Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari – Thunderbird

Thunderbird is the nation’s first launched wing coaster and Holiday World’s first major steel roller coaster. Designed by Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M) of Switzerland, Thunderbird is our 9th B&M coaster to be integrated into a theme park.

Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari is a family-owned (Koch family) and family-friendly theme park located in Santa Claus Indiana. Originally named Santa Claus Land, the park opened in 1946 and holds the honor of being the nation’s first theme park. Holiday World is divided into four holiday-themed sections that celebrate Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Fourth of July In 1993 the park added Splashin’ Safari Water Park. In 2014, the Koch family announced another first, the addition of a new $22 million dollar roller coaster named Thunderbird.

From start to finish, Thunderbird delivers on thrill elements. Located in the park’s Thanksgiving-themed section, the new coaster’s theming connects the Native American legend of the Thunderbird with the local esthetic of a Midwestern farm. Theming intensifies the ride experience by setting the stage for the arrival of the powerful bird. Bleck & Bleck designed the lighting, thunder, wind, and the fog system special effects to further enhance the ride experience. From the start of the ride, the power of the mighty bird is felt in the 0-60mph fly-wheel powered launch in just 3.5 seconds. There is no time to scream before soaring into a 14-story Immelmann loop, then plunging to the ground and through the woods for adrenaline-pumping near misses of themed elements, other rides, ground hugging terrain, and trees, followed by seemingly crashing through the barn not once but twice before returning to the station.

Like much of our theme park work, the ride environment for Thunderbird was designed and constructed during the challenging Midwest winter months so Thunderbird could be ready to take flight on opening day.