The 'Thunderbolt' Turns 80!

National Roller Coaster Day is coming up on August 16. And one of America's greatest (and OLDEST), The Thunderbolt, is turning 80 at the time. Go and give that a sucker a Happy Birthday spin! I just did.

The coaster stands 70 feet tall with a figure 8 layout, and for many kids is their first roller coaster ride ever. It was mine. It was also my son's. (My daughter continues to refuse.)

I remember the sounds The Thunderbolt made that first time for me vividly - the aches and pains it seemed to relay. It still makes those very same sounds today. The drops are solid, the screams exhilarating. I got a bit freaked out, I'll admit, and clung to my older sister at one point.

Not so with Luke. I thought he drew the short straw by getting that first cart. He was so little! The first cart? They should save that for older kids, no? He was six! But he took The Thunderbolt on in stride, loving every second, and it was a thing of beauty for me to witness my only son taking on the same first roller coaster his dad did.

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