Ride on the back of the untamed Thunderbird through the forest trees...
|Theme Park||Holiday World|
|Opened||25 April 2015|
|Manufacturer||Bolliger & Mabillard|
|Max Speed||60 mph|
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.
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.
Thunderbird launching out of the station
Inside the station
Ready to go
Wing coaster riding
Flying into the woods
125 feet in the air
Through the trees
Into the woods