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Holiday World announces Thunderbird, America's first launched wing coaster

July 24, 2014, 7:47 PM · Holiday World tonight announced the most expensive single new attraction in the Santa Claus, Indiana theme park's history ā€” Thunderbird, the nation's first launched wing coaster.

The $22 million Bolliger & Mabillard roller coaster will debut in April 2015, next to The Voyage coaster in the park's Thanksgiving section.

Here are some of the specs: A 3,035-foot track, and 60 mph top speed for a 1:18 ride time. The LSM launch leads into a 140-foot Immelmann loop, followed by another loop, a horseshoe, an elevated spiral, a zero-G roll, an S curve, a carousel, and a barrel roll. There will be two keyholes and two crossovers with The Voyage on the route.

Thunderbird
Concept image courtesy Holiday World

This will be the park's first all-steel roller coaster, joining the line-up with Raven, The Legend, and The Voyage. Construction already has begun.

Replies (14)

July 24, 2014 at 8:10 PM · Wow that exceeded any expectations I had for this announcement. I love the concept, because I was starting to feel like we were getting a wing coaster overload, but adding a launch, big elements, and unique themeing really has me excited for this. I have been meaning to visit Holiday World for a while now and this may make it a necessity for next year.
July 24, 2014 at 9:34 PM · This looks awesome. And the most interesting part to me is that this coaster announcement was not on the radar for the most part.... or was being overshadowed by other bigger prospective announcements or all the Harry Potter coverage etc. etc. and BAM Holiday World comes out with this awesome announcement. Congrats to them.
July 24, 2014 at 9:37 PM · Nice! Time to plan another trip!!! Gratz to HW on making their first "big boy" steel coaster as unique and special as their wooden classics.
July 24, 2014 at 9:52 PM · Another nice little touch is that one of the flythrough buildings will feature an engraving of "Will Power," a tribute to previous owner Will Koch.
July 25, 2014 at 12:16 AM · Word on if B&M are designing the launching system or if they are passing it off to another company like they did with The Incredible Hulk?
July 25, 2014 at 12:43 AM · Another thing: How in the world does a Thunderbird tie into 66 days at sea?
July 25, 2014 at 6:20 AM · I don't think there's any "wing coaster overload". There are only 3 others in the US (Gatekeeper, Wild Eagle, and X-Flight), granted they are all within about a 6-8 hour drive of each other. I am pretty surprised that a small park like Holiday World is putting in such a large coaster. The track and trains for a wing coaster are massive, and I don't think you get much bang for your buck considering the cost differential between a wing coaster and a standard sit-down or floorless coaster. Then they went over the top by adding a launch element, which is not a bad thing, but I wonder if it was merely added to distinguish itself from other installations. I think 10+ years from now, the park may eventually regret adding a launched coaster, and such a large installation that may make any future additions seem puny. This is a park that has historically only invested a few million dollars per year in new attractions, so to match this, it will be another decade before they can do something like this again.

Don't get me wrong, I think the coaster looks pretty sweet, I just don't think it fits really well at Holiday World. Also, you better believe, I'll be taking a mid-west trip next summer to experience this coaster myself.

July 25, 2014 at 7:04 AM · Wow! This really takes Holiday World to an unexpected level. Since I live in Louisville, KY, which is less than an hour's drive from Holiday World, I will certainly be there next summer to see this beast unleashed. If I had to guess, this expensive addition is a strategic move on Kentucky Kingdom, which is lucky just to have been able to re-open and can't afford a coaster like that one. Kentucky Kingdom may have taken a good share of Holiday World's local business this season due to all the hoopla surrounding its re-opening.
July 25, 2014 at 8:18 AM · Looks awesome, but I don't think this is the right place to have a wing coaster.
July 25, 2014 at 9:27 AM · Since Holiday World is promoting this as America's first launched wing coaster, that naturally prompts the question, is there a launched wing coaster outside the United States? As far as I've been able to tell, the first launched wing-style coaster in the world was Port Aventura's Furius Baco, which opened in 2007. (Though that's an Intamin, not a B&M.) Anyone know of any others?
July 25, 2014 at 11:32 AM · Yes, James Trexen ā€“ Iā€™m still trying to figure that out myself! Why the bird?

I guess you can flimsily argue that being first to the New World is analogous to the first launched wing coaster in America, but where in the heck did the bird come from? A bolt of lightning during a thunderstorm? Whaaaaaat?

The ride looks cool enough; however, I don't know why, but the forced storyline bothers me.

July 25, 2014 at 2:18 PM · I assume that the Thunderbird theme is Holiday World's way of working Native American culture into the Thanksgiving Land area. The Thunderbird is a mythological Native American creature that is a servant of the Great Spirit. Since the first Thanksgiving is generally thought of as the feast held after the Pilgrims' first harvest, attended by both Pilgrims and Native Americans, this would be Holiday World's first real acknowledgement of Native American participation in Thanksgiving. Up until now, they've themed rides and restaurants after the Mayflower, Plymouth Rock and turkeys, but nothing representing the Native American part of the holiday.
July 26, 2014 at 7:12 PM · This coaster does seem somewhat out of character with Holiday World, which I found delightfully quaint when I visited it a little over 4 years ago. It's as incongruous as Impulse at Knoebels, another park which I would have to describe as quaint. However, it looks like an exciting ride and theme parks clearly have to keep pace with the times and current coaster trends. The keyhole elements should be a lot of fun if they're anything like the keyhole element on X-Flight. As to wing coasters, I was surprised to discover on my recent visit to Six Flags Great America that apart from Goliath, X-Flight was by far my favourite ride in the park. As a sucker for long drops, I expected to like Raging Bull more than X-Flight but the exact opposite proved to be the case. A word of warning to those planning to visit SFGAM: I paid $105 for a Platinum Flash Pass to get immediate access to Goliath, and the person who sold me the pass neglected to mention that I was limited to one ride on Goliath. This is a disgrace. As good as Goliath is, it's hardly worth $105 a ride.
July 27, 2014 at 1:32 PM · Nice! Winged coasters look amazing! I am happy to see new innovation in the industry. I can't wait to see this type of product hit international parks.

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