Crows Nest and Thunderbird, in the Thanksgiving section of Holiday World.
I was running on Holiday World-adrenaline for a week after we returned from Indiana. I can’t remember the last time I fell so hard in love with a little family amusement park like this one, but the coaster cupid got me good, straight through the heart, with this one.
Does it sound hokey on paper? A park divided into sections based on holidays? Sure does sound hokey. But it works, it really works. And when you got off a ride in Thanksgiving town, it might seem weird at first to be wished a Happy Thanksgiving, but before you know it, you’re casually saying it back to people without second thought!
Even Henry, who was Father Frowntown all summer regarding this park, was not immune to its hunky-dory midwest charms. Once we trained ourselves to ignore the fact that we were a family of Democrats awash in a dirty sea of Trump Train passengers, things were fine, we were fine, it was all just fine.
(To be fair though, I saw not one MAGA hat all day, so there’s that.)
And not to be a sell-out, but those coasters were fucking worth it.
Let’s talk about them!
The very first coaster we came upon was the Raven, located near the entrance of HALLOWEEN which clearly was my favorite area out of all the holidays, hello.
It looked like the line was going to be outrageous for this but it actually moved along quite speedily and Chooch and I were buckled in in no time.
(Henry wussed out and while he was waiting for us, he ran into Discount Vin Diesel and they talked about, in Henry’s words, “Nothing special, just the fact that we were in the same place.” Wow, that was your bi-annual guest contribution from Henry.)
Anyway, oh shit people, this coaster was so unexpectedly outrageous! It’s always the best riding a coaster for the first time, and this was right up there because we didn’t realize how fast it was going to be, and there were so many banks! It was rough as hell, but I was ready to ride it again almost immediately.
But first, we ran over to the Legend, also in Halloween land, because I wasn’t sure what the crowd sitch was going to be like and I needed to make sure we rode everything at least once.
Our last ride of the night on the Raven was lit fam (I hate myself). We hadn’t been on the front seat yet so we waited the extra handful of minutes but it was entertaining because the ride operators were dancing and getting the crowd totally hyped, Raven: After Hours-style. It made me miss the days when Kennywood was like that. Maybe it is during the peak season, but we generally go on days when we know it will be less crowded and those kids running the rides are just bored, jaded, and miserable. Like my friend Chris said, not the kinds of Kennywood employees that Rick Sebak would have ever interviewed for his epic, classic documentary, Kennywood Memories.
I totally screamed at those boys behind us to shut the fuck up because they were “ca-cawing” so fucking loud up the first hill that it sounded like a raven was laying eggs inside my fucking skull and I get it, I’m an obnoxious maniac on rides too, but these kids were just demonic.
I know you guys probably pieced this together, but this was Sleepy Hollow themed and even though there wasn’t anything blatantly related to this along the course, it was still fun to imagine that we were being chased by the headless horseman, especially when the parting words at the station were, “Don’t look behind you” and there was a perfectly-placed howl that came at the top of the first lift hill.
We sat in the back for our inaugural ride and my seat belt was down too low so the metal part dug into my thigh for the entire ride which was rough enough without that extra torture! I honestly couldn’t enjoy the ride because of this and kept putting off riding it again, but eventually we did later that day. This time we sat in the second row and my seatbelt was properly placed across my lap, so I was able to really enjoy this maniacal coaster for everything it was: a spine-shatterer but so goddamn good! This one also has a ton of banks which I love on a wooden coaster, and TUNNELS! I love tunnels!!
We finally got Henry to ride it (Chooch and I sat in the front seat that time) and Henry was pretty wrecked afterward. It took him out for the count so aside from the train, Gobbler Getaway (a dark ride) and Frightful Falls, he didn’t ride anything else all day. Lol. Sucks to be henry.
The best ride we had on this one was at night — it was pitch black and made the whole headless horseman fantasy seem even more real, like something was just going to snatch us out of our seats at any moment. Also, we rode it in the front seat for that and it was magic.
I somehow didn’t get any photos of this one, so here’s snap I grabbed off the Internet, credit goes to Coaster 101:
The first time we rode Voyage (which Chooch has taken to pronounce the French way), the line for the front seat wasn’t too long so we claimed our spots. But then someone puked or peed, bled out, had a baby, something that caused them to temporarily suspend operations due to a “cleanup project.” Lol. We got to watch as the car was moved out of the station and then some Holiday World guy who drew the short straw snapped on rubber gloves and got to work with a rag and a spray bottle. This whole scene only racked on about 10 minutes to our wait time, maybe not even not that much.
But then when we were next in line, some guy with a fast pass stole the front seat and I was mad at first but then realized he was disabled and almost died from a melted heart when he looked over and thanked Chooch and me genuinely. So then I wasn’t mad anymore.
Oh, and in case you couldn’t tell, since it’s in Thanksgiving town, it’s supposed to be like the Mayflower’s voyage, so when the ride operator set us off into the sunset, she ended her spiel with “Set sail!” I didn’t pick up on it right away, but Chooch pointed it out later and I cried, “I LOVE HOLIDAY WORLD!”
Look at that hill! We were practically peeing our pants on the way up, but I didn’t want to be involved in another cleanup project so I held it in. This ride was, to use Henry-vernacular*, ROCKIN’.
This out-and-back whips you so hard around bends and does that beautiful “whoosh” into tunnels, oh my god, I can’t praise this coaster enough. I want to take it on a picnic in some fairy tale forest somewhere.
We couldn’t drag Henry on it, but Chooch and I must have set sail at least 8 times that day, the best being right before the park closed, when we literally SPRINTED from the Legend to the Thanksgiving section, praying that we made it in time, and WE DID! We snagged the front seat again and holy shit, that was hands down the highlight of the whole entire day for me, cruising (more Henacular) through the pitch black forest, unable to see what was coming next, and just screaming our sweaty faces off. IT WAS SO PURE!
One of the things I’ll never forget about the Voyage was when we were waiting in line and saw some broad wearing some black mesh shirt thing was getting off the ride and not only were most of her boobs popping out, but we definitely both saw some nippage. I hope this wasn’t Chooch’s “coming of age” moment, but he has definitely referenced her more than once since we’ve been home…
This was the only steel coaster in the park (aside from the kid coaster) and you might think this would have been our favorite but you would be wrong. I mean, it was a great coaster – one of those launched wingriders (lol, I totally looked that up, I have no idea what I’m talking about), but sometime in my 30s I became terrified of steel coasters so I wasn’t able to fully enjoy it until we were rolling back into the station. Then I was like, “WOW THAT WAS GREAT!” That first launch though, holy fuck, it felt like it was never going to end, and then it goes straight upside down and the rest of it was just me fearing for my life and praying I didn’t lose a leg. Especially when we flew into a hole in the roof of a barn. That was scary.
This ride was also not crowded, so we were able to ride it three times without waiting hardly at all, except for the one time we decided to get the front seat after Santa recommended it to us (true story). That was the most terrifying ride of them all.
Since Henry didn’t ride anything, he stood on terra firma and played photographer which was cool because I’m going through this weird mortality crisis where I worry that I don’t allow myself to be in enough photos because I hate my face so much (I have issues stacked on neuroses infused with complexes), so I’m trying to loosen up. Anyway, I love these photos because they illustrate exactly how scared-rabbit I was on this ride. Like Chooch is up there living his best life while I’m praying to some fake rosary made out of the rocks in my head.
My favorites in order were:
- Voyage (hands down, this ride is killer.)
- Legend (even though it left its mark on my thighs, like I was in some shitty made-for-TV remake of The Entity)
- Raven (just classic as far as wooden coaster goes)
- Thunderbird (those wooden beasts just shone too brightly, keeping this one in their shadows)
Wow wasn’t my review informative? “I liked these roller coasters because they went up high hills and had tunnels and speed!”
I’ll be back with more pictures and a general summation of this park and how much of an impact it made on us – a total blindside!