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P. 771: Onsite employee housing under construction at Dollywood

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Enjoyed a few hours at the park for season pass holder day.

 

Park was dead. No lines.

 

Lightning Rod was running with two trains, but it was still experiencing somewhat frequent break downs (3 while I was there) and the employees seemed as flustered as usual. Better than any Six Flags operation but for Dollywood it was messy. They failed to fill rows and seemed off even though most of the ops have been on LR last year. It's still much better than last season but I wouldn't say it's in the clear. At least it is running with two trains!

 

Otherwise the park seems as solid as always in terms of friendliness and operational consistency. I LOVE this park. Looking forward to opening day today! Hopefully it's successful but not too busy for my sake anyways!

 

They were letting people pick rows for the most part.

 

None of the downtime was rollback related so at least that seems to be fixed for now. All three lasted for less than an hour.

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Has anyone else noticed this guy, or have an answer as to why he's been moved to this area of the park?

 

Just saw it on instagram and had a "wait wtf" moment. Did they put a hot dog stand over in wilderness pass?

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Random Hotdog

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What a strange place for that.

 

But then again.. would a creepy statue of a hot dog showering himself in ketchup fit anywhere in the park?

 

I think it used to be in Rivertown Junction next to the only place it would fit, next to Dogs n Taters.

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I love this picture and the way Thunderhead's turn backdrops Dropline. Such a cool sight line. I've never been to Dollywood, I'm hoping to get there this year and check this view out myself.

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Went to Dollywood today for the first time ever. My wife and 3 year old daughter joined me and I have to say I was impressed for the most part. The rides we ride were great and while I wasn't able to enjoy all of the major coasters the ones I did were all very good. Unfortunately Mystery Mine was down most of the day so I missed out and Lightning Rod was on and off and when it was working had at least a 30 to 45 min wait (unfortunately my daughter was not going to sit for that).

 

So I thought she would have been tall enough to ride Firechaser as I measured her at home before we left and she reached the 39in plateau they said you needed to be, well they must add a little to those height sticks and charts because she was a hair(literally) to short for them. Needless to say she was devastated as was I and I choose not to ride so she wouldn't be upset, but that's what future visits are for.

 

We did get to ride most of the country fair rides which my daughter enjoyed, however most of those lines were surprisingly long for the short ride cycles. That area really does get congested being the main ride area other than water rides or coasters. The Rockin Roadway was pretty fun for a car ride and Splash Battle was pretty fun even if not many people were riding. We skipped the other water rides mostly because it was too cool for them even though it was a really nice day out.

 

As for the coasters I did ride:

Blazing Fury 5/10

---Not a bad ride and hardly a wait, the story is really convoluted if you don't know it but you get the jist of it and the drops are pretty fun and a little surprising. A good family ride as well, but I wouldn't wait too long for it.

 

Wild Eagle 7/10

---A solid ride but just seemed too short and lacking any real force. The final twists before the breaks had a little but it was a little punchless. This was also my first Wing Coaster so maybe others are better but it wasn't a bad intro to the Wing Type. The station and theming around were amazing as were most of the coasters.

 

Tennessee Tornado 8/10

---Loved this Arrow however it was still a little rough but I'm shorter than most so maybe my head is just going to bounce around more lol. Either way pretty darn smooth and that first drop was great. The only knock is the short ride time but not having a huge wait didn't hurt.

 

Thunderhead 9/10

---Wow, this woodie really lived up to the hype, it was fast and really forceful and even had some decent airtime in some spots. It was a little rough but it is getting old now, however it was much smoother than most, the flyer trains probably help with that. And it had the shortest wait of the coasters too at a couple train loads thanks to two trains running. You really had no idea which way you were going to go next, a stellar Coaster.

 

Overall we all enjoyed the park with the exception of the firechaser mishap, food was great, atmosphere was everything I had expected it to be. Staff was very friendly and had that southern charm. I would rank it up there with Busch Gardens Williamsburg as my favorite theme park not named Disney. I'm a sucker for theme and thematic elements so thianpark easily won me over right from the front gate. My only real knocks on the park would be the layout which is tough to navigate unless you basically go in a loop and do a lot of back tracking, it's a huge park and it really takes its toll on you. The second would be something the park could fix possibly, they lack more family rides for smaller guests (36'' and below) outside of Country Fair. It was hard to ride the big coasters and keep my daughter entertained while doing so. They had a couple of little playgrounds but not enough and no rides other than River Battle and soon to open Whistlepunk Chaser they don't have any rides for those 36 and under from the lower park to the other side by Thunderhead. They have rides for families but they are just not spaced out well enough, I love how Hershey does it where they mix adult and kid/family rides together. But in a year or two it shouldn't matter for us but it would be nice for others.

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^^^I was at the park today and didn't even notice him. That's a really weird location.

 

It was a great opening day at the park! The crowds really didn't come in till about 2 pm due to the drizzling rain in the morning.

 

This morning we got a backstage tour of Lightning Rod. I learned a few things:

-the trunks will return to the trains eventually

-the main problem was with the launch system (they did a lot of reprogramming over the off season)

-they added an extra set off brake fins on the underside of the train to help with the rollback

-the handles were added day before yesterday because people wanted something to hold onto

-the transfer lift was made by Larson (yes, drop tower Larson)

 

Other Improvements:

-Timber Canyon path widening really helped with the crowds today

-Extra set pieces were added to the path (see pics below)

-Thunderhead's station looks wonderful with its new paint job

-The merge point at FireChaser Express now has an attendant that assigns seats but the good news is that if you have TimeSaver (more on that in a moment) you won't have to wait 15 minutes to get on because there are only 2 trains worth of people ahead of you instead of 7 or 8

 

TimeSaver:

The way it works is you get a wristband with 10 tabs. 8 have butterflies, 2 have Xs. The 8 with butterflies can be used for any ride except Lightning Rod and Dropline. The 2 with Xs can be used for any ride. The tabs are very very flimsy and can fall off at any time. Many people in our group lost tabs and forfeited the skip the line pass since the host at the entrance has to physically remove the tab from the wristband.

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FireChaser Express merge point

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New signage

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New signage

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Timber Canyon path set piece

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#minewatch2018

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New sign found near Daredevil Falls

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TimeSaver pass with flimsy tabs

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^^ What the!? The Timsaver wristband looks terrible and uncomfortable, I can see why you would be worried that the tabs would came off. Are they only connected by two tiny little points? That's a shameful system Dollywood has got here. Hopefully enough people complain and get the park to never do this again. It just looks like a guest service nightmare.

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^^ What the!? The Timsaver wristband looks terrible and uncomfortable, I can see why you would be worried that the tabs would came off. Are they only connected by two tiny little points? That's a shameful system Dollywood has got here. Hopefully enough people complain and get the park to never do this again. It just looks like a guest service nightmare.

 

Yes, they are only connected by two little points and they are very prone to fall off especially if you are wearing a jacket with long sleeves.

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Some Timber Canyon pics! Really opened up the area. Will be a big help with crowds.

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New entrance to Timber Canyon from Showstreet

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New theming on path

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Drop Line coming into view!

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New theming. These were pretty funny!

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New Timber Canyon theming

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Ate for the first time at Granny Ogle's Ham and Beans. Was really good and cheaper than I expected.

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Wild Eagle 7/10

---A solid ride but just seemed too short and lacking any real force.

 

It's not supposed to be forcefull. The point is to soar like an eagle riding a thermal.

 

And it's not as short as it feels. It's​ so smooth and fluid, it doesn't​ feel like you done much. There are some good Gs on it though.

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TimeSaver:

The way it works is you get a wristband with 10 tabs. 8 have butterflies, 2 have Xs. The 8 with butterflies can be used for any ride except Lightning Rod and Dropline. The 2 with Xs can be used for any ride. The tabs are very very flimsy and can fall off at any time. Many people in our group lost tabs and forfeited the skip the line pass since the host at the entrance has to physically remove the tab from the wristband.

Wait...what happened to Q-Bot?

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^I agree the issues are less severe but Lightning Rod still has a lot of issues. It's gone down multiple times today. The operations are quite slow too. At least it's running for the most part though! Two trains is a huge help.

 

Yes, the operations are frankly terrible. I sat on the brake run/transfer lift for as much as 5 minutes (timed) on Friday. I would attribute this to opening day hype, but it was exactly the same last season. It's likely due to the restraints, it's not uncommon for at least one person on the train to be too large or tall and require them to unlock all of the restraints to let that person exit.

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What a strange place for that.

 

But then again.. would a creepy statue of a hot dog showering himself in ketchup fit anywhere in the park?

 

I think it used to be in Rivertown Junction next to the only place it would fit, next to Dogs n Taters.

Actually it used to be in wilderness be pass right before you got to wild eagle beside the hotdog stand that was never opened.. all the stand offered were hotdogs and a bag of chips. Tiny boiled hotdogs at that. I found it open once last year and tried it. Waste of $5 lol. before that it might have been beside dogs and taters... I have seen it moved to other random places as well, I think they do it now just to be funny. One time it was beside Tennessee Tornado on the roof beside the cow but the next day it was moved back down the hill.. makes me wonder if it gets moved due to staff pranks lol

 

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk

Edited by dstephe9
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^^^I was at the park today and didn't even notice him. That's a really weird location.

 

It was a great opening day at the park! The crowds really didn't come in till about 2 pm due to the drizzling rain in the morning.

 

This morning we got a backstage tour of Lightning Rod. I learned a few things:

-the trunks will return to the trains eventually

-the main problem was with the launch system (they did a lot of reprogramming over the off season)

-they added an extra set off brake fins on the underside of the train to help with the rollback

-the handles were added day before yesterday because people wanted something to hold onto

-the transfer lift was made by Larson (yes, drop tower Larson)

 

Other Improvements:

-Timber Canyon path widening really helped with the crowds today

-Extra set pieces were added to the path (see pics below)

-Thunderhead's station looks wonderful with its new paint job

-The merge point at FireChaser Express now has an attendant that assigns seats but the good news is that if you have TimeSaver (more on that in a moment) you won't have to wait 15 minutes to get on because there are only 2 trains worth of people ahead of you instead of 7 or 8

 

TimeSaver:

The way it works is you get a wristband with 10 tabs. 8 have butterflies, 2 have Xs. The 8 with butterflies can be used for any ride except Lightning Rod and Dropline. The 2 with Xs can be used for any ride. The tabs are very very flimsy and can fall off at any time. Many people in our group lost tabs and forfeited the skip the line pass since the host at the entrance has to physically remove the tab from the wristband.

See I don't think you can believe anything that's said about LR.. most people before this year said the launch had 0 issues and even at a coaster event late November Pete said the majority of the issues were due to the train (which is why the launched never engaged). All the rollback issues I saw, the train didn't even try to launch.

 

He also said the trunks would be back this season (didn't say at opening) but said they would be rewiring and reworking the trains which would fix most of the issues

 

So now with someone on the backstage tour saying it was mostly launch issues who knows.. I don't believe anything I hear about it now I guess lol

 

As for the wristbands that replaced qbot, do they let you buy them at the ticket window now? The only reason I can even see that made Dollywood think this was a good idea is if it allowed guest to buy them at the ticket window allowing for a more streamlined process and possibly increase sales of the bands.. Why else get rid of a good system!

 

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk

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^^ What the!? The Timsaver wristband looks terrible and uncomfortable, I can see why you would be worried that the tabs would came off. Are they only connected by two tiny little points? That's a shameful system Dollywood has got here. Hopefully enough people complain and get the park to never do this again. It just looks like a guest service nightmare.

 

Yes, they are only connected by two little points and they are very prone to fall off especially if you are wearing a jacket with long sleeves.

I'm not happy about this. My son is prone to pick at things, and with his limited verbal skills, I'm seeing a near 100% possibility that he picks off a tab not understanding that it means we can't go on the roller coaster for a while. Whereas I could manage the Qbot and he just enjoys his day.

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See I don't think you can believe anything that's said about LR.. most people before this year said the launch had 0 issues and even at a coaster event late November Pete said the majority of the issues were due to the train (which is why the launched never engaged). All the rollback issues I saw, the train didn't even try to launch.

 

He also said the trunks would be back this season (didn't say at opening) but said they would be rewiring and reworking the trains which would fix most of the issues

 

So now with someone on the backstage tour saying it was mostly launch issues who knows.. I don't believe anything I hear about it now I guess lol

 

As for the wristbands that replaced qbot, do they let you buy them at the ticket window now? The only reason I can even see that made Dollywood think this was a good idea is if it allowed guest to buy them at the ticket window allowing for a more streamlined process and possibly increase sales of the bands.. Why else get rid of a good system!

 

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk

 

My source of information on the backstage tour was Pete and Barry (I think that was his name, he's the senior maintenance guy).

 

No, they do not sell TimeSavers at the ticket window. The process is not streamlined and still takes the same amount of time as to purchase a Q-Bot.

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I wanted to give some thoughts on our awesome kickoff to the coaster season yesterday.

 

We got there right at open and went directly to Lightning Rod. As usual, the plaza seemed quiet and we didn't see any sign of life at the ride but we were shocked to see the doors open and a wait time posted where the temporarily closed sign was supposed to be.

 

After driving down last year and never riding it, I still tried to contain my excitement until we were in a train and it had cleared the pre launch but it was tough as we walked through the queue and got closer and closer to the ride. We were directed to a middle row and while we could have easily requested another, we just wanted to get on the ride as quickly as possible before the inevitable catastrophic mechanical failure that took the ride down for the next 3 months.

 

We were on the second public train of the day, the one ahead of us rolled out and started chanting "Don't Roll Back" in unison as they approached the hill but amazingly the train approached the hill, sped up and shot over the top.

 

We left the station not knowing what to expect, the train has these weird "oh sh*t" handles on it. I couldn't tell you if they're new or not since we never got close enough to a Lightning Rod train to notice last year but I'm not ashamed to admit that I became best friends with those things yesterday.

 

Our train rolled out, blasted up the hill and once we started accelerating it finally hit me that we were actually going to finally ride it.

 

I'd love to describe what followed the launch, but that's impossible. I know it does an insane wave turn that somehow provides airtime in every seat but then it enters the most wtf series of elements ever which ends with a double up that provides massive amounts of airtime followed by a quad down that provides ungodly airtime and then a few more hills that look like throwaway hills that somehow provide obscene amounts of airtime.

 

That this is absolutely, 100% the most disorienting, extreme and out of control coaster I've ever ridden. It reminds me of rides like Maverick and I305 more than it reminds me of the only other RMC I've ridden (Wicked Cyclone) but it honestly makes those 2 coasters seem tame and controlled by comparison.

 

This ride is nuts, and 100% worth whatever aggravation is causes us from a mechanical standpoint.

 

After our first ride, we immediately jumped in line again, and we managed to get 2 more rides throughout the day (including rides in the front and back rows). We ended up on the last public train of the night and holy hell, night rides on that thing are ridiculous.

 

Anyone who hasn't experienced Lightning Rod really needs to, this thing is a complete beast and is easily one of the best coasters (wood or otherwise) that I've ridden. As to where exactly it falls, I don't know. As far as wood coasters go I'd put it right there with Phoenix and El Toro and depending on the day I'd call any of them my "favorite" but at the end of the day who really cares? All that matters is that it's insane and amazing and that you need to ride it. Like now...

 

While Lightning Rod tried to distract us from this fact, it turns out that there is an entire rest of the park with other coasters, rides and things to experience. I won't go into as much detail here as I've already done that during previous trips, but there are definitely plenty of things worth mentioning.

 

My beloved misty and mysterious mine has been doing a Lightning Rod impression early this year and has suffered it's fair share of mechanical problems. We kept checking the app and keeping an eye on it knowing that if it ever opened we should get there quick. Luckily around 1:00 we saw them send a test car and we camped out in front of the entrance while they tested for the next 15 minutes or so and got on the first car of the day. I'm glad we rode it when we did, I don't think it even made it an hour before it closed again and never reopened. The ride itself was fantastic as always.

 

As for the other coasters, they were all as great as ever. Thunderhead was running well (but I always think Thunderhead runs well despite the complaining about the roughness that doesn't exist), Tornado was being it's fantastic self as was Wild Eagle and Firechaser is always a blast. We scored multiple rides on every coaster except Firechaser because of the wait times and Mystery Mine because of the breakdowns.

 

A few other things of note...

 

- We had never been to the park when it wasn't Christmas so this was our first chance to ride any of their water rides. Sadly Slidewinder doesn't open until May but we did ride Daredevil falls and absolutely loved it. While not a Log Flume, it's reminiscent of one and I was impressed with the level of detail and theming the ride had. River Battle looked fun it it wasn't warm enough for that and while the rapids looked great, you couldn't pay me to ride a rapids ride when it's under 90 degrees.

 

- I was disappointed to see that Lillian's no longer has pit ham. That was easily the best food item in the park aside from the Cinnamon Bread and honestly we were pretty underwhelmed by the new menu. That was always our go-to, but I wouldn't eat there again. I'd rather just go to the skillet place.

 

- We saw two shows, both of which we really enjoyed. The first was the Wings of America show which was very cool, I can't believe they trained a bird to take donations and drop them in a box. The second was Mother Africa which might be the best show we've ever seen at the park (and that's saying something). I highly recommend it.

 

Overall we had an amazing day and it was a great way to kick off the season. Lightning Rod is awesome, the park is awesome and after they closed we found our way to Margaritaville for a few drinks and some live music. You couldn't as for a better day.

 

Alright, picture time...

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Our first stop!

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OMG it's happening

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Our first ride. My "Oh Sh*t" face is in mid season form.

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I can't wait for Drop Line

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More construction

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Tennessee Tornado was busy being awesome

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... As was this big a** bird

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This cool new design was over near Thunderhead

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Apparently in the south this is a "small coke". Murrica'

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Mother Africa was awesome

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And you know what else is awesome??? Cinnamon Bread.

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Wild Eagle is outstanding

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Last public riders of the night on Lightning Rod (which was sort of a happy accident)!!! What an awesome day.

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