Dollywood Saturday 6/18

My family visited the Smokies last week and couldn't pass up a chance to visit Dollywood. We originally planned on going Friday but with temps in the 90s with strong storms in the forecast, we opted for Saturday which was going to be a picture perfect 80 degrees and dry. Thanks for all of the tips from everyone here, we had a great time!

Since this was our first trip and who knows when we'll get back there, we opted for Time Saver Unlimited to beat the crowds. I've never purchased a pass like this before and wow... it's hard to describe just how amazing it is until you've experienced it. I was initially surprised that there aren't more rides included with this but in reality, the only non-timesaver ride that could use it was Rockin' Roadway. Anyway, to be able to walk around the park freely and not try to beat the crowds to any one area was so nice.

First up, the coasters. When people say there aren't any "credit-coasters" here, they mean it. We really enjoyed all of them and the quality top to bottom is striking. Ranking, in order...

Lightning Rod
Our first ride of the day. Wow... WOW! This certainly lives up to the hype. If it's true that they did tone down the launch, well... it certainly isn't noticeable for the first time rider. After the first drop that thing hauls through the course. We rode this coaster four times; front row, back row, and in the middle. Only negative was a lot of roughness between the first and second wave/airtime hills or whatever you want to call them (not noticeable in the front seat). Other than that, smooth sailing. And that quad down... I was surprised at another pop of air at the end of it. Yeah there's a slight turn there but it's almost like a quintuple down in my book. If you can remember (I didn't until our forth ride), take a look out over the horizon at the start of the quad-down; the view is spectacular.

Mystery Mine
I know a lot of enthusiasts aren't impressed and sure... it's not the most thrilling. But I'm a sucker for theming and this was just pure fun. A little herky jerky in parts but nothing I'd consider rough. The vertical drop down the shaft into the two inversions was a great finale too. Two laps on this. The theming, thrills, and goofy layout made this a winner in my book.

Thunderhead
Talk about an out of control ride! Not a ton of airtime to brag about on this one but it delivers everywhere else. Rode this one mid day and once more in the evening, and liked it even more the second time around. "Wildest ride in the woods"? Maybe when it was first built but his definitely isn't "in the woods" any more. Regardless, great ride.

Wild Eagle
Lots of chatter out there about this being too rough to enjoy, but we didn't experience that at all. Maybe they swapped out the square wheels this year? Anyway, fun layout, great pacing, and just the right amount of intensity to make this a crowd pleaser. What was NOT pleasing was the operations. The app had the wait at 25 minutes, and in reality, it was 25 minutes from the Timesaver merge. I haven't been on a wing since 2019 (Gatekeeper) and I understand the challenges of loading/unloading on the same side, but can we put forth just a little bit of effort? For the first time ever I starting keeping track and the dispatches were running around 3 minutes. Only one lap on this... despite it being a great ride, it's irritating watching them load/unload and why spend that much time on one ride when there are three good coasters next to it that I could probably knock out all of them in the amount of time it takes for one lap on this?

Firechaser Express
I don't know what it is, but what a fun ride. Pacing? Setting? Launches? All of the above? We took a couple laps on this and again, enjoyed the second ride more than the first. Every park could use a quality family coaster like this one.

Tennessee Tornado
A smooth Arrow looper... who woulda thunk it? It's short, but delivers a huge loop and some intense moments. And the setting is hard to beat. The funky dual-drop first drop was a fun element as well.

Dragon Flyer
I was expecting something similar to KI's Flying Ace Aerial Chase, and boy was I wrong. The only thing "family" about this family coaster is the lift height. After that, it's a wild, disorienting ride that brings some intensity. I loved the freedom of an invert with a lap bar as well. It's too bad it was designed without a brake run as the one-train ops built a regular line of an hour that day.

Blazing Fury
We knew this going in but... I guess this is a coaster? It's more kitsch than anything although we went back for another ride later in the day.

Other notes:
-Awesome log flume. Hit this early in the day and got back-to-back rides. It gives you just the right amount of splash to cool you off but not soak you. Perfect.
-River Rapids ride was a good one, gets you more wet than the flume for sure but again, nothing crazy, at least not on our two rides.

-Visit the foam party. Arrive 10 minutes before it opens so you won't have much a of a wait. We all had a blast doing this.

-We hit a few flats, and unfortunately the drop tower is STILL closed. It's hard for me to understand why at at this point but obviously they have their reasons. Park was well staffed so that's not it.

-Despite the love for the train... we didn't get it. The "ride up the mountain" really didn't go up the mountain, nor provide any great views that you can't see elsewhere in the park. You have to get there early to be able to board and in the end... it was more of a time suck than anything IMO. YMMV. It is a beautiful looking attraction though and provides some character to the park.

-Speaking of beautiful... the park really is stunning. Great setting, well kept, well landscaped, and well cared for. Even with Time Saver, this is a two day park. Or maybe a 1.5 day park. There was another show we didn't get to, and we kind of forgot about Craftsman's Valley until dinner and by the time we made it over there, all the demonstrations had closed up shop. Our mistake, our loss.

-I'm not a big fan of musicals, but my wife is so we took in Dreamland Drive In. I was surprised to see the length advertised at 55 minutes and even more surprised at the stamina of the cast. Those folks go non-stop for nearly the entire show and make it look effortless. We also saw Heartsong and well... I'll have to file that one under the "I don't get it" file for all the praise it gets.

-As for food... Till & Harvest... fine, but forgettable... Aunt Granny's, wonderful (get the peach cobbler!), and the cinnamon bread, unforgettable. Bought one loaf, polished it off then got right back up for another!

-The nighttime show is very well done. We didn't plan on watching it but we were headed out of the park and it started soon so we watched from the parking area. So while we didn't get to experience the party in Wildwood Grove (which based on the screams, cheers, and music sounded like a great time) the fireworks & drone show was excellent.

Who knows if/when we'll make it back there, hopefully we will some day. If you haven't been, I highly recommended it. 10/10.

Last edited by Danimales,
Vater's avatar

I’ll be there the last week in July, first time in 20 years. Hard to believe the only coasters there at the time were Blazing Fury and Tennessee Tornado.

It's hard to imagine that park with just those two coasters. Even crazier is they added 5 coasters (if you include the kiddie coaster) between 2012 and 2019. Rumors are circulating about another one coming next year when they expand Wildwood Grove; and based on the amount of open land back there that can be seen from the train, it wouldn't surprise me one bit. If so I hope they look at a building connecting path from there to the opposite side of Thunderhead.

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