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Dollywood Discussion Thread

p. 734 - Lightning Rod closed for remainder of 2020 season

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I know there are bigger things going on in the world, but my wife was super excited for Lightning Rod for our first visit next week. I don't know how to break it to her that it's not happening. Someone reassure me and tell me there's a 1% chance!

 

Next week? Not likely. I haven't seen any mention of work being done currently.

 

I think they are waiting on parts.

 

It would be nice if DW or RMC would give some info on what was being done and a timeline for repair.

Like if they have to wait for something to be manufactured and the supplier is backlogged due to the shudowns.

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There was a time in my life when I would have cared what Lightning Rod was made of.  So refreshing to give precisely zero effs. I just want to go to Dollywood and not worry about it being open! 

You mean like this. . . (pssst, all wooden coasters run on steel rails, well, with the exception of the flying turns)   Also, who would have thought the first RMC coaster to get the RM

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I think this year we simply have to accept the fact that most maintenance issues will take much longer to fix than normal. Storm Runner and Steel Curtain are two other examples that immediately come to mind. That said, I made my first trip to Dollywood last month and really enjoyed it. Lightning Rod was open but I still would have had a great time even if it hadn't been operating. Thunderhead, Wild Eagle and Tennessee Tornado are a solid supporting cast, and Firechaser Express is one of my favorite family coasters. The staff are super friendly and the atmosphere was very charming, even with the COVID restrictions in place.

 

I know it's been linked a few times on this thread recently, but the LR page on dollywoodwaittimes.com is the best site for checking the ride's status. It has data all the way back to 2017! Even though it can't predict the future, it's a good way to gauge whether the ride has been running with any degree of consistency, if at all.

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Add me to the list of people who are ready for something to be done with Lightning Rod. 7 visits, 1 ride. And it’s still all over their ads, which I find especially annoying.

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I think this year we simply have to accept the fact that most maintenance issues will take much longer to fix than normal. Storm Runner and Steel Curtain are two other examples that immediately come to mind.

 

Yeah, but the difference is that this isn't even slightly unusual with Lightning Rod. Despite being an Intamin rocket coaster, Storm Runner is reasonably reliable and Steel Curtain is only a little over a year old and also located in a Parques Reunidos park where I fully expect everything to be f*cked up 24/7 365 because they're an absolutely horrible embarrassment of a company.

Edited by coasterbill
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Add me to the list of people who are ready for something to be done with Lightning Rod. 7 visits, 1 ride. And it’s still all over their ads, which I find especially annoying.

 

This is what has prevented me from visiting the park to ride Lighting Rod. I wish it was more consistent than 50/50 on any given day.

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This is what has prevented me from visiting the park to ride Lighting Rod. I wish it was more consistent than 50/50 on any given day.

 

Looking at the wait times linked earlier it's much better than 50/50. Not as good as it should be, but still better than 50/50. Look at Jun-Aug.

Down 3 of 16 days from Jun 15-30, 80% up for the day. A bit of down time some days.

July looked similar (haven't counted). Then a big problem early August (down 5th, up 14-17, then down since)

 

Would be nice if the dataset could be downloaded and analyzed.

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Rides can have downtime during the day or an occasional major issue can occur (ex. cable snap), but what makes Lightning Rod so frustrating is that it seems like it has had a major issue that has kept it closed for weeks/months at a time each year.

 

I think 2019 was the only year Lightning Rod didn't have a major spell of downtime. The only time I recall the ride closing for multiple days last year was after a snowstorm when the tracks iced up (Tennessee Tornado was also closed those days).

 

Steel Curtain is only a little over a year old and also located in a Parques Reunidos park where I fully expect everything to be f*cked up 24/7 365 because they're an absolutely horrible embarrassment of a company.

 

Imagine if Lightning Rod were at a Parques Reunidos park.

 

For as much downtime as Lightning Rod has had, I trust Dollywood would never try to transfer a train onto a track while another one is on the course leading to a collision.

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but what makes Lightning Rod so frustrating is that it *_seems_* like it has had a major issue that has kept it closed for weeks/months at a time each year.

 

Why I'd like to see an analysis. Actual data vs anecdotal.

 

Maybe even find a pattern, as to how long between break downs and how long it's down.

 

I'm sure DW/RMC has that but they aren't sharing.

The wait times page has it's flaws, but it all we have.

 

Does anyone known who owns the site?

Are they on this site?

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The legacy wait time data I have on the wait time site goes back to 2017. Link

 

2016 was the ride's first year and while the wait time site doesn't have the data, I found an article where Dollywood's director of public relations said the ride was down 70 of 183 days in its opening year. And that doesn't include days where it spent most the day broken.

 

Link

 

The data for 2017 starts on May 17. Lightning Rod was listed as closed for the day from at least May 17 until it reopened on June 16. So the ride was down for at least a month straight. When I was there the first week of June that year, I saw employees working on the lift.

 

In 2018, Lightning Rod was listed as closed for the day from July 4 to October 10, so it was closed for almost 3 straight months including almost the entire summer. That was the year of the rumored pothole at the base of the main drop.

 

2019 the ride seemed to run reliably.

 

This year, the ride seemed to run fairly well until it went down August 21-24. I saw some new wood on the final turnaround and the rumor was that it was closed for trackwork. Lightning Rod reopened on August 28 and ran for 1.5 hours total towards the start of the day. It ran pretty much all day on August 29 without any breakdowns. It ran well on August 30 outside of an hour breakdown, but on August 31 the ride went down after a rollback and hasn't reopened since.

 

 

So the ride has been down for at least a month in 4 of its 5 years. This isn't even looking at the ride's uptime on the days it opened.

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Is this person secretly Dolly Parton? Canobie and I just did the same thing but it took forever so I'm posting this anyway

 

Just search this thread for "Lightning Rod Closed" and re-live the incredible memories.

 

2016: Hilarious dumpster fire... late opening, constant closures, closed the last few weeks of the season aside from that one time it opened, sent one train full of enthusiasts that camped outside the ride being miserable for 5 days and it rolled back immediately and closed for the day providing us with endless entertainment. Almost burned to the ground in November... sadly for the park and their maintenance department, it did not.

 

2017: F*cked up for a bunch of May and June... and actually also July. Late July... "OMG there's a train on the track, maybe this means something (it did not)". It looks like it opened a few days later.

 

2018: Closed for three months... basically the entire summer.

 

2019: Unreliable compared to most coasters but it had a marginally better year than Top Thrill Dragster I guess for the first time ever. Setting the bar low...

 

2020: Peel out now!

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Edited by coasterbill
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Raise the peak of the launch 10 or 15 feet, slap a lift hill on that bad boy, re-prolife the pre-drop and be done with it already.

 

I know it's not that easy, bust seriously if they replaced the launch with a modified chain lift and all the sudden the ride was as reliable as any other RMC would anyone really care? The launch is awesome, but I feel like the ride would probably be just as good without.

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Yeah, I know that it would require a lot of work to the track and either modified or maybe even new trains (I have no clue how that stuff works) but I'd be thrilled with that at this point. I know for awhile everyone swore up and down that the launch wasn't the problem but no other RMCs have these types of problems so it's hard to imagine the problem is with anything other than the launch, the trains that it needs because of the launch or some combination of the two.

Edited by coasterbill
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After reading everyone else's experiences with Lightning Rod and Canobie Coaster's downtime data (thank you for that) I can definitely consider myself incredibly lucky to have been on it as many times as I have, especially since I have to fly there.

 

I've probably had 50-60 rides on it over the course of 6-8 visits. I do hope they find a way to fix the ride and make it run reliably without having to do something as drastic as an IBox conversion, as it's an incredibly unique ride and topper track gives RMCs so much more character than IBox track RMCs...but we've also been hoping they'd find a way since 2016. I rode during the first drop pothole and again this year with the slam at the bottom of the quad down, and I just wonder what seems to make this different/less reliable than the other topper track RMCs other than the fact that it has a launch.

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^ I agree the fact this ride has a launch and the other RMCs don't makes it stand out as the root cause, but the rumored issues in 2018 and earlier this year were related to the track and not the launch.

 

I think Lightning Rod would probably still be my favorite coaster with a traditional chain lift, so I'd be onboard with anything that keeps the rest of the ride intact and allows it to run more reliably.

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One of the things that has always struck me with Lightning Rod is that the two spots people have mentioned as having potholes are the speed hill after the quad down and the pullout from the big drop. These are possibly two of the fastest, highest G sections of the ride. And they're also the two parts of the ride that have to cross over a roadway/the ride itself so the support structure is cutout there.

 

Ultimately only the park and RMC knows why Lightning Rod has been closed.

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Does anyone known who owns the site?

Are they on this site?

 

I haven't posted on this site in a while but if you're talking about dollywoodwaittimes.com, that's mine. I made it as a quick project to track LR's uptime leading up to a trip my brother and I took to DW in June 2017. Of course it closed a few weeks before we went and didn't reopen for a while so we didn't get to ride it and I haven't been back since.

 

In the last 3 years after I created that site I've put almost no work into it because it had served its purpose, but I've left it running because people seem to enjoy it. In case you can't tell, all it does is pings the DW app every 15 minutes and puts the wait times in a database. Then displays those wait times in a graph.

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^ May I ask how that works since wait times are only shown on the app if you're in the park? Just curious. Also, thank you for this service! Hopefully someday I won't have to reference the site so often to check on LR's status...

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Does anyone known who owns the site?

Are they on this site?

 

I haven't posted on this site in a while but if you're talking about dollywoodwaittimes.com, that's mine.

 

Cool. Any chance of getting the raw data?

 

I assume a simple database and a export wouldn't be hard. Would be interesting for analysis.

 

^ May I ask how that works since wait times are only shown on the app if you're in the park? Just curious

 

I would assume location spoofing. Not that hard on Android unless the app works hard to prevent it (like Pokemon Go did)

 

Similar could be done in a computer and the website (which used to list wait times anyway).

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Ultimately only the park and RMC knows why Lightning Rod has been closed.

 

And they aren't sharing.

 

I can sort of see that from DW given the people that visit their site/outlets and how they would over react.

 

But RMC is more enthusiasts that wouldn't freak out over technical issues that aren't safety issues.

 

I do recall RMC and DW being adamant that the early problems were not the launch system.

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After reading everyone else's experiences with Lightning Rod and Canobie Coaster's downtime data (thank you for that) I can definitely consider myself incredibly lucky to have been on it as many times as I have, especially since I have to fly there.

 

I've probably had 50-60 rides on it over the course of 6-8 visits.

 

Same here though not as far.

 

Granted intend to not go during peak summer, opting for less crowded times in spring and fall when I can ride w/o needing TimeSaver.

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I am tempted to make a late fall foliage Lightnin' Run down to Tennessee. This does not sound promising. That's a long drive...

 

Longer then the 8-hour RT trip I took from a work layover in ATL to get into line only to see it go down for the day while I was in the station.

 

This coaster right now is highest on to-ride (domestic) bucket list. Half because of the hype and reviews, half probably because of being previously thwarted.

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^ May I ask how that works since wait times are only shown on the app if you're in the park? Just curious. Also, thank you for this service! Hopefully someday I won't have to reference the site so often to check on LR's status...

 

A few years back they showed the wait times on their website without any location restrictions. Looking at this for a couple minutes I noticed that the frontend called an API, which is still open to the world today. I'm not doing anything fancy, literally just making a normal web request to their API every 15 minutes. I emailed the park back then to make sure they didn't care and they never responded. The code is all in a public github repository. Anyway, getting off topic here...

 

Any chance of getting the raw data?

 

I assume a simple database and a export wouldn't be hard. Would be interesting for analysis.

 

Happy to share. In the interest of keeping this thread on-topic, PM me and I can get it to you.

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A few years back they showed the wait times on their website without any location restrictions. Looking at this for a couple minutes I noticed that the frontend called an API, which is still open to the world today.

 

Oh, too funny. I thought they closed that when they took it off the site.

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