When people ask what my hobbies are, I reply that I am a “Theme Park Enthusiast.” When I go to a park, the experience and immersiveness are more important to me than the rides or coasters. Tweetsie Railroad in Blowing Rock, NC may not have a roller coaster or super great flat rides, but the experience alone makes up for it tenfold. If you plan to come to the park, set your expectations accordingly as this is a family park and not a thrill park like Carowinds. Tweetsie Railroad opened in 1957 when the Robbins Brothers acquired engine #12 from Gene Autry. The Robins Brothers also started Rebel Railroad which eventually turned into Dollywood. Some of the Robbins family was at the park the day that I went and I got to speak with them a bit. They were very nice people. Speaking of nice people, every single one of the staff members I encountered at the park had a smile on their face and looked like they genuinely enjoyed working there. Each one was more than happy to answer any questions I had about the park. The park is themed around cowboys and Indians and the Wild West. Throughout the day, you will meet the different characters that play a role in the town such as Dr. Abra the magician and Diamond Lil, the owner of the saloon. The park has a few flat rides and a chairlift, but the crowning jewel of the park is the genuine coal fired steam locomotive. Tweetsie owns 2 locomotives: #12, and Dollywood’s sister engine #190. Engine #12 is listed on the national register of historic places! I had always heard about this park as a child, but I never went due to the fact loud noises (such as gunshots) scared me. Last week I went out to lunch at Subway with some co-workers and out of the corner of my eye, I spied a coupon for Tweetsie Railroad. With coupon in hand, I left my house at 7 AM Saturday morning to get to the park for a 9 AM opening. Now onto the photos!
I arrived at Tweetsie to a beautiful scene of the rides on the hillside and the train steaming into the station. I arrived promptly at 9 AM when the ticket gates opened. I walked up to the rides but noticed there was hardly anyone around and the ride ops were no where in sight. I had to ask an employee what was going on and I was told "Ain't nothin' don't open until 9:30." So I walked around some more.
Here is the park map. The park is situated in the side of a mountain so it is built in tiers. The train is at the bottom and the rides are the next level, some more rides and shows are at the top of the mountain.
A shot of main street as you walk in.
Some cowboys were roaming the streets at opening.
The eatery on main street.
Be ready to hike up some mountains when you come to this park.
The main mode of transportation to get to Miners Mountain (the top) is a chairlift. Since it wasn't running yet, I decided to walk.
This park definitely takes the cake as the most beautiful theme park.
Tweetsie will let you bring your own food into the park and you can eat at one of their many picnic tables (like Knoebels).
This park is seriously beautiful.
After a 10 minute walk, I made it to Miners Mountain.
Since I was there so early, the employees were still taking care of a few things (cleaning, taking trash out, etc.)
I couldn't have picked a better day to come.
Since it was nearing 9:30, I walked back down to the Country Fair area of the park.
One of the most unique rides at the park was the Turnpike Cruisers. It's like Autopia without the rail in the middle.
I rode the Ferris Wheel next. Most Ferris Wheels I have ridden use a tire driven system, but this Ferris Wheel was driven by a wire. I should also mention that all rides at the park (except for the newer drop tower, scrambler, and tornado) were manually operated and gave really good cycles.
Seems like people are just dying to come to Tweetsie Railroad.
But seriously, the view from the Ferris Wheel is amazing.
An overview of all the rides.
They had a Moser Rides drop tower.
This was the first Round-Up I had ever ridden. I didn't like it.
Since the chairlift was now running, I rode it to the top to Miners Mountain.
You can find the parks dark ride there: Mouse Mine.
There was a whole story about how Mordecai Mouse found the cheese mine, but I couldn't hear it over all the people while waiting in the station.
The train pulls into the dark ride section and stops.
Then you listen to a song about mining cheese.
WARNING CATCHY SONG AHEAD
The park also had a playground for the smaller kids.
Since this is Miners Mountain, they had a gem mine and gold panning sluice. Gold panning was free but gem mining was $10 a bucket.
They sell petrified wood in the mine gift shop.
I'd buy you all a round of drinks, but I'm a miner...
It was time for me to go back down.
They have a nice lookout at the top of the mountain.
Did I mention how beautiful it was?
Now for the best ride in the park, the Tweetsie Railroad. Today I got the honor of riding behind engine #190 The Yukon Queen. Dollywood has her sister engine #191 Klondike Katie.
Built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, PA, she served in Alaska during WWII.
Looking to the back of the train.
I found it interesting they have flat screens on the train. My guess is that they use them during their Ghost Train Halloween event. Also, the best place to sit to see all the action is in car #3 on the right side.
Each car has a cowboy/cowgirl on board. For my first ride, we had sheriff coyote.
Views from the train.
Crossing the trestle.
The first scene happens as you pull into town.
This is a holdup.
The sheriff kept everyone in line. An urgent telegram came in and said Fort Boone is under attack!
Headed to Fort Boone.
I can't swim, canoe?
Indians attack the fort and the train.
Lots of fighting and explosions.
Finally everyone makes peace. There were 2 different story lines to the train rides. I rode the train 4 times and saw each one of them twice. They switch up the story line every 2 trains. Even though the overall story is the same, each of the 4 times I rode the cowboys lines were different so they definitely ad-lib quite a bit. Usually the ad-libed parts of the show were pretty funny with some pop culture references.
Back to town we go.
Engine #12 was not in use that day. I did speak with an employee and she said it was a rare occurrence when #12 was used. The video below is a few shots I got of the train around the park.
Now it was time to take in some shows. First up Diamond Lil's Can-Can Revue.
Lots of singing and dancing. All shows at Tweetsie last 15 minutes, which in my opinion is just right for a theme park show. It does not take too much time out of your day, but it gives you a chance to sit down for a few minutes.
You could go out on the balcony of the saloon. I kind of reminded me of the Diamond Horseshoe at Disneyland.
As I said earlier, you could bring your own food into the park and this church group did just that. They had a HUGE picnic.
Next up was the Tweetsie Country Clogging Jamboree. Any theme park that has a clogging show scores extra points with me!
Now lets talk food. Tweetsie has very limited food options.
This menu was standard across all dining establishments. It is worth noting that these prices are too bad for a theme park.
The only other option for food is BBQ.
Excuse the glare.
Tweetsie does have your typical theme park food such as funnel cakes, popcorn, cotton candy, ice cream etc.
Excuse the glare again
Here are a few pictures of the shops of Tweetsie
I though these were cute
Nope, we're not at Disney. It is worth noting that a lot of the kids were carrying and shooting cap guns. I thought it added to the atmosphere of the park.
Tweetsie has a fudge shop where they make their own fudge. The lady was making oreo balls when I was in there.
A few more shops.
Adding to the cowboys and Indians theme...
Very creepy animatronic in the jail cell.
Looks like I'm back at Disney.
The other mode of transportation up to Miners Mountain was by bus. Ideal for families with strollers since the walk up was rather long and you can't take strollers on the chair lift.
It was the busiest day of the season for Tweetsie. They had 4 large groups there the Saturday I visited. It was interesting though that the lines for the rides never got more than a 1 cycle wait, and the park never seemed crowded to me as I was walking around.
Seems to be a popular photo spot at theme parks.
It's called a Cowch (I can't make this stuff up)
This was the only downfall of the park for me. It wasn't even the park, it was the magician. The guy used extreme sarcasm that went over the kids heads, he had to beg for applause, he bragged that he had been doing magic for 16 years yet was worse than any birthday party magician I had ever seen. Even the little kids could tell how each trick was done.
Also on Miner Mountain, Tweetsie has a very nice zoo! You could buy an ice cream cone filled with animal feed for $0.50.
Rules and regulations
Pot Belly Pigs
I'm always a fan of good yard art
I took the last train ride of the day and right before we pulled out, one of the cowboys ran an jumped on the back of the horse. It was funny and quite impressive.
At the end of the day, all the performers from all the shows come together and perform in the "Sunset Show." I really enjoyed it and would recommend you stay for it!
Time to leave.
Overall I had a really great day at Tweetsie Railroad, it was so good in fact that it is now in my top 5 theme parks! Thank you to all the staff at Tweetsie who made my day so memorable! Thanks for reading!
Geauga Dog wrote:Blowing Rock does seem quite a bit out of the way from any freeway based on maps so it's great that Tweetsie is still, pardon the pun, chugging right along. It looks like a very nice family park.
It's really not as far away as you would think. Tweetsie is only a 1.5 hour drive from the Charlotte area. So if you're going to Carowinds, it is definitely worth checking out.
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