So for vacation every year for my family we typically do a cultural city for most of it and swing by a local place for some coastering. This year they wanted to omit or shorten the park portion, so I decided we should stop in the Sevier County region of Tennessee to nab FireChaser Express and Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster.
Day 1: Dollywood
Took this at a run-down McDonald's we stopped at on the way.
Ready to go to Dollywood! We got into Pigeon Forge at 2:15, a whole forty-five minutes before we expected to get in. But any time we made up was lost as it took an hour to get through traffic. Gotta love stupid people who don't know how to drive...
Of course I go RIGHT for Wilderness Pass!
Alright, time to heat things up!
Thank goodness for the Q-bot I reserved! 1.5 hours for FireChaser? No censoredx: thank you!
Speaking of Q2Q, when I requested that FireChaser Express be put in as my first ride, the lady working the building said "they're supposed to get another one here in a few years." Do I think it's credible? Potentially. If it's credible, do I think it will be an RMC? Yes.
Obligatory launch shot!
YESSS!!!! This is the best. Kiddie coaster. Ever. The tire launches are surprisingly aggressive, and the first one without a headrest is so weird! The "kiddie coaster" bit they stuck before the lift could have been better, though. I'd have liked to have seen it go into a shallow drop out of the launch turn around over itself, and go back to the lift. Anyway, it goes up a nice lift with some decent view to the left if you look. From there it goes into a nice little dip, a turn, and into a nice drop into the overbank. There are two nice pops of mild airtime following and then a turn into the MCBR. Out of that there's a drop that goes across the waterfall and up into another airtime hill. Over that, you enter the themed set of consecutive s-bends. These are pretty mild and you really don't notice them, but the theming is nice. After that, it's time for the thing that makes all rides better...explosions! The train pulls into the building to some really elaborate theming and dialogue. After the flames move across the length of the train, Big Bertha falls over and there's some fog before a pretty aggressive backwards launch, definitely exceeded my expectations for a family coaster launch. After that there's a short backwards portion with pretty mild pacing into a slightly wild high turn into the brakes. Not a top tenner or even a top twentier, but it's not supposed to be. It's just a fun little family coaster that everybody can enjoy. Gotta say that my favorite part was the show building into the backwards launch. The audio is really loud and the building with the fire is HOT!!!! You can really feel the heat coming off of the pyrotechnics. And the launch rocks!
Went for a spin on Wild Eagle next to be pleasantly surprised with how well it was running, but the Q2Q does almost nothing for the line. It dumps you into the line to the station wait, not directly into the station. It saved me ten minutes at most.
Took on my favorite wooden coaster next; Thunderhead! I was a single rider and rode with this girl in a group of three...and got second to front! I had injured my shoulder two weeks before so it hurt a bit but it was soooo worth it for the craziest thing to ever come from GCI!
Did Mystery Mine afterwards and got a front seat. And it reminded me of why I needed to ride FireChaser to like Gerstlauer again. Such a nicely themed yet awful coaster! Nothing like a good thwack to the head going into the brakes!
I then went to Blazing Fury after my Q-bot gave me notification that it was back up and running. I had no idea why it was down but I went to check in and got into the station wait. And the guy in front of me was letting his crazed, feral children roughhouse and climb on the queue railings without saying anything. Yay, parenting! That being said, they said that the reason it had been down was because one train didn't load fast enough and when the train on the course got too close to the train in the station, it would shut the ride down. I've been vocal about my desire for them to put new ride hardware on this thing in the past, but I feel like there are quite a few parks that would go out of business if their rides had a system that shut the whole thing down if there was any stacking.
I did Tennessee Tornado next and had quite a blast on it. Didn't do it again, though, as I don't find it that rerideable.
I went back to FireChaser afterwards but there was some wait time on my Q-bot, so I hung around and photographed it.
That's the switch track used for the launch/return. #nerdshot
Pretty proud of this one to be honest.
I love it when they make the footers less obvious. #nerdshot
Both Wilderness Pass coasters!
Getting all artsy in line!
View from the station.
I rode in the front this time and I have to admit it felt like it did in the middle.
Just me with what I hope to be my kids' first coaster!
Went for some Wild Eagle action afterwards.
Waiting in the station, the computer controlling the airgates malfunctioned. Didn't know it was possible to break a B&M that wasn't called Diamondback...
You get a great view of FireChaser waiting in line.
Waiting for them to be cleared by maintenance, I nabbed a few shots. This was my favorite. And then I got to ride front seat right side alone. And got treated to some very unwelcome rattling, though nothing quite as severe as Banshee.
Swinging by Barnstormer for a quick spin after that, I definitely did not go in here and I definitely did not obtain cinnamon bread.
After that, I went to Market Square and got a sausage sandwich. Best food I've had at that park that wasn't cinnamon bread!
There was definitely not cinnamon bread in this bag.
Went back for some more FireChaser after that.
Rode it in the back this time...HOLY CRAP!!!! This is definitely a backseat ride! So much airtime and aggressive twistiness, I loved it! It felt like a Backlot clone!
Spot Wild Eagle!
After that I went for Thunderhead and rode it before it got dark. I then went to Mystery Mine for some more punishment. I then went to Thunderhead again and sat with an ACE member on a credit run on her way to Kings Island! It wasn't dark but we still had a lot of fun on such an insane wooden coaster in the back. After that they shut the rides down due to lightning in the area...heat lightning. -_- Probably the same person who made that call was the one who wrote "RADAR STRICKLY ENFORCED" on the construction sign coming into town.
River Battle and FireChaser being deserted.
I thought this was going to have been the perfect time to ride Wild Eagle.
A deserted FireChaser at sunset with the old-fashioned 20's music they play in the ride area made for some interesting atmosphere.
I went to nab a test seat shot for you guys...when I saw a family sitting around with their kids in the seat like it was a bench! I'm fine if you need to actually use it or just want a picture or something, but don't loiter in the test seats! And Dollywood is the only park where I've seen people do it! Two years ago I wanted to try Thunderhead's and asked the two ladies sitting in it whining about their husbands to move so I could try it and they shot me dirty looks. Morons...
FireChaser is in the depot tonight...
Hopping over the waterfall as the sun goes down...NOT!!!!
I went to go photograph Wild Eagle's plaza at night because I was sure it was beautiful when I heard screams from FireChaser! Looks like somebody finally realized that heat lightning is harmless! I had reserved Wild Eagle on my Q-bot and RAN into the Q2Q line to get put through and sent to the left. <3
A family let me ride with them since I was a single rider and they had three, and we got close to the back of the train. I had hoped to get on during the fireworks, and the way they did it, I was lucky enough to get a dispatch right at 9:30. Going through the loop...BOOM!!!! I saw the sky explode beneath my feet, it was so surreal and awesome! It felt like the sky was exploding around me with the fireworks, heat lightning, and the sun's last wave goodbye highlighting the mountainous horizon. Definitely the best individual ride of 2014!
I threw FireChaser into my Q-bot next and went to watch the show from its plaza.
Definitely a good place to watch it!
A long exposure fail since I had nothing I could set it on...but this is too epic not to like! XD
After filming the grand finale as FireChaser ascended the lift in the foreground, I went to go ride it. Love the touches of theming here.
Got two rides during heat lightning! And it's a great night ride! The midway below it is lit up, you can't see where you're going on the mountain, and the lighting package on the show building facade is great. Not to mention watching the fire as a non-rider, it looks way more intense at night.
All in all, five rides on this coaster and my verdict is that it's fun. Pacing is slow, it's supposed to be, but I still had fun on it. Hats off to Dollywood for finally getting a family coaster and a launched coaster. They couldn't have made a better choice.
Showstreet looks gorgeous at night!
Got the t-shirt and the hat with the flames on the brim.
This...this could go down in history as the most hideous theme park stuff ever. And from DOLLYWOOD of all places...
Tempting, very tempting...
I've always loved Dollywood's ticket building. It's just so down home and inviting.
After taking the trolley back to Ripley's Aquarium, I walked to Gatlinburg Inn to meet the family. There I presented the cinnamon bread and had their leftovers from a nice steakhouse on the river. Best part? No silverware, so I tore the rolls apart and made two little steak sliders!
Day 2: Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster
Started the day at the pancake house where my dad made a huge stink about them charging him for little sugar packets in the sixties!
Modeling my FireChaser stuff in the restaurant!
Nabbing a picture of our nice hotel room before we left...my sister felt the need to throw her deadmau5 plush toy in front of the camera.
Bye, Gatlinburg Inn! You're not a cabin but you're probably the nicest hotel in the area!
Drove past a half-built Goat Coaster on the way there!
Got a selfie with the sign!
Got mah ticket!
It was SMAC's birthday, so there was a bit of a line.
This looked like a lot of fun...
The lift mechanism on this thing intrigued me. Having never ridden an alpine coaster I had no idea what to expect.
Waiting in line for Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster!
And a pretty long line at that for a ride with such low capacity.
Got a free sticker since it was SMAC's birthday!
My chariot awaits!
I noticed the sanding they did to ensure a seamless transition. Didn't work as well on these as it does a B&M! XD
Selfie going up the lift!
It took a while to get to the top but the view was so worth it. After this I put my camera in my velcro pocket and got ready to ride!
And it blew me away! This thing felt like a really unsafe roller coaster, I love it! I could have reached out and grabbed something if I wanted to, and the whole thing just felt so rickety as you sped down the mountain on it I couldn't help but laugh the whole way down! Did the whole thing without brakes and had a blast! Hocking Hills in Ohio needs one of these!
As for the "cred/not a cred" debate with these, I do think that there can get to be a grey area with terrain rides, but not with these. This is definitely a roller coaster. It runs on rails like one, it's powered by gravity like one, and if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, I think it's a duck, and count it as such. Even though I don't keep count of ducks.
Got an orange Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster shirt!
And then began the gorgeous drive out of Gatlinburg to Charleston.
Didn't know they built the hotel themed after the coaster before the coaster itself.
And we drove past this park...
...and what do you know? A cred all the way out here! This was in the awful little tourist trap known as Cherokee, NC. Built around a Native American reservation, people come here for "culture" (in the form of the Mexican place selling "Indian Tacos" and a man wearing his Native American performer's outfit drinking from a can of Red Bull the size of my forearm on his break ). Upon further RCDB investigation, this cred is a powered Zamperla kiddie cred called Rudicoaster. Maybe I run it out here to get it when Dollywood gets their RMC?
We arrived in Charleston safely but I'm afraid this trip report ends here. I'll probably post a trip report for Charleston elsewhere on TPR, though!