For 2 years in a row we’d been booked to visit Holiday World during their famous Holiwood Nights, with tales of a trimless Voyage taunting my very soul. Sadly, because of a certain monarch, I was unable to make it happen this time around and we instead ended up with a purely vanilla visit to the park. Tickets had already been refunded at this point, so no issues there at least.
Day 4 – Holiday World
To make things even more bog standard, we opted to ride the woodies in the recommended order from smallest to largest.
Which meant beginning with Edgar Allen Poe’s The #1 Raven.
It’s a solid starter pack, I like the look of the building and the big bird judging you from the front of the train. Claims of this being best wooden rollercoaster in the world at one time seem a bit bold, but it’s easily one of the best CCIs I had experienced up until this point.
Decent airtime, excessive laterals, a great setting through the woods and that surprise massive drop halfway through the layout make for a strong introduction to what Holiday World is all about.
And in keeping with that theme, we grabbed the first of our many free fountain drinks on route to the Legend. Why can’t all parks do this?
But not that net thing, get rid of that.
Once again the station has charm with a big fancy mural of the headless horseman and the ominous bell ringing upon dispatch of each train. #2 Legend is essentially the same concept as Raven, but a bit bigger. It interacts with the water park, has some freshly reprofiled sections, even more excessive laterals and an eerily similar surprise massive drop halfway through the layout. For all that I’d say it’s the slightly weaker of the two just for the sake of pacing – it drags on a bit unnecessarily towards the end, though still a lot of fun.
Oh no. I have to say that #3 Voyage was my most anticipated coaster of the trip, if not the entire world, at the moment we arrived on it’s doorstep. No doubt you know I’m a sucker for the Gravity Group and this was the king, right? Right? It hadn’t really sunk in that we were about to embark on this journey even at the point of parking ourselves in the back car and in my head it could only go one of two ways – the best thing they’ve ever made and therefore by default instant top 5 material, or it would Grand National me and I’d hate it.
Oh no. It was neither.
I knew it from the very second the first drop happened. It didn’t scare me. The best of these absolutely terrify me.
The subsequent two massive ‘airtime’ hills are nothing but a waste of wood, steel and momentum. They had nothing to offer. The following tunnel moment and wild pop out of the seat is cool and what I had expected most of the ride to be, yet it follows that up with a third piece of nothingness.
Things do get more exciting at the far end in the woods, high speed lurches, twists and turns are exactly the formula that makes these things so special to me. For the sake of the ride having such sheer size and length however these are all just a bit drawn out and there’s some deathly suboptimal corners in there. The first return tunnel offers a brief glimmer of hope before the mid course brake run, which of course saps some energy that we can’t afford to lose at this point.
Once again it starts to do the good stuff with several back to back bangers, but then halfway through this it feels like they suddenly realised during the design process that they’ve got an awfully long way to go to get back to the station. The pacing is put on pause once more with some overly underwhelming shallow turns as it continues to thunder back to civilisation.
The big twisty hill at the end of this section is a welcome return to form but I found the ride may as well have ended at this point. Many more corners and plaza dodgings finish the event on the wet blanket that is Orion’s brake run, where I can quote my reaction after the second lap – “nahhhh.”
It’s most certainly a victim of expectation. I give it a good slating because I’m a picky bastard with too many comparisons to draw at the point, yet I don’t dislike the ride by any means. It’s middle of the road for the Gravity Group, which still puts it amongst incredible company, I just guarantee that it could have been so much more. It was a learning experience for me on the day as well as for the manufacturer when they were building it – they got better at what they do over time. This was early days and it already has all the makings of best wooden coaster on the planet. Just cut out all that faff.
So with that dream smashing disappointment out of the way, it was time to head up the hill for the last major cred. I do admire the fact that they have a height checking board for Thunderbird all the way down the bottom to save the short from having to make the journey, it is quite the trek in the heat.
I then also had to laugh at this starflyer thing which is both shorter than the coaster and the nearest tree. What are you expected to see from it? Bring back the crow’s nest.
Anyway, #4 Thunderbird. S’alright.
It’s an unusual experience to get that launching kick on a B&M wing, though I expected a bit more of a song and dance in the shed to compete with the likes of Baco. The coolest part of the ride for me was the initial inversion, which has an uncharacteristic plunging sensation out of the top if you’re in the right seat.
From there it’s a bit of meandering and trees, the back to back turnarounds felt a little excessive. I found quite a chunk of the ride missed the mark on the on board visual spectacle that these usually provide, it made me recall Wild Eagle with those fun near misses with it’s own supports amongst gorgeous scenery – this doesn’t do that.
It does near miss a shed near the end with a fun attempt at a twisted airtime hill that sadly doesn’t work, then it ends on the classic and uncomfortable slow inline directly into the brakes.
With the major coasters now complete it was of course dark ride time. Gobbler Getaway is a load of silly fun in which I’m not sure whether I was relieved or disappointed that you aren’t actually shooting the turkeys. The ‘guns’ are for calling the turkeys back to where you want them and then, spoilers, thanksgiving dinner ends up being pizza. Which I’m perfectly alright with. Ok, maybe not American pizza.
Last cred in the park is #5 Howler, a Holidog (park mascot) themed Zamperla 80STD, also known as the knee smasher. Gets the job done.
I think it might be for the best that we didn’t get to experience Holiwood Nights, all things considered. We were ‘done’ with this park far quicker than I had ever anticipated. I’m not sure feeling obliged to hang around for two whole days and feigning some enthusiasm for a selection of rides that didn’t turn out to be world class would have been all that beneficial to the cause. The operations were generally and unexpectedly very poor across all the rides during our visit and with the fact that they’ve had to implement measures for reducing the capacity of the special event, there’s every chance it could have been even worse for us.
We did however feel obliged to make the most of our single day ticket and so took another lap of the park and all four of the major coasters, this time sunglasses on, not caring. Opinions were solidified rather than changed in any way and we headed out, satisfied, just before the water park closed and everyone rushed back into the main park.