opening day at dollywood

Associated parks:
None

Sunday, April 4, 2004 9:28 PM
my wife and i arrived at the park around 3:30 pm and found no line for season pass processing. we spent a quick $120 and headed straight back for thunderhead gap.

walking to the que area in the new section of the park it's easy to see why the park is continually rated so favorably for families. it's clean, beautiful, and the theming is incredibly tasteful. the new section of the park looks stellar.

we arrived at the que to find a quick 25 minute wait. we hopped in line and spent the next few minutes talking with several incredibly friendly employees who were so excited to see guests getting to ride the ride!

about the ride: it's fantastic. for me, for every little thing that lightening racer lacked thunderhead made up for. the pacing, speed, airtime, and design of this ride is perfect. it's hard to rate but definitely is up there right next to the raven or the beast as far as ride quality is concerned. folks, this is a world class wooden rollercoaster.

honestly, everyone i've talked to (enthusiast or not) has just been blown away by the ride. you think you know what to expect...but you really don't. the ride is relentless and does not stop from lift hill to brake run. it is an example of the perfect wooden rollercoaster. for those of you who are a little scared of rough woodies....it's also probably the smoothest wooden coaster i've ever been on.

while in the park we also enjoyed some snacks and a fantastic barbeque meal. we also caught up with coasterqueentrn and a few friends. their group too seemed to just be in awe of thunderhead.

tennessee tornado is also running very well. same great airtime in the backseat.

we had a simply fantastic day at the park filled with great food, a clean family atmosphere, and wonderful coaster rides.

it simply does not get much better than that.

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Monday, April 5, 2004 2:04 AM
I myself can't wait to ride Thunderhead, but I will be skeptical for a long time just because I worry about the kind of upkeep that will be required to keep it as smooth as it stands now. I'm sure it's heavenly, but I'd like it to stay that way about a year from now, when I finally get my shot at it.

Call me cautiously optimistic. :)

Is anyone aware of Dollywood's upkeep styles? I hear the TT is wonderful for a steel looper, and a hidden gem, but this is their first wood, correct? Do they have an in house team that rivals HWs'? Curious... *** Edited 4/5/2004 6:04:51 AM UTC by nasai***

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Monday, April 5, 2004 2:12 AM

about the ride: it's fantastic. for me, for every little thing that lightening racer lacked thunderhead made up for. the pacing, speed, airtime, and design of this ride is perfect. it's hard to rate but definitely is up there right next to the raven or the beast as far as ride quality is concerned. folks, this is a world class wooden rollercoaster.

I'm truly excited to ride Thunderhead, but not when you compare the ride to The Beast!

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Monday, April 5, 2004 2:40 AM

nasai said:

Is anyone aware of Dollywood's upkeep styles? I hear the TT is wonderful for a steel looper, and a hidden gem, but this is their first wood, correct? Do they have an in house team that rivals HWs'? Curious...


From what I understand, Dollywood is actually having GCII come in next January to do the off season overhaul.

Dollywood is not skippy on maintenance. You can go to the park on any weekday in April or September and every ride will be open, no matter how deserted the park is.

Dollywood's own workers fabricate new rafts for the Mountain Slidewinder every year, and between 1997 and 1999, the park spent close to $2 million rebuilding it's steam trains! No "Corner Cutting" here...

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Monday, April 5, 2004 7:11 AM
I was very impressed with the park. It was my first time there and I was just blown away by everything......the cleanliness, the extra-friendly staff, the food, the atmosphere, and ESPECIALLY the coasters.

The park AND the town itself reminded me a lot of Branson, with a of the Myrtle Beach Grand Strand thown in. It's seems to be a very popular vacation spot for retirees and families with young kids. Lotsa "old folks" shows and buffets galore. However it seems that Pigeon Forge offers just about anything you want to do.

My next trip I want to explore some of those arcades and go-karts tracks, and maybe hit that skyscraper and bunjee it it looks good up close.

Speaking of the food, how can you resist food that is literally being prepared RIGHT in front of you as you walk by? The ribs, fajitas, kettle corn.....:-P

We got there extra early Saturday (evey before the parking attendents showed up which meant we parked for free.....lol) and I got a season pass as well.

Luckily Thunderhead is immediately to your left as you enter, especially if you use the season pass entrance.

We got the 2nd train out that morning.......back seat.......airtime heaven!!!! OMG. TO be honest I just can't describe it in words. It starts out with a twist and does NOT let up the entire ride. You go through so many turns and twists that you dont' know what to make of it. So freakin smooth and so fast and soooooooo perfect. The themeing is rather interesting.......sorta of a woodsy mining themeing but with a graveyard and a few caskets lying around....lol.

I just can't get over it. Some parks go out of their way to build the biggest and the baddest woodies just to be a record-breaker when most of them are crap and can't even begin to hold a candle to a coaster like Thunderhead. It's smaller and more compact but MY GOD what a ride. It rocked my world and I think DW has a top 5. I got about 8 rides on it all day. The longest I had to wait was a half hour tops. With those two beautiful Millinieum Flyer trains going it did not take very long.

As I always say in wooden coasters......SIZE DOES NOT MATTER! ;-)

Johnathan, it was great meeting up with you and your wife again (sorry.....forgot her name already!) I am glad you guys had fun as much as we did. The park is just amazing and I can't wait to return in two weeks for Coasterstorm.

I also wanted to say that I got one of the biggest shockers of my life while visiting Dollywood.....Tennesse Tornado. It literally almost made my cry the first time. I couldn't believe it.....I have an Arrow that I LOVE!

That drop and followed by the biggest loop in the world (dunno if it IS the biggest loop but it's the biggest I have been on) is just surreal. WTF? I love this Arrow! Arrows are suppossed to be painful to me! This is my new baby! Oh MAN what a day.

Blazing Fury was nice as well....hee hee.

I can't believe I haven't been to this park before and it is only 4 1/2 hours from me, and they have two coasters that blow most coasters away now (IMHO).

Sweet. :-) It makes putting up with the banjo pickin' worth it...lol.

-Tina

<--------still speechless over my trip

*** Edited 4/5/2004 11:27:36 AM UTC by coasterqueenTRN***

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Monday, April 5, 2004 12:10 PM

VolcanoTBC said:


I'm truly excited to ride Thunderhead, but not when you compare the ride to The Beast!


that's not just me talking positively about the beast. check out the results of the 2004 coaster choice awards...obviously there are some other cbuzzers who feel the same way.

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Monday, April 5, 2004 5:19 PM

Coasterdave said:
Nothing against the Beast but it does not even come close to Thunderhead. You will just have to see what the wildest ride in the woods has to offer and get back with us.

i have ridden thunderhead...multiple times and i know what it has to offer.

did you even read the thread?

it's hard to compare the beast and thunderhead. they are very different coasters. but i can say that they were both extremely fun and exciting for me...just in different ways.

read this entire thread again and see if it makes better sense to you.

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Monday, April 5, 2004 5:55 PM

Coasterdave said:
Who took a leak in your corn flakes today. I was not even refering to your comment Johnathan. I would have thought you would have figured that out but it seems that you are the one confussed. I will edit my post so you can understand it.

coasterdave, you are right. i was confused. sorry, i didn't understand that your reference was to VolcanoTBC's comment. that's my fault. sorry i jumped your case!

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Monday, April 5, 2004 7:59 PM
The GCI crew was there throughout the day. What a rush those guys must of felt watching people enjoy their new baby. :-)

-Tina

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