Last updated: 01:00 AM ET, Wed March 11 2015

Holiday World Completes First Successful Test of Thunderbird Roller Coaster

Destination & Tourism | Donald Wood | March 11, 2015

Holiday World Completes First Successful Test of Thunderbird Roller Coaster

Photo via YouTube

The brutal cold of the winter has travelers excited to get back to amusement parks during the spring and summer, and roller coaster enthusiasts should be anticipating the debut of "Thunderbird" at Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana.

According to an official press release from Holiday World, the park completed its first test of the only "launched wing" roller coaster in the United States. As opposed to standard coasters, a wing coaster places riders on two sets of "wings" on either side of a track with nothing above or below them. What sets Thunderbird apart from other winged coasters is that the ride begins with a sudden launch, rather than gaining speed from the first hill.

Snow in the area had caused concern about the timing of the test, but with warmer temperatures during the weekend, the roller coaster came to life on Saturday, March 7 at 2:03 p.m. local time. The first run was conducted with twenty water-filled test dummies and was considered a success.

Holiday World president, Matt Eckert, commented via a press release on the test and the emphasis the park is putting on its newest attraction:

“We’ve been joking that on this day when we usually ‘spring forward’ to Daylight Savings Time, we decided to launch forward. This is a huge milestone for us – Thunderbird is the greatest investment we’ve made since we opened in 1946. Our season begins in just seven weeks.”

The park’s 2015 opening will take place on April 25, and it will feature the public debut of Thunderbird. As Holiday World’s first major steel roller coaster, Thunderbird will take riders on a journey that includes, “a zero-to-60 miles-per-hour launch in 3.5 seconds, followed by multiple inversions – including a 14-story Immelmann loop, Zero-g roll, barrel roll, and a loop soaring 125 feet in the air,” according to the company’s website.

Being the only "launched wing" roller coaster in America makes the ride unique, but the course in which it travels also adds to the thrilling experience. The park is surrounded by wooded areas and features plenty of foliage in the confines of Holiday World as well. Thunderbird takes advantage of this natural characteristic and takes riders through the trees.

Add in several spots on the track where riders will experience intentional near misses that include going through an old barn, gliding though other rides and even coming close to the ground, and this is a major attraction for any roller coaster fanatic.

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