By Leah Koch

After the most amazing new-ride announcement we could have asked for, some people are a bit confused. They like the fact that we’re getting a steel coaster, but they don’t get how Thunderbird belongs in Holiday World. Especially in our Thanksgiving section.

The Voyage is easily the best name. It’s simple. It tells a story in a word.

But that name was already taken.

So we had to start getting creative. Really creative.

When I first heard the name Thunderbird, like some others, I cringed a bit. I didn’t see the fit.

But I started researching. And researching. And it began to make perfect sense.

Did you know that Thunderbird is a part of Native American lore? I find it fascinating that across North America, many Native American tribes believed in the Thunderbird, but had different names for it.

Did you know that there have been sightings of the mysterious bird as recently as last October in Iowa? There apparently was a picture of one, stretched on a barn door in the 1960s, but no one can locate it.

We now embrace the name. We call Thunderbird the “Sasquatch of the Sky.” (Another fun fact: my dad loved my mom’s Toyota Sequoia because he thought it was such a powerful name. “Kinda like Sasquatch,” he used to say. He always wanted an SUV named Sasquatch, but I think he’d like this secretive little tribute as well.)

According to legend, Thunderbird has a wingspan of approximately 20 feet. The bird flaps its wings to create thunder and shoots lightning out of its eyes.

Paula already knew that the Pilgrims had endured terrible storms at the end of their journey, and we began to wonder.

What if the storms would have knocked the Pilgrims off course? What if they never made it? What if they were never intended to land where they planned? What if those storms were actually somehow what ensured the Pilgrims arrived at the New World? What if the Thunderbird saved them?

What if the Thunderbird, after hundreds of years in hiding, came to Holiday World?

We began to develop the story. If our coaster is the Thunderbird, and the Thunderbird helped the Pilgrims, then couldn’t humans and Thunderbird coexist at some point?

Thunderbird stationWhy will you be in a barn that looks nothing like what the Pilgrims would have built? (Other than the fact that we wanted a beautiful station building and that architecture at the time was simple—even at its fanciest?)

The Thunderbird eventually found his way to southern Indiana, mystically connected with the 66 Days At Sea journal that had been lovingly preserved for centuries by the descendents of the Pilgrim mother who had kept daily account of her experience on board the Mayflower. One descendent, a farmer, was fascinated by Thunderbird’s power and grace and tried to harness him. But as you can see by the scorch marks and the holes in the barn, this majestic creature cannot be tamed.

We inherited the farmer’s barn and property, and only recently discovered a wooden box buried near The Voyage. It seems our farmer chose not to pass along the journal to the next generation in the hope of sparing his descendents the challenge of sharing the land with the unbridled energy of the Thunderbird. When we opened the wooden box and found the journal, we now realize we unleashed the powerful creature to rule the skies once again. Thunderbird nests in the barn and in our woods.

He is home here.

We’ll ride our new coaster on the wings of the Thunderbird, because he is now more familiar with humans and is willing to show us a glimpse into its world.

He will take you on an amazing journey. (Fascinating fact: According to legend, the Thunderbird was warned not to fly too close to the trees, as he would fly so fast, he wouldn’t be able to stop in time to avoid them. We’ll make sure that doesn’t happen!)

We hope you’ll come to love Thunderbird as much as we do.


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9 Responses to “The Legend of the Thunderbird”

  1. Doug

    Where there T-shirts in the gift shop this past May with a silhouette of the Thunderbird on them (but without the name logo)? We remember seeing shirts with a large bird on them that did not appear to be a Raven and wondered what that had to do with holiday World.

  2. Brian

    Thanks! Hearing the story clears a lot up! It would be great to see this story explained in the queue, even if just through lighting and sounds of the Thunderbird being “caged” in the first floor of the station.

    Also helps the name sound a lot smoother! But, it would also be REALLY cool to embrace the Native American name and call the coaster “Wakinyan” (the name of the Thunderbird in the Sioux language, translating to “Sacred Wings”).

    Just don’t go for the Arapaho name: “Boh’ooo.” 😛 Certainly not what you want guests saying about your new coaster!

  3. Jerry

    Thank You, Thank You, Thank You! Really enjoyed the 66 days of waiting, guessing, and racking my brain trying to figure this out! It was great! Then the revealing, I was on the edge of my seat! Summed up in a whole bunch of words-AWESOME. Looks like a killer ride, can’t wait to get on. Season pass holders for quite a while, not stopping anytime soon.

  4. endthedisease

    It looks cool, but I’m still not sure how you are going to fit this on the property. Did you buy new land? I always thought it might be a good idea to build a tunnel that lets you connect across the street since there is plenty of open space there.

  5. Poodle Lover 152

    Thank you so much for finally putting in a steel coaster! The good news is that my mom LOVES roller coasters but me? Meh. I don’t like them that much but this ooh this one?This looks…AWSOME!!! But what I don’t get how people could feel that kind of force since there is no floor. 🙁

  6. Thomas

    Interesting… This ride reminds me of something I saw, It was up north in Goshen Indiana one summer night around 2001 in a place called the Goshen Dam. We were there late at night just walking around near where the falls are, mind you there was almost a full moon. As we approached where the falls were at we see this large bird like thing flying over head, it was monstrous because the sound it made when it flapped its wings was like thunder. That wasn’t the strangest part, as soon as it did that we heard a loud BANG come from the woods near the bottom of the falls. We didn’t stay around to see who was shooting at that thing. We took off running and we noticed the creature flying into a tree not far from the other side of the lake. It was like something big landed into those trees. The next day we went to see the tree and it was as if something large had crashed there… What we saw that night WAS the Thunderbird, the real question is WHO was shooting at it and HOW did they know it was there?