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Photo TR: The Two Best Parks in The South

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So this past weekend, CTU Agent, BamaRob21, and myself decided to take a much needed break from summer classes and work and head to the two best damn parks in the South. Since none of us had been to Dollywood since Mystery Mine had opened, we decided it was finally time to see what the scoop was. The day before, however, we decided to hit up Lake Winnie with some peeps from TPR!


I must first apologize. Unlike our day at Dollywood, I didn't take a whole lot of photos at Lake Winnie which I really regret, but it was a great day at a great park, and hopefully the pictures I did take reflect that! Scott (BeemerBoy), his wife Shannon, and Joe (ParkTrips) met up with us that night at the park and it was a blast. It was great to finally meet Scott and Shannon, and as always, was great to hang out with Joe. If only they could have come to Dollywood with us the next day!


Enjoy the Lake Winnie pics! The first update from Dollywood will hopefully be up soon!


The only three essential things in life: P.M.W. 4 Life. Word.


Hey Lou! Look where we're at; Steak 'n' Shake!


Sorry the picture is a little blurry. I still like the photo though. Sadly, it was about closing time, but we weren't done yet. There was still fun to be had.




Hey Tyler, do you know that "gullible" isn't in the dictionary?


Lake Winnie is a really nice place to be at night. This park isn't terribly big, but I feel it is a must for any enthusiast who comes through the area.


Insert cheesy, "cute couple" caption here.



Thanks for coming out, guys!


After we picked up a few VDs from the Boat Chute, we headed back over to see if the Fly-O-Plane op was back from his "20 minute" break. Joe, Shannon, and Scott wisely decided to sit this one out. This ride was insane, but brutal! There is a reason why there are only a few of these left in the world! It's sort of a "Really? In America?" type ride.


Joe is all, "yeah, I'm totally gonna get some in the boat tunnel... but ladies, still apply within."


"Hi ladies, I'm Robby. I am single and about to spend three minutes in a deep, dank tunnel. Apply within."


Sorry, but I like the ride so I have to give it a little more love.


I may be a former world champ, but 'former' does not equal 'washed up.'


I once had a friend empty his stomach on me while on an Orbiter at a county fair. There is good reason for that. I highly recommend riding this insane ride BEFORE eating.


Last time I was here, Fly-O-Plane was sitting in pieces, so I was quite excited to finally ride this thing. However, in the South, a second is actually three times longer than it is elsewhere in the country, so I had to wait a while before I can discover how awesomely bad this messed ride is.


Some lift hill goodness from Cannonball.


I have a major love-hate relationship with this thing. Freefalls are of the few attractions that still scare the hell out of me. How's your hearing, Scott?


Oh yeah, Lake Winnie has a pretty fun wooden coaster as well.


Here is the Watch-Twelve-People-Simultaneously-Crap-Their-Britches attraction. For those of you who have been on Shock Drop at Beech Bend, just multiply that by like three and you'll have Oh! Zone.


This is Castle, the epic dark ride that takes you to the moon, where you almost get run over by a GMC truck. You can't make this crap up, people...


After a little while, we met up with Scott (BeemerBoy), Shannon, and Joe (ParkTrips). PMW, ya'll.


Big Bob, you make this too easy. The caption possibilities are endless...


The park has some rockin' swings that we unfortunately ran out of time for.


Mark me down as a fan. A little jarring? Yes, but still quite fun.


Love it or hate it, you have to at least admit that these are some of the coolest looking mouse cars around.


In hindsight, I should have waited until the car was empty instead of getting the creepy picture with the family staring at me, wondering why in the hell I'm taking their picture.


First ride of the evening goes is Wild Lightnin', an L&T Wild Mouse of doom.


Case in point.... an ice cream stand themed to look like a riverboat, and the paddle wheel actually spins!


Ah yes... good ol' Lake Winnie. I don't care how delightfully redneck it may sometimes be, Lake Winnie has more charm than most corporate parks could ever dream of having.


So who ripped off who?


Just when you think Holiday World is in a rural setting, take a trip to Lake Winnie.

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Dollywood: Part 1!


It had been over two years since any of us had been to Dollywood, so we were all pretty excited about it. This park is seriously so awesome. The ride selection is nice, the coaster collection is awesome, the food is amazing, and the theming is top-notch. On top of all of that, the staff is always ridiculously nice and there are tons of unintentional sexual innuendos all over the park just begging to be called out.


I just can't get enough of the atmosphere. We went on a Saturday, and despite the place being packed, the lines weren't even that bad, and there's a reason for that. People are content just coming to experience the atmosphere and awesome theming. There is so much to see and do besides the rides. Every time I go, I wish had budgeted $50 just for food alone.


Anyway, as I said, the rides are great. Thunderhead is seriously one of the most complete coasters I've ever been on. From the ground, it looks like a twister, but in reality, it's a twister and airtime machine rolled into one. Those trademark GCI pops you into the air right before the train throws you to the side as it rips through a turn. The course is relentless and it feels like the train never loses speed. It really is one of the greatest coasters of our generation, in my opinion.


Tennessee Tornado is always great. Riders in the back get thrown out of their seat as the train goes down the first drop, which is entire enclosed. The rest of the course is very short, but packs one hell of a punch. I can't get enough of the first loop. It is hard to explain to somebody who hasn't ridden it, but the slight twisting the track does while negotiating the loop is one of the most bizarre, but cool feelings. If only this thing was a little longer.


It took me a few rides to warm up to Mystery Mine. I was a little let down at first because I had see so many experienced enthusiasts rank it in their top ten and I just couldn't see how that was possible. It was a fun ride, but very slow paced until the very end, though the theming is superb. However, as the day went on, I liked the ride more and more. There were so many aspects of the ride that I had no clue about... mainly just the some of the indoor portions. It was a really fun ride though and an excellent addition to the park. The twisting 95 degree drop followed by the double inline-twist-loop-thingamajig was awesome.


As most of you know, the new attraction this year is River Battle, and from the surface, it looks quite lame. It is very open, slow, and just doesn't seem to have much of a purpose. However, by the end of the day, we all were in agreement that this ride was an excellent addition. It was just all-around fun. I think we could have stood on the sides blasting people on the boats with water guns for hours. It's a lot like being eight years old again and having the squirt gun war to end all squirt gun wars. It was seriously so much fun. I saw fifty year old men having a blast on the thing. It really seemed to be a hit among the entire crowd.


Well, that's my breakdown of Dollywood. Enjoy the pics! The second picture update from Dollywood will be up sometime in the next 24 hours!


1000 Awesome Points go to whoever is the first to guess why I had this picture taken.


The second half of the pics will be up by tomorrow afternoon!


Slightly pointless, but still kind of cool at the same time. Heck, given how out of control and fast paced this ride is, a piece of straight track is almost a breath of fresh air.


A train full of happy riders get their pictures taken. And why shouldn't they be happy? They are riding a roller coaster on rolling couches.


In case you forgot what we are riding.


Alright, we've been depriving Thunderhead of our ridership for far too long.


$1.99 Vault Icee refills put Tyler and Robby in very good moods.


Despite its moderately intimidating appearance in pictures, it is very much a family ride if you ask me. And if you aren't lucky, you will get extremely wet!


To my knowledge, Timber Tower is one of the few Huss Topple Towers in the country.


Mmmm... did I mention that the food at Dollywood is pretty much an attraction itself?


Sorry, I know I'm failing miserably in not sounding like a fanboy, but for good reason.


Nice touch.


That's what I'm talkin' about.


EPIC FAIL. We went through the door, only to find another walkway that led from the main path with these signs.


After asking a worker, we were told this was the Q-bot entrance. How in the hell would we have known that?


Well there is the entrance, but where is the Q-bot entrance?


It is really difficult to get a good picture of Tennessee Tornado. It's not terribly photogenic. However, it is terribly underrated. A bit on the short side, but oh so sweet. Either Arrow finally started to get their act together in their last few years of operation, or Dollywood just takes really good care of this ride because it is still really smooth.


Even Dollywood? Boo!


I spy some sexy lift hill action over beyond River Battle!


Yes... that's a beaver... standing next to a "hole for rent" sign. I'm pretty sure Dollywood was trying to make this more entertaining for adults.


Oh come on!!! Beavers on a log!? They are just begging me to become 14 years old again! They are making this too easy!


River Battle, the attraction for 2008.


More Mystery Mine action.


Here are the quick little turns the cars make before heading to the vertical lift for the main drop.


It's really unfortunate that the bigger chains aren't willing to invest as much money in theming as Dollywood did with Mystery Mine. It is a prime example of how much theming can enhance a ride.


I enjoyed it, but was still a little letdown. That would change as we re-rode it later on! It's still not a top ten ride, but it was a lot of fun! The theming really made the ride.


It received the Tyler Seal of Approval.


He did right here.


Did you just get laid?


The end of the ride was pretty freakin' awesome. Not to mention, it was the smoothest part!


Yes, it is going down now. We were all pretty excited to finally experience a Euro Fighter.


With our handy dandy Q-bot, it was time to board by the time we even got to the ride! This was only my second Q-bot experience, and I have to say, I'm really warming up to them. Especially when they cost as little as Dollywood's do.


Mystery Mine's test seat has a buzzer that goes off once the rider is capable of pulling the harness down past the highest safe position. It was pretty nifty, however we some people during the day who didn't realize that the buzzer meant you were fine, so they just sat there looking confused.


This buzzard use to talk and interact with people that walked by. It would make fun of what you were wearing, who you were with, and stuff like that. Now its just gives a spiel about the Mystery Mine story line. I guess it's a fair trade off though!




If you ask me, the external theming is just about on par with many Disney attractions.


Oh heck yes! I was really surprised by how quite the cars are.


There it stands in the distance!


As much as I want to hop on Thunderhead, we're gonna let it warm up for a while and go ahead and hit Mystery Mine.


Ducks are pretty much the second coolest animal ever. This also shows how nice this park is.


Things like this really build the atmosphere at the park. Even if bluegrass is not your type of music, it is really neat to see these guys playing live music.


We're here!


Heck yes! We draw near.


ATTENTION EAST COAST TRIP PARTICIPANTS!!!! This is Tyler, aka CTU Agent. He has a knack for excessively sleeping on road trips. So be sure to pack adequate amounts of shaving cream or any other material that will bring entertainment at his expense!


Yeah, our 50 cents bought us a solid half hour of comedic entertainment.


We picked up this "newspaper" at a gas station outside of Knoxville. At first, we thought it was free given how janky looking it is.

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It's still not a top ten ride, but it was a lot of fun! The theming really made the ride.


I agree with this opinion. Mystery Mine is just a fun ride with excellent theming. Great TR so far! Looking forward to the rest.


Oh, and I think Tyler is on the other bus, but I can't imagine that anyone on the tour would play any pranks on him while he is sleeping.

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The best 2 parks in the south? Come on now Scott your missing a few absolute gems like BeechBend, Kentucky Kingdom, The Alabama Visionland Adventure, and Wild Adventures which are in high contention for those top 2 spots. I love Dollywood and really need to get back to try out Mystery Mine. Never been to Lake Winnie, but I think I'm gonna hit it up on my way towards Orlando in September. Nice report so far, lookin forward to more pics from Dollywood including the mandatory pickle shot.


And to the 3 Crimson Tiders in the report, you better get ready cause the Hilltoppers are rollin into Tuscaloosa Sept. 13! Well if the game isn't much of a game (probably won't be) then the sideline antics between Big Red and Big Al should at least make things a lil interesting.

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I miss the real south. Lake Winnie is such a cool little park, and that last "P.M.W." photo was epic (you guys chose to represent the "P" in a pretty interesting manner, haha). O-Zone was pretty much the death of me on my last visit, I really hate drop towers and I think we rode it like 5 times.



...and Dollywood is great, but I don't really need to elaborate on that statement since everybody already knows that.

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I just relocated from the DC area to hicktown VA, usually not a plus, but that does make Dollywood my new home park. And I can not wait to get my first visit in this year.


Great TR so far, and I do agree the rollover at the end of Mystery Mine is darn near "sponge worthy". (Ooooh, sorry for that old reference) Also, I must pick up a copy of the "Daily Edition", I am sure I have family members in there.

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How's your hearing, Scott?

Did you say something?


Even if only briefly, it was cool to meet you guys.....and see Joe again.


Several points:


- "More Family, More fun." Ha! Never noticed that before.

- Castle continues to amaze, and amuse me.

- Andrew, you're not alone in your fear of OhZone! Hmm, Scott, maybe you should've been the "P" in the pic outside of Steak 'N Shake.

- Lake Winnie is awesome at night.

- Tyler, we have a new suggestion for your video music: "The Joker" -Steve Miller Band.

- I will never collect those 1000 awesome points since I have NO IDEA what you're doing in that pic.


And finally...

ATTENTION EAST COAST TRIP PARTICIPANTS!!!! This is Tyler, aka CTU Agent. He has a knack for excessively sleeping on road trips. So be sure to pack adequate amounts of shaving cream or any other material that will bring entertainment at his expense!

10,000 awesome points awarded to the funniest example of Tyler "torture." Seriously, this kid fell asleep during the ride from LW to Steak 'N Shake......and that's 10-15 freakin' minutes at the most. LOL


Oh yeah, despite your disapproval of the 3-point challenge, still a great report, Scott!

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^ That's in the East Coast. And also, Scott is referring to the Deep South as the Florida parks are not really considered part of the south. Florida is it's own God-like nation!


North Florida is part of the deep south. South Florida is part of New York. Orlando in the middle features the worst of both worlds, along with the unwanted crap from various other cultures.


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It is really difficult to get a good picture of Tennessee Tornado.


My contribution:


I think its from those house up on the mountain that overlook Dollywood!


Im glad someone else loves Thunderhead as much as me! I really do love that ride!


Also you should be glad you rode Mystery Mine this year because its been alot smoother this season. Last year it was bumpy and jerky in places but this year its alot better!

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Dollywood Part 2!


But first, I'll address a few comments....


You don't even want to know where you have to go to get this shot.


That is awesome! Thanks for sharing!


Lake Winnie is such a cool little park, and that last "P.M.W." photo was epic (you guys chose to represent the "P" in a pretty interesting manner, haha)


Well, Tyler has a mangina. He seems to like every ball busting ride we ever go on. Case in point, Rip Tide at Knott's.


The best 2 parks in the south? Come on now Scott your missing a few absolute gems like BeechBend, Kentucky Kingdom, The Alabama Visionland Adventure, and Wild Adventures which are in high contention for those top 2 spots... Nice report so far, lookin forward to more pics from Dollywood including the mandatory pickle shot... you better get ready cause the Hilltoppers are rollin into Tuscaloosa Sept. 13!


It was a really tough call, Ross. Visionland was a top runner, but I had to go with Dollywood instead. Close though!


Unfortunately, I will have to fail you with the mandatory pickle shot. In fact, I couldn't even tell you where the pickle is located! I've never really looked for it, actually.


And let me just pre-apologize for the ass kickin' the Hilltoppers are going to receive come September!


Nice Photo TR. 2 best parks in the south? How can you not include BGE?


As Tyler mentioned, I don't really consider Virginia to be part of 'The South,' as much as the East Coast. It may have been part of the Confederacy, but it doesn't 'feel' Southern. The same goes for Kentucky. It may have some southern tendencies and characteristics, but it isn't part of 'The South,' as much as the Midwest.


Anyway, thanks for all the comments and compliments! Enjoy the last set of pictures!


Well, that does it for this TR. Thanks for reading everybody!




We got some more Mystery Mine rides in, and my approval rating rose from "It's fun" to "Pretty darn good, but not amazing." And there is no harm in that. I wish more parks spent more coughcoughCedarFaircough... excuse me... I wish more parks more money on theming like this. It really adds so much to the overall effect.


"Unstable Shaft- Get some wood and shore up the shaft!"


Ah snap! It broke down for a while.




One last shot of Thunderhead.


The MM queue provides some nice views of Timber Canyon.


The sudden vertical drop coupled with the 90 degree turn made for a sweet 1-2 punch.


It might not be a stellar coaster, but it is one of the coolest looking rides I've ever seen.


Tyler sexes up his Vault Icee.


Timber Tower toppling.


A train goes through the big fan curve before flying through the station.


This is one of those innocent looking, trademark GCI turns. You can't from looking at it, but the train goes through this turn, riders get launched out of their seat and then thrown to the side.


It really amazes me how this coaster never seems to let up. Really, most GCIs feel that way.


Some more Thunderhead action.


You walk under Mystery Mine on the way back to Timber Canyon from River Battle. Robby pointed out how the supports are 'breaking.'


Dollywood just makes it so easy! Two giant 'hooters' with a sign that says "will work for worms"? Somebody within the creative design committee has a sense of humor.


My damage after actually riding the thing.


Tyler is loving the devilish fun. I'm pretty sure we could have hung out there for a few hours just soaking riders.


Robby does his part to ensure that the riders don't get off dry.


In about three seconds, I will be reserving my spot in hell..


Seriously, the ride was fun, but it was a freakin' blast just standing on the sidelines and drilling people! There, you have the luxury of a fence to help shield you, because you WILL get soaked!


Seeing how it was getting pretty hot, we decided to give River Battle a try.


So awesome, yet so short. For a nearly 10 year old Arrow, it's pretty damn smooth though!


This loop is so awkward, which makes it really awesome. It's like Arrow overcompensated for the wide base of the loop and the track twists too much as you go through the loop. It is a really cool effect!


This dude had a bad day...


Good ol' Blazing Fury. Just when you are saying "this isn't a coaster," it becomes a coaster.


Some more of the impressive theming and atmosphere of the park.


Somehow they managed to take a cheap, janky style Ferris wheel and not make it so janky.


The majority of the park's flat rides are located in this section. I found myself forgetting this part of the park even existed, honestly.


Well, we decided not to do the VeggieTales coaster because it had a little bit of a wait. But here's a shot for all of you diehard credit whores! Cheers!


I was really impressed by the change in this section of the park! During my visit in 2006, the entire County Fair area was very open and just didn't seem to feel right. However, the trees have now grown out and the entire area is really nice.


We hopped over to the County Fair section of the park since Tyler and Robby didn't have the VeggieTales credit.


I had one big cinnamon joygasm! Holy crap was this stuff good, and well worth the $5!


I had heard all about this cinnamon bread and had to try it...


We ran into the Icee Bear! Given that Tyler, with his Vault Icee in hand, ran over and professed his love for the Icee Bear. I think they might have exchanged numbers.


This has got to be one of my favorite shoot-the-chutes/flumes even though it doesn't get the riders terribly wet.


Some more of that awesome theming... and it actually works!


As I mentioned, the food is half the appeal of Dollywood!


Nice little fountain in the park.


Holy freakin' crap! Where's a machete when you need one? Do you realize how much relish could be made from a seven foot cucumber?

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^Whoops! Thanks!


Here's the second Dare Devil Falls picture I meant to post. The second TT picture was just accidental double upload.


Despite being a hot Saturday, we were able to walk right into the station for Dare Devil Falls. It's really tucked away in its own little space.

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Ok, and let me just let everyone know...SCOTT IS A DOUCHEBAG! He sprayed a family with the water gun things over and over again, as a mom was shielding her crying son who had just got water in his eyes. Does Scott show mercy? Hell No! He is a merciless bitch.

At least he didn't steal your toys.


The Icee Bear pic is hilarious and troubling at the same time.


Finally, I have to stop reading DW reports around lunchtime.

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Great photos! I really love the one of the topple tower, with Thunderhead in the background! That "Nana's House" shirt reminds me of something from the movie "Grandma's Boy".



Oh, and BTW...Arrow didn't shape up the "last few years of operation". They were always that great!



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Finally, I have to stop reading DW reports around lunchtime.

Agreed. Kinda takes the zing out of the old Easy Mac. Even my coworker was saying how great Aunt Grannie's was on his recent family trip.


(Looks at box of Wonka Bottlecaps and cheeseburger flavored Pringles) *sigh*

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