My Initial Thoughts on Holiday World’s “Thunderbird”

Tonight I (The Beast) along with a few thousand other theme park fans watched the live stream of Holiday World’s major announcement about a 22 million dollar attraction coming to the park in 2015. The park had been teasing fans for 66 days about the new ride and made the announcement via live stream in front of a live audience at Holiday World. In case you missed it, the big announcement is an April 2015 arrival of the first launched winged coaster called Thunderbird created by the legendary coaster company B&M. The coaster will take you from 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds into a 140′ immelman loop and features a 125′  loop, the largest on a winged coaster to date.


Here are The Beast’s initial thoughts:

1. Holiday World is re-branding itself with this attraction. This is a park that lives off tradition and old school thrills. Although the water park boasts some impressive attractions, the park’s momentum and legacy is built around its 3 classic and fantastic wooden roller coasters. Those coasters drive everything else about the nature of the park. Not only is Holiday World bringing in a steel coaster, but they are bringing in a steel coaster that has a modern-day hype connected to it. I am not opposed to a steel coaster, but a winged coaster does not fit the Holiday World machine as it currently exists, which is why I say this will re-brand the image of Holiday World to a certain degree. In my opinion, winged coasters will come and go, giving way to the next cool, modern invention of thrilling coaster seekers. Wooden coasters will never go anywhere. So, this is a new day for Holiday World, either for good or ill. I will say this…Dollywood has beautifully incorporated a winged coaster into her nostalgic, traditional mold and it has worked perfectly, so it can certainly be done. Speaking of Dollywood…

2. Thunderbird needs to give a nod to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN for at least two elements. One, the theme of a bird taking flight. This is of course an obvious theme for a winged coaster, but other coasters in this genre are not themed like Wild Eagle quite as much as Thunderbird seems to be. Two, in a strange bit of irony, one of the best wooden coasters in the world is at Dollywood named Thunderhead. So, Holiday World is known for their wooden coasters but names their first steel coaster eerily similar to one of the best wooden coasters of all time. Yep.

3. I can’t stand the name or the logo. Seriously, this looks like something an airbrush dude in Gatlinburg pulled off in about 35 seconds. Both go in The Beast’s hall of shame.


4. I think the first 15 seconds of the ride will rock and the final minute will be mediocre. That is a wild prediction considering I have seen an animated film only 3 times thus far, but I think I’ll will be right. The launch aspect will be unique and fun and I love launching into a huge immelman loop. Fantastic. After that, I predict an enjoyable but nothing spectacular ride.

5. The whole announcement was almost a complete fiasco as the live stream was non-existent for the first few minutes. Thankfully, they pulled it together by the time the actual announcement happened.

6. Holiday World is an incredible park with incredible rides. I hope Thunderbird is successful and draws more fans and more attention to a truly terrific place to spend a day of fun. The Voyage is one of the best coasters out there and The Raven is a timeless classic. I hope Thunderhead will be able to keep up.


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