Holiday World Unveils ‘Thunderbird’ for 2015

Holiday World will make history once again in 2015.

Last night, the park unveiled plans for its first major steel roller coaster. The coaster, named ‘Thunderbird’, will be the first launched wing coaster in the United States and will feature 2 trains, each with 5 cars that hold 4 people per car.

‘Thunderbird’ will launch from 0-to-60 in 3 and a half seconds. The coaster will turn over multiple times, including a14-story tall Immelmann loop, a zero-G roll, a barrel roll, and a loop going 125 feet into the air. The new coaster also features some rapid-fire ‘near miss’ areas as a surprise for riders. Some of those will include keyholes, themed elements, and even the ground among others.

Now Holiday World is investing 22 million dollars in the new coaster, more than twice the amount of any other single-ride investment in park history. The coaster is being designed by Swiss-based firm Bolliger and Mabillard (B&M). Thunderbird will also be historic for B&M as it will be the firm’s first launched coaster.

Even with the new coaster, park president Matt Eckert says Holiday World still has 90 acres of land that could be developed in the future. Thus, he says ‘Thunderbird’ may only be the beginning of greater things for the park:

Several state and local officials were on hand, including Indiana Office of Tourism Development executive director Mark Newman. Newman says the announcement is also a win for the state as a whole:

Thunderbird has a bit of sentimental value as well. Late park president Will Koch had dreamed of having a steel roller coaster at the park for several years prior to his death in 2010. 4th generation owners Lauren and Leah Koch took part in last night’s announcement. Leah Koch says Thunderbird is the fulfillment of her father’s dream:

Construction of Thunderbird got underway back in March. The ride is scheduled to open at the end of April 2015 as the park will open 1 week earlier next year than usual. You can view the progress of the construction on the park’s ConstructionCam at

Once it begins operations next year, ‘Thunderbird’ will be able to hold more than 11 hundred guests per hour with a top speed of 60 mph. The ride time from station to station: 1 minute, 18 seconds.