Okay, here's my full Lightning Rod review:
I had been walking past the ride about every hour or so since I was aware of the rumors that it might soft open today. When I walked by around 12:45, I noticed that there were people on the ride that didn't look like employees. After looking around for a bit, I saw an employee handing out boarding passes to ride during the technical ride rehearsal session. I was able to get one, and then proceeded up the steps to the station. Waited there for a minute, then I was assigned a seat in the fifth row. As the train pulled out of the station, everyone on the train was going nuts. Then we headed up the launched lift hill. The launch wasn't mind-blowing, but it is one of the better launches I've experienced. The first drop was awesome with great air! The first banked turned after the lift hill was the only spot where I felt the ride let up at all (still a fun element). After that, it was pedal-to-the-metal all the way to the end, with a layout full of speed, intensity, airtime, quick transitions, and the out-of-control feeling. This might also be the smoothest coaster I've ridden, no roughness whatsoever. The best part of the ride for me was by far the quad-down, full of great ejector air! The last turn before the brake run was just icing on the cake. The train was roaring with applause as we returned to the station. A few hours later, I'm still shocked that it happened. I wouldn't have been able to come back tomorrow because my flight back home leaves tomorrow morning, so the fact that I got to ride it is almost a miracle. Overall, Lightning Rod is truly an amazing coaster. It's my new favorite wooden coaster and my #2 coaster overall (out of 85 coasters), with Fury 325 being the only coaster I rank higher. Huge thanks to Dollywood, Rocky Mountain Construction, and everyone else involved with this project. I would certainly recommend making a trip out to Dollywood to ride it, but I would wait until they officially announce an opening date (hopefully tomorrow or sometime this week) before making plans if you aren't a local.
One more thing: I met and said hi to MonorailORANGE (the other poster here who rode it) while in line for Wild Eagle, and we both agreed that the #ItllNeverOpen movement going on in this thread is really getting ridiculous.