Holiday World launches First Flight auction to benefit Give Kids The World

Posted Tuesday, March 24, 2015 9:06 AM | Contributed by Jeff

[Ed. note: The following is an excerpt of a press release. -J]

With just over a month before the nation’s first launched wing roller coaster opens to the public, Holiday World officials launched a charity auction for the very first public rides.

“For these historic first rides on our new roller coaster, we decided to auction the specific seats to the highest bidders,” says the park’s president, Matt Eckert. “Thunderbird’s First Flight Auction will benefit a very special organization – Give Kids The World.”

Holiday World’s auction – which runs now through April 8 – will have 20 winners who will each claim a pair of seats on Thunderbird’s first public rides. For more information and to place a bid, visit

Give Kids The World Village is a 70-acre, nonprofit “storybook” resort, located near Central Florida’s most beloved attractions, where children with life-threatening illnesses and their families are treated to week-long, cost-free fantasy vacations. Following their vacation, families are issued a World Passport for Kids, which provides them a year of free visits to theme parks and other attractions; Holiday World is a charter member of this program.

“Supporting Give Kids The World’s mission is very important to our park’s owners and employees,” says Eckert. “Helping these families make precious memories – both in Florida and here at Holiday World – is near and dear to all of our hearts.”

Thunderbird, Holiday World’s first major steel roller coaster, features a zero-to-60 miles-per-hour launch in 3.5 seconds, followed by multiple inversions including a 14-story launch, loops, rolls and overbanked turns.

Continuing Holiday World’s tradition of sending roller coasters through its thickly wooded and hilly terrain, Thunderbird at first soars and loops high in the air and then hugs the ground, with rapid-fire “near misses” such as a fly-through barn, stone chimneys, and other rides.

Holiday World opens for the season on April 25; Splashin’ Safari opens May 13. For more information about the parks, visit or call 1-877-463-2645.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015 1:14 PM

And it looks like Holiday World is already on the way to raising nice money for GKTW.

From what I've seen of the ride it looks like it may be the best of the wing riders. The launch is just right and the shorter train seems to be less lumbering and may deliver a snappier ride than its brethren. I guess they've done their creative best to make sure there are great near-misses, too, which I'm really looking forward to.
HW really seems to be stepping it up in the theming department, starting with last year's improvements (which is a good thing, as they're one of the "theme-iest" parks around) and the station, structures, and surroundings for Thunderbird should be top notch. I can't wait to see it.

It's my understanding that HW's media day will be for the media and invited guests only. So if you're planning a trip early in the season, this auction would be a good way to score an exclusive ride as well as support a great charity. The rest of the day looks inviting, too...

Friday, April 3, 2015 11:04 AM

From the latest blog entry. A lovely tribute to Will Koch and cool info about Thunderbird.

And in the video there's a great CoasterBuzz blast from the past...

Friday, April 3, 2015 1:13 PM
HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar

Nicely done video! Even shows the proposed layout for the B&M Invert they were looking at originally doing.

It really looks like the park is in good hands.


Friday, April 3, 2015 10:28 PM
Jeff's avatar

I can't believe that day is closing in on ten years ago. Will was so gracious with his time that day, and did some follow ups with us on the phone as well.

But my first chance to get to know him came about a year before. I suppose there's no harm in sharing now that there was a "secret committee" of sorts, maybe a half-dozen people (?), with whom he solicited feedback on the design of The Voyage. Those were very interesting conversations, and Will was absolutely devoted to making it the best wooden roller coaster ever built. I think we talked him out of one feature that we thought was a little too radical!

But I have to agree, Rob, it's impressive to see the leadership of his kids, all grown up. The future is bright as ever at Holiday World!

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

Friday, April 3, 2015 11:36 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

What was the title of the TV show/special about the creation of The Voyage (and the Secret Six or Slippery Seven - or whatever corny name was used for those asked to give input) that ended up never airing in the States?

I distinctly remember snagging it via torrent and seeing more than a few familiar faces.

For once, the old steel trap memory is failing me. I'd like to watch it again.

Edit - Nevermind. Dug it up as usual (smile). Was a series called Building The Biggest and one episode was about building coasters - specifically Voyage, Rumbler and Toro...and included the story of the Secret Nine as well as the group seeing the ride for the first time.

And I don't appear to have a copy of it anywhere. :(

Sorry for the stream-of-consciousness diversion. Please continue with your regularly scheduled thread.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Friday, April 3, 2015 11:48 PM
Saturday, April 4, 2015 1:12 AM
birdhombre's avatar

I'll awake from my CBuzz hibernation to drop off this link:


Saturday, April 4, 2015 11:21 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Oh, Internet! Is there anything you can't do?

(everyone laughs)

(freeze frame as credits roll)


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