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Photo TR: Dollywood '10...featuring Adventure Mountain


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This past weekend we accepted an invite to Dollywood. The forecast was for rain, but hey, the visit was free, and we were REALLY looking forward to the new ropes course at the park. Can you blame us?

 

Anyway, we arrived at the park on Sunday morning around 9:30 to a light to moderate crowd, stepped inside, and took the usual left turn towards Thunderhead. Considering the impending doom of afternoon thunderstorms, and what we figured would obviously be a smaller capacity attraction, we decided to head straight for Adventure Mountain.

 

Instead, we took a quick ride on Mystery Mine since it was a walk-on, and were rewarded with our best ride yet on that thing. Not sure if I caught a "magic seat," or the ride has finally "settled in," or whatever, but it didn't bash me once, and the family jewels managed to avoid the usual crotch punch from Gerstlauer.

 

Okay, now my thoughts on Mountain Adventure. This may sound like a stretch, but I sincerely think this may be the best attraction any park in the states has added in the last 20+ years. Seriously, it's that impressive. I honestly didn't arrive expecting to be blown away. I expected a solid attraction from Dollywood, but moreso a "once in a while kind of attraction."

 

Let's put it this way, we easily spent a good 2 1/2+ hours on Mountain Adventure....and probably could've spent more! I can't tell you how family-friendly this thing is. It literally incorporates something for everyone. We constantly saw whole families exploring it together, because each station along each course provides a challenge for every degree of difficulty.

 

In speaking with an assistant, she mentioned that it's not uncommon for AM to have a 2-3 hour line on the weekends! People LOVE it.

 

I will say this though, I'm stopping well short of the "more parks need something like this" bandwagon. The reason is simple. Although I LOVE the concept, something like this should be reserved for chains like Disney, Busch, and Universal. The problem is that it requires a lot of employees to run it. And by employees, I mean mostly competent, pleasant, patient, and efficient people willing to run it correctly. It's a whole different beast than sitting there pushing buttons and fighting the urge to text your friends about what happened on the Hills last night.

 

When we arrived, we only waited about 15 minutes to get onto the course. I just can't imagine Cedar Fair or Six Flags employees being able to handle what the Dollywood employees were able to do....with a smile. In fact, I'd bet the house it's impossible. And furthermore, I wouldn't trust 90% of them to do it either.

 

Anyway, I'll try and let the pics explain more.

 

***DISCLAIMER - Some of the pics featured in this report were taken while navigating Adventure Mountain. On our second trip around, I mistakenly forgot to place the camera in the l.ocker with everything else. I didn't realize it until up on the course. Since the place was pretty empty, I carefully stood off to the side for each shot, and then placed the camera back into the zipped cargo pocket. An attendant did see me once, and after realizing I was no harm to anyone, let it go with a simple nod of the head.

I STRONGLY suggest not following my lead. Please get a l.ocker for all your belongings, and follow all park rules. ***

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A day at the park means it's time to reach into the Bat Cave and put on my theme park armor. Hey, it's a plaid, plaid world.

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Yay.

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Let's get right to it, shall we?

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We loved these posters! They also sell them (full $17.00, and smaller size $8.00) in the gift shop.

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An overview of the structure. In the foreground is Camp Teachittoome, for those rascally youngins.

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The aforementioned "camp." Forgive me, as I forgot to snap a pic of the height restriction signs. :(

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As you approach the main entrance, you walk under one of the towers for Course 1 - "Geyser Gorge."

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The whole thing immediately reminds me of the Wilderness Lodge at WDW....and that's a VERY GOOD thing.

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These are the cool signs for each of the three courses.

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Fairly obvious, but this is the Geyser Gorge course.

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Another view looking back towards the geyser portion.

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And the money shot...kind of. I suppose it would truly be the money shot if someone caught my epic fail of getting caught by this bastard.

There's about 6-7 geyser spouts that go off in sequence. I stood there trying my best to time the sequence. I *thought* I had it down to a science, until I got half way, realized I didn't and tried valiantly to avoid the blast.

It didn't work. I leaned out as far as possible, but it drenched my entire backside, and all of my right foot.

I shook my fist at it, and promised I'd be back to conquer it later.

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Anyway, as mentioned in the intro, lockers are provided near the entrance. They are .50, and do not have a time limit. Yes, you read that correctly....50 cents! Awesome.

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The entrance.

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Then the queue winds its way around underneath the structure. Most of it is pretty much shaded from the sun, with plenty of misters and fans.

There are also a series of big flat panels with video instructions on how to attach the three clips on your harness before an attendant eyeballs your height and size, and helps you into a harness.

Next, you receive a final check on your harness, and your "safety rope" is attached.

Then they attach you to the steel guide rail, and you're off. The simplicity and efficiency really impressed me.

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We went through all three courses once, wandered around the rest of the park, and then returned to do it again.

When we returned, this is what we saw....it was almost empty.

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It *may* or may not have had something to do with those black clouds rolling in.....

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....and the fact that it basically becomes Dollywood's New 2010 Lightning Rod whenever a thunderstorm approaches.

The crew is quick to evacuate the whole structure based on local radar.

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Did I mention it was about to rain? A lot?

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Rain.

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Me Scott. Me big man. Me wait out storm. Me blurry.

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This is the other "money shot" of the Black Bear Cliff course. It provides a pretty good, "okay, hang on a second, let me take a good breath, reposition my feet, and make sure I don't fall and make an ass out of myself moment."

Neither of us were concerned about the height or anything. Just the fact that if you did slip or fall, you'd probably slam the rock pretty good.

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The disappointing part about it raining is that they close this course until it's completely dry.

Apparently, the rock becomes quite slick. Personally, I would have thought the steel beam that you balance on would be the real issue, but I was wrong.

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Okay, now for a few closer looks at the structure and its courses, which might help to explain it a bit further if there's any questions.

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As you can see, when you exit your chosen rope challenge from the right, you end up on the middle platform.

From here, you can see how the steel guides allow you to walk around the platform on a grid.

This enables you to move out of other people's way, wait for a friend, or simply size up your next rope challenge.

Again, this thing is laid out perfectly.

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Here's a close look at how your "safety line" attaches to the steel guide rail.

Also, that "Black 38" tag is for the "Coke Cam" system of cameras mounted to various sections of each course.

It still has its glitches, but basically, when you're finally finished and you chose to exit, you can go to a touch screen and enter your number for a ten second or so video of yourself somewhere on the course.

If it works correctly, and it's you on the clip, then it prompts you to enter your email in order to have it sent for free to your inbox.

It brought up my video, but it failed to send the video clip. Oh well. It'll be a cool feature when it works correctly.

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Shannon, just before heading back from the furthest point of Geyser Gorge.

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It may look like she'd standing on that green steel beam, but it's just an illusion. Oh, and for the record, someone in this picture laughed at me for getting caught by the geyser the first time around.

Also, someone in this picture wussed out the first time around the geyser part.

Someone not pictured got the last laugh when someone pictured also failed later to successfully navigate it on her first try.

 

She did redeem herself later though. ;)

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On the far left you can see the stationary steps. On the far right, the "wuss out" stairs. The "wuss" bridge is featured in the previous two pics. Each section has this option.

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This was taken from the highest point of the entire structure. There is one challenge rope up here with its own platform Upon completion, you get to ring a huge bell to signify you're the master of Dolly's universe....or something.

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And here's a look out at the tower section of the Black Bear course. Below is the covered queue.

 

And finally, one last thing before Part Two....Dollywood has something else "New for 2010"........

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....Drive thru service!!!

 

 

Stay tuned for more.

Edited by BeemerBoy
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I only read this thread because I saw who the last poster was, and figured an inappropriate comment about your wife would be here. Needless to say I am disappointed.

 

It wouldn't be a Dollywood report without photos of some fatty on a scooter. I suspect there will be a part 2? You already teased some of us with photos from the Grist Mill.

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Thanks for the compliments, everyone.

 

I can't wait for this in the summer, it looks like the Toverland/Scandi ropes courses on crack!

I went to the park index for comparison's sake, and found some definite similarities. While the Toverland course definitely seems overall more physically demanding with a heightened sense of "danger," I think the company that built Adventure Mountain was able to strike a very good balance with their design.

 

For an attraction designed to encourage the widest group of guests possible, it has a really good selection of ropes with varying degrees of "oh crap" moments. The one thing I will say is that the challenges are significantly more difficult when you choose not to use your safety line for leverage.

 

Also, I highly recommend trying to cross the geysers on your own first, without any help from the guides along the course. There is a trick to crossing without catching the crotch shot of water, but what's the fun in that? Heck, I abide by the Dan handbook for water attractions, but even I didn't mind the element of "danger" involved with trying to cross without getting drenched. It definitely helps raise the heart rate a bit!

 

And another note of interest. After completing each course, you must exit to the bottom level. Stay to your right on the flight of stairs if you choose to continue to another course, or stay to your left to exit the attraction. My only nitpic is that there needs to be slightly better signage around the "exit" points of each course. Too often we saw people trying to go the wrong direction until they realized there was a "stopper" which didn't allow access.

Edited by BeemerBoy
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Thanks for the report! Adventure Mountain looks like it is quite ummm...well, a cool lil' adventure.

 

I was sorely disappointed as I was going to try and tie in a weekend visit to Dollywood while on a business trip to Blacksburg, VA last week (not too far of a drive from there). While I was willing to drive my own vehicle down and back and visit the park and drive back on my own time, I was told that I needed to rent and have the vehicle back to the rental place by Friday. I guess corporate guidelines have changed that no longer allow this...even if they aren't paying for any of the personal time or mileage.

 

Perhaps if I was higher up the food chain (or a Congressman - cough) I could do it all on the companies (or taxpayers - cough) dime!!

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I only read this thread because I saw who the last poster was, and figured an inappropriate comment about your wife would be here. Needless to say I am disappointed.

 

 

Well, Joe, are you going to supply the inappropriate comment? .....I'm still waiting......

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Also, let it be known, that I am not a big fan of getting drenched at parks and walking around with my underwear plastered to and creeping up my butt. But I braved the geyser! And.....got my butt soaked the first time for being too slow. Even with my catlike aversion to water, let it be known that I braved it a second time, running full out, and not using those guide ropes, and.....success! Quite proud of myself, though still had a wet butt.

 

Also, as it was pouring rain later, rode Thunderhead. Track was wet and fast! One of the best rides. Totally worth getting pelted in the face with rain bombs!

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Awesome pictures of AM! I wish I was able to take more when I was there several weeks ago. It's hard when you have the entire family in tow. But, you are exactly right with your assessment of the attraction going into just any park. This would never work at a 6F or CF. Far to many polite, tolerant, efficient, and knowledgeable employees are needed to run this entire apparatus. I don't think they hire the manpower with an attention span long enough to warrant it. Dollywood is a perfect place for this and it fits in nicely with the entire area. My family spent an easy 2 hours playing on the structure, and there are still a few corners that we didn't get to. We can't wait to get back in a few weeks. Adventure Mountain is seriously an awesome attraction!

 

Guy "I got my junk hosed by a geyser too! So I guess you could say when AM gets excited, it squirts! And that's a good thing! " Koepp

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Also, let it be known, that I am not a big fan of getting drenched at parks and walking around with my underwear plastered to and creeping up my butt. But I braved the geyser! And.....got my butt soaked the first time for being too slow.

 

I think she just came close to the inappropriate comment herself!

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Nice report!

 

Do you have to pay for this ride or is it free? If its free i can expect the capacity to be quite low..

AM is included in admission, which is just plain awesome. I'd say head there early in the day if it appears the park will be crowded. This is an attraction for active people, so many will not even attempt it, like the people in the scooters - I loved that photo, BTW!

 

I was at DW on March 28th, and morning rain had cleared the park. When we arrived it was raining lightly, and the place was empty. It rained lightly on and off the rest of the day. After lots of coaster rides I tried out AM while my friends were eating lunch. There was basically no line, it was raining, and I was wearing raingear and waterproof shoes. I didn't really have any traction problems, and the geyser was not working this day - I didn't even know about it until I read your TR!

 

I wanted to try this course out because I used to be very afraid of heights. I have gotten over that by going to parks, and I wanted to see if it would bug me. I did all three courses with no problems, and had a great time. While on the course, I saw someone get told to put their camera away, so I waited and asked someone to take a photo of me when we got to the bottom (below). It was so much fun I did the whole thing again later with my friends. I highly recommend doing it, even if you have problems with heights. It might help you get over it, and you're perfectly safe.

 

My only complaint is that the metal piece that hooks you into the track makes very loud banging sounds as you pass through the joints between rail sections. With a few people around clanking along, there was enough noise to nearly give me a headache.

 

Two trips through AM and about 30 coaster rides made for a great first visit for me to DW. -Mike

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Me, soaked after doing Adventure Mountain in the rain, but glad I did it.

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