Dollywood TR - June 13

Associated parks:

After a couple times trying, I finally convinced my new wife of 1.5 months to visit dollywood on our honeymoon to the Smoky Mountains this week. The trip was my first experience with a GCI millennium flyer train, and I was looking forward to what I had heard was an amazing wooden coaster.

We arrived at the park at about 10:30 and I was pleased to see that Thunderhead was located right next to the park entrance. We headed straight there and were even more pleased to see that the lines were VERY short! There were only two train rides waiting for front seat, so we hopped there and figured we would be on in no time. For some reason, THREE couples separately came up the handicapped elevator, and all of them rode front seat ahead of us. Normally I have no problem letting the handicapped riders skip ahead, but I couldn’t visibly see anything wrong with any of the riders that skipped the line, and so many came in such a short period of time. I found it rather odd.

It still didn’t take long for us to get on with two trains running, and before we knew it we were leaving the station with the head operator cheering us on (props to whomever runs the loudspeaker on Thunderhead; I thought he did a great job). The lift was quick and we were very quickly pulled over the top (which was surprising since we WERE in the front). It’s hard to break down the ride in sections since the only straight track on the whole thing is station, station run-thru, lift, and break run, so I’ll hit my personal highlights.

The millennium flyers are amazing. Aside from the ride's great layout, they make the ride what it is. It is smooth for wood but still forceful in a way that reminded you it’s not a steel coaster, a combination that I have not yet been able to congeal in my head. The first drop pulls you out of your seat at any point along the train, but the back gets the most air off the drop (obviously). The most noticeable part of the highly banked right turn after the drop is the smoothness and fear of hitting your hands on the walking bars. The station run-thru is neat but nothing worth raving about. I had heard others note that the ride operators are clearly not a fan of the feature, and I noticed the same, though they managed to stay in good spirits despite it.

After a total of seven rides for the day, one of the most notable features of the ride was its ability to accentuate every element with a ‘pop’ of air. Before almost every turn, there’s a slight ‘pop’ out of your seat to make the turn even more thrilling. An easily noticeable instance of this is immediately after exiting the station-thru before the left turn. You can see it when walking up to the station.

The layout of the ride is such that it takes good advantage of the valley it is in. The high points are typically on the opposite edges, whereas the fast and low points are in the middle. This is where you will mostly find the air pops.

My rides in totals were 2 in front, 2 in back and 3 in middle (my wife took some time aside to take pictures of the park’s flowers while I spent some time as a single rider. I usually rode whatever seat was open as a common courtesy). The back offered a surprisingly different ride than the front. It was noticeably rougher, while still being much smoother than most woodies.

I’m anxious to try some different GCI coasters with the flyer trains now. Hopefully I’ll be able to hit Hershey Park this summer after many summers of unsuccessful attempts (from the Cincinnati area). Not having much experience with flyer trains, The Thunderhead ranks very high on my wooden list of favorites.

After Thunderhead, we took our time making our way to the back of the park to ride the Tennessee Tornado. This final project by Arrow certainly looked different than any other Arrow I had ever seen. The very large inversions, tunneled first drop and over-banked turns told me I didn’t know what I was in for. Only one train was running, but the front-seat line was still short, so we rode there.

The first drop was great. The tunnel could use the same theming that the rest of the ride and station received, but that’s a minor complaint. The loops were large and forceful, and were quite possibly the strangest inversions I’ve ever experienced. For some reason, Arrow felt the need to change the track’s direction a quarter of the way around the loop, and again ¾ of the way around the same loop. It didn’t distract much from the ride, but was still noticeably odd. The over-banked turns were smooth and enjoyable. The inversions were forceful enough that I could feel my eyes blacking out, which has only ever happened on one other ride (bottom hill of MF).

Overall, a GREAT ride, but I only have two big complaints: 1) too short (many have already said this), and 2) the last thrust of air before the brake-run. Being a 6’-2” guy, my knees banged VERY heavily into the top of the car going over this last hill at great speed. I thought it just happened to tall people, but my 5’-4” wife experienced the same pain. Besides those complaints, a great ride experience, and it made me very sad to see Arrow finally changing their aging ride style for the better before they were bought out. I would have liked to see more and longer rides of this caliber from Arrow. Since the ride was only running one train and the line quickly got longer, we only rode it once more in the middle before the day ended.

Regarding the park itself, I was very pleased with the attention to detail and the great theming of every area. I love streams going through a park, and this park had plenty of that! Those interested in seeing a few pictures from the day can find them here: . The park layout was a bit strange, but understandable with the valley the park is set in. I didn’t ride the two smaller coasters while we were there, so I can’t report on those. It was a little creepy seeing Dolly Parton’s head and name EVERYWHERE. I could have done without that, but two great coasters can forgive it, I suppose. Sorry for the long review, but the rides were very unique and hard to encompass in few words.

Two big thumbs up for The Thunderhead, the Tennessee Tornado, and Dollywood.

edited for format *** Edited 6/19/2005 2:58:41 AM UTC by CincyDJ***

- DJ

"When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it's always twenty years behind the times." - Mark Twain

Mamoosh's avatar
This final project by Arrow

X was the final project by Arrow before moving to the S&S moniker.

Good trip report ;)


coasterqueenTRN's avatar
Cincy DJ, excellent TR!

You guys should of done Blazing Fury though, it's very amusing! Very fun.

Your photos are very pretty, especially the one of the waterfall! Glad you guys had a great time (and congrats on your marriage)!

I can't rave enough about Dollywood. The food, the employees, the rides, the train, the eagles, the shops, oh, and Thunderhead. ;-)

Get to Hershey sometime. If you loved Thunderhead you will love Lightning Racer as well. :-P

-Tina (aka GCI fangirl)

coasterqueenTRN said:
You guys should of done Blazing Fury though, it's very amusing! Very fun.

Your photos are very pretty, especially the one of the waterfall! Glad you guys had a great time (and congrats on your marriage)!

We looked at Blazing Fury, and noted it was a water ride as well and decided better of ourselves (cameras in hand).

I used to do a lot more photography, Tina, but haven't picked up the camera seriously in a while. Here's a few of what I considered my better shots from the past few years:

Moosh: I forgot about X (I knew TT was in '99, but forgot X was in 2000). I correct myself: TT was their last 'normal' multilooper.

I'm a long time reader, rarely a poster, so it's nice to get responses from a couple veterans. Would this statement fall under CO's 'attempts to become somebody via the boards'? ;) Thanks for the compliments.

- DJ

"When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it's always twenty years behind the times." - Mark Twain

I have the same gripes about Tornado that you do. One thing about the last bit of air before the brake run, I believe that this is more of a problem with the Rolling Stock than with the ride. I've always hated those Arrow trains. One odd thing about this one is, in the front, there is a 'wall' blocking off the rest of the car. In every other Arrow I've been on, you could streatch your legs under the front of the car, but not on Tornado. I wonder the reason for that.

I don't know why they used those trains anyhow. They had the (IMO) better designs on Canyon Blaster, which I assume were the same as on Drachen Fire. I thought those were much more comfortable.

Very nice pix as well, I love Dollywood, can't wait till next month. *** Edited 6/20/2005 5:36:15 AM UTC by TeknoScorpion***

coasterqueenTRN's avatar
No prob, DJ. I am using a few of those pics as some future desktops. ;-) Those are beautiful!

Blazing Fury, btw, is not a water ride, although water is involved. At the most you get a very refreshing mist. :-)


Mamoosh's avatar
No worries, DJ. If you haven't done so already you should bookmark - the roller coaster database is a great tool ;)

Keep the TRs coming!

Moosh, the rcdb is well frequented on my computer! I often use it to show friends what on earth I'm talking about when I mention a park or coaster. I prepped my close friend for our HW trip a couple weeks ago with a few pics from

Tina, thanks again for the compliments. Rebecca (da wifey) and I have talked about taking photo trips in the near future to get back into the photography hobby. Roller coaster photography has proved quite tough, however. The angle I'm looking for is usually prevented by a park fence of some kind! This is why the CP Corkscrew is one of my favorites to photograph.

- DJ

"When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it's always twenty years behind the times." - Mark Twain

HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar

Sounds like we're both in the same boat. I too, am a newlywed (May 13th) so congratulations on the wedding! Glad the two of you had a great time at Dollywood. My wife, a budding enthusiast, fell in LOVE with Thunderhead and I think it jaded us when comparing it to any other coasters.

I think GCI NAILED Thunderhead. The layout, the pacing, the elements are perfect. We quickly became GCI fans as soon as we got off of that ride.

As for Tornado, I noticed the really odd loop. It felt like the ride was drawn up by No Limits without any modifications, because that's what happens when you try to make a loop in that program. The intensity is just amazing, and coming from a huge Arrow fan I really wish we could have seen more of these rides.

~Rob Willi

Rob, I had noticed in another thread that you had gotten married shorty after me. Congrats to you as well!

I wouldn't call Rebecca a budding enthusiast, but she enjoys many coasters and likes going to parks with me (less because there are coasters and more because I'm going). She's a big fan of Intamin hypers and rockets, and a few woodies (Beast and Thunderhead).

- DJ

"When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it's always twenty years behind the times." - Mark Twain

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