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Dollywood Discussion Thread

P. 791: Big Bear Mountain family coaster announced for 2023!

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Of course they finally announced it as closed for season. Supposed to be rainy this weekend, temps start dropping tomorrow so while still pretty tomorrow, today was probably their last "projected" busy day due to it being so warm and sunny.. now they feel closing it for the season won't hurt ticket sales [emoji14]

 

I know, all of this is a conspiracy theory but hey!

 

I'm actually glad they finally announced it as being closed.. no need to waste people's time who plan trips just for LR.. I know Dollywood is a great park.. out of my 40ish visits a year I only ride the rides 50% of those visits.. the other visits are to walk around, eat, and spend time with my GF.. We just enjoy spending the evenings there.. But not everyone comes to Dollywood for that.

 

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It's crazy how much of a disappointment Lightning Rod has been... all 4 times I've been to Dollywood this year its has been closed. I'd like to see how many hours it has actually been open this year. And its really upsetting because the reason I got a season pass this past year was to ride it. I wish Dollywood would put on their website or something that it is closed.

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Of course they finally announced it as closed for season. Supposed to be rainy this weekend, temps start dropping tomorrow so while still pretty tomorrow, today was probably their last "projected" busy day due to it being so warm and sunny.. now they feel closing it for the season won't hurt ticket sales [emoji14]

 

I know, all of this is a conspiracy theory but hey!

 

I'm actually glad they finally announced it as being closed.. no need to waste people's time who plan trips just for LR.. I know Dollywood is a great park.. out of my 40ish visits a year I only ride the rides 50% of those visits.. the other visits are to walk around, eat, and spend time with my GF.. We just enjoy spending the evenings there.. But not everyone comes to Dollywood for that.

 

So your theory is that Dollywood keeps people hanging on the line to increase ticket sales. But the truth is that Lightning Rod's problems probably kept a lot of people from making a trip to the park this year.

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It's crazy how much of a disappointment Lightning Rod has been... all 4 times I've been to Dollywood this year its has been closed. I'd like to see how many hours it has actually been open this year. And its really upsetting because the reason I got a season pass this past year was to ride it. I wish Dollywood would put on their website or something that it is closed.

Sorry to hear the disappointment. You are not alone. Many people, including the guy writing this response, made a special trip or bought a Season Pass to hopefully ride Lightning Rod and didn't.

 

Given the circumstances of the situation, I think Dollywood has handled the situation very well. Yes, it seemed last minute that the announcement came out that LR would not open on time. Speaking from operations and marketing experience, in many cases the park simply doesn't know a definite answer until moments leading up to the announcement of a delay. Typically, as a manager you plan for the attraction to be ready or open (either operations or marketing) until you are given a definite no. Because once you throw in the towel and the ride becomes ready, you will scramble and likely drop the ball resulting in an outcome just as bad or worse than the ride not being ready. It would have done Dollywood no good to spend that last month of construction to say "It may or may not open by Opening Day." That is bad marketing when the plan was that Lightning Rod would be open on time and was testing before the park's Opening Day. Unfortunately, the confirmation that the ride was not quite ready was a few days from opening. Dollywood quickly made the situation well-known until the ride was ready.

 

As for the rest of the season, I'm sure there were many days where operation was not ruled out of the question until the final seconds before opening or sometime after opening. Justifiably so, until those who control Dollywood's App and other communication outlets had the "Closed for the Day/Indefintiely" answer confirmed by whoever makes that decision, they used the "Temporarily Closed" status because the problem with the ride was not determined to close it for the day or extended periods of time. Again, you plan as if the ride will operate until you know it won't, or you will have a perfectly fine coaster with no one to operate it, and no benefits from marketing it.

 

Unfortunately, this cycle was not friendly to LR or Dollywood, and we have all had the disappointment of more downtime than was ever anticipated.

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I was at the park today, and I'm also going tomorrow. I already got on every open ride that I wanted to do. This is already one of my favorite parks ever! We're staying at the Dream More resort, so time savers were included, and they made the day really amazing. I had cinnamon bread, which is worth the hype, and Miss Lillian's Chicken House had some nice food. The operations were very good, and the staff is nice. And of course, the theming and lights are beautiful. I'll go into more details with the rides and probably post some pictures later on. Ride count in alphabetical order:

 

Barnstormer x 2

Blazing Fury

Dizzy Disc

Firechaser Express x 3

Mystery Mine x 2

Tennessee Tornado x 3

Thunderhead x 5

Wild Eagle x 2

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Closed for the season...

 

Is that from employees at the entrance or what?

 

It's on the app, which is pretty reliable at Dollywood so I'd take that as a confirmation. I can't really say I blame them.

 

Ahhhh....I should probably download that again if I plan to be there tomorrow, shouldn't I?

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Lightning Rod was far from a Disappointment to me. on a day where I paid full gate price for my wife and I we only rode two coasters and the river battle ride on an unbearably hot day. I got one single ride in the back seat of Lightning Rod and my mind was blown. I didn't feel as if money was wasted despite only being there a couple of hours and getting so few rides in and it was only because of LR.

 

I know I was fortunate. I had one day and one shot all summer to make it happen and it worked out.

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Of course they finally announced it as closed for season. Supposed to be rainy this weekend, temps start dropping tomorrow so while still pretty tomorrow, today was probably their last "projected" busy day due to it being so warm and sunny.. now they feel closing it for the season won't hurt ticket sales [emoji14]

 

I know, all of this is a conspiracy theory but hey!

 

I'm actually glad they finally announced it as being closed.. no need to waste people's time who plan trips just for LR.. I know Dollywood is a great park.. out of my 40ish visits a year I only ride the rides 50% of those visits.. the other visits are to walk around, eat, and spend time with my GF.. We just enjoy spending the evenings there.. But not everyone comes to Dollywood for that.

 

So your theory is that Dollywood keeps people hanging on the line to increase ticket sales. But the truth is that Lightning Rod's problems probably kept a lot of people from making a trip to the park this year.

Im sure it both hurt and increased ticket sales at the same time but lots of people did visit just for LR this season.. The park has received several BBB complaints due to them listing it as open but it never actually being opened (you can find these complaints on the BBB website at least 2 of their 13 lifetime complaints are about LR) plus unhappy post on Facebook all prove several people traveled to the park just for LR. I know, Dollywood always worked hard to get it opened but they did leave people hanging a lot of times.. There have been times this season, times on my visits even that had it listed as TC but there was 0 chance of it opening those days.. 2 times, there weren't even trains on the track or workshop but the app had it TC and nothing on their website had it listed as closed.

 

The coaster group that said it "rolled back" also visited just for LR and the launch failed on them.

 

So yeah, it works both ways! It kept some away, I have seen people post here that called off their trips for it, but I have also seen people who traveled just for LR. I'd be willing to bet more traveled for it than it kept away.. Radio Commercials, TV Commercials, billboards, all brought traveler's in, travelers that don't frequent forums like this to know it was closed or having issues.

 

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Edited by dstephe9
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Also, don't you find it odd, that even closed for season, they haven't posted it on their site yet? Just the app and lots of people don't download the app until the arrive.. they still have a few days of operations left

 

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Edited by dstephe9
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Also, don't you find it odd, that even closed for season, they haven't posted it on their site yet? Just the app and lots of people don't download the app until the arrive

 

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk

 

A post on Facebook would have been nice - that's where I went first when I read this. Twitter too. You have social media, use it?

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Exactly my point.. I check apps, I'm a geek like that.. I have apps from parks I have never visited that I check.. but 75% of us probably don't even download the app until we get to the park.. I'd say 90% of that 75 probably doesn't even know about the apps at all until they arrive.. Parks know this as well, they have to.. Announce it on Facebook or your website if you really want people to see..

 

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So it is listed as closed on the Dollywood website if you look at attractions and "view all".. if you filter by "thrill" or anything, lightening rod doesn't even show up.. but again, you have to dig for it..

 

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No, I just think folks on this forum overlook general customer service due to this being a hobby of theirs and think that customer service like this is "OK" when in reality it isn't.

 

Personally, I even feel the "technical rehearsal" was a joke and just a way to cover Dollywoods back without them saying "the coaster is closed"

 

I have seen several people on this forum say if you go to the park for LR and it's closed, it's your own fault.

 

It's not like you can buy a ticket, find out it's closed and get refunded without a fight.

 

Again, these are just my opinions but I'm also not blinded by my love for the park and on the parks side even though I do love the park and think it's a great place

 

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But what you can do is go in informed that hey this ride has a good chance of being closed you have been warned. the tech rehearsal was exactly that they were letting you know there is a chance of it being open but it is likely to be closed.

 

Also for anyone who frequents forums like this or calls themselves an enthusiast they should know better in a rides first year and use caution.

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I accept peoples opinions, even if I don't really understand them.

 

Yes - Lightning Rod's opening was plagued with problems. I think the park could have dealt better with their communication, but I have absolutely no idea what was going on and what information their Public Relations department was given to work with.

 

But I cannot and will not put down Dollywood Customer Service because of this one issue. They have always had, bar none, some of the BEST Customer Service in the industry. Lightning Rod, from what I've heard, is mind blowing when it is working and I have full faith that they will get the kinks worked out during their off season. I don't say this out of some blind fan-boy loyalty to the park. I say this because my experiences with Dollywood have always been overwhelmingly positive.

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I'm sort of in the middle on this one...

 

Also for anyone who frequents forums like this or calls themselves an enthusiast they should know better in a rides first year and use caution.

 

I don't know if I really agree with that. With very few exceptions, I think scheduling a long trip to ride a brand new ride on it's opening day or even in it's first few weeks / months is a stupid idea. There are times where this would be a safer bet than others... for example, we drove down to North Carolina for Fury's opening day but Fury is a B&M being built in a Cedar Fair park and we didn't pull the trigger until a few days before the park opened for the season when it was clear that the ride was running perfectly.

 

If you scheduled an expensive trip to ride a prototype launched wood coaster in it's first few months, you were taking a risk but it's not that unreasonable to book a trip to a park 9 months after a coaster's announced opening date and expect there to be a reasonable chance that the ride would be open.

 

This isn't a typical case of opening year jitters, this ride has had a complete train wreck of a season and aside from coasters that never opened in their opening years at all (Gale Force, Chiller...), this is the worst opening season for a coaster in the U.S. in recent memory. This makes Top Thrill Dragster's opening year look like Valravn's opening year.

 

That being said, while I do think they should have made this more public their PR team was dealt a real turd with this ride and I'm sure they're way more frustrated than we are. There are things they probably could have done better, but I want to emphasize this point also because I feel the same way...

 

But I cannot and will not put down Dollywood Customer Service because of this one issue. They have always had, bar none, some of the BEST Customer Service in the industry. Lightning Rod, from what I've heard, is mind blowing when it is working and I have full faith that they will get the kinks worked out during their off season. I don't say this out of some blind fan-boy loyalty to the park. I say this because my experiences with Dollywood have always been overwhelmingly positive.

 

We were there just last week and had a great time despite Lightning Rod being closed. I've never been to a park with better staff, Universal, Disney and Sea World are close but they're a step above. I've always felt that way and our most recent visit further solidified that opinion.

 

This is a crappy situation for them too, and while maybe they could have done some things differently I'll happily give them a pass based on years of outstanding guest service. I don't think that's an unreasonable thing to do at all.

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It's not like you can buy a ticket, find out it's closed and get refunded without a fight.

No, but if you go and it's closed more than an hour and a half of your day, you can get a free ticket to return any time that season (or during the Christmas festival, the ticket is good for that season or the next). Dollywood has possibly the best customer service not just in this industry but in any industry.

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I accept peoples opinions, even if I don't really understand them.

 

Yes - Lightning Rod's opening was plagued with problems. I think the park could have dealt better with their communication, but I have absolutely no idea what was going on and what information their Public Relations department was given to work with.

 

But I cannot and will not put down Dollywood Customer Service because of this one issue. They have always had, bar none, some of the BEST Customer Service in the industry. Lightning Rod, from what I've heard, is mind blowing when it is working and I have full faith that they will get the kinks worked out during their off season. I don't say this out of some blind fan-boy loyalty to the park. I say this because my experiences with Dollywood have always been overwhelmingly positive.

Actually, I personally feel Dollywood is understaffed and lacking in customer service (from my last experience with their CS). if you send them an email it takes 10+ days to respond and while they try to help in person, most of the time their hands are tied until a manager comes. I have received far better customer service from Disney and even six flags! Dale (park president of SFOG) responded to one of my emails personally on a Holiday due to a T-Shirt with a hole in it. Overnighting a new shirt!

 

My last complaint to Dollywood was due to a cinnamon bread associate not taking my Gold Pass because it had a date from several years ago.. I renew it online so yeah the pass had an old purchase date on it, but she never scanned to see it was good (I posted the complaint on this forum).. I finally talked her into taking it but I then went to the season pass center to print a new one so I didn't have the issue again with other new associates.. They wanted to charge for the "replacement" because mine wasn't broken.. They finally said they would have to call up a manager who approved it but it took 30 minutes for the approval.. I sent Dollywood and email with my complaint.. 12 days later they responded saying they love receiving comments both positive and negative and use those comments as a coaching tool.. That's it no apology or anything.. Just a canned response after waiting 12 days..

 

That's not really the best customer service..

 

Now I don't use Dollywoods customer service often, this was the first time in a few years, but it only takes one time to make people think the customer service sucks.

 

As for the raincheck tickets, I have never needed one but I do like that Dollywood does offer them.. BUT Disney gave me a full refund on tickets in October due to the hurricane.. No raincheck ticket offer or anything, just a refund.. Raincheck tickets are good but not helpful for people who traveled long distances. Disney even refunded the hotel and deposit.

 

I would have actually taken raincheck tickets for Disney because I am going there next week but I received a much better deal to Disney next week anyway

 

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Edited by dstephe9
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