Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, USA
My family has been in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge/ Smoky Mountain area for the past week, so I decided I should visit Dollywood for a day. My brother, my sister, and my aunt chose to accompany me on our visit.
We arrived at the park at about 9:35 and headed for the path to Timber Canyon and Thunderhead. We had to wait until 9:50 before they let us in. Thunderhead's queue had not opened yet so we waited another five minutes until the queue opened. We waited five minutes once the queue opened. Only one train was running at the beginning of the day, but not too many people were there. We rode in the 3rd and 4th rows and had a great time. This was my first GCI in a couple of years and I had forgotten how great those Millennium Flyers are. Thunderhead was spectacular! There was so much airtime and I got an out-of-control feeling around the turns. The station fly-through was a unique feature that I really enjoyed. Overall, I liked it better than The Voyage (my former #1 woodie) by a little bit because it was smoother.
Next, was the Lumberjack Lifts because my brother thought they looked cool. It was a unique ride with its rotating tower and ropes that you pull on to lift your car up to the top of the 25 ft. tower. It gave a nice view of Thunderhead and the inversion finale on Mystery Mine.
After the Lumberjack Lifts, we went to Mystery Mine. My brother and aunt were feeling uneasy about it, so they decided to sit it out. My sister and I rode in the front row of a train. I thought it was a good ride with a wild finish, but my sister thought it was the best coaster she had ridden. She loved the vertical drops and the insane finale. It was my first Euro-Fighter so I don't really have anything to compare it to, but I thought that it was fun, although there was some head banging that I didn't enjoy.
Next, we went back to Firechaser Express and were met with a 45 minute wait. It didn't seem that long, thanks to the tremendous theming and the nice views of the ride. I rode in the front row with my sister. We both found it to be a great family coaster with mild to moderate launches and more airtime than expected. They really did a nice job with this one.
After that, my aunt and I went to Wild Eagle (my brother didn't make the height requirement and my sister stayed with him). We rode in the second to back row on the left side. My aunt loved it, saying it was second only to Griffon in her rankings. I enjoyed it more than Mystery Mine, but not as much as Thunderhead. It was smooth as glass and was just a lot of fun to ride.
Next, was Tennessee Tornado back in the woods. We waited five minutes for a middle seat. I thought it was very good for an Arrow looper, although it was so short, I couldn't say it was better that Loch Ness Monster. My brother, on the other hand, declared it the best ride in the park.
We were getting hungry, so we stopped at Miss Lillian's Chicken House for some grub. The food was very good, much better than anything I've had at a Cedar Fair park. We found Miss Lillian to be very entertaining as we ate. She would give all the kids a penny and tell them to go throw it into a wishing well and make a wish.
After lunch, we went to the Owens Farm to ride Mountain Slidewinder. From the queue, we got some great views of Wild Eagle soaring through the dive loop. The slide was fun, and a lot faster than we were anticipating. I hardly consider it a water ride, as I got out completely dry.
Next, I rode Barnstormer (S&S Screamin' Swing) alone. It was only running one arm, so the line was pretty substantial. Luckily I was alone, and I walked right on through the singles line. The ride was very good and it will be interesting to compare it to Skyhawk at Cedar Point later this summer. I heard Skyhawk wasn't swinging as high this year. Anyone know more?
We headed to The Village and Country Fair to ride some flats. The area was packed with rides and people. We only rode the carousel and the swings before walking back to Craftsman's Valley.
In Craftsman's Valley, we noticed Blazing Fury had a long line so we went back to Tennessee Tornado. This time, they had two trains running and we rode in the middle again. I didn't feel any different about the ride after a second spin on it.
My aunt and I rode Wild Eagle again on the right side in the middle. It was still a really good ride, but I think I liked it better on the left side. The second time around, I noticed how much it looks like you are riding on the wings of an eagle.
Firechaser Express had an even longer wait, so my sister and I rode Mystery Mine again, while my aunt and brother rode River Battle and Lumberjack Lifts. There was a half hour wait because they were taking a train off the track. We rode in the second row this time, but liked the front better.
To end our day, my sister and I rode Thunderhead one more time. We had to wait a while though, because they were adding a train. The ride delivered just as it had the first time.
Overall, it was a great day at Dollywood, a very nice park with great theming and fun rides. We had a blast! Next up, Michigan's Adventure in July!
Darien Lake has a ride called Heave Ho! that I believe is the same as Lumberjack Lifts... My son loves it, we end up riding over and over again. I always act like I'm scared and won't let go of the rope and he encourages me and assures me it will be fun to drop, laughing the whole time. It's amazing how differently I enjoy going to these parks pre- vs post-fatherhood...
But then again, what do I know?
SkyHawk at Cedar Point isn't swinging as high as it used to, but everything feels the same to me. Love that ride!
Mystery Mine is proof that Gerstlauer should retrofit the pre-existing Eurofighters a la Premier and the spaghetti bowls. That ride would be so much better visually in terms of the theming, and ride-wise in terms of the headbanging.
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