buzzing all the folks in their bathing suits waiting in line on the stairs. A steep rise provides a bit of airtime. 

The Headless Horseman can't go this fast, we're gonna be fine

The middle third of the ride is a double helix that is completely hidden from any vantage point in the park. Much of the helix is tunneled, making it reminiscent of the finale of the Beast coaster at nearby Kings Island. Laterals abound and the speed barely lets up at all as the train swoops and dives in the clockwise spiral.  Leaving the helix, the track dives right in a sharp right turn and dives under the lift hill of the park's log flume ride.

Dizzy yet?

Another few turns right next to the queue line and the ride hits the brakes, still going ridiculously fast. If there were room, this thing could keep going for awhile before losing steam.  

I'll be the first to admit that for the first few years, I wasn't a Legend fan. It originally ran a Gerstlauer brand train, which was uncomfortable, especially with the U-shaped lap bars digging into your thighs in the laterals-heavy layout. In addition to that, I just didn't "get" the layout. Laterals and turns can be fun, but aside from a good drop or two, that's all this coasters seemed to do. The park switched to PTC trains a few years later, which helped a LOT, but the coaster was still solidly "meh" in my book. Last year, however, I was leaving Holiday World and as I passed by the Legend, I figured I'd take a ride real quick since the queue was short that day and I hadn't ridden it in a few years.

It blew me away.

I wished I'd had time for more rides, but I had to be satisfied with the one... and I kinda figured it was a fluke, anyway. Wood coasters have their "on" and "off" days and I figured the conditions were just perfect that day and I got a better-than-usual ride. 

Another trip this year, though, changed my mind. Indiana was in a drought, which is bad news for wood coasters. Dry weather makes a woodie ride rougher and it certainly isn't what you want if you expect a above-average ride. Even so, Legend has apparently found its stride and it was just batshit crazy fast, drought or no drought. I can't even imagine how good it must be after a nice rain. I'm not sure what Holiday World or Mother Nature did to this ride to improve it to this level, but I hope it stays this way. With the crazy-insane rides Legend is giving these days, it means that the little park in Santa Claus has not one but THREE world-class rollercoasters - and as of this writing, all three of them are in my top 10.