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Thunderbird soars



In years past Holiday World has been known for its water park, Splashin' Safari. Well, that and the unlimited free soft drinks.

But that's about to change. Yes, the amusement park has The Voyage, which has been named the Number One wooden roller coaster in the past. But wooden coasters are old news, their popularity declining by the day. To keep up with changing times and in an effort to stay relevant, Holiday World constructed Thunderbird.

Thunderbird is one of a kind. It's the first launched wing coaster in the world. Yes, the world. NUVO took a ride on Thunderbird and well, I'll let the video speak for itself.

If you heard bells ringing throughout the ride or the "naughty or nice" at the end, that's because Santa rode next to us. Holiday World is located in Santa Claus, Indiana after all.

To get the full experience of the coaster we rode it several more times from different spots throughout the train. Personally I'd recommend the front right seat as it feels like you're leading the coaster through the ride and offers a unique experience when going through the final barn.

"That first ride, if you're on right side when you go through that last barn, you see that hand print up there, it kind of hurt." - Santa

There's a portion of the barn that's been cut out in the shape of two hands. It's a simple idea, but it gives you chills. The "close calls" are prevalent during the ride and the reason why there's a height limit of 6'6".

Thunderbird as it brakes before reaching the station.
  • Thunderbird as it brakes before reaching the station.
While not the longest coaster in the world, it's action packed and keeps you entertained the entire time with two loops, a barrel roll and zero-g roll. We've included videos of these elements below. But the icing on the cake has to be smoothness of the coaster, the opposite of most wooden coaster reviews. I didn't feel like I had just fought in a Heavyweight Title Fight after getting off the ride. It's an all-around great experience.

So if you're headed to Holiday World for Splashin' Safari, I'd highly recommend stepping out of the water for a few minutes to try this beast of a roller coaster.

Here's the legend behind the Thunderbird as posted on the Holiday World website:

The wing seat used for Thunderbird.
  • The wing seat used for Thunderbird.
In 1620, as the Mayflower neared the end of its 66 days at sea, a mighty storm nearly capsized the ship, taking it hundreds of miles off course. As passengers and crew feared all was lost, an immense bird appeared in the sky. The thunderbird, whose wings created the thunder and eyes flashed the lightning of the powerful storm, rescued the ship by launching it through the sky to the New World.

Thunderbird stats:

Trains: Two trains, each with five four-person coaches
Capacity: 1,140 Guests per hour
Track Length: 3,035 feet
Speed: Thunderbird’s top speed is 60 miles per hour
Launch: 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds
Ride Time: 1 minute, 18 seconds (station to station)

Note: These videos are from different launches of Thunderbird and don't synch up perfectly.

Here is the launch of Thunderbird into the first loop.

This is the 2nd loop of the Thunderbird.

The final element on the Thunderbird is the barrel roll, my personal favorite.


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