Dollywood 4/7/04: Let the Thunder Roll!

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Friday, April 9, 2004 1:55 AM
Okay, Wednesday I decided to head out with my friend Tyler to go ride Thunderhead, the newest wooden coaster in the South. Neither of us had ever been to Dollywood before, so both of us were in for surprises. We left early from Atlanta, and arrived in Pigeon Forge at just about 10am. However, due to massive amounts of road construction, it took us an hour to go the final mile to the park. After what seemed an eternity, we finally parked in the back of the parking lot. I could immediately tell this was to be a crowded day. There were literally 30 min lines just for the trams to get to the park! Not knowing this park, I decided to walk to the entrance... Well, half a mile and a couple pounds later gone, we finally reached the front gate, where we had to stand in the sun to get tickets for 30 min staring at the gaudy Flags hanging everywhere for their "Tapestry of Nations", or whatever it was. This is where my first problem with Dollywood came up. They have a great staff, but some of them I literally think couldn't do their job any slower. I realized soon that Dollywood ins't for your parkgoer in a hurry.

Of course, as soon as I got in the park, I made a beeline for Thunderhead. After about a 10 min wait, I got on the front seat for my first ride. All I can say is, I am speechless. This is my new number one wooden coaster. The ride reaches about 55 mph, and I could swear thats the speed it keeps throughout the ride, all the way to the brakes. This ride has got it all: speed moments, airtime, crazy turns, wonderful trains, and a great staff. The only way to sum up this ride is the following statement: If you have ever considered yourself to be a coaster enthuasiast or a wooden coaster fanatic, you cannot die happy until you have ridden this art of wood. After a few rides, we headed to the back of the park to ride Tennessee Tornado. We made a stop by Blazing Fury on the way. Wow, if there ever was a SPED coaster, this would be it. There were a few moments of what might be considered some fraction of fun, but in general this ride is a flaming pile of monkey crap. I hate to be so blunt, but I got off thinking "Yeah, that ride must be old but still, WTF....". Finally, we got back to Tennessee Tornado. I took a trip in the second seat. This ride is very fun for an Arrow looper, but it just too short. I like it, but would not wait more than about 15-20 min for it at any other park.

From here on out, we decided to go find other things to do. First, we wanted to get some food. However, every food stand literally had the longest line I've ever seen for food stands at a park. We found a little booth serving nachos and left it at that. The rest of the day was exploring this very unique park. Being the train nut that I am, of course I took a spin up in the cab of #70, their 2-8-2 Baldwin narrow gauge, coal fired, steam powered locomotive. I absolutely loved this experience, and I reccomend you ask to ride in the cab if you have any remote love for trains. We ended the day with Thunderhead again, making 5 total rides on this puppy. The back seat is by far the most fun seat, IMO. We left the park around 7:30 after our last ride. One of the good things I noticed on my frist trip to Dollywood was that even though the park was insanely crowded, the coasters barely had any lines. Since the average guests are old people or families, we were able to ride most everything we wanted to ride with minimal problems. Without Thunderhead, I don't think I would be back to Dollywood for quite some time. However, another trip might just be necessary to experience the greatness that is Thunderhead. *** Edited 4/9/2004 5:58:09 AM UTC by Chris the Coaster Freak***

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Friday, April 9, 2004 9:43 AM
"The only way to sum up this ride is the following statement: If you have ever considered yourself to be a coaster enthuasiast or a wooden coaster fanatic, you cannot die happy until you have ridden this art of wood."

Then I better live until next year ;)

Great TR, CTCF!

mOOSH [must get to Dollywood...must get to Dollywood]

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Friday, April 9, 2004 6:54 PM
Funny I was thinking the same thing about Thunderhead as well...it just does NOT slow down til you hit the brakes. How does it do that!
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Saturday, April 10, 2004 5:46 PM
Wow, this got me really pumped about Thunderhead!

Glad to see you had a nice trip other than the slow employees.

Blazing Fury's age is really beggining to show. It's really only 26, but it looks as if it has been around since the 1950s. I love the ride, but when BGW has things like Escape from Pompeii that involve real fire, the ride is kind of weak. Maybe they'll upgrade sometime in the future.

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Sunday, April 11, 2004 12:44 PM
To truly enjoy Blazing Fury you must sit up front. You get the full effect of the splashdown and also the full effect of the special effects. For instance, the first drop from the middle of the train looks and feels kind of dull, but in the front seat, it looks as if your going to cross a bridge when all of a sudden the bridge collapses in front of you and the train goes down the first drop, IMO it enhances the sensations of the ride.
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Monday, April 12, 2004 4:33 PM
Dukeis#1, rcdb reports Blazing Fury was built in '71 (33 years).
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Monday, April 12, 2004 6:28 PM
^In this case the great RCDB is wrong. Blazing Fury opened in 1978, the third year SDC owned the park, and the second year it was known as Silver Dollar City/Tennessee.

I'll post the '78 brochure if I ever get my scanner fixed.

1978 was also the year they expanded Craftman's Valley past the Church & Flooded Mine.

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Monday, April 12, 2004 6:48 PM
^ You should report that to RCDB.

All I can say about Blazing Fury is that the sound system really needs a boost. The ride would be so much more cheesy fun if you could hear what those hillbillies are saying.

I'll be at Dollywood with my best friend on Wednesday. wOOt!

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Monday, April 12, 2004 6:49 PM
For the best Thunderhead Review yet- Check out ThrillRide!
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