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Dollywood Discussion Thread

p. 751 - Lightning Rod expected to reopen with the park!

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You mean because now it might feel like it's... rolling and... coasting and... open?

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! 

Yeah, the difference to the rider between I-Box track and the current track is really minimal. The only major difference would be that the ride would actually be open when you wanted to ride it and wh

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Anyone know why they cut down so many trees for this?  The removal of trees was getting me excited for a track/layout change or added element.  Seems strange to clear so much land to just ibox it.

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1 hour ago, TrippinBillie said:

Anyone know why they cut down so many trees for this?  The removal of trees was getting me excited for a track/layout change or added element.  Seems strange to clear so much land to just ibox it.

Probably for crane access. Now that the ride has been built, it's not possible to get cranes in the same places they were able to during the original construction.

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For those that visited Dollywood after they reopened from the COVID closure, what did you think about operations, ride wait times, food and beverage wait times and your overall feeling of either feeling safe or not with the COVID restrictions. I think Dollywood will reopen in March with the same or very similar restrictions due to COVID-19 at least until the vast majority of the US has been vaccinated. I'm even thinking theme parks may ask for proof of vaccination to allow entry or to allow you to not have to wear a face covering. Any other ideas about what you think might happen going forward?

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I visited Dollywood twice in 2020.  The dispatches were no different than usual.  The coasters had a grouper who would pump hand sanitizer into your hands and then assign you a row.  They would take seating requests and allow you to wait off on the side if you wanted a specific row.  Wait times were a bit longer than usual in the summer, so I went with Timesaver (especially since it was easier to distance).  As for mask compliance, it started strong at the start of the day, but it became worse towards the end of the day probably due to the heat/humidity.

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Mask compliance was better than I expected but it wasn’t great. social distancing isn’t a thing but that’s true of most regional parks. If you care about that, buy Timesaver.

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6 hours ago, u4icmusic said:

For those that visited Dollywood after they reopened from the COVID closure, what did you think about operations, ride wait times, food and beverage wait times and your overall feeling of either feeling safe or not with the COVID restrictions. I think Dollywood will reopen in March with the same or very similar restrictions due to COVID-19 at least until the vast majority of the US has been vaccinated. I'm even thinking theme parks may ask for proof of vaccination to allow entry or to allow you to not have to wear a face covering. Any other ideas about what you think might happen going forward?

I went to Dollywood for Smoky Mountain Christmas in December and mask wearing was strongly enforced prior to boarding the parking lot tram entering the park. Once inside the park people pretty much kept their masks on but some people put them under their noses in the queues.¬†ūüôĄ¬†Also nobody was following the social distancing markers in the queues but I blame that more on the rural Tennessee clientele than on the park. When I went to Carowinds and Six Flags Over Georgia on the same trip I noticed a lot more people were paying attention to the distancing markers in line but I think that has more to do with the Charlotte and Atlanta clienteles being better educated and well aware then the parks' enforcements of their COVID policies.¬†

Now as for ride operations, Dollywood was loading every row on every coaster except for Firechaser Express and the kiddie but only one party per row, which is fine with me. With the exception of Firechaser Express lines moved pretty quickly and operations were smooth. Once an hour, they would clean each train and run it once cycle empty but it didn't delay the line too much. Six Flags Over Georgia had very similar procedures to this and operations were pretty smooth as well. Carowinds on the other hand, had a very tedious procedure that was overkill stopping the trains every 30 min for cleaning with empty cycles and only loading every other row on Copperhead Strike which lead to 90+ min waits and only one party per train on Ricochet which led to 90 min posted waits as well (I skipped it). Only Afterburn was loading every row and still had 30-60 min waits when I was there due to slow operations. If I was you I would avoid Cedar Fair parks until COVID is over and visit Six Flags parks instead (I can't believe I'm saying this) for better operations. Disney and Universal are good to visit too as long as it's not peak holiday weekends or breaks. As for Dollywood, as long as you're okay with people not distancing well in queues and are willing to wear a mask go ahead and visit because nothing else is really diminishing the experience there (except for Lightning Rod being closed, but Lightning Rod being closed is part of the Dollywood experience anyways - at least for me).

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Another thing to point out during covid-19

1.) Festivals were limited
2.) Live shows were limited even during Christmas when they started live shows back
3.) Unless it was a weekend, a lot of restaurants were closed and so were a lot of shops
4.) Smoky Mountain Christmas seemed scaled down, even with light's.

If rides are your only reason for going, you should be happy. My wife and I visited probably 20+ times, not as much as normal but still a lot

While a lot of below sounds like complaining, it was mostly a great season with great visits. I just wanted to note some of this

Rides: On busy days, rides did back up due to lack of shows and other activities

1.) I actually saw them running double trains on rides such as TN Tornado more this year than I have previous years by a lot and wait times averaging 5 - 10 mins. (This ride is normally a walk on). Some visits they skipped seats, some they didn't

Trams: operations here sucked. Skipped rows, long waits, rude drivers. Running the small trams vs longer trams

Security Check: they changed this up a few times this year. During the final months I didn't like how they made you place your cell phone and keys on the table but made you walk through metal detectors with your backpack. They almost always make it go off and then holds up the line while they search it. Just search it while walking through.

Cost Cutting: For those that visit Dollywood a lot, this got much worse later in the season. French Fries changed from home made chips or large potato wedges to simple frozen fries. Plastic forks were so cheap the broke constantly. Even homemade cookies at places changed to packaged. A lot of our favorite foods felt, looked like, and tasted like they became more processed and less homemade. I'll note this last one BUT please note, this was the final day of the season and it was NOT like this a few weekends before. Even the cinnamon bread that last day was almost like it was premade. None of that cinnamon goop in the bottom of the container they now serve in.

Food prices did seem to go up, even with the cost cutting above. We always save our receipts curious how much money the gold pass saved us, and this was confirmed. Prices went up, some even changed mid season

Overall though not many complaints as most of the season was great but not perfect




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Didn't get to Dollywood til November and December.  Masks on guests inside the park was probably one of the worst I've seen on some days, better on others.   I hit about a dozen parks this year.

No one cares about 6 feet inside Dollywood.

Walk, don't take the tram at the end of the night.  It's a cluster over there and not worth the time.

Lines are healthy on busy days.  It wasn't easy to find low attendance days to have some marathons like normal years after August.

 

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Didn't get to Dollywood til November and December.  Masks on guests inside the park was probably one of the worst I've seen on some days, better on others.   I hit about a dozen parks this year.
No one cares about 6 feet inside Dollywood.
Walk, don't take the tram at the end of the night.  It's a cluster over there and not worth the time.
Lines are healthy on busy days.  It wasn't easy to find low attendance days to have some marathons like normal years after August.
 
Glad I'm not the only person who thought trams were a cluster. My experience every trip was like that. Luckily, most of the time, until like October, Gold Pass got to park between B and handicap. During the Holidays, my wife and I actually drove around B lot or C lot until we found someone leaving from a spot that was walking distance. We actually walked to and from D&E one night

Plus side, the parking lot walk in the evening is always nice. dark, not many people. It was always a nice walk my wife and I enjoyed
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Glad I'm not the only person who thought trams were a cluster. My experience every trip was like that.


I usually pay the upcharge for Preferred parking. The hill is a b*tch at the end of a long day but beats waiting on the tram.

But since they increased the upcharge I've used normal parking on slow days (when I usually visit) and when I get there early enough.

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12 hours ago, 805Andrew said:

Also nobody was following the social distancing markers in the queues but I blame that more on the rural Tennessee clientele than on the park. When I went to Carowinds and Six Flags Over Georgia on the same trip I noticed a lot more people were paying attention to the distancing markers in line but I think that has more to do with the Charlotte and Atlanta clienteles being better educated and well aware then the parks' enforcements of their COVID policies. 

I’ll be honest, I haven’t been to a park all year where people follow the distancing markers unless there are people there actively enforcing it (at which point people are trained by the end of the day and just do it on their own).

While I’m not giving the rural Tennessee crowd a pass on that, I also don’t think they’re any worse than most other places. Six Flags Great Adventure is in a market that got hit the hardest by covid (in terms of deaths since it happened early-on) and it’s a free-for-all. American Dream... same thing. SeaWorld, Knoebels, Dorney, Hershey... all atrocious.

The only (major) parks I’ve been to this year where people stand on those lines are Kings Island, Carowinds and Cedar Point where they had people walking through the queues constantly instructing people (though the parks are terribly run aside from that) plus Disney and Universal.

People insist on having no personal space. Why? Who knows?

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13 hours ago, dstephe9 said:

Another thing to point out during covid-19

1.) Festivals were limited
2.) Live shows were limited even during Christmas when they started live shows back
3.) Unless it was a weekend, a lot of restaurants were closed and so were a lot of shops
4.) Smoky Mountain Christmas seemed scaled down, even with light's.

If rides are your only reason for going, you should be happy. My wife and I visited probably 20+ times, not as much as normal but still a lot

While a lot of below sounds like complaining, it was mostly a great season with great visits. I just wanted to note some of this

Rides: On busy days, rides did back up due to lack of shows and other activities

1.) I actually saw them running double trains on rides such as TN Tornado more this year than I have previous years by a lot and wait times averaging 5 - 10 mins. (This ride is normally a walk on). Some visits they skipped seats, some they didn't

Trams: operations here sucked. Skipped rows, long waits, rude drivers. Running the small trams vs longer trams

Security Check: they changed this up a few times this year. During the final months I didn't like how they made you place your cell phone and keys on the table but made you walk through metal detectors with your backpack. They almost always make it go off and then holds up the line while they search it. Just search it while walking through.

Cost Cutting: For those that visit Dollywood a lot, this got much worse later in the season. French Fries changed from home made chips or large potato wedges to simple frozen fries. Plastic forks were so cheap the broke constantly. Even homemade cookies at places changed to packaged. A lot of our favorite foods felt, looked like, and tasted like they became more processed and less homemade. I'll note this last one BUT please note, this was the final day of the season and it was NOT like this a few weekends before. Even the cinnamon bread that last day was almost like it was premade. None of that cinnamon goop in the bottom of the container they now serve in.

Food prices did seem to go up, even with the cost cutting above. We always save our receipts curious how much money the gold pass saved us, and this was confirmed. Prices went up, some even changed mid season

Overall though not many complaints as most of the season was great but not perfect

I agree with your post. I live in south Knoxville an visited every week or two, so I went a lot last season. I also saw the changes you mentioned and I posted about it here. Prices did go up and quality did go way down. I think this is in part due to the new CEO and management team. Like I mentioned before, the fudge prices went through the roof (not a big deal for most people, but I used to bring a box home every visit), and the cinnamon bread quality was not like in previous years.

 

I usually walk from my car to the park for exercise and rarely use the trams, however, they were skipping rows because of social distancing for COVID, which is a good thing. I suppose they could put plastic between the rows like they did on the train to eliminate the skipped rows, but I think that ruined the train experience because you can't see anymore.

 

The change in recent months with placing your keys and cell phones on the security table was strange, but I guess there must have been a reason for doing it.

 

Cedar Point is my all-time favorite Park, but the only other park I went to last season was Kings Island. They had the ride operators enforcing the social distancing in the queues and I have not seen that at Dollywood. We bought the Fastlane Plus and it saved SO much time in lines that we were able to ride everything multiple times. I wouldn't go to a Cedar Fair park without it.



 

 

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54 minutes ago, u4icmusic said:

I usually walk from my car to the park for exercise and rarely use the trams, however, they were skipping rows because of social distancing for COVID, which is a good thing. I suppose they could put plastic between the rows like they did on the train to eliminate the skipped rows, but I think that ruined the train experience because you can't see anymore.

They did eventually put plastic on at least some of the trams (maybe just the long ones).  I do the same as you;  I always walk to the park and back from my car.  Good way to get some steps and I find it relaxing at the end of the evening when the lots are mostly empty.

 

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Social distancing without enforcement/grouping depends on crowds. 1000 person limit BGW was very nice with little enforcement, maybe partially due to being mostly BGW-going adults not just the packing; good w/ current rule. At Great Adventure I was passed in line by a couple of kids due to not walking fast and tight enough before even getting to the temperature check tent. SFA was 2nd best due to crowd control measures and moderate crowds.  KD was safe but annoying.

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I usually only take the tram back to my car at Dollywood if you walk up and there's one there loading and it has space, but that's rare unless you are leaving early. One of the most frustrating experiences I've had there was when they were re-doing the lots a few years ago and had everyone parking in the back lot. I think they even had signs up saying you had to take the trams that day because they were actually crews working in C lot I think it was. Was a terrible end dealing with that madness what was otherwise a great day.

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dealing with that madness what was otherwise a great day.


I never found it bad or madness , just long waits and some random people that couldn't follow the "rules."

So I'd avoid it if it looked like more that 2 or 3 trams. Did a long wait before they redid the loading area (and moved the lot C stop) and it wasn't bad, but the new area doesn't seem to work as well.
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Yeah I haven't tried it since then. That day was just madness because there was no rhyme or reason where the tram driver was going to stop. If they didn't stop in front of you there wasn't going to be room for you on that tram. 

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there was no rhyme or reason where the tram driver was going to stop.


Supposed to always stop at the line to the far right of the station.

They do the same at all the stops, they always pull to the line.
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On 1/11/2021 at 9:03 AM, coasterbill said:

"Safe but annoying" should be the official Cedar Fair slogan during covid.

There is such a thing as overdoing safety.  Cedar Point was to the point of being absurd with sending all of those ghost trains after sanitizing.  Thankfully, Kings Island didn't do that nonsense.  They wiped down but never sent ghost trains.  

It sounds like Carowinds was a mess.  I'm glad I didn't go this year.

I thought Dollywood, Six Flags Over Georgia, Disney and Universal did much better with ops.  

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On 1/12/2021 at 11:00 PM, jackinbox said:

There is such a thing as overdoing safety.  Cedar Point was to the point of being absurd with sending all of those ghost trains after sanitizing.  Thankfully, Kings Island didn't do that nonsense.  They wiped down but never sent ghost trains.  

It sounds like Carowinds was a mess.  I'm glad I didn't go this year.

I thought Dollywood, Six Flags Over Georgia, Disney and Universal did much better with ops.  

Dollywood did, at first. Every time I went it was more and more lax. They stopped making you use hand sanitizer before boarding the rides. They starting filling up more seats on the rides and people were too close together. They never did enforce social distancing in the queues, like other parks did. Let's see what happens when they reopen in March.

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From the picture, it looks like they are moving it to where the pottery was.
Oh, the wagon shop.

Which reminds me of my earlier comments about craftsmen. Not just a different craftsman there, but one less.

Most of the craftsmen are gone now, just selling stuff made off site, and most not had made either.
Which do we loose next? Glass blower? Candle maker? The belt guy? (Didn't he do more than belts in the past?)


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