Flying Blind

A spin on a roller coaster after dark puts the “ill” in thrill ride.

Rollercoaster cars with riders begin to descend on a large drop.

Thrill rides are already pretty exciting, but if you want to ramp the experience up to 11, try boarding an already-intimidating roller coaster at night. The best place for this is Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari. The Santa Claus, Indiana, park is something of a legend among roller coaster aficionados because it hosts three of the country’s top-rated wooden rides—The Voyage, The Legend, and The Raven.

“Woodies,” which are built from timber rather than steel, are considered the crazy brothers-in-law of the coaster biz. While a steel-framed coaster supplies a steady, predictable ride, wooden models are exhilaratingly erratic. Their massive wooden trestles expand and contract depending on the humidity, providing a rougher journey that can literally change with the weather. “It’s like riding a different coaster every time,” says YouTuber and American Coaster Enthusiasts member Brichette Reid. “I rode all three of Holiday World’s wooden coasters at night last year, and it changed my life.”

The best part of a night ride, she asserts, is the terror of not being able to see what’s coming. Of the three, she thinks The Raven offers the most excitement. “It’s in the woods, you don’t know in which direction you’re going to go, and you’re at the ride’s mercy,” Reid says.

If you want to feel like a moonshine runner with busted headlights careening through the Southern Indiana hills, sit at the very front of the car. And if you like getting slung out of your seat like gravity’s chew toy, sit at the back. But most importantly, remember to plan your nocturnal mission during one of the park’s after-hours events throughout summer.