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Photo TR - Dollywood 10/9/09


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So this is my first go-round at a photo trip report on here, so go easy on me if it's a little below par for the course. It's almost almost a month late, so forgive my tardyness.

 

My friend Jen and I were able to get free tickets through a contact at work here (AA), so starting the trip off knowing we would be saving $55 was a nice bonus. We also decided to make it a day trip from Birmingham (about 4 1/2 hours each way) to save money on a hotel, as well. This would be both of our first trips to Dollywood, and for me, the last "major" park in the South that I had left to visit (the only "not so major" parks I have left are Lake Winnie and Freestyle).

 

We ended up getting to Dollywood around noon or so, after making a couple wrong turns and taking the long way through the monstrous tourist trap that is Pigeon Forge. After arriving at the park, we picked up a park map and headed on our way back towards Tennesee Tornado. On our way towards Tornado, we stopped at the Bald Eagle Preserve and snapped a few pictures of our national birds in all their majestic beauty, and then stopped by our first coaster of the day, Blazing Fury.

 

Oddly enough, Blazing Fury would be our longest wait of the day, about half an hour, probably due to the fact that the ride is ridiculously long and low capacity. Either way, it was a silly ride that somehow gets that coaster title with three gravity-induced drops, including a splash down (take that, Sheikra/Griffon/Diamondback!). The best part of the experience was the operators' "Firrrrrrrrre in the hole!"

 

After leaving Blazing Fury, we headed to Tennessee Tornado for a cycle on the only Arrow Looper to not have a 10-foot loop after a 160-foot hill. The result? A CRAZY ride! Loved the hangtime going through the Tornado's massive loop, and for an Arrow looper, this thing was almost as smooth as butter, until we jumped up the final bunny hop into the brakes and slammed our knees on the front of the car.

 

Once we shook off the beating our knees took, we walked on over towards the Mystery Mine and stopped for a minute or two to check out the construction of Adventure Mountain, which was coming along nicely. Then we made it to Mystery Mine for our first Euro Fighter experience. The wait was pretty short, only a few minutes, and we got on the front row of our train and headed into the mine. I really enjoyed this ride, the theming, vertical lifts, and past-vertical drops were tons of fun, but the outdoor section after the first big drop was a little rough. The OTSR's weren't doing me any favors, especially considering I'm 6'5". However, I still enjoyed the quick turns and drops of that section. Then we went back inside, made one more insane climb up the 2nd vertical lift, and went flying through the grand finale with the barrel roll and insane hangtime of the dive loop into the final brakes. Definitely had a very fun time on the ride, and I'm looking forward to my next Euro Fighter credit.

 

After our spin on Mystery Mine we headed over to the crown jewel of the park, GCI's wild and wonderful Thunderhead. As is always the case, I was awestruck by the beauty of the structure, as nobody builds a more visually pleasing coaster than GCI. I took a few nerd pics, and we headed into line. We took our place in line for the front row, with a virtual walk-on wait time, but had to wait a couple extra cycles as they put the 2nd train on the tracks and ran it empty a few times to warm it up.

 

Once we got on, Thunderhead was nothing short of spectacular, and I can see why it was voted #1 in the world when it was first built. The quick turns, short pops of airtime throughout, the station fly-through, and the ground-hugging finale was simply amazing. The only small drawback was that some of the turns towards the end were starting to vibrate a bit, but it was obviously nowhere near the roughness of most wooden coasters. We immediately got back in line and did a back seat row, but found out that the front was a much more exciting ride. It was a bit smoother, and had lots more airtime, as there aren't any big drops to speak of and no real "yank" airtime that you often times experience in the back seat of woodies.

 

After a very good steak tip meal at the Backstage Restaurant and a subsequent short wait for a rain storm to let up, we headed on over to the County Fair section of the park to get a spin on the VeggieTales Sideshow Spin kiddie coaster, which was oh so exhilarating (as most kiddie coasters are). After our quick stop at VeggieTales to credit whore, we went back to reride the big coasters again. We got another lap on the Tornado, this time in the back row of the car to avoid another knee-banging. Got another lap on Mystery Mine, this time in the back row, which was just as fun as the front row. And then we got two more laps on Thunderhead, once in the middle of the train, and our second time in the front row.

 

By this time, it was after 5 and just about closing time, so we departed Dollywood and made our long journey back to Birmingham.

 

All in all, Dollywood was a very fun park. The old country theming and friendly ride operators made the experience a pleasant and enjoyable one. It definitely had a great quality vs. quantity ratio, as 3 of the 5 coasters were reridable. As far as the coasters are concerned, the ratings are as follows:

 

Blazing Fury: 4/10, 1 ride

Tennesee Tornado: 8/10, 2 rides

Mystery Mine: 9/10, 2 rides

Thunderhead: 10/10, 4 rides

VeggieTales Sideshow Spin: 3/10, 1 ride

 

Pictures to follow in the next post!

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Enjoy!

697160069_handsup.jpg.d94cb4f52c375b438c9a832801d512d0.jpg

Hands up!

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Classic GCI turn.

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My favorite picture of the trip.

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I understand why the operators wear ear plugs!

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First drop.

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Beautiful ride.

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Thunderhead!

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Kinda rough for tall people through here.

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Mystery Mine!

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Brown track rocks.

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What a monstrous loop!

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Some good TT sign action.

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Fiiiiiirrrrrre in the hole!

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1st Place at credit whoring!

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A real scarecrow!

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Pretty flower display

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Oddly enough, Blazing Fury would be our longest wait of the day, about half an hour, probably due to the fact that the ride is ridiculously long and low capacity.

 

I don't have the numbers, but Blazing Fury actually has excellent capacity. Sounds more like they weren't running enough trains. (Not that that changes your bad experience or anything.)

 

Anyway, nice TR!

 

And you should definitely check out Lake Winnie as soon as possible. I made the mistake of continually driving by it, too. But it's an excellent little park.

 

Looking forward to more photo trip reports!

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