Yesterday, she sent me off to the park so she could take a nap after all the shopping because we had seen that the park allows you to return the next day free if you arrive after 3pm.
I went to the park to get some power riding in as well as seeing some of the park and figuring out what she would like to ride.
I arrived at the park at 3:05 on a overcast day (it had rained heavily earlier in the day) and made a bee-line straight to Thunderhead to see if it really was as good as I had heard.
I went up the long and winding path to TH barely seeing anyone. I climbed up to the station just as a halfway empty train rolled in. I went to the front row for my first ride.
WOWWWWWWW! Incredible ride. Finally I have a ride that did not cause anticipointment!!! Thundhead rocked!
We pulled back into an empty station...again...and again, and again, and again, and again. Yep, you got that right...six straight laps on it...a different row every time, but just as incredible.
Unfortunately on the second to last lap, someone had mentioned to the ride ops that they had seen some wasps at the top of the lift hill so the ride-op went along with us on the last lap and confirmed that there were wasps and shut the ride down due to management instructions. Bummer. They (understandably) cannot use insecticides while the park is open and, actually, told me that this has been a semi-frequent occurrence this summer. All said and done, (9.5/10 - half point demerit for wasps). My new #1 wood coaster! Wow! Sorry Holiday World and Paula, this one tops Legend. - six laps.
I went from there to see the rest of the park. It is a truly beautiful park. I made my way back to Blazing Fury...good ride, a bit boring at parts, but it met expectations and the families that were riding it liked it - and they are the target audience, to coaster nuts. (8/10 based on target audience) - one lap.
Went from there to Tennessee Twister. It has the dubious distinction of being the smoothest Arrow Looper I have ever been on, right behind Demon at SFGAm. (7/10) - one lap.
Wne back today, (10/20) with Vicky and she was up to trying TH first thing. We went stright there and went to the front row without any wait. As we climbed the lift and she saw the ridiculously banked turns, she gave me a nervous look and grabbed my arm even tighter. As we flew through the turns she was screaming and giggling simultaneously. We raced through the course and hit the final brakes. After she caught her breath, I asked her what she thought of it. Her response? "Amazing! It was soooo smooth!" I asked her, half expecting a "no" answer, if she wanted to go again. To my suprise, she said yes!! Sweeeeet!
We get back to the station and as my luck had it, nobody was in line for the front row so we were off again. As we went up the hill, I asked her if she was going to put her hands up this time - she shrugged. Well, after the first huge banked turn, to my suprise, I saw her put her hands up in the air! A FIRST!! And we have proof of it, we bought the picture! (I will scan them in when I return home next week).
Not wanting to push my luck, we went off to visit the rest of the park and see the shows as she likes gospel music and they were in the middle of celebrating the "Harvest Celebration and Southern Gospel Jubilee".
We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon just looking at the exhibitors and listening to some of the great musical groups.
Just before lunch though, I got her on Blazing Fury. She liked it and agreed, that it was a hit with the target audience as we saw giggling girls and boys running down the exit back to the entrance.
We did more shopping and sightseeing (saw the "Wings of America" bird of prey show. I was called up on stage to participate (photos to follow next week).
We rode the real steam train and enjoyed the time sitting and listening to a real steam train.
We went from there and bought a "Southern Belle" dress for Katie's two year birthday photo. (She is not with us - she's spending the week with Vicky's parents). Hopefully, she will forgive us someday... ;)
From there, we went back to TH at 4:45. We hit the last row this time. She still liked it but said she was done riding for the day and let me power ride "to my heart's content"...little did she know that meant for the rest of the day (they closed at 6pm) and even got on the last train of the day, thanks to being on a first name basis with the crew. 10/10. Nine "power ride laps", plus the three with Vicky for a total of twelve laps for the day and eighteen for the trip!
We loved Dollywood and Thunderhead. We both agreed TH was our favorite wood coaster and as much as we really liked DW, it was just short in being our favorite small park (and Vicky's second favorite park overall) right behind Holiday World because of the free parking and sodas.
Park overall, 9/10! I just wish it wasn't so far away.
Dollywood is just so clean and well run that I'd give up both Knott's and SFMM to have it closer to me.
They have to be the very best park for christmas, with nearly 3 million lights, they make it very special.
(and no, I'm not being Zombified, I'm going on my own with some friends).
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