By Leah Koch

Paula’s note: It was pure delight watching the Kochs ride Thunderbird for the very first time. Our owners – Lori, Lauren, Leah and William – were beside themselves as they scrambled to switch seats and ride again. Later that evening, I texted them to ask for a volunteer to continue Will’s tradition of blogging after riding a new coaster for the very first time. His middle child, Leah, grabbed her journal and captured her memories before they faded even by a few hours:

When Paula first asked us to write down our thoughts about riding Thunderbird our first time, at first I thought it wouldn’t be very interesting. I figured it would read something like, “WHOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAA!!”

Then I actually thought about it and started actually remembering the first ride.

First of all, before we ever got on, I looked like I had ants in my pants. Seriously. I was so excited I was dancing around.

I called dibs on Front Outside Left months before, so I claimed my rightful seat there, and Mom sat next to me.

Lori and Leah Koch on Thunderbird

Once in the seat with restraints ready to go, my mind started racing.

Suddenly, I remembered all of the concerns I read from fans on, and started worrying:

“What if the launch is boring? Or it doesn’t deliver as promised? What if the launch is good but the rest is lame? What if we’ve spent all this money, and I don’t like it? What if we’ve spent all this money, and our Guests don’t like it?”

As we rolled from the station and into the launch room, I cleared my mind for a moment, and allowed myself to enjoy what was about to happen. I was about to ride a steel coaster that my family and I chose to build. All of the agonizing over the name, our announcement video, and every little thing led to this moment.

First Thunderbird rides

Mom and I exchanged an excited, but nervous glance, grabbed hands, then placed them back on the restraint, knowing the launch was coming soon.

In the split-second before the launch, one thought came to the front of my mind: “Please let this be good.”

Then the LSMs catapulted us forward, and I knew I had nothing to worry about.

It is such a good launch.

I kept waiting for the intensity to stop, but it didn’t. Before I knew it, I was staring at the Indiana skyline upside-down for the first time ever (of course, I didn’t actually realize this until the second time around).

That’s when more thoughts started creeping in.

“Whoa that loop went quickly!”

“The supports themselves feel like a near-miss!”

“That tree in the horseshoe is awesome!”

“What a perfect day!”

“This is so smooth!”

I finally realized I would have all the rides I could possibly want to analyze this coaster, but only one chance to enjoy my first ride. So I shut the analytical part of my brain down for a second, took a breath of the spring air, and enjoyed it.

I enjoyed that the ride was beautiful.

That this is going to be a hit.

That all of our hard work is about to pay off when our first Guests get to ride.

That my family and I have worked so hard and endured so much, and finally our greatest tribute to my father is reality.

I snapped out of these deep thoughts in time to analyze the fly-through barn (it did not disappoint), and roll into the brakes.

My final thoughts as we rolled into the station? “Holy cow! That was awesome! Let’s do that again! Is Stephen taking pictures of us? What does my hair look like?! Meh. Whatever. Dad would be so proud.”

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3 Responses to “A family tradition”

  1. Jeromy Lormand

    Wow. Thanks for sharing about the first ride. (My daughter Maggie and I can’t wait for our 1st ever trip to Holiday World for Holiwood nights this year. We have been following all of the updates so far and really just wanted to say thank you for sharing everything with the world. From the blog posts to the hard hat chronicles… We hope this new addition serves the park well 🙂

  2. HolidayWorldFTW

    Another awesome post! Thank you SO much for sharing your first ride experience with us! I can only imagine that the emotion and thoughts in your head were almost overbearing during this ride, and probably very personal… So I thank you for sharing that with us! I CANNOT wait to tackle this beast! Oh and btw, I NEVER doubted your choices for name, colors, theme, coaster type, or anything on this project. I didn’t have to! You guys have nailed EVERYTHING so I have no worries that it will be my #1! Your father would be so incredibly proud of you guys. Know that he is looking down from heaven with a huge smile, tears of pride and joy, and geeking out in his head over all the tech you guys have uses to make this things work! Of course us here on earth know that all it really took was some “Will power”!

  3. John Gentil

    You guys look great! I’m so glad to see what Lauren looks like especially after she helped me, a 53 year old sometimes computer stupid HOLIDAY WORLD SUPER FAN & season pass holder, get through the $50.00 donation process online. I had every intention to do whatever I could to join you on Thursday, April 23, for the first public preview. Thanks to Lauren, I’ve now packed my essentials and have them ready for my 5:00am trip from Boonville to Santa Claus Thursday morning! A big THANK YOU to Lauren for walking me through the process over the phone this past Monday. My partner is unable to join me on Thursday but we’ll both be heading back on Friday for Season Pass Holder day. PLEASE, if there is any way possible, I would enjoy meeting Lauren Thursday or Friday to thank her in person.(Lauren helped me realize it wasn’t me, it was my browser causing all the problems) So, be on the look-out for a tall fellow in a Holiday World Shirt wearing glasses, it might be me!!! See you there. John Gentil