Rocky Mountain Construction says it's not sure when Dollywood's Lightning Rod will open

Posted Thursday, March 24, 2016 4:35 PM | Contributed by bunky666

From the Rocky Mountain Construction site, captured on March 24, 2016:

HAYDEN, Idaho — Rocky Mountain Construction co-owner Fred Grubb has released the following statement on the recently announced delay to the opening of Lightning Rod at Dollywood Theme Park in Pigeon Forge, TN:

“We take the highest level of pride in every attraction we create. RMC is equally disappointed that Lightning Rod will not be opening as originally planned. We have been working with the launch system subcontractor on-site to bring it up to speed and working as intended.

As is often the case with prototype attractions and especially with launched coasters, delays are an ever-present possibility. During the course of testing, we determined that the third-party launch system would not be able to perform at the level required for proper operation.

While we strive to meet all of our deadlines, we cannot and will not sacrifice safety or ride quality in the name of saving time. RMC never has nor ever will open any new attraction until it has passed our rigorous standards.

At this time, we cannot speculate as to when the attraction will open to the general public. That date is ultimately decided upon by the customer, therefore all questions regarding an opening should be directed to Dollywood.

On behalf of all the employees at Rocky Mountain Construction, I want to personally thank the management team at Dollywood, the fans of the park as well as our fans for their patience and understanding as we work to bring you Lightning Rod.”

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Thursday, March 24, 2016 4:57 PM
Thabto's avatar

Ah crap! I already booked my flight!


Brian

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Thursday, March 24, 2016 5:44 PM
Rick_UK's avatar

Any word on who they're working with on the launch? I am a little surprised they're not doing it themselves, they seem to be able to turn their hands to anything!


Nothing to see here. Move along.

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Thursday, March 24, 2016 6:32 PM
James Whitmore's avatar

Intamin. **ducks**


jameswhitmore.net

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Thursday, March 24, 2016 8:27 PM

Go Intamin...


Hey, let's ride (random Intamin coaster). What? It's broken down? I totally didn't expect that.

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Thursday, March 24, 2016 9:45 PM

Rocky Mountain Construction said that they were working with a company in PA that made magnetic brakes if I remember correctly. They said something about it being the first launch mechanism with no moving parts. Sounds like it's the first time the company has made this type of a launch, so they're still experimenting with it.

http://vimeo.com/158391903

Last edited by Airtime Always, Friday, March 25, 2016 10:55 AM
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Thursday, March 24, 2016 10:31 PM
Jeff's avatar

The shot looking up the launch hill is, uh, intriguing. You're going to send something up an LSM launch with what looks like sloppy track gauge? How do you efficiently do that without beating up the passengers?


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Thursday, March 24, 2016 10:39 PM

Given what was said in the video about a company in PA specialized in magnetic braking, my guess is that it's Velocity Magnetics.

http://velocitymagnetics.com/

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Thursday, March 24, 2016 10:55 PM

Jeff said:

The shot looking up the launch hill is, uh, intriguing. You're going to send something up an LSM launch with what looks like sloppy track gauge? How do you efficiently do that without beating up the passengers?

Just watched the video, and yeah...yikes! That looks like it would be horrible at any speed much faster than a chain lift. Can't imagine it would play nice with the launch system or cars in general, as well.


Original BlueStreak64

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Friday, March 25, 2016 1:00 AM

This coaster would be amazing without the launch. It isn't necessary always to do something for the first time ever to have a superstar attraction. People would love this ride even with a chain lift

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Friday, March 25, 2016 7:50 AM

Phantom is correct.


June 11th, 2001 - Gemini 100 VertiGo Rides - 82
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Friday, March 25, 2016 10:30 AM
Jeff's avatar

I forgot to mention what a strange statement this is. Who throws their subcontractor under the bus and says, "Don't bother us, bother our customer?" It's like they don't take any responsibility for the problem, which is pretty lame.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Friday, March 25, 2016 10:57 AM

I have a trip planned the last week of April. Looking like I may have to delay it.

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Friday, March 25, 2016 11:32 AM

I was planning on going next week on April 1st, but I guess I'll have to postpone or go elsewhere.


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Friday, March 25, 2016 12:37 PM

I guess there's nothing else redeeming about Dollywood if Lightning Rod isn't open?


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Friday, March 25, 2016 1:14 PM

Jeff said:

I forgot to mention what a strange statement this is. Who throws their subcontractor under the bus and says, "Don't bother us, bother our customer?" It's like they don't take any responsibility for the problem, which is pretty lame.

That's true. Ultimately it is the main contractor's problem and responsibility. They should have been sure the system works before they sold someone a highly publicized ride using it.

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Friday, March 25, 2016 1:23 PM

^^

I know there are many things to do in the area including Dollywood but the main reason for going was the new ride. We were driving from Chicago so its no big deal for us to move the trip further out. Plus the Wilderness Resort allows us to reschedule at no extra fee.

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Friday, March 25, 2016 2:01 PM

Remember the Mr. Freeze issues in 1997? One of the issue was the sloppy tracking causing the fins on the trains to hit the LIM as they were getting launched. In addition to the comfort issue for riders like Jeff said, are we looking at the same issue here?


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Friday, March 25, 2016 2:22 PM

Jeff said:
I forgot to mention what a strange statement this is. Who throws their subcontractor under the bus and says, "Don't bother us, bother our customer?" It's like they don't take any responsibility for the problem, which is pretty lame.

I thought that was strange, too. But... In the end it will be the park that determines opening day. If and when RMC turns the ride over, the park might decide to wait another minute for any number of reasons. Maybe when further operator training is complete, or when The Today Show can show up, or maybe even when Dolly herself has time to attend the christening. And Rocky Mountain, who probably has a small office with only one guy or gal answering the phone, would like to avoid hundreds of calls from pesky enthusiasts while Dollywood has a staff just for that.
Throwing blame is a tacky way to hide behind the problems, but if I was RMC there's no way I would go out on a limb with promises one way or the other. A better thing to say would have been "Our staff is diligently working together with vendors and park personel to make sure the ride operates properly and safely. We thank you for your patience, and please check our or Dollywood's website for any updates." Which kind of is what they stated in their last paragraph.

And on the other hand, I just checked and Dollywood continues to say "the ride manufacturer asked for additional time to commission the ride.". As witnessed in the past, Dolly don't play when it comes to problem rides, so this is an area in which to exercise caution.

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Friday, March 25, 2016 2:45 PM

I thought it was kind of weird RMC threw it on Dollywood as well when it's their issue that they took on a project with a launch that has never been attempted before on a wooden coaster and decided to use a company that is not proven in the industry to do so. Are parks and designers reluctant to use Intamin? Yes, but between Intamin and Premiere, a launch could probably have been made with no sweat.

If it's really Dollywood that makes the decision, could Dollywood say, "Screw it, put in a chain lift and maintain the ride for free for a year (or two or however much it would cost to recoupe the money they paid for the launch system)"? Since RMC in this case contracted for a ride they didn't know how to safely launch, is this a possibility? I'm not saying RMC sucks or anything like that because even not having ridden one of their coasters, I find them to be interesting and unique, but I kinda think they bit off more than they could chew. I'm wondering if Dollywood could be concerned enough about the way this looks (ride isn't safe, ride has problems from before jump, etc) that they might look towards changing this element and cutting their losses as much as possible.

All this being said, I hope RMC figures it out sooner rather than later. The ride is going to be sick either way, and I can't WAIT to ride. Even without a launch, I'm certain the ride will catapult to the top of the favorites lists.


"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

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