By Dwain Sponseller
I have always imagined what it would have been like to travel the high seas on a ship made from just the timbers of an oak tree in the 1600s. We may have the modern technologies today, but a trip to Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana can get you pretty close in a modernistic fashion. This weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Thunderbird Media Day Preview and I want to tell you a little bit about the day.
Hundreds of media and coaster enthusiasts arrived at the park around 6:00am on Thursday morning. I had decided to travel to Louisville and stay the night and get up early Thursday and arrive at the park. For the second year in a row, media day turns out to be one of the coldest mornings of the spring. At a temperature of 35 degrees, I was happy I had brought my jacket alongside. We arrived at the gate where they had us alphabetized. The ride auction winners were escorted back first and then they escorted the rest of us back. The three woodies were quiet and greeting us on this beautiful Indiana morning. After the long trek to the back of the park, we finally arrived at the magnificent orange colored track and elegant ride station. There were park employees there to greet us and breakfast was laid out for us to partake in. (I will get back to the food later in this blog) We began the festivities with an opening ceremony from Koch family and the president. We counted down the launch to the first ride and watched as she sped down the first piece of track.
The ride was then opened for everyone to ride and we took our first rides on the first ever launched wing coaster in the country. This seems like a good place to give my review of the ride. Let me first state that the queue line and ride station is excellent. The station is made to look old and barn like which fits in with the cornfield landscape of the area. There is a silo on the outside of the station that is actually the elevator for the ride. When boarding a train, the train in front prepares for launch and the sound effects of thunder and the flashing lights make it feel like a thunderstorm. The train creeps out to the launch pad and then the fog surrounds and out you go. The ride is short but powerful. My favorite part of this coaster is the launch. This is by far the smoothest wing coaster I have ridden. The transitions are flawless and the coaster is one that you can re-ride over and over again. The restraints are your normal B&M wing type and the greatest thing is the harness does not lock. After riding the coaster in every seat, my favorite seat is the front right outside seat, but many like the left side for the near miss effects in the ride interaction building. Overall this coaster ranks very high on my list because of the overall smoothness and re-ridabilty.
I want to now take this time to truly thank the people of Holiday World for the hospitality and kindness throughout the entire day. They went above and beyond to make everyone at media day feel welcome and satisfied. I want to take this time as well to talk about the food and things were given throughout the entire day. Unlike many media days that last just a couple of hours, this media day lasted all day and was ripe full of activities for everyone. When we arrived at the ride, they had laid out a breakfast that was fit for a king. They had orange juice and all the fountain drinks that we are accustomed to all day long at Holiday World. They had fresh cinnamon rolls with crème cheese icing that was to die for. They also had in house made breakfast sandwiches that were piping hot. They wheeled out coffee and hot chocolate for everyone as well and this was only the beginning. Thunderbird and Voyage were open all morning and you could ride as many times as you wanted on both world class coasters.
When it was lunch time, we were treated to an unbelievable feast of BBQ pulled pork, country fried steak, and all the fixens. There was even a delectable pecan cobbler for dessert. After lunch, the park resumed rides on Thunderbird and the backstage tours of the ride began. We were able to go into the belly of the ride and get pictures and video from different angles that aren’t normally allowed. One of the best moments of the trip was the opening of the Raven and Legend roller coasters as now we were able to experience the entire plethora of wood and steel the park had to offer. Normally the media day would end here, but not at Holiday World. They kept Thunderbird open until everyone was tired of the ride. We were offered a dinner inside of the Plymouth Rock Café that consisted of Pizza and dinner wraps. We also were able to sample the new Thunderbird ice cream throughout the day.
In closing I just want to say once again how thankful I am for this opportunity to represent COASTER-net at Thunderbird Media Day. The people at Holiday World are world class and their park is evidence of that. The park was able to raise a ton of money for Give Kids the World and it was great to be a part of that as always. If you are preparing for a trip to a world class place with world class coasters…make sure you add Holiday World to your list. May the Queue Lines Be Ever In Your Favor!