Last updated: 10:00 PM ET, Fri April 24 2015

Holiday World's Thunderbird Roller Coaster Opens to Public Saturday

Destination & Tourism | Donald Wood | April 24, 2015

Holiday World's Thunderbird Roller Coaster Opens to Public Saturday

It’s been almost two months since the first successful test of the "Thunderbird" roller coaster at Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana, but the wait is almost over as the ride officially opens to the public on Saturday, April 24.

For roller coaster enthusiasts, the public opening of the only "launched wing" roller coaster in the United States should have all potential visitors to the park excited about taking a ride on such a unique attraction.

According to Holiday World’s official website, the project cost $22 million and is by far the most expensive attraction at the park. There are two main characteristics that make the roller coaster so unique; passengers ride on the “wings” of the car and they are launched from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds instead of first going up a lift hill.

One of the first people who rode on the roller coaster was Santa Claus himself, according to the Twitter account of RTV6 Indianapolis, which makes sense considering the ride’s location:

Holiday World also shared a YouTube video of the ride in action:

While riders are typically strapped into a car that rides along the roller coaster rail, the Thunderbird has wings that extend on either side of the track. Passengers will have their feet dangling as they make their way through the circuit.

Once launched and at full speed, riders will experience a 14-story Immelmann loop, a zero-g roll, a barrel roll, the tallest vertical loop on any wing coaster and several “near-miss” points along the route. Add in the trees and foliage that surrounds the ride, and this is one of the most unique roller coasters in the nation.

With a top speed of 60 miles per hour and a ride time of one minute and 18 seconds, the opening of this unique attraction should have hardcore and casual roller coaster enthusiasts alike yearning to get a chance to take a ride on the Thunderbird.

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