Review of ThunderBlast 2013
This year, my family and I did Thunder Over Louisville at ThunderBlast at the Kentucky Science Center. ThunderBlast allows you to watch the air show and fireworks from the convenience of the Science Center parking area. It is not as crowded as some of the area venues, there are indoor bathroom facilities nearby with plenty of toilet paper and lots of activities for the kids. Included in the tickets were all of the Science Center attractions and discounted IMAX films inside as well as the temporary exhibit Body Worlds Vital inside the Center. With the purchase of the ThunderBlast wrist bands, you were also given access to the Louisville Slugger Museum across the street. We did purchase tickets for one of the IMAX films. They were discounted $4 each during ThunderBlast. It was fun, but in all honesty, we had plenty to do without spending the extra money.
We got to the downtown area early and found a good $15 parking garage spot (most are $15-$20) close to the Science Center. There are no coolers, food or drink allowed in the ThunderBlast area except for the provided carnival-style vendors. I was disappointed by the limited number of vendors, but you can come and go through all of downtown area for food if you want. We did buy a $2 bottle of water and a small $2 popcorn while viewing the show. I did pack a cooler of drinks and snacks and left it in the car in case we wanted other options since we were parked so close.
The Science Center was pretty empty in the morning (you have to have a membership or pay an entrance fee before the 2pm ThunderBlast start time). We played all over the Science Center, taking our time on each floor. The “Science Depot” room on the first floor was open which had crafts, games, and activities for the kids. We played Hide and Seek around the airplane in the kid’s area, played all of the games on the 2nd floor, and we played “I Spy” at different exhibit areas to take up time before ThunderBlast was open.
When it got closer to 2pm, we headed down toward the ThunderBlast area. There was a long line to enter, but the Science Center staff were setting off rockets and interacting with the line during the wait. The line moved fast once the gate was open. They handed out a schedule of Science Center events as well as the air show schedule. My kids immediately gravitated to the fenced in inflatables and foam block area. The area never seemed too crowded, and there were several chairs where I could sit and observe the entire fenced in area. There was also an area for the kids to make and shoot off paper rockets, and launch balls in a giant sling shot. There were scheduled demonstrations in the ThunderBlast area as well as inside the Science Center, all of which my kids loved.
It was a bit cold, even with our coats on because the ThunderBlast area is covered by overpasses. I wish more of the venue area was in the sun, but in hotter years, it will be nice to be in the shade. Initially, the air show viewing area was only 1-2 chairs deep, but by fireworks time, it was about a dozen chairs deep from the fence line. What I liked about being inside the fenced off ThunderBlast area, was the security I felt leaving our chairs, coats, and other non-valuables at our viewing spot while we wandered in and out of the ThunderBlast area. No one touched our stuff, there was security to get in, and security constantly patrolling the ThunderBlast area.
The seats were great for the air show, however they were probably not the best viewing seats for the fireworks as we were a ways up from the bridge. But what I did like: the radio station Hummer parked in the middle of the ThunderBlast area blasting the commentary and music to the air show and fireworks. When it was time to leave, it was very easy to make it up to the garage and out of the downtown area. I’m sure closer firework seats would not have made the leaving experience so easy.
I would highly recommend ThunderBlast, especially for families with young kids. The endless activities, freedom to come and go from ThunderBlast to the Science Center and back, fenced in inflatables, Body Worlds and Slugger Museum tickets, and the clean toilet facilities all made the somewhat expensive tickets worth it. If you go next year, be sure to bring gloves, hats, glow toys/sticks (to lighten the pressure from buying light-up items from vendors) snacks, blankets and chairs. You’ll sit in comfort for the shows, your children will be entertained all day, and all proceeds benefit the Science Center’s mission-driven programs such as curriculum development, on-site programming, School’s Out Science Camps, and outreach efforts throughout the region.
By guest contributor: Caryn