Dollywood and Newport TN Carnival (ride on SCAT) 6/8/07

Associated parks:
None

Saturday, June 9, 2007 4:21 PM
This Trip report focuses on what we were able to do in 6 hours or so at Dollywood with a group of 8 people of varying ages and does get a bit detailed (long). There is quite a bit more at Dollywood that is not mentioned in this trip report however we did ride Mystery Mine... I do suggest that you go to the Dollywood website and look through the list of rides and show and plan your trip if you will only be spending 1 day at the park. We also stopped at a carnival so I could ride a Venture Rides SCAT, you'll find details on that at the end of this trip report.

9:00 AM: all 8 of us (4 adults, 2 school aged kids and 2 toddlers) leave for Dollywood in 2 cars.
10:00 AM: we stopped for an early lunch at Sonic ($40).
11:00 AM: we have the kids packed back into the cars and are back on road. Along the way I spot a carnival in Newport TN in a parking lot of a closed shopping center (US 25/70 East or West from I-40 depending on the exit you take). I mention this because they had a SCAT, a Trabant and a Rock-O-Plane but they weren't open.
12:00 PM on the dot we make it through the Dollywood parking toll booths. Like anyone else who has been here can tell you, the first (narrow) half of the parking lot is all Handicap parking. We go across the bridge and park a few hundred feet from the D/E (in the D lot) tram stop (a good sign that the park wasn't overcrowded). The tram attendant tells us to remember our tram stop by giving us 2 pneumonic devices to help us remember; "Dolly's Earrings" or "Dale Earnhardt". We arrive at the park entrance after our tram ride and enter through the gates. At this point We have almost 7 hours to enjoy our day.

The 3 adults and the 2 kids able to ride were all ready for Mystery Mine where the 2 toddlers and Grandma were ready for the other stuff. We all agreed that Mystery Mine would be the only attraction in the Timber Canyon (formerly Thunder Gap) section that we would take in that day so we headed there first.

After applying sunscreen, taking a bathroom break, etc. and getting the toddlers and Grandma situated in the shade near the restaurant in Timber Canyon, the 5 of us head off and at 12:45 we arrive at Mystery Mine to find a 20 minute wait. After reading other trip reports, I paid close attention to the station music (which was a little hard to hear) but I did get a good chuckle from it. My wife and I rode in the back row with me on the outside right and her next to me. The 2 kids and their mom rode in the front row. We all liked the coaster very well. While I didn't get to ride it but one time, I think (if you are an average height or tall adult) you should grab a back seat for your first ride since, after comparing ride info with the front seater riders in our group, certain things are hidden making it a slightly more surprising ride. The only problem my wife and I had was a little head banging (for not being able to see the track) in the first bit, but we braced ourselves from then on and were fine the rest of the ride. Overall I give Dollywood 10 thumbs up (from the group) for spending the extra money to theme this coaster very well, making a totally unique and fun experience combined with the thrills of the first Gerstlauer Euro Fighter in the US. That 1 1/2 heartline twist then hang and drop finale kicked butt! Don't be fooled, there is much more to this coaster than they show in the promo. I was also pleasantly surprised how comfortable the restraints are for hefty people like me. I am leaving out details about Mystery Mine intentionally.

We headed across the park to the the "wet area" for kids (I don't remember the name of it but it is right outside the entrance to Slidewinder). I hung out with Grandma while the 2 ladies stayed with the toddlers in the kids in the area with the water that "pops" out of the ground. The 2 other kids ran through the rest of the structure from one water feature to another getting soaked. After a while the toddlers had their fun, the 2 kids, their mom and I rode Slidewinder (much like a water slide that would accommodate rubber inflated rafts, only they use in-house manufactured tandem seat foam rubber boats - very unique and a bit on the wild side). This ride is definitely worth a 15-30 minute wait on a hot day, but we barely caught our breath (from climbing the hill) before being weighed in for our adventure.

We headed farther up into Craftsman's Valley towards Dare Devil Falls. After situating Grandma and the toddlers in the shade near Dare Devil Falls (it was 3:15 by this point), the rest of us boarded Dare Devil Falls (about a 15 minute wait). The ladies were paired up with the kids and I sat behind them (2 to a bench). This is another great ride if there isn't too long of a wait for it on a hot summer day. The drop is pretty exciting for the non-coaster enthusiasts as well and there is some themeing. With the boat loaded like we had it, my wife (in the front row) got a lap full of water twice and the second row got a lap full after the drop. I came off pretty dry considering (though I had situated myself in the middle of the bench to balance the boat). BEWARE - if you ride this DO NOT step on the metal guide that runs the length of the trough where you board the boats where the thick rubber strip touches the boat, the rubber strip will give way and your foot can become lodged!

We then headed for Country Fair section so the toddlers could get in some rides. We all (except Grandma - honest, she really does enjoy herself watching the kids have fun) rode the Lemon Twist (teacups) then the Amazing Flying Elephants (family ride that allows riders to determine if they want to fly or stay low to the ground in their Elephants). The kids decided they wanted to ride the Sky Rider (a VERY tame version of the Areole ride from RCT3). This one doesn't do it for me though, you don't notice any movement side to side like you would expect when you move the wings, not in the slightest! The thrill here is the height and dangly legs I think. While they rode that, we took the older toddler to the 3 kiddie rides (there really isn't any variety there, ducks and pigs go in a slow circle and do nothing, and the bees are a smaller version of the elephants). She wasn't going to ride without someone else so the ride operator for the pigs told me I could ride in the same car behind (being a former ride op and knowing the limitations put on most kiddie rides I thought he was crazy) but was relieved when the toddler pitched a fit and wouldn't ride! The toddlers' Mom and I went around the rest of the rides in the Country Fair section to see what the older toddler was tall enough to ride, but she just wasn't in the mood. I would have ridden the Veggie Tales coaster for the credit, but not without an excuse (a child with me)!

We headed up the hill to the Merry-Go-Round and Grandma, the kids, toddlers and their mom rode together while my wife and I watched. What a great time the youngest toddler (almost 1 year old) had!
At around 5:45 we headed to dinner which we decided would be at Aunt Granny's which is a buffet style restaurant ($63 with drinks instead of water). The food there was above par for a buffet, but there wasn't much of a variety (though enough for all of us to get our fill). All in all I would say it was a good value. While there we asked where to find the cinnamon bread I keep reading about. It is at the Grist Mill - heading towards Craftsman's Valley just as you pass under the railroad trestle it is on your left, there is a pond and a water wheel next to the building (not to be confused with the big pond and the shop with the water wheel just outside Aunt Granny's buffet). We thanked our waitress for the information and she really talked it up how great that cinnamon bread is. Our timing was just right for dinner because just after being seated, it started to rain, hard. We saw the masses leaving the park as the rain shut down most of the rides (we later found out). I decided to leave Aunt Granny's 20 minutes before the park closed to take the kids to Blazing Fury. The others agreed so we left after finishing desert.

As we walked by the shops in Craftsman's Valley we noticed that the place was empty, a very eerie feeling I remember from closing shop at the park I worked at. We noticed that the grist Mill had closed its doors already (bummer) and that all of the other shops along the way looked almost completely shut down. We didn't pass anyone that wasn't an employee of the park on the way up. We got to the entrance for Blazing Fury and walked down the ramp to find the ride operator and the attendant, no train and no other peeps. We asked if they were closed and they said they were still running but they were only one of 4 rides left open in the park (bumper cars, the moving theatre and one other indoor or covered ride I didn't catch). We must have gotten there just after the train left the station (they were only running one). We boarded (me in the back and the kids in the front) and 3 others had made their way in before the gates had closed. Those that disembarked were allowed to fill in the empty seats. We had a blast as nothing else compares to the backwoods country charm of this little coaster. After our first trip we were allowed to re-ride picking any empty seat and were told this was the last ride of the night. The walk back down Craftsman's Valley was well lit but downright creepy with all of the shops closed. We made it to the entrance in record time as the other were waiting on us. I think we finally left the parking lot at about 8:20 PM.

On the way back I remembered the SCAT... OOOH! I asked if the others minded if we stopped. Grandma, the toddlers and their mom went on home while my wife the 2 kids and I stopped off at the carnival. The carnival operator was James Gang. I hadn't heard of them before but decided to inspect their rides as best I could (being a little leery of carnival operators to begin with). The eldest kid isn't much of a thrill seeker so we went back and forth on whether or not he would ride. He decided to try it (the younger kid will ride anything). We bought enough tickets for all 4 of us to ride the SCAT and the Trabant (4 tickets each at $1 per ticket but I couldn't pass up the rare opportunity to ride a SCAT, but they did have a buy 32 for $30 deal). The eldest kid decided at the last minute to back out leaving my wife out as well (I wasn't sure she would tolerate it anyway as I remembered my one and only ride on a SCAT about 15 years ago being a bit on the scary side). We did watch another customer ride before we bought tickets so the kid that rode with me knew what the thing looked like in operation. We boarded and I had a blast (the divider bars between cages were a bit loose so I stuck my finger tips through the wire mesh as I had done the last time I rode to hang on). Man that thing cooked! The ride before us I know lasted over 3 minutes, after just a couple of minutes on this thing and I had had enough (remember the buffet? oh yeah, it was coming back to haunt me but not for being sick at my stomach, it was the constant G's with). The kid that rode with me wouldn't answer to me after asking if he was OK so I had hollered at the ride op to stop the ride. The sensation of riding this is like a Wisdom Starship. You are on a tilt and are being sucked upwards ever so slightly... then they kick it up a little faster. In addition to your cage flying in circles, your cage is on a boom with another cage balancing it off on the other end of the boom. Think of the scrambler in that respect then put it on a 25 degree angle. So you get this affect of 1) hard squish then 2) a slight release on your innards in a fast succession. I had a blast! The best part was when I was trying to figure out if we were near enough to the operator for me to holler at him saying "Enough" and "PLEASE...". I counted about 2 1/2 - 3 revolutions of our cage 'near' the sign board before we were whisked away by the boom and I had to look up to see that. That really put it into perspective for me. After getting off I asked the kid that rode with me if he liked it. His eyes went wild and he said oh yeah. To my delight, I think my job is done! Yet another ride fanatic/thrill seeker to enjoy time with!

The kids and I rode the Trabant. The 2 kids rode together the less tolerable one didn't care to much for it. The ride cycle was as I had seen it at other fairs but really long! They didn't leave the disk in the upright and spin it with the undercarriage parked (thank God, I don't ride the Wisdom Sizzler for the same neck strain reasons). Lots of up and down broken by 2 stops (reversed the direction of the disk then it went forward again). That has got to be one of the strangest feelings, the undercarriage moving while the disk spin stops and you sort of glide backwards. All in all a fun ride. I don't care for its updated version (Chance Wipeout, I rode the one at Morey's Pier just over 15 years ago) as the restraints don't feel sturdy and don't have an external lock like on a trabant.

We had some extra tickets since 2 didn't ride the SCAT so we let the kids duke it out. They rode one other ride then chose to go through a glass house. That was equally entertaining either side of the glass! One of the kids ran full speed into a glass wall. My wife and I couldn't contain ourselves. We left the carnival at about 10:00 PM.

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