Dollywood Discussion Thread

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Re: Dollywood Discussion Thread

Postby coolhandluke » Sat Mar 24, 2012 9:22 pm

I was at Dollywood today for the first time in seven years, and the first time enjoying coasters. As such, pretty much everything was a new experience for me, and I approached it as a new park.

Wild Eagle is, as others have said, a wonderful addition. It's fun and smooth and beautiful and pretty unique. It probably won't threaten any world-class rankings, but that doesn't mean it's not worth a ride or two. Wild Eagle is the first coaster where I've had some discomfort in the restraints (I was fine on Maverick, I-305), as the shoulder straps tightened against my clavicles awkwardly on both of my rides and couldn't be loosened at all. But, I didn't notice it till the brake run, and I certainly wouldn't let that keep me from riding in the future. Dispatches seemed a bit slow, and the two trains would stack each cycle. It was noticeable, but not completely egregious, especially for a rainy opening day. Overall, I enjoyed Thunderhead more, but WE's completely different experience was extremely welcome and very re-rideable. Aesthetically, there is absolutely nothing about the project (coaster, hillside, entrance plaza, station, statue, etc) that is anything short of gorgeous.

I can't say how other rides compare to their "normal" selves, but Tennesse Tornado was strong and fairly smooth. Mystery Mine probably threw me around the most, but it always seemed to be because of the layout, not a car shake or anything. It also appeared to close early (there was a lightning delay around 3.45 for 30ish minutes, maybe it didn't reopen after that?). Thunderhead was my favorite coaster there, and simply wonderful. Being from Ohio, it was an absolute treat to ride a wooden coaster that is good because of the ride itself and not simply its historical status (I love Beast, but I'm not ignorant). It's not El Toro, but I love that it doesn't try to be, and it seemed to be even crazier after the rain slicked up the track.

Highlight of the day though was the impeccable friendliness of the staff (and the cinnamon bread). A complete lack of apathetic teenagers just looking for a paycheck, and an abundance of veterans who've worked 15 years or more at Dollywood because they love the place, work wonders on the atmosphere. That, and the cinnamon bread.

Oh, and a $15 Qbot is a steal. Absolute steal.

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Re: Dollywood Discussion Thread

Postby Velo_editor » Sun Mar 25, 2012 8:48 am

^ Awesome write-up coolhandluke!! You really sold the park. I loved your comment about the employees. They are awesome there.

I can't wait to get back to the park to experience Wild Eagle. I really wish Dollywood was closer to Nashville, but then again, it's not THAT far away. So I guess I can't complain.

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Re: Dollywood Discussion Thread

Postby Nozzy » Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:38 am

I was there for Friday and Saturday and had an absolute blast, sorry for the wall of text- some pictures at bottom.

Wild Eagle is a great coaster for Dollywood- not too extreme, but very different and a lot of fun. I was impressed at how well the latter half of the ride is hidden from view- the only way to really see it is either to ride of from Slidewinder's queue, and while it had a roar, it was a bit subdued, not ruining the atmosphere of the valley at all.

I probably rode about 20 times over the two days- by the final hour both days it was only a station wait. I got to experience a variety of different seats. I think I slightly prefer the extreme right seat as its entry into the zero-g roll feels much more intense (especially in the back), and I feel like there are more close passes to trees and supports. As ernierocker noted, the leg choppers are amazing, especially in front with nothing around you. All of the inversions slow down as they are taken, which is really cool for seeing the world upside down from atop the mountain.

I thought operations were great- I saw the crew hit their interval regularly, and seats were filled with single riders very well. Right after opening on Friday was the worst, where right before I rode it took somewhere between 5-10 minutes (total) to get 2 trains out as they kept moving larger guests around to try to get them to ride. The increase in efficiency came as they completely stopped trying to give larger riders a second chance- you either fit or you don't. I thought this was good (especially when the line is out to the TT) but there is an issue that the existence of larger seats is not posted anywhere! Hopefully this is fixed soon.

I was also amused that the gates (which look beautiful, just like the rest of the station) weren't working so there were 2 employees who's job was to stand at the front of the station during loading and unloading. Hopefully the gates are operational soon, I really want to see what they look like. Another issue that popped up was that the Q-bot entrance (at the sign) can double as a nice shortcut to get back in line and avoid the giftshop. This was blocked by a parade tape strip on Saturday night.

As for the rest of the park, pretty much everything was great- Cinnamon Bread, awesome employees, Thunderhead was running amazingly, and I really enjoyed most of the shows I saw, my favorite was probably the Argentina show. Dolly appeared regularly after shows and did have the parade Sat. despite the rain.

The only downside was I never rode Mystery Mine. As others reported, it stalled upside down on Friday. I never knew it opened Saturday until Coolhandluke's post, but saw that it had saddled sometime after 2, this time in the small dip right after the first lift (and where it was hidden by the theming).
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Finally carrying happy riders!
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From Slidewinder's queue... pretty much the only way to see the second half of the ride
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Some of the fine station detailing
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Those gates look very beautiful, but this weekend it was up to those two men to prevent any idiots from walking off the platform.
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The view from the lift hill can be gorgeous during sunset (or when a train is passing, filling the sky with smoke)
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Elsewhere, THunderhead was running great through the rain
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Mystery Mine was just hanging around most of Friday.
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They then must ride Wild Eagle without creating a 12 lb mess
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No one could tell me if Kangaroo Stew actually had Kangaroo (it wasn't available yet)
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And Mystery Mine decided to hide out where everyone wouldn't be pointing at it Saturday.
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Re: Dollywood Discussion Thread

Postby jray21 » Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:29 am

I'm in for the 12 pound pizza challenge! Who's with me? I've eaten more than that in one sitting so I'm up for it. Just need to get to Dollywood sometime soon.
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Re: Dollywood Discussion Thread

Postby Jhcbiinoc » Sun Mar 25, 2012 12:38 pm

I just got back in about 3am this morning after two days at Dollywood, and once I regroup and go through several hundred photos, I will post my TR and more detailed thoughts, but in a nutshell: In between the park itself, Wild Eagle and being able to hang out and enjoy the park and have a great time with other folks from TPR, I was blown away by the entire experience. I can hardly wait to have a chance to get up there and enjoy the park again, as I was blown away by the staff, the operations, everything.

Regarding Wild Eagle, in my honest opinion, B&M, Dollywood and Herschend have knocked one out of the park with the whole package-the ride, the theming, the operations, the details-adding what I feel is a stellar addition to what was already a fantastic park. I thought the coaster itself was flawless, provided a ride with just enough intensity to be satisfying to thrillseekers yet still remain accessible to a wide demographic and extremely re-rideable, and the location just adds to what was an extremely well engineered concept.

Once I take care of some things here and sort through the pics, I will post a full photo TR. But I had to post and say that both Wild Eagle and Dollywood went above and beyond my expectations.

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Re: Dollywood Discussion Thread

Postby Guy T. Koepp » Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:30 pm

jray21 wrote:I'm in for the 12 pound pizza challenge! Who's with me? I've eaten more than that in one sitting so I'm up for it. Just need to get to Dollywood sometime soon.


Count me in Joey! I just ate 1.5 14inch Papa John pizzas last night. The only reason I stopped was because Alana asked me to. I could have easily finished the other one. I also had 2 full cheezy bread slices and a two glasses of water. (Cause I'm on a diet.)

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Re: Dollywood Discussion Thread

Postby chargersmichael » Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:37 pm

Is there a picture taken on the ride?? If so where...I didn't know the vests also lock in

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Re: Dollywood Discussion Thread

Postby Nozzy » Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:49 pm

I think they actually take your picture 3 times on the ride- I think at the bottom of the first drop, after the zero-g roll and before the corkscrew, but I'm not completely certain.

You can count me in for wanting to do the pizza challenge too- I don't usually do toppings, but I'd make an exception for this!
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Re: Dollywood Discussion Thread

Postby TravisMT81 » Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:34 pm

Any video of the Dolly at the ceremony?

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Re: Dollywood Discussion Thread

Postby Jhcbiinoc » Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:56 pm

^^I believe they actually take your picture 4 times, and I think it's right after every inversion. Or, it could be that they only take two photos, and the four separate cameras are taking two photos of one side of the train and two of the other, I'm not sure. I did count four different cameras, though.

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