Winged Roller Coaster THUNDERBIRD Lands at Holiday World in 2015

Santa Claus brought an early present to Indiana’s Holiday World theme park as they announced the addition of a new $22 million dollar roller coaster opening in 2015.  Holiday World teamed with Swiss coaster designer Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M) to create THUNDERBIRD, the nation’s first launched wing coaster.  In the winged roller coaster, riders underneath the train beside the coaster track for a smooth simulation of flight – imagine you were suspended beneath an airplane’s wing.  For a recent example of a winged B&M coaster, read our review of Cedar Point’s GateKeeper that opened in 2013.  Continue reading for more details, renderings, and ride simulation video.

Update April 20, 2015

America’s first launched wing coaster opens Holiday World on Saturday, April 25, 2015.

Named Thunderbird, Holiday World’s new steel roller coaster features a zero-to-60 miles-per-hour launch in 3.5 seconds, followed by multiple inversions – including a 14-story Immelmann loop, Zero-g roll, barrel roll, and a loop soaring 125 feet in the air.

Holiday World THUNDERBIRD

Continuing Holiday World’s tradition of sending roller coasters through its thickly wooded and hilly terrain, Thunderbird will at first soar and loop high in the air and then hug the ground, surprising riders with rapid-fire “near misses” such as keyholes, themed elements, other rides, trees, and even the ground.

“A wing coaster creates a feeling of incredible freedom – you ride beside the coaster track with nothing above or below you,” says Holiday World’s president, Matt Eckert. “Thunderbird is the first launched wing coaster in the nation – we can’t wait to see our Guests’ faces when they ride it!”

Eckert calls Thunderbird’s manufacturer, Bolliger & Mabillard, the “Cadillac of roller coasters, known for their safety, quality and reliability. We’ve dreamed of adding a B&M steel coaster for many years and are excited that Thunderbird will be B&M’s first launched coaster.”

Update March 25, 2015

Would you like to be the first to ride Holiday World’s Thunderbird when it opens next month?  How about being the first to ride, AND support one of our favorite charities – Give Kids The World Village?  All you need to do is be one of the 20 winning bids in Holiday World’s First Flight Auction running now through April 8th.  All proceeds go to Give Kids The World to help children with life-threatening illnesses and their family receive a week-long Florida vacation.

Thunderbird First Flight

“Supporting Give Kids The World’s mission is very important to our park’s owners and employees,” says Holiday World President Matt Eckert.  “Helping these families make precious memories – both in Florida and here at Holiday World – is near and dear to all of our hearts.”  After the family’s week-long cost-free vacation at Give Kids The World, they are issued a World Passport for Kids, which provides them a year of free visits to theme parks and other attractions; Holiday World is a charter member of this program.  Adventures by Daddy just returned from a week-long service trip to the Village; click here to get an inside look at everything this Magical Village does for children with life-threatening illnesses.

Mayor Clayton and Miss Merry at Give Kids The World

Mayor Clayton and Miss Merry at Give Kids The World Village

 

Update March 9, 2015

Twenty water-filled test dummies got the ride of their lives as they experienced the first flight of the nation’s only launched wing roller coaster.

Thunderbird

Image courtesy Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari

As this week’s snow thawed, Thunderbird roared to life and launched its first train 14 stories into the cloudless sky, completing a full ride circuit on its first try.

“We’ve been joking that on this day when we usually ‘spring forward’ to Daylight Savings Time, we decided to launch forward,” says Holiday World’s president, Matt Eckert. “This is a huge milestone for us – Thunderbird is the greatest investment we’ve made since we opened in 1946. Our season begins in just seven weeks.”

Holiday World opens for the season on April 25, with the premiere of Thunderbird.

Thunderbird

Image courtesy Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari

 

Original post from July 25, 2014 follows below…

Holiday World Thunderbird

From Holiday World’s Press Release

The nation’s first launched wing coaster will take flight over Holiday World in 2015.

Holiday World Thunderbird

© 2014 Holiday World, Santa Claus, Indiana

 

Named Thunderbird, Holiday World’s first major steel roller coaster will feature a zero-to-60 miles-per-hour launch in 3.5 seconds, followed by multiple inversions – including a 14-story Immelmann loop, Zero-g roll, barrel roll, and a loop soaring 125 feet in the air.

Holiday World Thunderbird

© 2014 Holiday World, Santa Claus, Indiana

Holiday World Thunderbird

© 2014 Holiday World, Santa Claus, Indiana

Holiday World Thunderbird

© 2014 Holiday World, Santa Claus, Indiana

Holiday World Thunderbird

© 2014 Holiday World, Santa Claus, Indiana

 

Continuing Holiday World’s tradition of sending roller coasters through its thickly wooded and hilly terrain, Thunderbird will at first soar and loop high in the air and then hug the ground, surprising riders with rapid-fire “near misses” such as keyholes, themed elements, other rides, trees, and even the ground.

Holiday World Thunderbird

© 2014 Holiday World, Santa Claus, Indiana

Holiday World Thunderbird

© 2014 Holiday World, Santa Claus, Indiana

Holiday World Thunderbird

© 2014 Holiday World, Santa Claus, Indiana

 

“A wing coaster creates a feeling of incredible freedom – you ride beside the coaster track with nothing above or below you,” says Holiday World’s president, Matt Eckert.  “Thunderbird is the first launched wing coaster in the nation – we can’t wait to ride it!”

Eckert calls Thunderbird’s manufacturer, Bolliger & Mabillard, the “Cadillac of roller coasters, known for their safety, quality and reliability.  We’ve dreamed of adding a B&M steel coaster for many years and are excited that Thunderbird will be B&M’s first launched coaster.”

Thunderbird’s $22 million price tag is more than twice the amount of any other single-ride investment at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari in the park’s 68-year history.

Thunderbird will be located in the park’s Thanksgiving section.  Construction is already underway and may be viewed live on Holiday World’s ConstructionCam.  Thunderbird will open next spring.

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About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.