December 16, 2006
December Dollywood Debauchery III
The next morning came far too early. Up at the cabin, 2 more jolly souls had arrived in the middle of the nite. I was waiting on everyone else to get ready, and around 10:30 am we started to roll off the mountain. I had told everyone else to be at Dollywood’s front gate at 10:30 am being aware that we would be later than that, but I wanted everyone waiting on us there because I knew I had to collect money for buffet. We stopped at a gas station to juice up (myself on BC Arthritis Strength powder and a band aid), and found our way to the park at about 11:00 am, the park’s opening.
After parking, we started walking towards the front gate when we heard Barron yell at us. We stopped to wait on Barron and Brandon and then headed towards the gate. After arriving and making our way inside, the number for the buffet fluctuated, and I can’t count, so after paying, counting, miscounting, going back, paying for more, and then handing out tickets, I sent the group on their way with instructions for buffet at 4:00 pm. However, I gave my admission ticket out as a food ticket by accident while losing my food ticket. That would be the cause for more confusion later, but I just wanted to ride Thunderhead.
Normally I’d do a breakdown for all of the rides, but I’m not this time as I do a trip to Dollywood every year. We headed up to the Thunderhead Gap/Timber Canyon area of the park. I hadn’t seen it all year, and they’d not only added a whole new section to the area with one major flat ride, a small tower ride, and kid’s play area, but Mystery Mine, next year’s new attraction, was almost complete as well (and looks really great). This whole area had been totally themed and expanded and looked really great. I love the lumberjack/beaver theme in this area.
So we got in line for Thunderhead, which was basically a non-existent line. Oh! And they were running 2 trains, which they never ever do in December. But the weather was beautiful and I assume they were expecting a large crowd. We hopped on the middle of the train some where, me with mad, Kevin and Emily near us, and Tim as well. Thunderhead is still Thunderhead and it was a really good first ride. We hopped around for another, as I recall, before heading back to look at the new section of the park.
After our rides we went over to Timber Tower, a topple tower, which is something I’d been wanting to try. This was the first in the U.S. to be built. The ride is very nicely themed with a really nice queue area as well. The ride was less than exciting, which I expected, and kind of made me nauseous. I could see riding in the summer when the water jets were on. This time of year it’s just a nice family ride. Next we walked back to Lumberjack Lifts, which looked like fun, but the line was kind of long. We took pictures, took a sneak peek behind the Mystery Mine gate, and then back over to Thunderhead. As we arrived, something wonderful had happened. Dawn Marie and her boyfriend had just got engaged as he popped the question ON THUNDERHEAD. It was really nice, and he got her a beautiful ring. Just an even more special moment during a great day.
We rode Thunderhead some more and then walked over towards the path leading to Tennessee Tornado, our next major destination, but decided to graze for a bit as we were all hungry. I gave Tim money to get me a sausage, took the locker key for the locker they’d rented, and headed over to put my sweater, scarf, and goofy toboggan in the locker since it was so extremely warm. I ran back over just as Tim was ordering food. We paid, sat down with our group, grazed on our food for a few minutes, chatted, and eventually headed up the hill for more coaster goodness.
Oh, we also stopped to pee at some point, or at least I did. Once we got to Blazing Fury, we decided to go ahead to Tornado for a ride before we did that. There was no line for Tornado at all. I think they could use a flat in this area like they’ve done for Thunderhead, but again, the section of the park is very nice, and the Tornado theme is rather clever. Our ride was near the front and we ran in to more of the large group in the station. Tornado was running well. It always is. I really like the coaster, but it is too short. And because I was feeling fine and medicated, the strong G forces weren’t making me feel sick at all.
We made our way to Blazing Fury after the large group started talking at the exit. Tim and I got inline together, but he switched to the front seat where Matt was. Matt then switched and got in with me. Blazing Fury is always fun and quirky. This time I got rather wet in the splashdown, though. After that ride, we headed to the Grist Mill for some sweets. Matt has now become addicted to cinnamon bread, as has the rest of the group it seems. We stopped and there were the group from Tornado who had the same thoughts as we did. I didn’t have cinnamon bread, though, opting for a huge soft chocolate chip cookie.
At that point Nicole, Mike, Patrick, and Nellie joined our group as we headed down to the Dizzy Disk in County Fair. The line was not short by any means, and the ride cycle is long, but we didn’t wait too long. I was in line with Nicole and Mike, with Tim behind us. Matt opted not to ride. The ride was fun, but they really are Dizzy Nazis on this thing. Can’t take your hands off the handle bars nor lift your feet up or they yell at you. Oh well, they’re doing the job they’re paid to do. Matt took a spin on the lemonade/tea cups ride, and then once we were all off, we headed to the glider/flyer thing we did last year. Matt and I were on this one as well, and it’s boring, but I also got kind of nauseated. Oh, and we managed to pick up Tina at this point as well.
After that, Matt, I, Nellie, and Patrick wanted to do the Star Shooter. Though designed as a kids ride, this one is taller and more of a family ride. We were put on with a father and his small son, but the ride is temperamental and would not run with our weight on it. Everyone switched seats, the father and son got off, then the four of us moved to the middle of the gondola. The ride did work that way, and it was fun, but all of the parents were scowling at us when we got off, so we made a quick exit and went as far away from the ride as possible.
We walked up towards the train and carousel area. I had to pee, so I pawned everyone but Kevin and Emily off on to the Carousel while I went to the bathroom. I got back just as they were getting on, and once that was all done, it was almost time for dinner, so we headed down to the entrance to the pavilion. Patrick and Nellie went the other way and I told him I’d have Danny call him once we were finished as they were not having buffet. We arrived at the place to eat a bit early, and I let this group be seated as I went to wait for the rest. After misplacing one small group and finding them seated, we were all ready to eat. The food was not bad by any means, and the chocolate cake was really good, but the catered food the park provides just isn’t as good as the in park food, which is outstanding.
Once everyone had had their fill, we split off again. Tommy, James, Barron, Brandon, Josh, and Brandi were heading to the Heartsong Theater, a 4D-esq ride I’d never done, so I went with them. It was…interesting to say the least. Brandi and Josh needed to process their season passes, so I went off with them, but ran in to Matt, Tim, Kevin, and Emily on the way to Thunderhead, and since the sun was setting, I headed off with them. We got to Thunderhead and figured we’d get a couple rides in before it really got dark, but as Matt and I were in line for the very last seat, they had some technical problems with the video system, which took a few minutes to fix before they could run the ride. By the time it was fixed, it was dark.
This, folks, is the real Thunderhead, and the reason it ranks so high. This weekend was the first time for many people on this coaster, and the first night rides for others. I think it changed some of the previous rider’s minds. The ride was running amazing in the dark, and my biggest fear of adding a whole new section by the coaster making it too bright for dark rides was easily smashed. The ride is still very dark, and that’s a great thing. This ride was really good. We’d stopped to pick up our stuff from the locker, so I had my sweater, scarf, and goofy toboggan on for these rides.
Once we got off, we went back around again for another wonderful ride, as I recall it. Once that was done, we headed back to Lumberjack Lifts. Matt and I had some issues with the restrain as we’re both large guys, but eventually we got it to work. I think this is a really cute ride, lots of fun, and great for families. We took more pictures then headed back to Thunderhead as it was even darker now. The ride had the same malfunction to the video monitors that it had had earlier and a lot of people got out of line. We stayed in and headed to the front. Tim got a nasty surprise while he was talking on the phone, as did the young guys behind us as they leaned up against a wall (it’s too disgusting to really go into detail about, trust me), but eventually we got in the front.
This was a REALLY great ride! The coaster was thundering thru the track, and I was slung all over the place! We immediately got back in line and got on in the front again. This time I took my glasses off. And this was the best time I had all day, as the ride was just perfect. I felt like a rag doll being tossed around. There was air on every bump, good laterals, and the ride was just simply amazing. What a great way to say goodbye to Thunderhead for the year.
We headed back down the mountain and Kevin and Emily decided to sit out of our run to Tornado. We were to meet up at the gate at 8:00 pm, which was when I was leaving, so they stayed around down there. Matt, Tim, and I made our way to the restroom once again and then up to Tornado. We toyed with a stop at Blazing Fury, but went to Tornado so Tim and I could ride together, making us having ridden a Tornado and a Hurricane within just a few months of each other (Tim is cheesy like that, but, then, so am I).
The night ride in the back was really great. I’d have liked to have ridden Tornado more, but didn’t get to. Still, I have no regrets about it. We made our way down to Blazing Fury, but it was almost time for me to meet up with my other gang, so we headed to the front gate. Not everyone in the group that day made it down for the picture. Afterwards, we headed out the gate to our cars as I said goodbye to Matt, Tim, Kevin, and Emily. The Cabin group and myself went to Kroger’s for some more stuff before heading to the DVD premier at the Cabin in the hills.