Doug and I got to Holiday World for our fourth HoliWood Nights a little after the event began. We got our badges and fliers and started on Raven. We went to the back seat. It's running well, as usual. The fifth drop is as fun as ever. It's a great little coaster.
The water park ERT was in the evening this year (it was in the morning my previous visit three years before.) We got a $10 locker for our things, grabbed some snacks and started on Mammoth, the huge water coaster. We rode with one other man. The vehicles seat six in an inward circle. This is an enjoyable ride, but the water is so cold. It has a different source than the other water rides, which are warmer. This takes some getting used to, but at least it was warmer this evening than in mornings past. Mammoth uses magnets to launch the vehicles up hills. There's some airtime. It ends with a big splash.
We went to Wildebeest. This is more fun than Mammoth, on account the warmer water, the amount of airtime, it feels faster, and the warmer water. Did I mention the water isn't freezing? The vehicles seat four, one behind the other. Doug sat in the front, and I was behind him. I really like Wildebeest. It's got surprising airtime and fun, steep drops. We don't much care for water rides, so we grabbed our things from the locker and went back to the park.
We rode Gobbler Getaway, an excellent interactive dark ride. Then we went to Thunderbird, which opened last year. Thunderbird is a B&M wing coaster, my second (the first was Gatekeeper at Cedar Point). We got the full experience since no one was in line: Back seat left, back right, front right and front left. Back left is the best because it swoops through the building at the end. The launch is quick and powerful, and the Immelmann and loop are smooth and are taken fast enough to keep you in your seat. The two turns afterward are fun and offer nice views of the trees. In the left seat, the next twist is a little awkward because the trains are so wide, but it's not uncomfortable or distracting. The twisting hill offers some airtime. The dive into and helix around the building are fun, but the highlight of the finale is the in-line twist, which is taken slowly and offers plenty of hangtime. The ride ends smoothly in the magnetic brakes.
Thunderbird is a blast. Minimal trees were removed, so it interacts with the surroundings well. The launch is fast and smooth, and the layout is nice. It's totally rerideable, much more so than the wooden coasters. Holiday World has a winner here. 9/10.
Then we went to Voyage, my all-time favorite roller coaster. We went to the back seat, but a car had been taken away. It's only running six cars! Shame. That seventh car was absolutely insane, and there is a bit of a difference with six cars. But it's still an amazing coaster. It's loaded with airtime and has a ferocious second half. I still love it.
We went to Legend, which went down after we got in line for the back seat. The coaster was retracked in the offseason, and a new dip was added before the final turns. The ride was only down for about five minutes. It's running the best it ever has. The first drop is as smooth as glass. The forces aren't as intense, though the lateral G's in the finale are still there. Legend is spectacular and has probably moved up to my second-favorite wooden coaster. They did really nice work on it.
We got food at Kringle's Kafe. We rode Raven again. Then we walked all the way back to Thunderbird for two rides, in the back left and front right. We rode Voyage in the back seat and called it a day. On our way out, I heard someone ask if we wanted to sign up for the Gobbler Getaway tournament. I grabbed Doug and shouted that we had to do this. We suggested this three years ago! How great that they were doing it. We signed up.
We started the full day Saturday with Liberty Launch and then three rides in a row on Gobbler Getaway. We had to get some practice in before the tournament tonight. I scored 1500, 1590 and 1620. Not bad. That last score put me above the threshold for master turkey caller, which I had never gotten.
We went to Thunderbird next. Great ride. The water ride walkback was next. I got some shots of Mammoth and a turtle. Then it started raining. We stood under Mammoth for a while, but the rain didn't let up. We made our way back to Mammoth's station as the rain poured. The Wildebeest walkback was canceled.
Doug and I went to Bahari Snacks in Wildwater Kingdom and each got a $4.27 pineapple Dole Whip. Delicious. The rain stopped, so we went back to the park and rode Crow's Nest in Thanksgiving. This is a fun, though slightly unusual, swing ride. It moves up and down while rotating, though not like a Wave Swinger. It doesn't tilt. We rode Thunderbird again.
Then I rode Bench: The Ride. We got on Voyage for our first daytime ride on this trip. It's far superior at night, though a day ride is still fun. The block brake was used as a trim and clamped down twice, though it didn't bring it to a full stop like on some coasters. We went to Legend, and it started to rain while we were on the ride. As we exited, the rain poured down again. We waited for it to clear up before heading to the Voyage and Thunderbird walkback.
The walkback was pushed back because the rides were shut down for lightning. So we rode Gobbler Getaway again. I scored a poor 750. It wasn't raining, but they wanted to get the rides cycling again for the walkback, so we waited a little more. Eventually we were cleared to go.
These walkbacks really put it into perspective how few trees are removed for these coasters. They're right next to them. It's fantastic and makes them feel faster. We walked under the first turnaround and the corkscrew on Thunderbird and then out to the in-line twist. We were treated with popcorn and cotton candy at the end.
We walked through the gate and back on the midway. We rode Thunderbird again, then Raven. Dinner at the picnic area was next, and the park closed. We mingled until ERT started. We rode Raven. Doug skipped Legend to let his dinner settle, so I got two rides by myself. We rode Thunderbird twice (middle right, back left) and Voyage.
The Gobbler Getaway tournament was starting soon, so we got a ride on it for one last practice. I scored 1800. Then they formed a line and handed out a slip of paper with a bar code on one side and your name on the other. The rules are simple: You play three times, and they average your score. Four riders per car. The highest score gets free admission to next year's HoliWood Nights, and second and third place get HoliCash, which is good in the park.
We got our three rides in. My first was 990, which basically eliminated me. I knew what I was up against. My second was 1710. Since they were stopping the vehicles to input scores, they would stop on the track, allowing you to shoot targets multiple times in the same spot. That helped pad our scores. The park announced the scores on the HoliWood Nights Facebook group later. Out of 83 participants, Doug tied for 31st with an average score of 1330. I took 37th with an average score of 1260.
Doug went to the restroom, so I rode Thunderbird alone. Front seat left. That was my 12th ride on it. Not bad. After, we went to Voyage and waited for the front seat. I don't think I'd ridden in the front since before I started coming to HoliWood Nights. It feels faster in the front. The airtime is plentiful, and it is fun getting pushed instead of pulled. But I still prefer the back seat in the now-missing seventh car. We got a ride on Legend and then called it a day.
Holiday World, you've done it again. I'm glad I got to get back here after three years. Thunderbird is an excellent addition to an outstanding park. It was good seeing Doug and other enthusiasts again. I love this event and this park.