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TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11)

ray_p ray_p Profile

Posted:
10/17/11 at
2:33:54 PM

Place: Dollywood (Pigeon Forge, TN)
Date Visited: Sunday September 25, 2011
Weather: Sunny with a high of 78
Crowds: Moderate
Closed Rides: Mountain Slidewinder, Imagination Cinema

I know this is three weeks late, but I wasn’t able to log in to URC for a while.

People that know me know that I rank Busch Gardens Williamsburg as my #1 overall theme park. There’s just something about that park that really does it for me. The place is beautifully landscaped, has relatively friendly employees, has outstanding food, and has several rides that are a notch above those at standard theme parks when it comes to theming and design (DarKastle, the defunct Big Bad Wolf, Escape From Pompeii, etc). Parks like BGW are very hard to find in my book. But a few weeks back, I finally found a park that ranks right up there with BGW. After years of wanting to visit, I made my long-overdue pilgrimage to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN. Dollywood had grounds that were beautifully landscaped, employees that may be the friendliest I have EVER encountered, food that was fresh and delicious, and some rides that were very well-themed. While I didn’t get to take in any of the shows due to limited time, I still had a blast at Dollywood and hope to return in the not too distant future.

Despite being located in Pigeon Forge, TN, my first impression of Dollywood was a good one. The Pigeon Forge “Parkway” area of Tennessee for the most part is an absolute dump. It’s a 3 mile stretch of go-kart tracks, Hillbilly t-shirt stores, gaudy attractions, several “half Skyscraper” rides (there’s a car on only one end), Old Timey Photo stores, and other tourist traps. Thankfully Dollywood is set two miles off the main Parkway in a beautifully wooded and secluded area. You can’t see any of the park at all until you’re actually in it, which I thought was a neat touch. I know driving down the Cedar Point Causeway is a thrill as you get to see an amazing skyline of rides, but there’s also something about entering a park you’ve never been to that isn’t visible from the road. It sort of builds a sense of anticipation for what’s to come. As I entered the park, everyone was just incredibly nice. The lady who handed me a map smiled and told me to have a blessed day. I rented a Q-Bot for the day and the Q2Q guy gave me a personal 5 minute overview on how to use the device. Employees strolling on the midways smiled and said “Hello”. It was such a refreshing change from the usual apathetic amusement park workers. As I wandered the gorgeously maintained midways, I enjoyed seeing several waterfalls, water wheels, fountains, and even seeing a chapel in the middle of an amusement park. Dollywood definitely has a unique feel to it and it is one I thoroughly enjoyed.

My first ride of the day would be Tennessee Tornado, which I believe was one of the last coasters built by Arrow Dynamics (pre S&S takeover). Dollywood’s theming was evident here as the area leading to the coaster had numerous objects that appeared to be blown over by a tornado. The station exterior continued this theme with its tattered appearance. The ride itself seemed to be a departure for Arrow as the three inversions seemed much different and larger than anything they had done prior. The ride consists of a rollout of the station where en route to the lift, howling wind noises are heard. You then climb a rather impressive lift hill, turn, then plunge down a sort of tunneled first drop. The drop was rather smooth, as was the entire ride. There were two large loop inversions and a sidewinder along the course and that is pretty much it. TT is a rather short ride, but it's a good one and its setting in the woods of Dollywood really enhances the ride experience. My only gripe was the sort of confusing exit that dumps you into an arcade. Definitely a good way to start the day.

Next stop was Blazing Fury, which would wind up being my absolute favorite ride of the day. This Silver Dollar City original starts off as a powered dark ride. Riding in a train with only a simple lap bar restraint, guests pass a variety of severely outdated scenes and horrid animation of a town that's caught on fire. While that may sound like a complaint, it really isn't. It reminded me a lot of the old Earthquake ride at Cedar Point. Halfway through the course, we enter a closed mine shaft that suddenly collapses and the train rolls down a small drop. Cool! Next, riders hear a train whistle and see smoke up ahead and roll directly towards a locomotive. At the last minute, the train drops down another hill to safety. Or does it? The train momentarily stalls on a small incline, a voice yells out "Fire In The Hooooooole!" and the train drops down a large drop into what I believe at one time was a splashdown area before rolling back to the loading area. The ride is so incredibly fun I had to do it again later in the day. My QBot (which at $15 was an absolute steal) got me on in the front seat and it was even better than my first ride. A great ride that I can't wait to ride again on a return trip to Dollywood, or a trip to Silver Dollar City in Branson!

Mystery Mine was next and on my way there, I passed the construction site of the Wild Eagle wing rider coaster going in for 2012. The brake run was up and several other supports are as well. I think that will be a great addition to an already great park. (After a few weeks, the ride is almost half done it seems. They are really moving along nicely.) Anyhow, Mystery Mine is a highly themed Gerstlauer Eurofighter that has its good and bad points. The ride looks awesome from the midway with an outstanding theme job. Once through the line (or skipping it with Q-Bot) I boarded in the front row. Upon dispatch, the 8-passenger car immediately drops down a small but steep dip out of the station and into a dark ride-like area with bats, closed mine tracks, and other brief scenes. The car then pauses momentarily to climb a vertical lift that leads to an outdoor section of twists and turns. I found this section to be very painful as my head ricocheted off the shoulder harness several times. The train then rolled back indoors and set up to climb the ride's second vertical lift. This time, as we climbed towards the top, lightning flashes and a sign crashes over the "opening" that the train was supposed to escape through. Once at the top, the car pauses, three flame cannons shoot off just inches from your face, and then the car drops down a near-vertical hill into an inline twist and then a unique twist-and-dive inversion (similar to the element found on the Manhattan Express/Roller Coaster at New York New York in Las Vegas) before hitting the brakes. It really is an awesome experience, and the theming is top notch. I just wish it wasn't quite so rough during the outdoor portion. In any case, MM was a winner on the two times I rode it.

The park's new ride for 2011 was Barnstormer, a 32-passenger S&S Screamin' Swing (identical to the SwingShot at Kennywood) themed to flying through a barn. As a fan of these rides, I gave it a try. The theme job is simple but effective and the program seemed to be a good one. The GP also seemed to love it as they were all applauding and "yee-hawing" at the ride's conclusion. Only one side was in operation though, which caused the line to be a little longer than necessary. Of course with Q-Bot, that really didn’t matter!

I decided to eat an early lunch and ate at an all-you-can-eat chicken buffet near the Dollywood Grist Mill. All the food was hot, fresh, and very tasty. No wonder Dollywood is known for their outstanding food. Yes, it was $15, but it was all you can eat.

My next stop was the Country Fair area, a nicely done area of smaller “traditional” rides such as a standard Eli Bridge Ferris Wheel, a Zamperla Disk-O, a Chance Aviator, what I believe was a Chance Carousel and an Eli Scrambler. While in the area, I took a spin aboard the Waltzing Swinger. I'm not sure if this was a Moser or Zamperla model, but it was still a fun ride that offered a long ride cycle and had a ride operator that sounded exactly like Boomhauer from King of the Hill.

Since the Dollywood Express was just arriving, I headed over to board the park’s gorgeous coal-powered locomotive train. While waiting, a staff member performed magic tricks for families on board which I thought was a nice touch. A recorded announcement also warned riders that they will get soot on them from the train and if it should get in their eyes, they will be taken to First Aid to have it "gently removed". Wow, this ride is dangerous! The actual ride is fantastic as it is a 5-mile, 20 minute trip through the woods and back. You'll even catch a nice glimpse of the Smoky Mountains in the distance. The on-board live narration was also a nice feature as he invited us to all show the guests on the midways what a friendly park Dollywood is by waving and saying “Howdy”. I love southern hospitality! If I had to rate train rides, this would be my new #1, dethroning BGW's after many years at the top.

Thunderhead would be my next stop. This GCI wooden coaster looks awesome with its many twists and turns and its Millennium Flyer trains, but overall I found the ride to be a bit rough. Even though I rode it twice (near walk-on both times), I couldn't tell you what happens on the ride as it all happens so fast after the first drop. The trains fly through severely banked turns and speed over some good airtime hills, and by the end of the ride I was just plastered into my seat and could barely move. It's an incredibly intense coaster, but in my opinion, the roughness definitely knocks it down a few notches. Its wooded location was nice though.

My final ride of the day was a big surprise to me. I decided to give the park's Daredevil Falls log flume a try, and boy am I glad I did. The ride features a very nice course with fast moving waters, theme elements such as a bat cave, a sawmill and others, and after a long climb to the top, the boat finally drops 60 feet down a huge drop into a geyser-enhanced splashdown. I escaped relatively dry which also made this ride a hit. I have never heard much about this flume, which is surprising given how awesome it is. A great way to end my five hours at the park. Was this an Arrow creation, or did the park build it in-house?

Dollywood really is awesome. The staff is the friendliest I have encountered at any theme park (sorry Holiday World), the grounds and midways were spotless, the theming and landscaping is spectacular, and the rides are all very well done. I cannot wait to return to try Wild Eagle and to check out some of the park's live shows. My time was limited, so I focused on the rides instead. I highly recommend Dollywood to anyone that enjoys well-themed amusement parks.

While in the Smoky Mountain area, we stayed in a cabin which offered stunning views of the mountains. For the price, it couldn’t be beat. Yes, we were about 10 miles from the action of the Parkway, but I sort of liked being a bit more secluded than having to deal with the insane traffic that passes through Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. I also had the chance to visit Ober Gatlinburg and its aerial tramway, the Lost Sea in Sweetwater, Biltmore Mansion in Asheville, NC, the Smoky Mountain National Park, the former 1982 World’s Fair site in Knoxville with its fabulous Sunsphere, and several minor attractions including the horrendously awful Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride in Pigeon Forge. I had heard it was one of the worst attractions ever, so that made me want to go even more. The reviews were true. It's nothing more than an elaborate spook house where the animatronics may or may not work. $15.70 to ride was also a complete rip-off. I told my friends that if Ed Wood (of "Plan 9 From Outer Space" fame) ever built an amusement ride, this would have probably been the result. Beyond bad, but funny at the same time. And if anyone wants a food recommendation, I HIGHLY recommend the Old Mill Pottery House Cafe and Grill. Delicious food, great service and awesome desserts.

Dollywood Pics can be found here: http://rayp.smugmug.com/Travel/Dollywood-2011

Other Tennessee pics (mostly of mountains and such) can be found here: http://rayp.smugmug.com/Travel/Tennessee-2011

And there’s a long (9 minute) video of some random Tennessee stuff including a few Dollywood clips and 3 minutes of the Jurassic Jungle ride here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWXuEu9FGhE

Thanks for reading.

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by frontrow frontrow Profile at 10/17/11 4:15:21 PM

Glad you're back Ray. Awesome TR. I also really like Dollywood. I voted Dollywood for friendliest park. The employees really go out of their way to make you feel like their guest. I also really liked Tennessee Tornado. I thought it was the smoothest Arrow looper I've ridden. Blazing Fury is unique and the theming on Mystery Mine is Disney caliber. I'm very surprised by your review of Thunderhead. Last year I rode it 20 times strait, 10 in front and 10 in the back. The thing that was most most impressive was how smooth it was. In fact the only wooden coaster I've ridden that's smoother is El Toro. Even coasters like Boulderdash and Lightning Racer and Ravine Flyer II are not as smooth as Thunderhead. I guess that shows how temperamental wooden coasters can be. I was there on Oct. 1st 2010 and your visit was this past Sept. To me that's amazing how a coaster can change in a year. I'm glad you enjoyed your visit. Dollywood is a place that coaster enthusiasts and amusement park enthusiasts can enjoy.

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by drachen drachen Profile at 10/17/11 6:25:10 PM

Another very well written, detailed TR from ray p.

I'm glad you were able to get to Dollywood. I've only been one time, two years ago, and it's one of my favorite parks - easily one of the best parks in the country.

Great rides, great theming, great setting, great atmosphere, and spectacular food.

BTW, since you haven't been around for a while... I finally made it up to Waldameer this summer, as well as Holiday World. TR's are on here somewhere.

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by Overbanked Overbanked Profile at 10/17/11 7:01:29 PM

Well done TR Ray. You described everything so well in detail, it brought back memories of my trip there. You're right about the Pigeon Forge Parkway (or whatever it's called) That stretch is extremely tacky; It kinda had that "Intl' Drive in Orlando" feel with cheesy stuff like eighteen mini golf courses, Wonderworks etc LOL. I love Dollywood. While I seen theming that was well done at other parks, but BGW, and Dollywood (esp the Timber Canyon area) had me in awe.

Mystery Mine definitely has some rough areas throughout the course; I really wish that they could replace those OTHR's maybe with some shoulder strap style restraints. When I rode Thunderhead is was very smooth; Like Frontrow said earlier, maybe that temperamental factor is in play. I loved Daredevil Falls. That's a very underrated boat flume IMO; The theming was awesome. Thanks for the TR.

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Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by gvlaker27 gvlaker27 Profile at 10/17/11 8:25:04 PM

Wow, that was an awesome report! I was in Gatlinburg back in August staying in a cabin and we just didn't have the money to make it to Dollywood. After reading this though, it seems more than worth it!

Dollywood sounds like CP's 'Frontier Town' done much better and on a huge scale! While you were 'ober' Gatlinburg, did you get a chance to ride the Alpine Slide? I rode it in August, but being the only one I've ridden, I'd love to know how/if it compares to others.

I'm glad you rode the Jurassic Park ride on the 'strip.' We drove by it several times and were quite curious. You should check out the Hollywood Stars Car Museum in Gatlinburg, it was one attraction that WAS worth the money.

Thanks for an awesome, detailed report! I'll be punching my ticket to Dollywood as soon as I get the chance!

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by MABrider MABrider Profile at 10/17/11 8:45:46 PM

Great report, Ray!
It would be hard not to like Dollywood.
And you should see it in December...lights everywhere, you wouldn't believe it.
Then again, you probably would!

Mike B. (who has visited Dollywood three times, twice in December)

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Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by Cyclone_Phil Cyclone_Phil Profile at 10/17/11 9:37:08 PM

Nice tr! I love that park. Last time I was there was 5yrs ago. I totally agree about the staff there, very friendly and the park is very nice. I'd so love to go back to ride Thunderhead again. Now with a lot more coaster experience, this time around I would really appreciate the ride more than I did back then.

The go kart tracks at Pigeon forge were pretty fun.

Overall, it was a very productive week in that area when I thought there was just Dollywood.

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by sparky sparky Profile at 10/17/11 11:06:07 PM

Fantastic write-up, Ray!

Regarding Blazing Fury, the final drop is in fact a splashdown during much of the hot summer season. Despite being an in-house job from decades ago, the ride was developed with a "seasonal" splash. You can in fact get quite damp when it is on full. The same holds true for BF's twin "Fire in the Hole" at Silver Dollar City. DW's ride runs three car trains while its Branson cousin runs 2 car trains for some reason.

Daredevil Falls is one of few O.D. Hopkins superflumes. The only other one in the US is "Bugs White Water Rapids" at SFFT in San Antonio, TX. The largest superflume is Wild Wild West at WB Movieworld Gold Coast, Australia.

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by drachen drachen Profile at 10/18/11 7:59:27 AM

> Dollywood really is awesome. The staff is the friendliest I
> have encountered at any theme park (sorry Holiday World),
> the grounds and midways were spotless, the theming and
> landscaping is spectacular, and the rides are all very well
> done.

One ride that was really well-done and I thought was an absolute blast was Timber Tower. At this point, I feel lucky for having been able to ride it when I did as it has been closed for the better part of a year now. It is so unique and a lot of fun.

I hope Dollywood and Huss can settle the lawsuit and get it back up and running. I think most other parks have been scared off by its performance to this point.

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by Overbanked Overbanked Profile at 10/18/11 8:04:33 AM

> One ride that was really well-done and I thought was an
> absolute blast was Timber Tower. At this point, I feel
> lucky for having been able to ride it when I did as it has
> been closed for the better part of a year now. It is so
> unique and a lot of fun.

> I hope Dollywood and Huss can settle the lawsuit and get it
> back up and running. I think most other parks have been
> scared off by its performance to this point.

You're preaching to the choir.

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by ray_p ray_p Profile at 10/18/11 11:32:26 AM

Thanks to everyone for the comments and feedback. I have a few of my own to add.

Frontrow said: “The thing that was most most impressive was how smooth it was. In fact the only wooden coaster I've ridden that's smoother is El Toro. Even coasters like Boulderdash and Lightning Racer and Ravine Flyer II are not as smooth as Thunderhead.”

I did ride near the back both times, so perhaps that could have been the reason why Thunderhead seemed so rough, but when compared to the other recent GCI I was on (Renegade at Valleyfair in 2010), it was like night and day. As I mentioned, I did enjoy the intensity of the ride as it seemed to gain speed through the finish, but the roughness sort of ruined my enthusiasm a bit. Also by comparison, RF2 was a bit rougher this year, but in my opinion, was smoother than Thunderhead.

Overbanked said: “I really wish that they could replace those OTHR's maybe maybe with some shoulder strap style restraints.”

Couldn’t agree more. Those outdoor turns after the first lift are really a crazy layout, but the restraints get in the way and bang your head around relentlessly. Straps (or perhaps a lapbar?) would definitely improve this ride to Top 10 material for me. It was really a fun experience.

Gvlaker said: “Dollywood sounds like CP's 'Frontier Town' done much better and on a huge scale! While you were 'ober' Gatlinburg, did you get a chance to ride the Alpine Slide? I rode it in August, but being the only one I've ridden, I'd love to know how/if it compares to others. I'm glad you rode the Jurassic Park ride on the 'strip.' We drove by it several times and were quite curious.”

That was honestly my first reaction to the “older” half of Dollywood- a bigger and better Frontier Trail. The park has maintained the rustic look very nicely and it makes for a fun theme. To answer your Ober Gatlinburg question, we did not do the Alpine Slide. When we got to the top where the ice rink was, we looked around, laughed that we paid $11 each to go up there, got back in line and took the tram down. The tram was nice, I just thought what was at the top was kind of lacking. And yes, the Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride had me curious all week as well. I saw there were people outside every day, then realized when I got there that those were mannequins. Very sneaky!

MikeB said: “And you should see it in December...lights everywhere, you wouldn't believe it. Then again, you probably would!”

I would LOVE to see Dollywood in December. I am a sucker for Christmas lights, and if they were part of one of my favorite theme parks, you can bet I’d be a very happy visitor. The train would probably be even more awesome than it already is during the holidays.

Mark, thanks for the info on Blazing Fury (had no idea it was an in-house ride) and the flume. The “splash” area for Blazing Fury was drained, but it didn’t change my opinion of the ride at all. It was an incredibly fun ride that still seems to be quite popular with the guests. The flume was a walk-on, which was surprising. Definitely one of Hopkins finest efforts in my opinion.

Again, thanks for the feedback everyone!

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by sparky sparky Profile at 10/18/11 11:52:36 AM

For as good as Dollywood is, I actually find SDC to be even better. Not taking anything away from Dollywood at all, but there is something about SDC. It is like comparing DL to MK in many ways. SDC is smaller/more intimate, and has no real layout. Asphalt and gravel paths seem to meander in every which direction. I'd give the food edge to SDC (more lard-lined skillets).

DW has the woodie, Mystery Mine, and the better train ride. SDC has the incomparable Powder Keg, an awesome mine train, and a cave tour that is included in park admission!

Frankly, you can't go wrong with either. They are easily 2 of the top 10 parks in the world of any type in my book.

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by Overbanked Overbanked Profile at 10/18/11 12:03:56 PM

^^^I haven't been to SDC yet. What do you think about Wildfire? I heard that it was pretty average; Maybe those opinions are right because you didn't even mention it. LOL

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Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by beastmaster beastmaster Profile at 10/18/11 1:26:10 PM

I've been to Dollywood once, in 2008. I had 26 rides on Thunderhead, almost exclusively in or near the back seat. I didn't find it rough at all.

Mike

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by sparky sparky Profile at 10/18/11 5:02:41 PM

Wildfire is very average, but is about a wash with Tennessee Tornado. Both rides offer similar, short, looping coaster experiences even if from two different schools of design/manufacturing. Make no mistake about it- Powder Keg is far and away SDC's best coaster.

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by frontrow frontrow Profile at 10/18/11 8:32:31 PM

I've never made it Branson. It's off the beaten path and the closure of Celebration City makes it less appealing. I would have loved to ride Ozark Wildcat, but now it's gone. My questions are: is Silver Dollar City a park that is a must visit to enthusiasts and is Powder Keg good enough that it would headline most other small parks? I have this coaster trip on my list, but with the closure of Ozark Wildcat it has slipped way down on my priority list. My last question is how good was Wildcat and how would you rank among the GCII. woodies?

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by sparky sparky Profile at 10/19/11 10:02:23 AM

> I've never made it Branson. It's off the beaten path and
> the closure of Celebration City makes it less appealing. I
> would have loved to ride Ozark Wildcat, but now it's gone.
> My questions are: is Silver Dollar City a park that is a
> must visit to enthusiasts and is Powder Keg good enough
> that it would headline most other small parks? I have this
> coaster trip on my list, but with the closure of Ozark
> Wildcat it has slipped way down on my priority list. My
> last question is how good was Wildcat and how would you
> rank among the GCII. woodies?

As good as Ozark Wildcat was (my favorite GCII coaster), the park itself was less than spectacular. SDC on the other hand, you can easily spend 2 days exploring and savoring. It is such a relaxing, "mosey" type park with great food, entertainment, and attractions, that I guarantee you would not regret making an out of the way trip to visit. I have Powder Keg in my top tier of steel- both re-rideable, fun, and full of airtime and funkiness. But if you need a big new ride to draw you in, you may want to wait until 2013.

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by beastmaster beastmaster Profile at 10/19/11 11:33:58 AM

But if you need a big new ride to draw you in, you may want
> to wait until 2013.

Tease. :)

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by MABrider MABrider Profile at 10/19/11 12:34:56 PM

I've yet to visit SDC/Branson.

New for 2013?
If it's chowdah, that may get me there!
;-)

Mike B.

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by drachen drachen Profile at 10/19/11 1:54:47 PM

> As good as Ozark Wildcat was (my favorite GCII coaster),
> the park itself was less than spectacular. SDC on the other
> hand, you can easily spend 2 days exploring and savoring.
> It is such a relaxing, "mosey" type park with
> great food, entertainment, and attractions, that I
> guarantee you would not regret making an out of the way
> trip to visit. I have Powder Keg in my top tier of steel-
> both re-rideable, fun, and full of airtime and funkiness.
> But if you need a big new ride to draw you in, you may want
> to wait until 2013.

I too have concerns over the future of Ozark Wildcat. I have yet to get to Silver Dollar City (though it's on tap for 2013), so I'm not familiar with the park.

Since Celebration City closed, I've often wondered why Silver Dollar City hasn't purchased the ride and moved it to their park. Perhaps the topography at the park won't allow for it, but I can't help but think that Ozark Wildcat would be a great fit for the park., almost like their "Thunderhead".

Even so, I'm excited for a visit the year after next, for several reasons...

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Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by Cyclone_Phil Cyclone_Phil Profile at 10/19/11 2:32:42 PM

> One ride that was really well-done and I thought was an
> absolute blast was Timber Tower. At this point, I feel
> lucky for having been able to ride it when I did as it has
> been closed for the better part of a year now. It is so
> unique and a lot of fun.

> I hope Dollywood and Huss can settle the lawsuit and get it
> back up and running. I think most other parks have been
> scared off by its performance to this point.

Oh yes, I can't believe I forgot Timber Tower. That was a very fun ride. I always tried to pull my legs in to prevent them from getting soaked by the fountains.

I had no idea there's been that bad of a problem with the ride. That is a shame. Though I think I remember it was shut down once in my 3 visits to the park in that week.

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by sparky sparky Profile at 10/19/11 2:57:10 PM

> Since Celebration City closed, I've often wondered why
> Silver Dollar City hasn't purchased the ride and moved it
> to their park. Perhaps the topography at the park won't
> allow for it, but I can't help but think that Ozark Wildcat
> would be a great fit for the park., almost like their
> "Thunderhead".

Probably because for the cost of dismantling, re-erecting (along with all the new wood and other hardware needed), you're looking at a cost not much (if anything) less than the cost of building a new custom woodie from scratch.

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by drachen drachen Profile at 10/19/11 3:47:14 PM

> Since Celebration City closed, I've often wondered why
> Silver Dollar City hasn't purchased the ride and moved it
> to their park. Perhaps the topography at the park won't
> allow for it, but I can't help but think that Ozark Wildcat
> would be a great fit for the park., almost like their
> "Thunderhead".

> Probably because for the cost of dismantling, re-erecting
> (along with all the new wood and other hardware needed),
> you're looking at a cost not much (if anything) less than
> the cost of building a new custom woodie from scratch.

While I certainly agree that moving a wooden roller coaster is not an inexpensive option, it has to be more affordable than a new design. Or else, why would any park buy a used coaster?

When purchasing a used coaster, you are eliminating design and engineering costs, as well as getting the materials for cheaper than new stuff, because usually there is a previous owner who's just trying to get what he can for it.

Add to that the fact that Ozark Wildcat is already so close to Silver Dollar City, I would think that it would be an attractive proposition - especially if it's a great ride.

If Ozark Wildcat originally cost, say, $7 million new, I would estimate that moving it to SDC would cost $2-$3 million, no more than $4 million.

**Edit

RCDB lists Ozark Wildcat as costing $4 million in 2003. A coaster of similar size would probably be closer to $6 million now, I would estimate.

With the realization that the Herschend family owns both properties and then, of course, the coaster, I can't imagine it would cost them more than $1-$2 million to move.

Whether or not they want to dump that money into a ride they already paid $4 million for, is up to them. I think it would be a prudent investment, though they would have to purchase new trains (originals sold to Dollywood).

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Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by frontrow frontrow Profile at 10/19/11 5:15:06 PM

> As good as Ozark Wildcat was (my favorite GCII coaster),
> the park itself was less than spectacular. SDC on the other
> hand, you can easily spend 2 days exploring and savoring.
> It is such a relaxing, "mosey" type park with
> great food, entertainment, and attractions, that I
> guarantee you would not regret making an out of the way
> trip to visit. I have Powder Keg in my top tier of steel-
> both re-rideable, fun, and full of airtime and funkiness.
> But if you need a big new ride to draw you in, you may want
> to wait until 2013.

Thanks for responding. The one thing I've learned is you guys give great information that is usually very accurate. I will make it a priority to get to Branson in the next few years. Thanks again.

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by Coaster316 at 10/19/11 5:27:58 PM

Awesome TR, Ray. I knew you would enjoy Dollywood.

I think I agree with every opinion you have (of the attractions I've seen or done, that is). I loved Pigeon Forge as a kid, then when I went back as an adult I couldn't beleive it. I like cheesy and tacky stuff, but didn't care for the strip itself.

The biggest similarity between SDC and Dollywood, to me, is the staff. SDC is just as friendly as Dollywood. Makes a huge difference to my day.

I have to make sure I watch the video tonight. Looking forward to it.

Just to throw an extra note into the Ozark Wildcat side-discussion...Silver Dollar City already owns the ride. They owned Celebration City.

- Jeff

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by drachen drachen Profile at 10/19/11 7:33:35 PM

> Just to throw an extra note into the Ozark Wildcat
> side-discussion...Silver Dollar City already owns the ride.
> They owned Celebration City.

> - Jeff

I guess I knew that somewhere deep in the subconscious. I wish I would have thought of it before I responded. Thanks for the reminder.

That fact, of course, in theory would make it even less expensive to transplant the ride.

The only thing that I can think of is that perhaps they are trying to sell the park as is to another investor, and Osark Wildcat is an attractive commodity.

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by Coaster316 at 10/20/11 7:56:35 AM

When Celebration City first closed I thought it was a no-brainer to move Ozark Wildcat to SDC, too. My initial thinking when they didn't move it was that they already had something in the works, but that seems unlikely now (unlikely that they had something else planned all along, that is).

What I wonder now is if they just didn't like that ride enough to move it to the big park or if they fear that people will see a ride moved from a failed park to the big park as a negative. Pure guesses.

Jeff

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by MABrider MABrider Profile at 10/20/11 8:12:30 AM

I finally looked at all the photos (not yet the video).

As to the photos, thanks for the trip down memory lane, Ray!

Next time you are in Gatlinburg, I do recommend a visit to the Aquarium. While I simply don't believe there can ever be a #1 anything, it certainly ranks among the best I have ever visited. If I am not mistaken, it has the longest moveable walkway see-through "tunnel" in the...world, or US? It is quite the thing to take a stroll literally under denizens of the deep.

Mike B.

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by beastmaster beastmaster Profile at 10/20/11 9:12:05 AM

> I finally looked at all the photos (not yet the video).

> As to the photos, thanks for the trip down memory lane,
> Ray!

> Next time you are in Gatlinburg, I do recommend a visit to
> the Aquarium. While I simply don't believe there can ever
> be a #1 anything, it certainly ranks among the best I have
> ever visited. If I am not mistaken, it has the longest
> moveable walkway see-through "tunnel" in
> the...world, or US? It is quite the thing to take a stroll
> literally under denizens of the deep.

> Mike B.

Is that right on the "Strip?" I think I pulled in to check their hours, but they were not gonna be open any time I could go..I only had one day there, unfortunately. I kinda like Aquaria..way more than "zoos."

Mike

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by sparky sparky Profile at 10/20/11 10:04:36 AM

> When Celebration City first closed I thought it was a
> no-brainer to move Ozark Wildcat to SDC, too. My initial
> thinking when they didn't move it was that they already had
> something in the works, but that seems unlikely now
> (unlikely that they had something else planned all along,
> that is).

> What I wonder now is if they just didn't like that ride
> enough to move it to the big park or if they fear that
> people will see a ride moved from a failed park to the big
> park as a negative. Pure guesses.

> Jeff
>

Jeff and Drachen bring up some interesting (and IMO valid) points. My thoughts are:

a) Logistics- SDC simply does not have a big enough flat site to accommodate Ozark Wildcat. All 3 or SDC's major coasters are hidden from midway view and dive down hillsides on the east or west side of the property. The site where Grand Expo was placed would have worked perfectly, but alas is no longer available.

b) Most usable hardware on the ride (i.e. trains, controls, parts) have been stripped and sent elsewhere.

c) To design and build a brand new wooden coaster similar in size today would probably be equal, if not less, than the cost to dismantle, move, replace all needed hardware/structure, and re-erect Ozark Wildcat.

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by ray_p ray_p Profile at 10/20/11 11:03:31 AM

> As to the photos, thanks for the trip down memory lane, Ray!

Glad you enjoyed them Mike B!

> Next time you are in Gatlinburg, I do recommend a visit to the Aquarium.

We walked past the Aquarium twice. I wanted to go, the wife didn’t. So since I already dragged her through Cooter’s Place, the Hard Rock, and a very lame magic store, I figured I had better not press my luck with the Aquarium! It does look nice though and the billboards around town definitely drill home the point that they were ranked “Best In America”.

And Beastmaster, the Ripley’s Aquarium is right on the Parkway in Gatlinburg. It’s near the Hard Rock Cafe and across from the aforementioned Cooter’s.

And since people are discussing the Ozark Wildcat, which I have obviously never ridden, I would like to propose that Herschend move it to Darien Lake. That park needs a good wooden coaster (and a big new signature addition too) and most of the people in Buffalo would never know it was used.

Of course, after reading Mark's latest response, I doubt Ozark Wildcat will be going anywhere. ;)

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by Cyclone_Phil Cyclone_Phil Profile at 10/21/11 12:17:23 AM

> I finally looked at all the photos (not yet the video).

> As to the photos, thanks for the trip down memory lane,
> Ray!

> Next time you are in Gatlinburg, I do recommend a visit to
> the Aquarium. While I simply don't believe there can ever
> be a #1 anything, it certainly ranks among the best I have
> ever visited. If I am not mistaken, it has the longest
> moveable walkway see-through "tunnel" in
> the...world, or US? It is quite the thing to take a stroll
> literally under denizens of the deep.

> Mike B.

Ah yes, I visited that aquarium as well, very nice. It's up to par with what Sea World Orlando has, just packed into one giant building.

Also went to the smokey mountains where there was a tram that takes you high up where there was a large ice skating rink and just outside there were some water slides, a 'pirate ship', go kart track, and the main attraction- the alpine slide.

THe whole week there was always something to do there. I didn't think I'd find so much to do and be more exhausted when I was heading home.

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by Coaster316 at 10/21/11 5:03:07 AM

Watched the video. Great stuff as usual, Ray. That is such a great area.

- Jeff

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by SirWillow SirWillow Profile at 10/22/11 11:14:45 AM

> a) Logistics- SDC simply does not have a big enough flat
> site to accommodate Ozark Wildcat. All 3 or SDC's major
> coasters are hidden from midway view and dive down
> hillsides on the east or west side of the property. The
> site where Grand Expo was placed would have worked
> perfectly, but alas is no longer available.

This may very well be the biggest problem, at least that I am aware of. The Wildcat is built on a pretty flat piece of ground. I don't know if there really is a flat piece of ground in SDC. It's pretty hilly and rugged, especially off of the paths. For them to move it, it would requite either a major land grading (meaning big $$), or a major redesign of the coaster in order to get it somewhere stable, which pretty much equals big money as well.

Last I've heard, the Herschend's haven't really decided what they are going to do with Celebration city. The Wildcat is certainly not the only piece still sitting there, and they are taking care of what's there, at least moderately. If I had to guess, I'd say they are waiting for the economy to turn around a bit and bring the tourist levels and money back up again, then may reinvest in the part and reopen it or do something else with hit. Right now with the slump there's a number of things in Branson that are still pretty much in survival mode.

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by mugen828 mugen828 Profile at 10/22/11 4:40:28 PM

That was one fantastic TR and I love the photo's you took. This place is at the TOP of my places to visit next year. Especially with the introduction of the new ride!

I also like you photo site, awesome shots from so many visits!

- mugen

Re: TR: First time at Dollywood (09/25/11) by Overbanked Overbanked Profile at 11/19/11 5:34:13 AM

I forgot that Dare Devil Dive(SFOG) has lapbars that looks hella more comfortable than those head pounding OTHR's on Mystery Mine; Lapbars are exactly what MM needs. TPR reported no discomfort whatsoever on DDD.

www.rcdb.com/9430.htm?p=35401

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