"Fantastic Voyage"

by Chris Godsey,

Ever have the experience where you hear about the opening of a new coaster over a year in advance, you follow along with the building process, you join in the conversations about the upcoming ride, you anticipate the opening, you go to the park for that all impressive first ride - and are totally disappointed? Holiday World and the Voyage did NOT put us through that experience this time.


Holiday World has been one of the best kept secrets in the amusement park world for the last 59 years. For its 60th anniversary, the park pulled out all of the stops to "break a million" and enter the world of the top-tier amusement parks in America. The park will most definitely succeed with their new Thanksgiving area and The Voyage. For the task of building its largest attraction in history, the park turned to the Gravity Group, a company still in its infancy but with decades with years of coaster designing experience under their belt. The park has always been in touch with what its patrons want and this coaster is no different. It's as if the park took every positive characteristic from the World's Top 10 coasters and then took them a step further. Size, drop angles, airtime, changes in direction, speed, lateral G's- all great things found in the World's best scream machines.

The Voyage is very similar to a trip at sea. You calmly climb aboard in anticipation of reaching the destination. The trip begins slowly. A storm approaches and the trip gets exciting, complete with up and down movements like riding waves. After the seas calm, you reach your destination with happiness and joy. This voyage takes you on a trip to roller coaster nirvana in less than 3 minutes.

As you approach the new Thanksgiving area, The Voyage stands tall above the rest of the park and disappears into the trees ahead. While standing in the plaza area below the finale, the area becomes eerily quiet as the train traverses the wooded section but quickly gets screamingly loud as its approaches the final twisted and tunneled section.




As you enter the queue, the coaster's three-story station is much larger than most wooden coaster stations. Holiday World used its resourcefulness and placed most of the queue areas in the lower basement floor allowing waiting riders to take a peek into one of the return tunnels via a Plexiglas window. Nice touch.




Upon entering the station area, you notice the larger gate area allowing ample room for guests to embark and disembark on their cruise. Boarding the PTC trains and getting buckled in is the last step before your expedition begins. The train begins the 163 foot lift hill ascent. Even at those heights, a good portion of the coaster still remains hidden. You crest the lift and begin your fantastic journey to airtime city. In the front row of the train, you can really feel 67 mph speed as you drop vigorously and climb the first hill with fury. This is your first taste of true floating airtime. Get ready; there is more gentle floating air in hills two and three. Once you descent hill three, the storm begins to rage. At this point, hang on for the ensuing downpour of intensity and speed. After two subterranean drops, the train emerges and the tempest begins. Two sharp changes in direction filled with intense lateral G's leads to the turnaround portion of the ride. A 180 degree turn guides us to the first of three 90 degree turns. Unlike the first ever 90 degree turn designed in Hades, this one is completely outdoors allowing the riders to fully appreciate the tilt. Then, another turn leads us to "90" number two. After the second "90" that sets us back towards the park, we dive back underground and up into the "midpoint" of the ride. At this point, The Voyage is a complete coaster offering many chills and thrills. But, the ride isn't done. This is the MIDPOINT. We are simply half way through our tour. We must get back to where we started. There is just enough time to catch your breath before the REAL storm begins.

At this point, the train dives BACK underground into the infamous "triple-down." For those not familiar with coaster terminology, a triple-down is a series of three downward hills producing some fantastic airtime, especially in the back row. The Voyage's version is brilliantly done in darkness. This is my favorite part of the coaster by far. Not only does it pay homage to some of the legendary coasters of the past, The Voyage takes it a step further by being traversed in a tunnel. After the triple-down, the train emerges into the light once again and begins what I call the "dancing return." I call it that because of the laterals and changes in direction which made me feel like I was moving from left to right similar to dancing. This is accomplished as the train weaves in and out of the structure of the beginning portion of the ride.



Because of the design that takes advantage of the terrain, it seems the dancing return picks up speed with every feet of track crossed. This is because of the almost 100 foot change in elevation from the midpoint to the station. This portion of the ride is by far the most intense part. By this point, you are holding on for dear life as the ride whips in and out of itself into the final 90 degree banked turn. The storm is reaching its peak, but the boat must press on. Following the final "90," the train performs a fantastic twisting camelback hill over the lift into the tunnel next to the station house. Smile for the camera! Believe it or not, the train is STILL picking up speed as it enters the soon-to-be legendary finale.

The swift changes in direction along with strong lateral G forces combine to be one of the most intense moments I have ever experienced on a coaster. The train speedily enters the final tunnel, goes through the final turns, and into the brake run. WHEW, even though I just sat there and enjoyed the ride, I feel extremely exhausted. I feel like I just ran 1.2 miles instead of riding it. The park is boasting 24.2 seconds of airtime, but I can assure you there sure seems to be A LOT more than that. It's the most airtime I have ever experienced on a coaster. In some cases, it would take 2-3 rides on some of the world's best coasters to equal the airtime of The Voyage.

This coaster takes everything you come to expect in a world class coaster and turns it on its ears. This coaster not only rose to the challenge of my high expectations, it surpassed them. The Voyage will set the standard for all future coaster installations in the world and what a high standard it has become. The Voyage is four coasters in one. It's an out-and-back, an airtime coaster, a terrain coaster, and an extreme twister melted together to become the undisputed number one coaster on the planet - wood or steel.

I know that statement is a bold one. But, I honestly cannot put this coaster behind of anything else I have ever ridden (over 325 coasters). This coaster is hands down the belle of the ball. Folks, I implore you to do whatever you can to get to Holiday World and take part in this fantastic voyage and enjoy a feast of fun at the cleanest and friendliest park in the world.

I truly believe that if you make the journey to Holiday World and experience The Voyage and the new Thanksgiving section, you will be among the one million other visitors to visit the park this year - yet somehow your park experience at Holiday World will make you feel as if you are the most coveted visitor they will see that year. And that is what makes the trip to Holiday World a true experience you will not soon forget.


  • Total "Air-Time"- over 24.2 seconds
  • Ride Height- 173 feet tall (total height difference) with drops of 154, 107, and 100 feet
  • Number of Tunnels- 5 with 8 underground traverses
  • Number of 90-degree banked turns- 3 (most of any coaster)
  • First drop- 66 degrees (steepest in the U.S.)
  • Maximum speed- 67.4 MPH
  • Total length- 6,442 feet (1.2 miles)

Other Interesting Stats- The Voyage is a 6.5 million dollar investment for Holiday World, its largest ride project to date. There was over 750 tons of steel and over 320,000 board feet of lumber used in it's construction. The ride time from station to station is approximately 2 minutes, 45 seconds.

*Photos courtesy of, David Drake, and Holiday World and Splashin' Safari




© Robert Coker
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