America’s first launched wing coaster held its grand opening this spring in the Thanksgiving section of Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari Theme Park in Santa Claus, Indiana.
The $22m attraction marks Holiday World’s largest single-ride investment in the park’s entire 69-year history and its very first steel roller coaster. “A wing coaster creates a feeling of incredible freedom because you ride beside the coaster track with nothing above or below you, ” said Holiday World Park president Matt Eckert. “It’s a whole new experience for thrill seekers; we were eager to see and hear our guests’ reaction to riding Thunderbird!”
Thunderbird is the third record-setting winged coaster attraction that PGAV Destinations has collaborated on, following the Flying over the Rain Forest at China’s Chimelong Ocean Kingdom and Wild Eagle at Tennessee’s Dollywood.
“Thunderbird was developed around a rich story about the origin of the ride and facilities, ” says Mike Linenbroker, PGAV attraction designer. “We leveraged a number of the principles found in our recent Storytelling publication and seamlessly wove the tale into every aspect of the experience while creating a beautiful, immersive adventure for the guests.”
Thunderbird isn’t just fun and beautiful for the riders: it’s thrilling for all nearby park guests as well. As visitors walk around Thunderbird, they are treated to glimpses of the coaster bursting through the trees during some of its most thrilling loops and barrel rolls. The vibrant landscaping reflects a thriving farm, full of foliage similar to hardy crops and perennial flowering plants. Thunderbird’s facilities naturally blend with the Thanksgiving village and its existing forestry, with warm hues of browns and oranges, natural materials, and aged farm equipment such as barrels, crates, and wagons.
Early positive reviews from guests and critics abound:
- “Best New Coaster of 2015.” Theme Park Insider
- “Thunderbird rocks! Lots of fun and great rides, especially Thunderbird!” – Bazer G., Tripadvisor
- “It’s been over a decade since I visited, but with the addition of the new Thunderbird coaster, I had to return. And it was worth the trip. Great coaster rounds out the rides with a solid family-thrill ride.” – Robert U., Tripadvisor
- “I have ridden nearly every coaster at Cedar Point, Kings Island, and many at Six Flags and other locations, and I can say the roller coasters at Holiday World, especially Thunderbird and The Voyage, are top notch and comparable to many of the top coasters in the world.” – David B., Tripadvisor