Thunderbird (Holiday World)

Last updated
Thunderbird Holiday World Logo.png
Holiday World & Splashin' Safari
Location Holiday World & Splashin' Safari
Park section Thanksgiving
Coordinates 38°07′27″N86°54′32″W / 38.124246°N 86.908957°W / 38.124246; -86.908957
Soft opening dateApril 24, 2015 (2015-04-24)
Opening dateApril 25, 2015 (2015-04-25)
Cost$22 million
General statistics
Type Steel  Wing Coaster  Launched
Manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard
Model Wing Coaster
Lift/launch system LSM
Height140 ft (43 m)
Length3,035 ft (925 m)
Speed60 mph (97 km/h)
Inversions 4
Capacity1,140 riders per hour
Acceleration0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h) in 3.5 seconds
Height restriction52–78 in (132–198 cm)
Trains2 trains with 5 cars. Riders are arranged 4 across in a single row for a total of 20 riders per train.
Thunderbird at RCDB

Thunderbird is a steel roller coaster in the Thanksgiving section of Holiday World & Splashin' Safari amusement park in Santa Claus, Indiana. Designed by Bolliger & Mabillard, the ride opened in 2015 as the eighth Wing Coaster in the world and the fourth in the United States.


Thunderbird is B&M's first launched coaster in sixteen years and their first launch coaster built in-house (The Incredible Hulk Coaster at Universal's Islands of Adventure uses a launch system supplied by the park). The Wing Coaster reaches a speed of 60 miles per hour (97 km/h) in 3.5 seconds and features the tallest vertical loop on a Wing Coaster. [1] Thunderbird had its first test run on March 8, 2015 and opened to the public on April 25, 2015. [2]


On July 24, 2014, Holiday World announced that they would be opening Thunderbird for the 2015 season. It would be the park's first major steel coaster, as well as the first launched wing coaster in the United States. Thunderbird would also be the first roller coaster at the park to go upside down. [3] The track and supports began arriving at the park the following week. [4] By October, the first two inversions were topped off. [5] The new trains were shown off during IAAPA 2014. [6] Then, the track layout was completed on December 2, 2014. [7]

Thunderbird officially opened on April 25, 2015. Prairie Farms Dairy released an ice cream flavor called "Thunderbird" to advertise the new ride. This flavor was a combination of vanilla ice cream with a touch of caramel and more spicy, roasted pecans. [8]

Ride experience

After loading in the station, the train moves forward and stops. Mist blows in front of the train and thunder sounds as the train launches from 0 to 60 miles per hour (97 km/h) in 3.5 seconds by linear synchronous motors. The train immediately goes into a 140 feet (43 m) Immelmann loop. After the first element, the train then goes down its first drop into a 125 feet (38 m) vertical loop, the tallest vertical loop on a Wing Coaster, surpassing Wild Eagle at Dollywood. [9] After the vertical loop, the train crosses over the valley between The Voyage's second and third hills, goes through an overbanked turn, and then an overbanked elevated spiral in the mirrored direction. The train then goes through a zero-g-roll parallel to The Voyage. After several curves next to The Voyage's triple-down drop and spaghetti bowl, the train dips down into a barn (which is the keyhole) where it then curves left back into the barn by doing an inline twist, crossing over The Voyage's underground tunnels. Once the inline twist ends the train enters the brake run. From the brake run, the track makes a right turn to another set of brakes before entering the station. One cycle of the ride lasts about 1 minute and 18 seconds.



Thunderbird's first two inversions. Thunderbird (Holiday World) 3.jpg
Thunderbird's first two inversions.

Thunderbird is located in the Thanksgiving theme section of the park along with The Voyage and it runs parallel and crosses over The Voyage twice: after the vertical loop and during the inline twist. [9]

PGAV Destinations is the theming designer for Thunderbird. The designers took the Thunderbird name and coaster design and created a visual theme of the legendary bird’s powerful flight through farms and forests of southern Indiana. [10]


Thunderbird is a Wing Coaster model manufactured by Swiss roller coaster firm Bolliger & Mabillard. It is Holiday World & Splashin' Safaris first major steel roller coaster. Thunderbird is the eighth Wing Coaster to be built and the fourth in the United States, the others being X-Flight at Six Flags Great America, Wild Eagle at Dollywood and GateKeeper at Cedar Point. [11] [12] Thunderbird is the first Bolliger & Mabillard coaster to utilize an LSM launch. An earlier launched coaster, The Incredible Hulk roller coaster at Islands of Adventure, Universal Orlando, utilizes a pinch-wheel drive system that was designed exclusively for Universal Studios by Universal Creative. [13]


Thunderbird operates with two open-air steel and fiberglass trains, each with five cars of four seats each, with two on each side of the track. Each train holds 20 riders and the ride has a capacity of about 1,140 riders per hour. Because the seats are on the side of the track, a cantilevered steel arm is used to support the wings. [14]


Thunderbird's steel track is 3,035 feet (925 m) long and the tallest part of the ride is the first inversion, an Immelmann loop at 140 feet (43 m).

Launch system

Every launch requires 2.5 megawatts of power, with the energy being stored in electric generators with two massive 24,000-pound flywheel assemblies. [15] The launch system mechanics are located in a separate building known as Will Power. The name came from the park's former president Will Koch, who died in 2010. [16]


Thunderbird was ranked in the Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Awards for best new ride of 2015 with 9.5% of the vote, to come in fifth place. [17]

Golden Ticket Awards: Best New Ride for 2015
5 [17]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Inverted roller coaster</span> Type of roller coaster

An inverted roller coaster is a type of steel roller coaster in which the train runs under the track with the seats directly attached to the wheel carriage. Riders are seated in open cars, letting their feet swing freely. The inverted coaster was pioneered by Swiss roller coaster manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard in the early 1990s with the development of Batman: The Ride, which opened at Six Flags Great America on May 9, 1992.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bolliger & Mabillard</span> Swiss roller coaster manufacturer

Bolliger & Mabillard, officially Bolliger & Mabillard Consulting Engineers, Inc. and often abbreviated B&M, is a roller coaster design consultancy based in Monthey, Switzerland. The company was founded in 1988 by engineers Walter Bolliger and Claude Mabillard, both of whom had worked for Giovanola.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Launched roller coaster</span> Modern form of roller coaster

The launched roller coaster is a modern form of roller coaster. A launched coaster initiates a ride with high amounts of acceleration via one or a series of linear induction motors (LIM), linear synchronous motors (LSM), catapults, tires, chains, or other mechanisms employing hydraulic or pneumatic power, along a launch track. This mode of acceleration powers many of the fastest roller coasters in the world.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Holiday World & Splashin' Safari</span> Amusement park in Indiana

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, formerly named Santa Claus Land, is a theme park and water park located in Santa Claus, Indiana, United States. The theme park opened in 1946 and features rides, live entertainment, and games that are divided into four sections that celebrate Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Superman: Krypton Coaster</span> Roller coaster in Texas, U.S.

Superman: Krypton Coaster is a steel roller coaster located at Six Flags Fiesta Texas amusement park in San Antonio. Manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard, the Floorless Coaster model opened to the public in 2000 as one of the first of its kind in the world. The well-received ride held the title for the world's tallest vertical loop from its opening until 2013. Superman: Krypton Coaster stands 168 feet (51 m) tall and reaches a maximum speed of 70 mph (110 km/h).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Incredible Hulk Coaster</span> Roller coaster at Islands of Adventure

The Incredible Hulk Coaster is a launched roller coaster located at Islands of Adventure theme park within the Universal Orlando Resort. Designed by Werner Stengel and manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M), the roller coaster is themed after the Hulk comic book superhero and opened to the public on May 28, 1999. It is the first B&M coaster themed to a Marvel Comics superhero character and the first to feature a launch design, which was primarily implemented by Universal Creative and MTS Systems Corporation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Montu (roller coaster)</span> Inverted roller coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa

Montu is an inverted roller coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay in Tampa, Florida. Designed by Swiss manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard, it is the park's second roller coaster designed by that company following the success of Kumba, which opened 3 years prior. When the ride opened on May 16, 1996, it was the world's tallest and fastest inverted roller coaster, a title it has since conceded to Alpengeist at sister park Busch Gardens Williamsburg. The ride stands 150 feet (46 m) tall and reaches speeds of 60 miles per hour (97 km/h).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Voyage (roller coaster)</span> Amusement ride

The Voyage is a wooden roller coaster located at Holiday World & Splashin' Safari in Santa Claus, Indiana. Designed and built by The Gravity Group with the help of designers Mike Graham, Korey Kiepert, Larry Bill, Chad Miller, and former park President Will Koch, the roller coaster is themed to the famous voyage of the Mayflower by Pilgrims to North America in 1620. It opened to the public on May 6, 2006. It is widely considered one of the best wooden roller coasters ever built, and was awarded by TIME Magazine as the Best Roller Coaster in the world in 2013.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">T3 (roller coaster)</span> Defunct roller coaster

T3 (stylized as T3; pronounced "T-three", "T-cubed", or "Terror to the third power") was an inverted roller coaster located at Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville, Kentucky. The Suspended Looping Coaster model manufactured by Vekoma originally opened as T2 on April 8, 1995. Following the amusement park's closure in 2009 due to financial difficulties, the ride sat idle for several years. Under new park ownership, the roller coaster was refurbished and renamed T3, which reopened to the public as T3 on July 3, 2015. The ride closed permanently following the 2022 season.

Afterburn (roller coaster) Inverted roller coaster at Carowinds

Afterburn is an inverted roller coaster located at Carowinds amusement park in Charlotte, North Carolina. After more than two years of planning and construction, the roller coaster opened on March 20, 1999. The ride previously operated as Top Gun: The Jet Coaster, before it was renamed following Cedar Fair's purchase of Paramount Parks in 2006.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wing Coaster</span> Type of roller coaster

Wing Coaster is engineering firm Bolliger & Mabillard’s designation for its winged roller coaster designs. Winged roller coasters are a type of steel roller coaster where pairs of riders sit on either side of a roller coaster track in which nothing is above or below the riders. B&M began development on the first Wing Coaster between 2007 and 2008 leading to the opening of Raptor at Gardaland on 1 April 2011. There were sixteen B&M-designed Wing Coasters either under construction or operating worldwide as of December 2020.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">SheiKra</span> Roller coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

SheiKra is a steel Dive Coaster roller coaster at the Busch Gardens Tampa Bay amusement park in Tampa, Florida, United States. The roller coaster was proposed by Mark Rose, vice-president of design and engineering for the park, and designed by Bolliger & Mabillard. The ride was planned to be 160 feet (49 m) high, but the park's executives rejected this and the height was changed to 200 feet (61 m). SheiKra reaches a maximum speed of 70 miles per hour (110 km/h) and has a total track length of 3,188 feet (972 m). It first opened on May 21, 2005, and was converted to a floorless roller coaster on June 16, 2007, following the opening of its sister Dive Coaster Griffon at Busch Gardens Williamsburg that year.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">X-Flight (Six Flags Great America)</span> Roller coaster in Gurnee, Illinois

X-Flight is a steel roller coaster located at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois. Designed and built by Bolliger & Mabillard, the ride opened as the fourth Wing Coaster in the world and the second in the United States on May 16, 2012. It replaced both the Splashwater Falls and Great American Raceway attractions. The 3,000-foot-long (910 m) roller coaster features barrel rolls, high-speed drops, and a signature fly-through element, where the train narrowly misses a support structure – designed to look like an air traffic control tower – as it passes through an opening known as a keyhole element.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wild Eagle</span> Roller coaster at Dollywood

Wild Eagle is a steel Wing Coaster built by Bolliger & Mabillard at the Dollywood amusement park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. It is the first of its kind in the United States and opened to the media on March 23, 2012 before opening to the public on March 24, 2012. The roller coaster reaches a height of 210 feet (64 m) and reaches speeds of 61 miles per hour (98 km/h). In September 2012, the ride was voted as the best new ride of 2012 in Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Awards.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">OzIris</span> Roller coaster at Parc Astérix

OzIris is a steel inverted roller coaster designed by Bolliger & Mabillard operating at Parc Astérix in France since 7 April 2012. It is only one of two Bolliger & Mabillard inverted coasters in France, the other being The Monster at Walygator Parc. It is named after the Character Iris from the French comic Asterix.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sky Scrapper</span> Roller coaster

Sky Scrapper is a flying roller coaster at World Joyland in Wujin, Changzhou, Jiangsu, China. Sky Scrapper was one of World Joyland's opening day attractions, officially opening on April 30, 2011. The 2,805.1-foot-long (855.0 m) ride stands 131.3 feet (40.0 m) tall, and features a top speed of 54.7 mph (88.0 km/h). Designed by Swiss firm Bolliger & Mabillard, Sky Scrapper restrains riders in the prone position and features five inversions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Banshee (roller coaster)</span> Inverted roller coaster at Kings Island

Banshee is an inverted roller coaster located at Kings Island amusement park in Mason, Ohio. Designed and manufactured by Swiss company Bolliger & Mabillard, the roller coaster opened on April 18, 2014. Banshee cost $24 million to build, making it the most expensive project in Kings Island's history at the time. With 4,124 feet (1,257 m) of track, Banshee was the longest inverted roller coaster in the world when it opened. The ride includes seven inversions and travels at up to 68 miles per hour. Banshee operates with three trains, each with eight cars, giving it an hourly capacity of 1,650 riders.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nitro (Imagicaa)</span> Floorless coaster at Imagicaa in India

Nitro is a steel Floorless Coaster at Imagicaa amusement park in Khopoli, Maharashtra, India. Manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard, the roller coaster reaches a maximum height of 132 feet (40 m) and a maximum speed of 65.2 miles per hour (104.9 km/h). The coaster also features five inversions. Nitro opened to the public in October 2013.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pipeline: The Surf Coaster</span> Roller coaster at SeaWorld Orlando

Pipeline: The Surf Coaster, or simply Pipeline, is a launched roller coaster located at SeaWorld Orlando in Orlando, Florida. Manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M), the roller coaster opened on May 27, 2023. Pipeline is a Surf Coaster model from B&M and is themed to surfing, featuring surfboard-shaped vehicles.


  1. McCleery, Bill (July 24, 2014). "Holiday World takes flight with $22M Thunderbird wing coaster". Indianapolis Star. Archived from the original on August 2, 2014. Retrieved July 26, 2014.
  2. Thunderbird Official Test Video
  3. "Holiday World adds $22M Thunderbird wing coaster".
  4. ""Orange is the New Track!..." - Holiday World Facebook post".
  5. "Two Inversions Now Complete on Holiday World's Thunderbird Launched Coaster".
  6. "Scott And Carol Present - Holiday World Unveils Thunderbird's Train".
  7. "Holiday World Completes Thunderbird's Track - NewsPlusNotes".
  8. "Holiday World launches new ice cream flavor".
  9. 1 2 Adams, Matt. "Holiday World announces new $22 million roller coaster 'Thunderbird'". Fox 59 . Archived from the original on August 2, 2014. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
  10. "Thunderbird: Holiday World Reveals New Launched Wing Coaster". Blooloop. July 25, 2014. Retrieved July 26, 2014.
  11. "Recap of Cedar Point's GateKeeper announcement". Sandusky Register . August 14, 2012. Archived from the original on August 2, 2014. Retrieved July 26, 2014.
  12. Black, Lisa (September 3, 2011). "Six Flags gets in line for more thrill rides". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on September 3, 2011. Retrieved July 26, 2014.
  13. Seifert, Jeffrey (2015). "Willpower brings B&M launched coaster to Holiday World". Amusement Today. 19 (3): 30.
  14. Main, Dalton. "Holiday World unveils park's first major steel roller coaster". WDRB . Archived from the original on August 4, 2014. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
  15. "Thunderbird: Out To Launch - Dubois County Herald".
  16. "Thunderbird: All it takes is Will Power".
  17. 1 2 "Park and ride winners". Amusement Today . September 2015. Retrieved September 13, 2015.