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Photo TR: Almost a Week in Pigeon Forge


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Day 1

Dollywood

The Island

Day 2

Smokey Mountain Alpine Coaster

Dollywood

Day 3

Ober Gatlinburg

Dollywood

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Last week, I had the opportunity to visit Pigeon Forge for the very first time. I was there from Saturday to Wednesday, and somehow I managed to get into Dollywood every single day of the trip. I also visited Ober Gatlinburg, The Island, and a few other things.

 

I'm pretty terrible at story telling and captions but I hope the quality of my photographs more or less makes up for that.

 

On Saturday, I went to Dollywood for the first time in my life. I was able to meet up with one of my best enthusiast friends Alex (wildstangalex) and it was no doubt a fantastic day. The crowds were very light due to a crappy weather forecast, but it didn't rain a drop on us. We bought the q-bots in advance just to be safe, but only ended up using it 4 times (2 on Firechaser/2 on Mine). Not a big loss though, since we did end up using it to bypass a few lines, and it was only $20 anyway.

 

Overall, every ride at the park ended up exceeding my expectations. The "big 5" is probably one of the best coaster lineups of any park I've ever been to. Here's some thoughts I have on them:

 

Thunderhead - Incredibly smooth for the first 2 rides, brutal for the rest of the week (in both trains). Easily my favorite GCI with the long layout and tons of airtime.

Mystery Mine - Holy balls airtime on the first steep drop. There were a couple of 'banger moments', but overall I didn't find the ride 'rough'. The dark show elements complimented the ride perfectly in my opinion, and the finale is my new favorite element combo on any coaster.

Firechaser Express - I liked this ride much more than Verbolten. It's tame enough to be extremely family friendly, but has enough going for it to be tons of fun. The event building combined with the reverse launch was extremely clever. The radio calls coming from the firetruck was a detail I didn't notice until later in the week; the park is full of things like that.

Wild Eagle - I was expecting a slightly-better-than-Gatekeeper-wingrider, but I actually really enjoyed it. Dare I say I like Wild Eagle more than Kumba. The ride is beautiful, the theming is beautiful, there's some decent forces in the ride, there's hangtime, and even some floater airtime.

Tennessee Tornado - Arrow really did find Jesus while designing this one. And by Jesus, of course I mean Alan Schilke. The layout is perfect. It's not too long, but long enough to be amazing. The first drop has great airtime in the back row. The final hill into the brake run had absolutely terrifying 'surprise!' artime in the front row. This is most likely my favorite traditional looper. Again, better than Kumba. Much better, honestly.

 

Anyway, here's my pictures from day 1 (Saturday). Hope you guys enjoy them. There's not a lot of coaster pictures in this batch, but there will be a lot more later.

 

For higher quality versions of these, feel free to view them here.

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One of my favorite things about this park is the employees. They have personalities. Everyone working there just seemed to be so happy and enthusiastic about their job. It was a nice switch of pace from BGW, that's for sure.

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We shamelessly collected this one. Credit, one and done.

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The train nerd in me was very excited about this. There isn't much of a 'view' from the train, but a cool ride through part of the Smokies. Needless to say I was covered in soot afterwards.

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We got cinnamon bread from the Grist Mill. It was good. Very good, as a matter of fact.

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It's probably worth saying that this train absolutely hauls through the track.

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Wild Eagle through the trees.

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I understand the need for that wooden structure at the bottom left of the picture, but I can't say it was as photogenic as the coaster.

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Wild Eagle really is a beautiful ride. Much more so than Gatekeeper, in my opinion.

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Blazing Fury was interesting. Not something I'd wait in a long line for. The back row had some unfortunately painful airtime on the drops.

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More pictures of Firechaser are coming, I promise.

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Kids in the front row heiling Hitler for the camera. Classy.

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Mystery Mine really is a very brilliant ride. More photos of this will be coming as well.

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Hah, look at that nerd.

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The layout is just full of airtime. Nothing too intense, but a whole lot of it.

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One more picture of the Grist Mill to close the set. Thanks for looking! Lots more pictures coming soon!

Edited by zachclarke2
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Awesome pics! Dollywood is a Great park. And their cinnamon bread is heavenly. I personally am not a huge fan of the mystery mine, but I LOVE Tennessee tornado. That coaster packs a punch! I wish it was longer though. Did you ride an alpine coaster while you were there? That's one of my favorite things in that area. And the team to ober Gatlinburg is so cool!

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Great pictures so far, can't wait for more!

Thank you!

Amazing photos so far! I can't wait to see more! Getting me excited to make a trip out to Dollywood this year!

Your excitement is justified, it's a fantastic park!

Awesome pics! Dollywood is a Great park. And their cinnamon bread is heavenly. I personally am not a huge fan of the mystery mine, but I LOVE Tennessee tornado. That coaster packs a punch! I wish it was longer though. Did you ride an alpine coaster while you were there? That's one of my favorite things in that area. And the team to ober Gatlinburg is so cool!

Thanks! Mystery Mine ended up being my favorite ride in the park, but admittedly all 5 of the 'big' coasters were amazing. And yes I did ride the alpine coaster, that'll be in my next post.

Love this picture! B&M track just looks so sexy!

Thanks, I love it too.

 

 

 

That day, we left Dollywood about 30 minutes after closing and went to the Island to get some pictures of the ferris wheel. From what I understand, the Island is a new establishment, as there was tons of construction going on around the place. I ended up only getting pictures of the ferris wheel aside from eating dinner due to low time. I went back later in the week, but didn't bring my camera along because of the threatening looking skies. So these are the only pictures I have from here, sadly.

 

For higher quality versions of these, take a look here.

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Unfortunately for us, Ole Smokey Moonshine was still under construction. Even more unfortunate, it totally ruined this view.

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But I suppose it looks nice enough to post.

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Every 30 minutes, the fountain will 'dance' to a song. I forget what song it was playing when I took the photo. Something by Tom Petty maybe, but I have no idea.

 

Edit: I was "kindly" reminded that the song playing was Jump by Van Halen. I apologize for screwing that up. Won't happen again. Ok Alex?

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The ferris wheel is the same as Capital Wheel at National Harbor (Chance), but this one was running a different lighting program.

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The changing color patterns combined with the movement of the wheel definitely makes for some cool photos.

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It's a small set of pictures today. Thanks for looking!

Edited by zachclarke2
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Great photos! In fact, going to add some of your photos to the Park Index!

Ok, thanks!

Nice pics! Just shows you how amazing the atmosphere their is! How long were the lines?

lol what lines? Everything was pretty much a walkon besides Firechaser and Mystery Mine on Saturday and Wednesday. Wednesday was the only day all week that had a decent forecast. Here's my ride count if anyone cares:

 

Thunderhead - 7 rides

Mystery Mine - 10 rides

Firechaser Express - 7 rides

Wild Eagle - 13 rides

Tennessee Tornado - 12 rides

Blazing Fury - 2 rides

Sideshow Spin - 1 ride

 

I could have gotten a lot more (probably triple that), but I spent a lot of time taking photos and video and just relaxing/enjoying the park atmosphere.

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I'm looking forward to my first trip to Dollywood one day. I've heard nothing but rave reviews of the park, and would love to see for myself how awesome it is! Amazing photos, by the way! I especially love the Wild Eagle and ferris wheel shots!

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I must say I had sky high expectations going to the park, as I had visited Silver Dollar City just last year, and that blew me away. Well Dollywood managed to blow me away yet again. The attention to detail in every aspect of the park is incredible. Not only is it a Theme Park, it is a park with a theme appropriate to the region it's in. Every single staff member was over the top friendly and accommodating. And not fake-friendly like Chick-fil-A, this was genuine southern hospitality, at its finest. I thoroughly enjoyed the 5 major coasters, and each one surprised me more than the last. After hearing glowing reviews of Tennessee Tornado, I expected it to be good, for an Arrow. Well, it was not only good for an Arrow, but I enjoyed it more than any B&M looper I've been on even. WOW! The food was quite excellent as well, but there was not as much variety as Silver Dollar City.

 

I could go on and on about the park, but I think Zach has done a pretty good job with that. I just can't wait to get back to the Great Smoky Mountains.

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Spectacular photos. I love that last one of the mill and the photos of the wheel.

 

It's nice to see Mystery Mine get some love too. After riding it last year I put it on my top 10 list and was surprised to see all of the complaints about roughness. I don't find the ride rough at all and the theming is outstanding for a non Disney / Universal park. I think it also has the best finale of any coaster not named El Toro.

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Great photos. I really need to get down to Dollywood one of these days. I always hear from everyone about how great it is. Might even give my beloved holidayworld a run for its money as my favorite park.

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I'm looking forward to my first trip to Dollywood one day. I've heard nothing but rave reviews of the park, and would love to see for myself how awesome it is! Amazing photos, by the way! I especially love the Wild Eagle and ferris wheel shots!

Thank you! It's a fantastic park that needs to be visited by every enthusiast at least once. I'm already planning on going back next year around winter time, actually. I would love to see your pictures of the park, you take great ones!

Some of these pictures are so good they could be on the Dollywood website.

Like, literally, you should email Dollywood about that Wild Eagle picture that someone commented on earlier, and most of the others.

I'm not sure they would be able to do anything with them, but thanks for the compliment.

I must say I had sky high expectations going to the park, as I had visited Silver Dollar City just last year, and that blew me away. Well Dollywood managed to blow me away yet again. The attention to detail in every aspect of the park is incredible. Not only is it a Theme Park, it is a park with a theme appropriate to the region it's in. Every single staff member was over the top friendly and accommodating. And not fake-friendly like Chick-fil-A, this was genuine southern hospitality, at its finest. I thoroughly enjoyed the 5 major coasters, and each one surprised me more than the last. After hearing glowing reviews of Tennessee Tornado, I expected it to be good, for an Arrow. Well, it was not only good for an Arrow, but I enjoyed it more than any B&M looper I've been on even. WOW! The food was quite excellent as well, but there was not as much variety as Silver Dollar City.

 

I could go on and on about the park, but I think Zach has done a pretty good job with that. I just can't wait to get back to the Great Smoky Mountains.

I 100% agree with all this. I had high hopes and I was blown away in every single way possible.

Spectacular photos. I love that last one of the mill and the photos of the wheel.

 

It's nice to see Mystery Mine get some love too. After riding it last year I put it on my top 10 list and was surprised to see all of the complaints about roughness. I don't find the ride rough at all and the theming is outstanding for a non Disney / Universal park. I think it also has the best finale of any coaster not named El Toro.

Thank you! I don't keep a top 10 anymore, but I'm torn on whether or not Mystery Mine would be in it. However, I wouldn't be lying if I said all 5 of the bigger coasters would be in my top 25 (or so, idk).

Stunning photos. I would love to visit this park.

Thanks, you should definitely visit. Like, right now. Go.

Great photos. I really need to get down to Dollywood one of these days. I always hear from everyone about how great it is. Might even give my beloved holidayworld a run for its money as my favorite park.

I personally liked the park a lot more than Holiday World, but that's just from a 'park' standpoint, if that makes any sense at all. I have yet to attend Holiwood Nights but if I did I imagine I would have a much higher opinion of the park.

Dollywood is truly a spectacular park and is one of my favorite places - ANYWHERE.

 

Better than Kumba???? - naahh

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Sunday morning had a pretty significant downpour, with occasional breaks. We decided to go to the Muscle Car museum and Knifeworks as they were indoor and away from the rain. The Muscle Car museum was interesting and had a ton of displays, while Knifeworks may not have been the best thing to go do. It seems reasonable enough to realize I don't fit in with the 'knife and gun' crowd, so I'm honestly not sure why I thought it was a good idea.

 

After lunch, the rain more or less cleared, so we went to check out the new Smokey Mountain Alpine Coaster. It's only about a 10 minute drive west of Dollywood. It's moderately expensive ($15 for a single ride), as it's a standalone attraction. The line was about 25 minutes for my first ride and a little shorter for the second.

 

I added it to my credit list. Hate me.

 

It was a lot of fun actually, there's a big sense of out-of-control feeling that you don't get on larger coasters, despite the fact you never go above 30 mph. It's built on the side of the mountain so the track rarely gets above 10 or so feet off the ground. It's a ton of fun, I enjoyed myself immensely, and feel like I got my money's worth (shocking). My only peeve with the ride is that it's not idiot proof, so occasionally there will be someone who slows down to almost a stop. My uncle was caught behind one of those people on the first run, and he seemed fairly upset about it. Luckily neither of us had that problem on the second ride.

 

I hope more of these start appearing in the states. The fact that there are already 3 more planned to open in that area by next year is really promising (Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Ober Gatlinburg). There's one at Wisp Resort in Maryland that I'll pass if I make my way to CP next year, so if I head up I'll definitely stop.

 

Here's a (mounted!) POV I got of my first ride, with permission of course. Sorry about the raindrops on the lens, but on my second ride it was raining a bit harder and my footage was just useless. Be sure to watch in HD:

 

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This is more or less all you could see of it from the ground. It's the only picture I got because it started to rain and I didn't want to get my camera wet. Sorry!

Edited by zachclarke2
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Good POV! I found out quite recently that there is an alpine coaster two hours away from where I live, have to check it soon. So, a question for you all, can these be considered credits? No? I'm just curious.

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^ I personally would consider them credits because they have a lift, are gravity powered, and are on a track. But obviously it's totally up to the individual person. I can see why someone wouldn't count it.

 

I wouldn't consider an alpine slide a credit, for what that's worth.

Edited by zachclarke2
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At this point, I think it comes down to one's opinion of what's a "real" roller coaster. It has track, lift hill, cars, a boarding station... what says it's not? The terrain? The fact it can never go uphill? Personally, I'd count it. I'm sure more than half of active members here are credit whores in certain levels anyways!

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Great pics and report! Very refreshing to read a well thought out report with no grammatical errors or unnecessary CAPITALIZATION!

Also very subtle watermark on your pics.

 

Looking forward to many more!

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Great pics and report! Very refreshing to read a well thought out report with no grammatical errors or unnecessary CAPITALIZATION!

Also very subtle watermark on your pics.

 

Looking forward to many more!

Thanks!

 

Sunday afternoon, during a gap in the rain, I decided to go back to Dollywood for a couple of hours before dinner in hopes of getting some video. Sucks for me, all of the rides were closed due to lightning. For lack of something better to do, I decided to go towards the back of the park and take some pictures of Wild Eagle's station.

 

I'm glad I did, because after a few minutes of walking around the station, the ride crew let me on to the platform to chat and take some pictures. I didn't have a lot of time there, but I managed to talk to some of the crew and get a few pictures. I was having facts and ride stats thrown at me nonstop it seemed. Almost all of the trains' electronic aspects were explained to me in depth, but admittedly I don't remember most of them. I may have only been in the park for a little over an hour, and I may have not gotten any of the things I went for, but I would definitely say it was more than worth my visit.

 

Of course, my luck, rides would be opening at pretty much the exact instant I had to leave. Oh well. I'd still have another 3 days at the park anyway, so who am I to complain?

 

I have no idea if any of the crew will ever read this, but I want to thank them for being so kind and hospitable.

 

Here's my pictures. The quality isn't quite as good as some of the others I've posted, but they aren't too bad.

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Wild Eagle's station has got to be the most elegant and beautiful rollercoaster station I've ever seen. I should have a few more pictures of it later in the report...

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I was told all about these electronics. Unfortunately I don't remember enough to thoroughly explain it again. Sorry about that.

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It's interesting how the track of a wing coaster more or less just sits on the platform in the station, as opposed to being beneath it. Obviously this is because the track and seats are level with each other.

 

Thanks for reading, next update will be Ober Gatlinburg.

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