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Glad you had a great time and loved Lightning Rod! Rikki and I were both very impressed with the park when we visited last year. That said...

 

The only real constructive feedback I can give for the ride was in the operations department falling under the "ride rules" category. We had one of our riders who was RIGHT on the edge of not being able to to ride. The first time he rode, he was able to get the bar down and he fit just fine. The second time he rode, he was having more trouble so I went to push down on his bar to help just like I would on every other ride in the world, and this angry older ride op named "Al" came over and shouted at me "DO NOT TOUCH THAT BAR HE HAS TO DO IT ON HIS OWN IF YOU TOUCH THAT BAR AGAIN YOU ARE NOT RIDING THIS COASTER ANYMORE!!!!!"

 

I'm sorry what? Excuse me? This ride is already difficult enough for people to get on and you want to make it even HARDER for people? No, sorry, that's not cool with me. I cannot think of another ride anywhere in the world where you couldn't give the guy next to you literally a "nudge" on the bar to make it down that TINY extra to get the green light especially when the guy JUST RODE the coaster. The ride ops would NOT help anyone push the bar down on Lightning Rod, yet they had no problem pushing the bar down and helping on Thunderhead or Wild Eagle. This needs to be fixed, IMO.

 

I 100% agree with you. I, too, was one of those "on the edge" riders who, on my first three rides on Lightning Rod, managed to get the lap bar down by myself without issue. However, the fourth ride, I was having an issue getting the bar down enough for the sensors, and the ride ops just look at you as you struggle to push it down yourself. I was even scolded when I whacked it once with a closed fist in order for it to budge more, getting told I could only push with open palms.

 

Fortunately, I got it to go down that extra bit on my own, but it annoyed me. As you said, Robb, I can't think of another park anywhere that has this rule for any of their rides, so I can't think of any logical reason why they'd implement it. It artificially slows down operations and frankly, creates more embarrassing situations for guests that could otherwise be avoided. I know my weight issue is ultimately only my fault (and I'm dealing with it), and I totally get it if I can't ride safely because of my size, but the illogical policy essentially turned my situation into a spectacle as I kept pushing down while several ride ops just stared at me when at any other park in the world I'd get the extra nudge and everyone's happy.

 

Aside from that, the park is awesome! The cinnamon bread was delicious! If only there was a way to eat the cinnamon bread while riding Lightning Rod, then the place would be perfect...(though thoughts like that are probably part of my problem).

Edited by michaellynn4
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Glad to see TPR is doing a tour again. I've had the wonderful pleasure of

Going on three of them and the amount of time and work Robb

And Elissa put into it is incredible. So please say thank you until blue in the face to them lol. Loved the kid west tour..,with the city museum. I only got minor bumps and scrapes! Have fun everyone, ride on!

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It was great running into you at Carowinds! I'm so jealous you got to ride Lightning Rod. We were going to visit dollywood but decided not to since it was down for the start of our vacation. Oh well, we'll eventually make our first visit there.

 

Quick Carowinds question: did you interact with the "townsfolk"at all? We watched them a few times and found their routines to be funny. Too bad we didn't see the "Mayor" at all.

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Great report! Dollywood really is a fantastic place. Perhaps a TPR visit is a good luck charm for Lightning Rod since it seems to have been up consistently the past couple days. Dying to go check LR out but more importantly JEALOUS of that cinnamon bread you got to eat!

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My wife and I live 4 1/2 hrs. from Dollywood. We try to go every few months, especially during the Christmas season, when they have the lights and Christmas shows. Lightning Rod was intense when I rode back at the end of June. I didn't have trouble with the restraints, but I'm a tall guy and did have trouble getting in and out and with only one train operating, I was trying to be fast about it. No need for the ops. personnel to be rude. They usually are the best. Glad ya'll finally got to enjoy it!

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Great report! Super pumped that you managed to get on Lightning Rod. I'm hoping the stars similarly align for when the kiddo and I are scheduled to get down there on August 14th.

 

In regards to the restraints... are they any more restrictive than other RMCs? I'm currently hovering around the 240 lb mark, but I've managed to get on both Wicked Cyclone and Twisted Colossus in the past with no problems.

 

That log flume looks interesting for sure!

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You had me at cinnamon bread . Oh my , I am 4.5 hours away from Dollywood and that cinnamon bread alone is worth the trip ! Great trip report and photos.

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Gotta get on Fury and LR...so glad that you guys got your chance to ride LR this time around!

 

Wow, that does seem strange about the lap bars...I have never heard of not being able to help out a fellow rider, nor the ride op's help. Wonder if that's an RMC safety thing after the NTAG incident or something? Anyone assist others on Outlaw Run or any of the other RMC's and not get scolded?

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Thanks for the report Robb, sorry I couldn't make it this year but should be no reason I can't make the next one. Have a good time and keep the reports coming.

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I have only got one ride on Lightning Rod. We were an hour and a half from the park on a family trip last year and we decided to make the drive to the park when we saw it was open. I rode 4 things that day. Stupid river battle with my son 2 times mystery mine one time and the ride on Lightning Rod.

 

I know it's been frustrating for the park and suitors but this ride absolutely gets a pass for me. It doesn't matter how long it takes to get it running right it's absolutely worth the wait. That one ride was worth the price of admission I paid for all of us and we left early from the 105 degree heat. I wouldn't change a thing. If you are someone who is frustrated with it just keep trying trust me it is worth the wait for this coaster.

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The ride staff at Lightning Rod is the only complaint I have about Dollywood. I had the same problem when I tried to ride it last November at the Smokey Mountain CF and probably the same guy. The restraint is so stiff it's almost impossible for some to swing it down fast enough to get it to lock which was my problem and being a big guys I could not get the leverage to pull it down enough and Al came over to me and placed his hand on it with very little pressure to see if it would lock and yes it did but he made the operator unlock it and told me I had to do it myself. Needless to say, I was asked to get off the ride. Safety is one thing but bullcrap is another.

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The ride staff at Lightning Rod is the only complaint I have about Dollywood. I had the same problem when I tried to ride it last November at the Smokey Mountain CF and probably the same guy. The restraint is so stiff it's almost impossible for some to swing it down fast enough to get it to lock which was my problem and being a big guys I could not get the leverage to pull it down enough and Al came over to me and placed his hand on it with very little pressure to see if it would lock and yes it did but he made the operator unlock it and told me I had to do it myself. Needless to say, I was asked to get off the ride. Safety is one thing but bullcrap is another.

Wait. Did I read that correctly? The op came over to see if he could get it to lock, and he could, and then unlocked it and made you do it, and when you couldn't (because you don't work there and don't know as much about the ride as he does) you were told you couldn't ride???

 

That's TERRIBLE if that is actually what happened and totally inexcusable. I've been on all the RMC's now except Joker and I've never seen anything like this.

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as usual, Dollywood looks AMAZE-BALLS.

 

love the report, and the pics, and vicariously thrilled y'all got to ride Lightning Rod!

 

some day soon, some day soon. . . . it will be there for me too

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Love the report! We were there on opening day this year and finally got on LR as well! I'm so pleased to hear your great esteem of it because we loved it too. Can't wait until we can visit again. Never did quite get a night ride on it, but that's the goal!

 

 

Also, I know I'm a HUGE SFDK fan and probably rank Joker higher than anyone else, but I'm excited to hear your opinions whenever you do get on it! It's not Lightning Rod but it's still a great ride.

 

 

Enjoy your trip.

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We're currently at Dollywood this week too and we had the exact same operations snafu. The only other RMC We had been on is storm chaser so we knew that the restraint system was touchy and at Kentucky Kingdom I'd always have to nudge it down a tiny bit for my gf. The moment I did that on Lightning Rod, a bitter woman screamed at me and made them reset the bars on the whole cart. Needless to say we were a little angry. She informed us that it was for my gf's safety but my gf said that the second time felt less snug than when I helped push it lol

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Great reports so far on two awesome parks which have two of the best coasters in the world. Absolutely love Fury and LR. Fury a little more, but both are easily top 5 coasters. Seems like a lot of us had the same experience with LR. Showed up disappointed last year, but got to ride this year. I do feel sorry for those that have come to Dollywood and missed LR because it was closed. It's such a great experience.

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The ride staff at Lightning Rod is the only complaint I have about Dollywood. I had the same problem when I tried to ride it last November at the Smokey Mountain CF and probably the same guy. The restraint is so stiff it's almost impossible for some to swing it down fast enough to get it to lock which was my problem and being a big guys I could not get the leverage to pull it down enough and Al came over to me and placed his hand on it with very little pressure to see if it would lock and yes it did but he made the operator unlock it and told me I had to do it myself. Needless to say, I was asked to get off the ride. Safety is one thing but bullcrap is another.

Wait. Did I read that correctly? The op came over to see if he could get it to lock, and he could, and then unlocked it and made you do it, and when you couldn't (because you don't work there and don't know as much about the ride as he does) you were told you couldn't ride???

 

That's TERRIBLE if that is actually what happened and totally inexcusable. I've been on all the RMC's now except Joker and I've never seen anything like this.

 

 

I have also seen them do the lock and then unlock thing before. Must be something RMC is requireing on these new trains that Dollywood got. Dollywood got the new restraint system. Here is what RMC says about them. The new cylinders feature 30 percent lower seal drag, meaning less force is required by park employees and guests to raise and lower RMC’s lap bar restraints. Each lap bar is fitted with two cylinders in the event that one of the cylinders fails.

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Glad to hear you made it on Lightning Rod! It's awesome that you've made it on pretty much all the RMC's (minus the yawn-fest that is Joker at SFDK)! That being said, what happened with the ride op situation, I agree, is inexcusable. I'm sorry to everyone affected by that, as it just sounds like superstitious idiocy in terms of policy. I'll be watching with interest at how the tour continues! Best wishes to all.

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The only real constructive feedback I can give for the ride was in the operations department falling under the "ride rules" category. We had one of our riders who was RIGHT on the edge of not being able to to ride. The first time he rode, he was able to get the bar down and he fit just fine. The second time he rode, he was having more trouble so I went to push down on his bar to help just like I would on every other ride in the world, and this angry older ride op named "Al" came over and shouted at me "DO NOT TOUCH THAT BAR HE HAS TO DO IT ON HIS OWN IF YOU TOUCH THAT BAR AGAIN YOU ARE NOT RIDING THIS COASTER ANYMORE!!!!!"

 

I'm sorry what? Excuse me? This ride is already difficult enough for people to get on and you want to make it even HARDER for people? No, sorry, that's not cool with me. I cannot think of another ride anywhere in the world where you couldn't give the guy next to you literally a "nudge" on the bar to make it down that TINY extra to get the green light especially when the guy JUST RODE the coaster. The ride ops would NOT help anyone push the bar down on Lightning Rod, yet they had no problem pushing the bar down and helping on Thunderhead or Wild Eagle. This needs to be fixed, IMO.

 

This feels like something I'd read in a Six Flags TR and never in a trillion years did I think that I'd read it in a Dollywood TR. As a ride operator, anyone could need help with the restraint for whatever reason, be it medical or size. This seems like a bad situation for everyone on top of the ride's reliability (or lack thereof). Does anyone have more information as to how long this policy has been in place?

But I refuse to believe that this is done without rhyme or reason, be it some obscure park/ride policy, or RMC recommendation.

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Agreed 100% on your take of Lightning Rod, Robb. It's hands down one of the top two or three most bat-guano insane coasters I've been fortunate to experience...and live to tell. Ejector air is my thing and it delivers in spades. So glad you all got to enjoy it on this trip!

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I usually don't make snap judgments about rides from photos and videos, but Lightning Rod simply looks like a crazy airtime machine.

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Reading these comments about the ride operations policies on Lightning Rod are making my blood boil. Why? It's not as if someone is jumping up and down on the lapbar. Since when do riders close their own restraints? I'm a big guy but I've never had a ride op not close the lapbar or restraint for me. Hell, at Carowinds I've seen the operators help a guy by having TWO people push down his B&M clamshell. I'm sure the employees got read the riot act so I don't blame them, but RMC needs to do something about their trains if this is such an issue.

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Great report. I absolutely agree about the relaxing feel of Dollywood. It's so nice to walk up Craftsman Alley and just stop in the different stores. It honestly doesn't even feel like an amusement park at times, just a small town. The employees are always so wonderful. I've missed Lightning Rod my last four visits, and Mountain Sidewinder doesn't open until summer, so I've missed that too. One of my favorite rides in the park, just super unique. i'm excited to keep reading what ya'll are up to next.

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