America’s First Theme Park 

U.S. #2064 was issued in Santa Claus, Indiana.

On August 3, 1946, the first themed amusement park in America opened in Santa Claus, Indiana. While there are older amusement parks, Santa Claus Land is often considered the first theme park.

The idea of Santa Claus Land came from Evansville, Indiana, industrialist Louis J. Koch. Koch visited the small town of Santa Claus in 1941 and noted the disappointment that many children felt when they found out that Santa wasn’t there. Koch then resolved to establish a park where children could visit Santa all year.

U.S. #3541-44 FDC – Santa Claus Silk Cachet First Day Cover.

World War II delayed Koch’s plans, but construction was able to begin on August 4, 1945. And a year later, the park opened to the public on August 3, 1946. The park didn’t charge admission and included a Santa, a toyshop and toy displays, a restaurant, and Christmas-themed rides. Soon, families from around the country traveled to the park so their children could meet Santa Claus.

U.S. #3541-44 was issued in Santa Claus, Indiana.

In the coming years, the park grew to include the first Jeep-Go-Round ever created. They first charged admission in 1955 – 50¢ for adults – but children still got in for free. After several successful decades, the Koch family realized that there were more theme possibilities they could include in their park. So in 1984, they expanded Santa Claus Land to include Halloween and Fourth of July sections, and renamed the park Holiday World. In recent years the park expanded further to include a Thanksgiving section and a waterpark. Today the park is home to some of the most popular roller coasters in the world.

Wondering why this town was called Santa Claus?

U.S. #1240 was issued in Santa Claus, Indiana.

It’s actually related to stamps! When the town was first established in 1854, it was called Santa Fe. However, when they wanted to establish a post office two years later they were rejected because there was already a Santa Fe, Indiana. So after several town meetings, the citizens decided on Santa Claus, Indiana. Today, it’s the only post office in the world to bear this name, and receives thousands of letters every year from children around the globe. And since 1914, a volunteer group known as Santa’s Elves ensures each child gets a reply from Santa.

Click here to see lots of neat vintage photos from the park.

Remember – you can click on any of these images to find more conditions and First Day Covers to add to your collection.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

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  1. I try every year to have my Holiday Cards postmarked from Santa Claus, Indiana; very nice themed Pictorial Cancels.

  2. Great trivia! I always try to read the stamps page because of the very interesting trivia. Hope they keep it up!

  3. I remember visiting Santa Claus Land and the Lincoln Memorial (still have the pictures) 60+ years ago. I think I’ll get that box of pictures out for a trip down memory lane. Memory Lane is good for a visit when you have bad knees!

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