Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's World Adventures

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Re: Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's World Adventures

Postby PKI Jizzman » Tue Feb 04, 2020 1:45 pm

That whole corner of the country has been daunting me my whole enthusiast life. I need to get out there! Looks really beautiful in the fall, too. Thanks for these reports! We're both doing October trip reports in February :lol:
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Re: Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's World Adventures

Postby Canobie Coaster » Tue Feb 04, 2020 10:28 pm

^ Halloween is a much more exciting time at parks than Valentine's Day!

I'm really lucky to have the New England parks up my way since they're relatively close to each other and each one has their strength. SFNE for thrill rides, Canobie for charm, Story Land and Santa's Village for cuteness, Lake Compounce for Halloween, and Funtown/Palace Playland if I want a good lobster roll and ride roller coasters while I'm there.
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Re: Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's World Adventures

Postby Canobie Coaster » Thu Feb 06, 2020 9:04 am

Dollywood- Smoky Mountain Coasterfest

Smoky Mountain Christmas is an amazing time to visit Dollywood. It’s especially amazing if it’s during Smoky Mountain Coasterfest, an event through ACE that is the best time of year to get night rides on the world’s best coaster.

Lightning Rod played hard to get with me, but once I finally rode it, I was addicted. It immediately became my number one coaster. And after an additional 40 rides on this masterpiece in the span of 28 hours, it only separated itself further from the pack.

Christmas Tree 1.JPG
Santa- "What do you want for Christmas?"

Lightning Rod Station.jpg
Me- "An empty station on Lightning Rod."


Lightning Rod is perfection from start of finish. There isn’t a single moment of dead track. Just look at these elements.

- Surprisingly forceful launch
- Ejector pop 200+ feet in the air
- Big drop that’s as good as any other RMC drop
- Gargantuan wave turn with 3-4 seconds of sustained, sideways airtime
- WTF turnaround with 3-4 seconds of sustained, sideways airtime
- Off-axis airtime hill with powerful ejector airtime
- A rare straight hill with even more powerful ejector airtime
- The legendary quad down with even more powerful ejector airtime
- A speed hill that makes the quad down feel like a quint down
- A half loop that has (you guessed it) strong airtime

When the worst part of a ride is an ejector pop almost 200+ feet in the air, you know a ride is unbelievable. And this all takes place on a heavily wooded mountain at what feels like 100 mph.

Even better is the fact that most of my rides occurred at night. Beast fans will be triggered, but Lightning Rod is easily the world’s best night ride. The entire back section is pitch black and when you finally emerge from the darkness, you rocket down the quad down with dazzling Christmas lights before you. It’s magical.

Part of the event included free cinnamon bread, but I couldn’t pull myself away from Lightning Rod. The coaster is that good. I’m breaking my rating system for this one because Lightning Rod deserves it. 12 out of 10

Lightning Rod Entrance.JPG
I'm still not used to seeing the door open.

Lightning Rod Launch (Sunset).JPG
What a beautiful sky...and an even more beautiful ride.

Lightning Rod Half Loop (Side).JPG
Even at the end of the ride, Lightning Rod is still hauling.

Lightning Rod Wave Turn (Front).JPG
Funny story about this photo. I accidentally took a wrong turn on the way to Dollywood and ended up in some apartment community...which just happened to have some sweet views of Lightning Rod.


Not only did I ride Lightning Rod an unhealthy amount of times in normal park hours and an energetic ERT session, but the event also included a rare photo walkback for the coaster.

Even during the walkback tour, Lightning Rod was harder to photograph than Bigfoot. Part of the reason why Lightning Rod is such a great night ride is exactly why it’s a royal pain to photograph. It's all tucked away in that valley. But I did get some nice shots of the elusive first second drop.

Lightning Rod Drop (Side).JPG

Lightning Rod Drop (Front).JPG
Good luck getting these shots on a regular day.


We actually had ERT on two coasters. And because of the plunging evening temperatures and Lightning Rod’s history, I figured if one ERT session were to have a hiccup, it would have been that one. In fact, Lightning Rod only went down once over two days. And even that was just for a protein spill.

So what ride crapped the bed for our ERT session? Blazing Fury. :lol:

Some riders even had to be evacuated. And honestly, I think that was the highlight of their day. But it did reopen later in the day and I got my ride. As a coaster, it’s nothing special outside of one surprising pop of air. As a dark ride, it’s a nice, retro attraction. 7 out of 10

Blazing Fury Entrance.JPG
If you told me this ride would have more downtime than Lightning Rod, I wouldn't have believed you.


Another big reason for my return visit was to finally experience Wildwood Grove. In my March visit, I saw the new area sitting idle from atop Thunderhead. This time, I finally got to explore the area.

Wildwood Grove is an excellent family area. Almost every ride there can be experienced by parents and kids simultaneously. And the tree that’s the centerpiece of the area looks stunning at night.

Wildwood Grove Tree 1.JPG
This so perfectly Dollywood.


The one attraction I did experience was Dragonflier. If you told me a decade ago that Vekoma could produce an inverted coaster this smooth, I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s glass smooth.

Dragonflier is a family coaster with bite. That overbank is a borderline inversion and pulls some serious Gs. I can’t believe that element is on a family ride. Then the helices came close to making my legs tingle. 6.5 out of 10

Dragonflier Overview.JPG
Dragonflier is 90% family coaster.

Dragonflier Overbank.JPG
And the other 10% is this completely awesome and out-of-place pseudo inversion.


Usually I go back and forth whether or not Tennessee Tornado or Wild Eagle is the second best ride in the park. Thunderhead ended that debate. These were the fastest rides I’ve ever gotten on Thunderhead.

While it had a bit of a shuffle to it, the airtime was fantastic. The drawn out hills had some nice sustained floater airtime and the turnarounds (big and small) had powerful pops of ejector air. 8 out of 10

Thunderhead Hill.JPG

Thunderhead Airtime.JPG
I don't remember Thunderhead ever running this well.

Thunderhead Drop (Day).JPG

Thunderhead Drop (Night).JPG
Wildwood Grove offers some new shots of Thunderhead.


Tennessee Tornado is a big “What If” for me. What if Arrow hadn’t gone bankrupt shortly after this ride was built? Because Tennessee Tornado is a wild and immaculately smooth ride.

That drop through the mountain is incredible. Getting sustained airtime like that in complete darkness is dreamlike. And then you have a floaty first inversion and forceful second and third inversions. 8 out of 10

Tennessee Tornado Entrance.JPG
Dollywood definitely doesn't skimp on the lights.

Tennessee Tornado Loop.JPG
It's weird actually being able to see the loop.


Wild Eagle is still one of the weirder wing coasters if you ask me. In many ways, it feels like your usual B&M floorless layout just with wing coaster trains. And that isn’t a bad thing if you ask me.

I love the straight first drop. It feels more like a drop on a hyper coaster. It’s a shame B&M doesn’t have more of these on loopers. And then the rest of the ride is quite scenic and floaty. 8 out of 10

Wild Eagle Loop (Front).JPG
Fly like an eagle. Or if you're an enthusiast, whine about the vest restraints and forcelessness.

Wild Eagle Drop (Far).JPG
Another shot courtesy of the Lightning Rod walkback.


After the mine was closed in my March visit, I made sure to take a ride on Mystery Mine. While I love the drops and theming, it really is an awkwardly paced coaster. :lol: 7.5 out of 10

Mystery Mine Exterior.JPG
This is the prettiest looking mine I've ever seen.

Mystery Mine Dive Loop.JPG
I love the ending...and am confused by the start.


While Dragonflier helped take the burden off Firechaser Express, I’d still argue the latter is the park’s premier family coaster. It’s really impressive how many pops (albeit very, very tiny pops) of airtime this ride has. And then it mixes in multiple launches, some laterals, and even a backwards bit. It really is a jack-of-all trades. 7 out of 10

Firechaser Express Overview.JPG
I just wish something like this existed when I was a kid.


The only non-coaster I rode was Drop Line, which is a seriously underrated drop tower if you ask me. I think everyone agrees the view is amazing, but I find the drop as good as an Intamin tower. 9 out of 10

Plus Drop Line is an absolute tank and will only close if Hell freezes over.

Wildwood Grove Sign (Day).JPG
Drop Line takes you way above Wildwood Grove.


With each visit to Dollywood, I love it more and more. It goes without saying I’d love the park that is home to my favorite roller coaster, but Dollywood is so much more than just Lightning Rod.

It has a boatload of other high-quality attractions, well-produced shows, great theming, friendly employees, yummy food, and I could just keep going on and on. What I’m trying to say is that Dollywood is one of the best parks in the world.

And going during Smoky Mountain Coasterfest and making some new friends was just icing on the cake.

Sign.jpg

Sign 2.JPG
Goodbye from Dollywood
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Re: Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's World Adventures

Postby coneyislandchris » Thu Feb 06, 2020 10:36 am

Big smile on my face reading that entire report and seeing the photos. Dollywood at the holidays might honestly be my favorite place on Earth, even more so than Knoebels in autumn. Fantastic park with a fantastic set of rides. Lightning Rod might not be my number one, but I agree that night rides on it are breathtaking. The kiddo and I got a front row ride at closing the last time we visited with only one other person on the train at the time, and it was a life-changing experience, being hauled like a bat out of hell through those backwoods and feeling completely out of control.

I love it so much. <3
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Re: Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's World Adventures

Postby PKI Jizzman » Thu Feb 06, 2020 10:47 am

Some pretty fantastic photos here! Dollywood has got it all. They've done so much since my last visit 5+ years ago and it's great to hear all of the coasters are still holding up well.
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Re: Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's World Adventures

Postby bill_s » Thu Feb 06, 2020 6:00 pm

If anyone else was wondering what magical time of the year he was talking about, the Fest event was Nov. 16. So, I was probably correct that I didn't miss an equally good time by not going in late December. Maybe this year.
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Re: Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's World Adventures

Postby mattnz » Thu Feb 06, 2020 6:07 pm

Fantastic review (and photos) of Lightning Rod. I was lucky to get on this several times after travelling half way across the world. I thought it was daring of Dollywood to create something so extreme, but it fits in brilliantly with their top-notch line-ups of attractions.
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Re: Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's World Adventures

Postby Canobie Coaster » Thu Feb 06, 2020 9:49 pm

coneyislandchris wrote:Big smile on my face reading that entire report and seeing the photos. Dollywood at the holidays might honestly be my favorite place on Earth, even more so than Knoebels in autumn. Fantastic park with a fantastic set of rides. Lightning Rod might not be my number one, but I agree that night rides on it are breathtaking. The kiddo and I got a front row ride at closing the last time we visited with only one other person on the train at the time, and it was a life-changing experience, being hauled like a bat out of hell through those backwoods and feeling completely out of control.

I love it so much. <3


The fact that Lightning Rod exists at such a well-rounded, top notch park like Dollywood makes it even better. There isn't a bad time to visit Dollywood, but it's even better at Christmas.

PKI Jizzman wrote:Some pretty fantastic photos here! Dollywood has got it all. They've done so much since my last visit 5+ years ago and it's great to hear all of the coasters are still holding up well.


Thanks! And more is likely on the way since they still have a huge plot of cleared land by Wildwood Grove.

bill_s wrote:If anyone else was wondering what magical time of the year he was talking about, the Fest event was Nov. 16. So, I was probably correct that I didn't miss an equally good time by not going in late December. Maybe this year.


I certainly wasn't complaining that Smoky Mountain Christmas started before Thanksgiving. I figured temperature related closures would have been less likely early in the season.

mattnz wrote:Fantastic review (and photos) of Lightning Rod. I was lucky to get on this several times after travelling half way across the world. I thought it was daring of Dollywood to create something so extreme, but it fits in brilliantly with their top-notch line-ups of attractions.


It took me several tries to finally get on Lightning Rod, but it was a game changer for Dollywood's line-up.
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Re: Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's World Adventures

Postby Canobie Coaster » Sun Feb 09, 2020 6:31 am

Pigeon Forge Fun

One of my goals this trip was to knockout some new coaster credits in Pigeon Forge. So I began with the Island at Pigeon Forge, a vibrant and energetic shopping center along the strip.

This complex is home to the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel that can be seen for miles away. That would have been a totally respectable reason to justify my visit. But you know me better. I was there for the Spinning Parrots kiddie coaster. :lol:

Map.JPG
Welcome to the Island.

Great Smoky Mountain Wheel (Horizontal).JPG
Dick would make for a good Scrooge in the Christmas Carol.


As I’ve ridden more and more of these SBF Visa spinning coasters, I’ve started to like them less and less. It’s probably because they’re everywhere now. But at least they’re comfortable. 2 out of 10

Spinning Parrots.JPG
Most are drawn to the Island by the Ferris Wheel. I was drawn by this dinky little coaster.


What I did really enjoy was Reverse Time, this innocent looking junior Trabant/wipeout. I hadn’t seen one that small, so I wanted the new flat ride credit. And let me tell you, this ride does not mess around.

Once it reaches its max height of 15ish feet, you get some surprising floater air more akin to what you’d get on a frisbee ride. Combine that with laterals and you have a bonafide, little thrill machine. 8 out of 10

Reverse Time Cycling.JPG
I kid you not, this ride had some serious airtime.


I then continued down the parkway to Rowdy Bear Ridge, which was home to one of the most bizarre coasters I’ve ever seen, the Alpine Flyer. Really it’s more like a shooting dark ride with two key distinctions. One, it’s gravity powered. Two, it’s not a dark ride.

You see, this ride is entirely outdoors. So you’re given this laser gun to shoot these unthemed targets. The most bizarre thing is that not all the targets are actually targets. WTF? Only like a third of them have a sensor for you to hit.

I think the ride system could work if it were themed and indoors. But as it stands, the Alpine Flyer is basically a slow, suspended wild mouse with no drops and a cheap shooting gimmick. 2 out of 10

Alpine Flyer Lift.JPG
Cool concept on paper.

Alpine Flyer Turn.JPG
But the execution felt cheap and flawed.


It was then time to finally experience the Jurassic Jungle Boat. There was no way Emily would let me burn money at this train-wreck in past visits, so I took advantage of this solo visit. Most girlfriends have to worry about their boyfriend going to strip clubs when they’re unsupervised. Mine has to worry about me riding kiddie credits and crappy dark rides. :lol:

I want to start by talking about the ride system. Even though you’re in a boat and a trough filled with water, you are pulled through the layout by a chain. This is especially comical as you struggle to turn a corner. It’s like watching someone move a sofa into an apartment.

As expected the animatronics were delightfully awful. They looked worse than Howard the Duck. They were bad on their own, but the fact the ride didn’t even try to hide the hardware made it even funnier. But the funniest thing was how the dinosaurs had banshee-like shrieks instead of roars.

Jurassic Jungle Boat was objectively awful. While I certainly chuckled, I can’t justify giving this place any more of my money. But you totally should since it’s a crowning achievement of fail. 2 out of 10

Jurassic Jungle Boat Facade.JPG
My life is now complete.

Jurassic Jungle Boat Station.JPG
How did these wax figures beat me into line?!?

Jurassic Jungle Boat Dinos.jpg
The animatronics were all downhill from here.


And it wouldn’t be a visit to Pigeon Forge without riding an alpine coaster, so I made sure to ride my favorite one, the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster (SMAC). I’ve ridden this one a few times, but I’ve never done it at night.

Unlike the one at Goats on the Roof which is in complete darkness, SMAC is adorned with more rainbow colored lights than a pride parade. It feels like you’re experiencing a real-life version of Mario Kart’s Rainbow Road.

But unlike how I drive in Mario Kart, SMAC had quite a bit of autobraking- more than I remember in the past. That being said, it’s still an incredibly long ride with some decent laterals and maybe a pop of air along the way. 7 out of 10

SMAC Night.JPG
As cool as the lights looked, I sort of wish it was in complete darkness like the one at Goats.


One of the attractions I was most looking forward to was the Mountain Monster. It was home to a thrill tower from Soarin’ Eagle. It’s very similar to the one at Foxwoods up in my neck of the woods or Branson’s Bigfoot Tower. Except this one had a third attraction- this pseudo skycoaster thing.

It’s actually the same ride system as the TerrorDactyl ride in Colorado that is a staple in viral videos. However, it wasn’t to be. The Mountain Monster had closed for the season.

Mountain Monster.JPG
This was the lone attraction I saw closed for the season.


So I ate my sorrows away at Mama’s Farmhouse. If you love southern food and lots of it, you need to make Mama’s Farmhouse a priority the next time you’re in pigeon forge. It’s all-you-can-eat and unlike Old Country Buffet or Golden Corral, the food is actually amazing.

Mama's Meal 2.jpg
Fried chicken, fried catfish, biscuits, and gravy. I love the south.


While the anchor of any Pigeon Forge visit will always be Dollywood, I will always make time for these overpriced tourist traps. It’s our civic duty as Americans.
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Re: Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's World Adventures

Postby Nrthwnd » Sun Feb 09, 2020 6:09 pm

^ First, that foodplate looks great!

Second, that Jurassic Boat Ride kinda looked like several ...um... dark rides I remember riding in Japan.
Nothing wrong with that. A few of them in China, too.

Third, that Junior Trabant/WipeOut looks like it'd perfect for our park, Playland(PNE). We already have a
Mini-Spinner coaster here (called 'Bug Whirled') which is fun for kids and the adults, too. This would be a
great addition.

Great TR of Pigeon Forge! So much stuff there, I had no idea. Looking forward to more of your adventures!
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