Holiday World

Ride on the back of the untamed Thunderbird through the forest trees...

Theme ParkHoliday World
Park AreaThanksgiving
Opened25 April 2015
ManufacturerBolliger & Mabillard
ModelWing Coaster
Height140 ft
Length3035 ft
Max Speed60 mph
Cost$22 million
Duration1¼ minutes
Thunderbird soars over the woods

Thunderbird soars over the woods

For many years, rollercoaster manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard did not supply launched coasters. This tradition was broken in 2015 with Thunderbird at Holiday World.

Thunderbird is B&M's eighth wing coaster and the first to feature an LSM launch system instead of the traditional lift hill. It sits in Holiday World's Thanksgiving section and, when it opened in 2015, became the park's first major steel coaster.

The ride is named after the Thunderbird of Native American folklore, a mysterious bird could create thunder by flapping its giant wings and shoot lightning from its eyes. According to the backstory written by Holiday World, the Thunderbird used the storms it created to change the course of the Pilgrim Father's Mayflower ship and ensure they landed safely in the New World.

Years later, a farmer descended from those first Pilgrims attempted to trap the Thunderbird in his barn and harness its substantial power. But the Thunderbird could not be tamed ... and today he finds his home at Holiday World, where he will take guests on an amazing journey into the woods.

A ride on Thunderbird is a great experience. As you might expect from B&M, the rollercoaster is smooth and graceful. Unlike some other B&M Wing Coasters - most notably Flug der Dämonen at Heide Park - there are no uncomfortable bumps or jarring.

Launch track emerging from the station

Launch track emerging from the station

The launch adds something special to the ride, and feels as if you really are riding on the back of a giant bird as it takes off and soars 140ft into the sky through the first Immelmann loop inversion. Following this initial rush, the train proceeds through a vertical loop (at 125ft, currently the tallest wing coaster vertical loop) and crosses into the forest. From here, it weaves in and out of the trees and soars through a zero-G roll.

A barn provides a "keyhole" for Thunderbird to pass through, giving riders the sensation of a near-miss as the train slips through a narrow opening in the barn's walls. Turning back on itself, the coaster takes an inline twist finale over the barn before slowing into the final brake run.

Thunderbird is my favourite of all the B&M Wing Coasters I've ridden. The launch provides the extra bit of speed and energy missing from other more lethargic wing coasters, but Thunderbird also maintains the grace and feeling of flight that Cedar Point's much more forceful GateKeeper leaves behind.

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