All I want for Christmas is my two front seats!

The first train for Thunderbird is now here!

Thunderbird opens April 25!

Car by car, they were lifted into Thunderbird’s Maintenance Building.

Thunderbird opens April 25!

At four seats per car, this train is huge!

Thunderbird opens April 25!

And yes, Thunderbird’s trains include what coaster enthusiasts refer to as “big boy” seats. So if you’re built a little like Santa, you’ll be happy to know the middle row of each train will include four seats which offer more room for the big-and-tall among us.

Here’s a look at what we got for Christmas (a little bit early) –

including our two front seats!

Thunderbird opens April 25 – Merry Christmas to all!

Crow’s Nest: A bird’s-eye view

Thunderbird and Crow's Nest | Holiday World

Well, you figured it out, didn’t you?

We moved Sparkler this week from 4th of July to Thanksgiving and re-named it Crow’s Nest.

Before we move any further with this, we’re not talking about a physical nest where Mama Crow lays her eggs. No.

We’re speaking in nautical terms.

Crow's Nest and Thunderbird

See that bucket-looking gold-rimmed brown cone beneath Crow’s Nest’s flag? That’s a crow’s nest. It’s a lookout point near the top of the main mast of a ship.

And lookout! What a view!

Crow's Nest and Thunderbird

Since we revealed Sparkler’s move, we’ve been asked a number of questions.

So here’s a Crow’s Nest FAQ:

Q: What is Crow’s Nest’s color scheme?

A: The seats will be brown, as will the base of the ride. The white tower and yellow sweeps will remain the same. The mesh between the sweeps will have a nautical design.

Q: How close is Crow’s Nest to Thunderbird?

A: Don’t worry – they’re close, but not too close. We have a tool for measuring the “envelope” needed for each ride – and they do not intersect. We will always put your safety first.

Q: So what’s replacing Sparkler in 4th of July?

A: For 2015, we’ll add some extra seating in that area. For 2016? Too soon to tell.

The ride’s move took about a week. Sparkler was removed, parts were repainted, and Crow’s Nest was set in place a few days later.

Take a look:

Here’s another view – the one you’ll see if you can manage to keep your eyes open during Thunderbird’s launch:

View of Crow's Nest from above

Do you have any other questions about Crow’s Nest? Please post them below and we’ll try to get you answers. I have to stop writing now, though – that last photo is making me dizzy!

66 Hours to See

If you are one of the rabid fans who counted down the days with us before we announced Thunderbird in late July, you’ll either laugh – or more likely grit your teeth – when you read the subject line of this post.

We. Just. Can’t. Help. Ourselves.

In last week’s edition of the Hard Hat Chronicles, Leah let slip that we have at least two more surprises concerning the Thunderbird ride experience.

She mentioned that we’re taking an existing ride in the park and moving it close by to Thunderbird’s launchpad.

You know, here:

Readying for the ride move

Regarding the existing ride, it will be rebranded.

And that takes paint.

And Rick.

Rick painting a new look on an existing ride

Our “66 Hours” reference above isn’t an exact countdown, but we hope it comforts those who are already missing sleep over this.

You’ll know soon.

Probably Tuesday.

Any guesses as to what it was and what it will be?

Here’s a little more of the color scheme:

Rebranding a ride

Speaking of “schemes,” there are lots more stories to be shared, including more information about the trains, the intriguing Will Power building and what it now contains, plus an added “near miss” pair of elements.

Stick with us through the colder months (subscribe to the HoliBlog so you don’t miss anything) and we’ll fill you in little by little.

The winter will just fly by!

“He roller coaster, he got early warning”

As a rule, I don’t do mushy.

Especially not in front of others.

And especially not while blogging.

It’s like I always say, “Friends don’t let friends blog and get sentimental.”

Okay, I’m kidding. I think we all know I’ve had a few sappy blog posts.

So, what’s one more mushy story?

Let me set the scene for you: Yesterday we placed the final piece of track for our new Thunderbird steel roller coaster. (Fun Fact: yesterday was also the one-year HoliVersary of James, our VP of Development & Maintenance. We think he intentionally scheduled that one.)

James did his usual interview for the Hard Hat Chronicles with Stephen (he’s the man behind the Hard Hat Chronicles).

Lauren and I then headed over to the construction site for interviews, which we nailed.

By saying we nailed our interviews, I actually mean Stephen had a lot of work to do with editing. Sorry Stephen!

After we finished our interviews, Lauren and I took a second to admire the unbroken ribbon of orange track winding through the woods before heading back.

Thunderbird, Voyage, Trees

Looking at the full coaster for the first time and seeing the elements pop in and out of the woods reminded me of just how proud my dad would be if he could see what we’re doing.

And that we’re three weeks ahead of schedule.

My train of thought was suddenly interrupted by a song playing over the radio: “Come Together” by the Beatles.

For those who don’t know, my dad was a HUGE Beatles fan. He was also an avid bass player, and “Come Together” was one of his favorite songs to play (Lauren actually hated the song for a considerable amount of time simply because Dad used to practice within earshot during homework and sleeping hours).

I looked at Lauren with a laugh and commented, “How appropriate.”

Last Piece of Thunderbird Track

We listened for a moment and smiled.

I think it’s exactly the song Dad would have picked for such an occasion.

A very Brady coaster

There’s no denying, Thunderbird is getting a lot of love and attention this fall.

It’s the new coaster on the block, and there’s lots of interest in how construction is coming along. (Spoiler alert: it’s coming along really, really well – stay tuned for more next week. Maybe even watch the Thunderbird ConstructionCams. On Monday.)

And so, the “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” wail from Jan Brady echoes in my head.

Keeping in mind that we’re already planning two more Hard Hat Chronicles in the next two weeks – both about Thunderbird – we just had to first turn our attention (and cameras) over to our other favorite children.

Because we love them all equally.

The Voyage gets an early Christmas present, delivered by a crane.

The Voyage is thankful for this new sprocket

What is it?

A sprocket.

A 1,400-pound sprocket. Normally, it’s located just past the top of the lift hill. The lift chain wraps around it.

So it’s very important.

Out with the old; in with the new.

Voyage's new (and old) sprocket

The Legend gets some track work …

Track work on The Legend

And, The Raven scores some off-season maintenance, too (did you catch the pun? hint: Raven is 20 years old in 2015):

The Raven gets some track work, too

Want to know more? Of course you do … so here’s a Wooden Coaster Hard Hat Chronicles:

Happy Thanksgiving to all! Now more than ever, it’s a very special holiday for us all.

A hard-hat tour for 14News

Deanna from 14News in Evansville is an early riser.

She sort of has to be; it’s her job.

We met up with VP James at 5am to check out what goes on here during the off-season.

First in the Maintenance Shop …

James and Deanna in our Maintenance Shop

Our Turkey Whirl turkey sure looks happy to be on camera. Or maybe just to be inside and warm. (We had snow flurries last night. Already!)

Next we stopped by our Paint Shop …

How’s this for a unique setting? Deanna is swimming with the seahorses:

Deanna and the seahorses

At long last, the sun came up and we headed down the hill to the Thunderbird construction site for one last hit. (That’s TV talk.)

James and Deanna, with Kirk on camera and Thunderbird in the background

James told me earlier he’d been dreaming of heading up construction of a roller coaster since he was a wee lad of just eight years old. He wrote a letter to a designer – and received a reply! That letter is now framed and hanging in James’s office.

Not that he’s in his office all that often; James has too many fun things to attend to out in the park.

This morning, James revealed that approximately 75 percent of Thunderbird’s track is now in place. At last count, 57 of the 77 track elements were in place (that number may have increased over the past few hours).

Take a look here to see Deanna’s reports.


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Chillin’ with the Thunderbird

Cutting rebar for Pepsi Oasis

We just finished up two hours of “live shots” with Deanna from WFIE-TV and boy, is it cold out there today!

After a look inside our Maintenance Shop and then the Paint Shop, the sun came up and we visited the Thunderbird construction site.

Anyone who works outdoors for a living has my undying respect and admiration. This gentleman is cutting rebar for the Thunderbird Pepsi Oasis building.

As my fingers slowly thaw and that cup of coffee does its magic (sorry though, Deanna, there’s no hope for our hard-hat hair!), let me remind you we’re up against a deadline for 2015 Season Passes. At midnight Saturday night, the current discount disappears, so if you’ve been meaning to do a little early Christmas shopping, you’ll save more by purchasing them now (and, with Easy Pay, the price is $20 a month) and we can all look forward to warmer days and five hours of Thunderbird Preview rides for Season Passholders on April 24!

Painting a picture

Well here’s a different view of Thunderbird:

From on top of Thunderbird's Immelmann

These photos were taken by Tommy, our Paint Shop Manager. He and Joe were up in a 150′ manlift yesterday morning.

Painting.

That’s right. Here’s why: After Thunderbird track pieces are joined and bolted together, the next step is to smooth that area so that the transition from one track piece to the next won’t be felt by riders. Once the steel is nice and smooth it’s time for a paint touch-up; and that’s where Tommy and Joe enter the picture.

They painted Thunderbird’s highest spot yesterday – at the top of the Immelmann loop.

Here’s the view to the northwest:

Thunderbird construction

There’s the vertical loop on the right, which transitions into the elevated horseshoe while crossing over The Voyage.

Oh, and Voyage is getting some love, too. This is the drop on the second hill, so that crew is up pretty high as well.

Voyage's second drop

Now let’s turn and check out the view due north.

We’re looking back toward Thunderbird’s station and launch track. They’ve got a good start on the silo, too.

Thunderbird's station and launch track

If these photos get your heart pounding (in a good way) and you think Tommy and Joe have the coolest jobs ever, you might want to check here on our website and apply online to be one of our full-time Painters (we have several full-time openings in  a variety of departments).

Meanwhile, if you’ve been meaning to get Season Passes for next year (remember, Season Passholders get ride time on Thunderbird before it’s open to the public), wanted to pass along that our $20/month Easy Pay offer is around for just one more week.

The long and short of it

We’ve received a number of emails from VTPs.

That would be Very Tall People.

These VTPs really want to ride Thunderbird and are wondering about height limits.

Oh, and we’re hearing from the other end of the scale, too: How tall does my child have to be to ride Thunderbird?

Before we reveal those numbers, here’s a look of the two managers who will supervise our Thunderbird crew.

Meet our Theme Park Attractions Managers:

Lori and Andy, ready to ride Thunderbird!

Lori and Andy, ready to ride Thunderbird!

My goodness, Andy is quite tall, is he not?

Or is Lori quite untall?

Well, both will be able to ride Thunderbird in the spring.

As long as Andy doesn’t grow any taller, that is. Because he’s 6’6″ tall, and that’s the maximum.

Lori is safe, she’s 5’3″ and that’s plenty tall. (The minimum height to ride Thunderbird is 52″, which is 4’4″ tall.)

Meanwhile, how is construction coming along? At the risk of jinxing the whole process, we’re a week ahead of schedule. There are so many people who have worked so hard to accomplish this that I’ll take my chances.

Here’s VP James with our latest episode of the Hard Hat Chronicles:

Have you watched our live Thunderbird Construction Webcams yet? If it’s during the day when you read this, please take a look and even play with the interactive one, which lets you choose the views. If it’s after dark, though … well, take your cue from Annie (the sun’ll come out … tomorrow!). I learned this the hard way, by the way. Years ago, someone emailed at night that our webcam was broken – embarrassing as it is to admit, it probably took me a good hour or two to figure out it was just really dark out.