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Dollywood Discussion Thread

P. 771: Onsite employee housing under construction at Dollywood

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Dollywood always seems to rotate big years. Last year was a huge and this year is down. A lot of families buy season pass every other year. Also I think the new kids coaster and drop line was a last minute add to this year to try and help season pass sales. I have a feeling they will do something huge for 2018 to try and get those folks back.
If Dollywood does something big, it would help the entire area better than local tourism advertisements can.. People that come for the new ride would have to eat and stay somewhere

 

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But we also have to remember, although Dollywood is running deals right now, they had a very significant price increase this season.. Some locals I know didn't renew their passes and just do other things in the area.. right now though Dollywood has some great deals

 

Would you mind sharing the great deals going on right now? I hadn't heard the adult ticket for a kid price. The last I heard was an online deal for $10 off. TIA!

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Dollywood needs to go back to its roots just a bit. It is losing its southern charm that the previous management instilled. The country music throughout the park, actual craftsmen in craftsman valley, staff that have some southern charm, better food options, new big shows (fire on the mountain, paradise road, shakonohey), etc. You can go to downtown Gatlinburg stores and find more southern charm for free. You can find some rides, anakeesta opening up, chairlift, shows, music, moonshine, ober, and even coasters. Lightning Rod backfired on them by not operating despite all the hype. People who visited the park over the past year and a half just for lightning rod have largely been left frustrated. Add this to the fact that Dollywood has essentially abandoned their social media responsibilities is also discouraging. Their lack of communication on social media should serve as a textbook example of how not to operate. They can only ride the coattails of previous management employees like Barbara Joines and Ken Bell so many years ago. I'm sure the folks at Herschend Family Entertainment will realize this soon enough. In the meantime, I'm rooting for them and look forward to seeing them revamp a bit. They have tremendous potential but are stumbling a bit right now.

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^ All Slayer and early to mid nineties Miami Booty music.

 

In all seriousness, I think the music selection is fine. They play a lot of pop music that my daughter likes. I did hear a lot of country, but it was pop country. We're trying to do a fall trip this year. I'll pay more attention to the music selection.

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With the music selection I think is what he's referring to is, during Great American Summer they play strictly pop music and pop country to appeal to the younger crowds. Some have said and I do agree that Dolly's music has been drowned out of the park. When I was younger you could walk up through Timber Canyon and hear Applejack usually playing. I know that the park is trying to become more along the lines of Cedar Point and Kings Island coaster wise, but stay true to the name sake at least. I've been going since I was 2, I'm 22 now and I've seen a shift.

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The food options MUST get better. My wife and I are very healthy eaters and it's damn near impossible to do anything healthy or "not fried" inside the park. That hindered some of our spending. I also returned a Fast Pass purchase when LR was down (lucky I got 4 rides in over 2 full days at the park). There are some basic, easy changes that will go a long way like someone mentioned: social media. They should be WAY better with that and they need to be more transparent on what's happening and timelines with LR. That pissed me off the most. Planning a 9 hour drive last summer to experience the park full price while a $20 mil lawn ornament sat dormant. Rolled the dice and came back this year before the 2 month downtime. But still...

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Why not pack your own lunch, Bill? That's what we do. Even when we fly to a park buying a disposable cooler and packing it with healthy food is usually cheaper than eating in the park. We always eat our own healthy lunch at parks. By dinner time we leave the park for our cheat meal, though. Then, beer to follow. (Not at DW)

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I love how whenever there's as much as a rumor that attendance at a specific park is down, people come out of the woodwork to complain about everything they don't like about the park and attribute their complaints to the attendance drop.

 

If crowd levels in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are down because of the fire, and they're very open about the fact that it's down because of the fire then any attendance drop at Dollywood (if there even is one) should be attributed to the fire. It's ridiculous to attribute it to anything else, especially the fact that they don't have enough healthy food (have you seen their clientele? I highly doubt they care... if it sold well then the park would provide it. It's a fair complaint but this isn't a new phenomenon that would lead to an attendance drop) or the fact that they've switched from playing Applejack to "pop country" in Timber Canyon or the fact that the staff doesn't have enough southern charm. What does that even mean? This park has the best staff of any park I've ever been to.

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Why not pack your own lunch, Bill? That's what we do. Even when we fly to a park buying a disposable cooler and packing it with healthy food is usually cheaper than eating in the park. We always eat our own healthy lunch at parks. By dinner time we leave the park for our cheat meal, though. Then, beer to follow. (Not at DW)

 

 

Great call...and really good idea. Never really planned it out that much, I suppose. We load up on bringing in RX Bars and the alike in a backpack - but like everything in the heat, they melt. That'll be our next thing to do!

 

I wasn't "coming out of the woodwork", nor did I claim healthy food was a problem to overall attendance. Somoene mentioned they need to refresh/update/improve eating options and it reminded me how unhealthy their options were; even though we shared the impossible to avoid cinnamon bread. I wish parks overall would improve options, across the country.

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We were questioned at our check in at the hotel last night with a survey asking questions like where do we normally vacation which is a normal hotel thing but then the survey asked about 10-15 questions about if the impact of the wildfire had impacted our visits any? Of course it hasn't. We live 2.5 hours away and have been down around 3-4 times since November.

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Just got 3 rides in on LR within 30 mins. Was there when it opened. Park isn't too bad but at the bottom of the drop I felt the pot whole jolt back again. As far as the launch, the thing is absolutely flying. It does slow down maybe a tad but only noticeable if you're trying to spot it. Other than that it's balls to the wall

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Okay, so still trying to find the Mountain Coasters to ride near Dollywood. I've found 3.

 

Smoky Mountainal Pine Coaster

 

The Coaster at Goats on the Roof

 

-and-

 

Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster

 

Having never done one of these, we wanted to try out a few different ones. Super excited for this "new to us" experience.

 

Any advice on the mountain coasters? Are there any we are missing?

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^Ober Gatlinburg has one but if you weren't planning on going there, I wouldn't bother as to me it is the weaker/rougher of the four alpine coasters. Not surprisingly it is the only one that wasn't manufactured by Wiegand. Gatlinburg seemed to be the most thrilling of the 4 but it was just too short and was a dollar more than the others at the time I rode it. In order for me, it would be:

 

1) Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster

2) Goats on the Roof

3) Gatlinburg

4) Ober Gatlinburg

Edited by ernierocker
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Okay, so still trying to find the Mountain Coasters to ride near Dollywood. I've found 3.

 

Smoky Mountainal Pine Coaster

 

The Coaster at Goats on the Roof

 

-and-

 

Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster

 

Having never done one of these, we wanted to try out a few different ones. Super excited for this "new to us" experience.

 

Any advice on the mountain coasters? Are there any we are missing?

 

In addition to Ober Gatlinburg's, there's also the newly opened Rowdy Bear Mountain Coaster

 

And then Anakeesta should be opening the area's 6th mountain coaster soon.

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If at all possible, I'd recommend riding the alpine coasters after dark. I had a blast on Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster at night, and when Robb came out with his POV video of it a few months later (the one with the REALLY long unedited lift hill), it didn't seem as impressive to me in the daylight. The darkness and runner lights really help amplify the experience.

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Was at Dollywood today from 4:30pm- closing. I'll be back Thursday. A few things-

- If you ever had the opportunity, do some of the ranger led programs in the National Park. There are even some that you don't have to do anything too physical. It was great and free.

- I listened for music closer after seeing people comment on it. Each festival has a slight twist in what I hear around the park, and I think thats ok. Showstreet had a lot of pop / country / Christian music, and I thought it fit the area. Jukebox Junction obviously was 50's 60's music. I hear the most Dolly music in Timber Canyon and sometimes Craftsmans Valley. I've never had an issue with music. A little bit more Dolly would be nice, but I think they have a good range currently that fits each areas theme.

- As far as food I noticed the "festival" kiosk at Market Square had salads, wraps, and smoothies. I haven't ate at Front Porch Cafe yet but I think they have some healthy options. Cinnamon Bread was as good as always, probably not healthy though. Market Square also no longer does homemade chips, store bought now.

- You can no longer get sweet tea anywhere in the park except the sit down restaurants. That stinks, especially being in the South. A few people told me Red's had it but they do not.

- The Gazillion Bubbles Show was really good, better than I expected. Would have been even better if I had a younger kid with me.

- Mystery Mine's theming was really good today. My last few trips at least one special FX has been down, I noticed some that I hadn't seen before today.

- Lightning Rod was a let down today. Was 85 min wait when I got there, so did other stuff then noticed it dropped to 20. I got in line, got to front of the line and it went down. Also saw a failed launch at one point in the day. Closed for the day after I waited a bit in hopes it would open again.

- Got my first night rides on Wild Eagle and Tennessee Tornado. I've now done a night ride on everything except Drop Line and Lightning Rod. They have all been great, but Wild Eagle in front row at night is by far my favorite so far. It's a must do. Thunderhead also gives a great night ride. Tennessee Tornado was pitch black for the last couple elements.

- Even with the nitpick things (even LR), Dollywood is still a great place. Great rides, great shows, great theming It is growing but I don't think they are loosing the charm. The employees are what makes this place, and sure they are mostly older but some of my favorites are also younger now as well. Operations here blow away other parks. Tennessee Tornado has the best ride ops, cracked jokes the whole time. My two favorites today: "Welcome aboard the fastest currently operating coaster at Dollywood" and "Ready to do 8 corkscrews at 120mph? Well hope not cause that would be a lie" And there's a older guy at the popcorn stand near Celebrity Theater who remembered me by name.

 

Just a few thoughts lol

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You must've been in line when I was then. I was gonna get one more ride in for the evening being I was tired and had been there since 12:30. It had been around 92-93 the entire day. Lightning Rod did not open until 1:03 on the dot, I was the first rider of the day (one of), second row. It was of course one train operation all day. I heard things going on below in the maintenance bay. After my two back to back rides on LR I went to cool down on rampage then to TT. Waited around 35 mins, then after I got off it went down. Fire Chaser was down and running empty trains a majority of the day. Wild Eagle went down twice. Heat seemed to effect them or something of some sort because it was left and right TC each way you looked. Daredevil Falls went down for a bit as well again. Mystery Mine was working great actually. Music was loud and on, lights were working, crusher spinning, screen was bright/clear and on. Fire is still one instead of 3 but that's fine. Now, onto Lightning Rod. As I said you wouldn't have noticed the slowing down at the crest unless you were waiting on it to happen. At first I waited and was like "ok but I'm still out of my seat so I'm fine" then I just stopped paying attention. When it cooled down before it closed and I got my last ride I didn't feel the pop at the bottom so maybe that had to due with the heat and the track, or maybe it was the train coming back down from the airtime haha. So as far as the failed launch this is what I noticed/saw. The train before the failed one, a guys sunglasses flew off on the drop into the brake run. He kept looking back like he seen them laying on the track. Now did the sensors pick the glasses on the break run? Another thing I noticed was this, my last ride Dad also noticed that under the launch LR was either leaking a coolant (understandable) or Hydraulic fluid. When hydraulic fluid gets too hot (system over heats) it will turn to water. Running down from the base and into road was nothing but that. I have pictures and video of it all.

IMG_1843.thumb.JPG.739a9492dd6e351d822643d19e517304.JPG

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This just in, Dollywood to rename Lightning Rod "Murphy's Law: The Ride."

I'll be visiting this Friday and Saturday, bringing a friend who's never ridden it. I'm hoping we'll get on it at least once (Got 10 rides on it last year).

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