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Ultimate Rollercoaster > Discussion Forums > Roller Coasters, Parks & Attractions > Lake Winnie/ Dollywood TR

Lake Winnie/ Dollywood TR

Posted: 9/15/16 at 10:44:47 AM
Views: 2362

Ever since Dollywood announced Lightning Rod, it has been my most wanted roller coaster in the world. With the inconsistency and the mechanical issues, I was wondering if it ever was going to open. The ride has been in Technical Ride Rehearsal several times, but I didn't want to drive 8 hours unless I knew there was a good chance it would be open. About 3 days before I got off the boat, it had finally officially opened. I got home from the boat on Thursday night, packed on Friday, and my son Hayden and I left out at 5:00 am on Saturday morning.

We drove down to Lake Winnie and arrived at about 2:30. This was our first ever visit. He had plans to visit Lake Winnie in 2013, the day after Dollywood. Due to bad planning on my part, the park was closed on weekdays at the end of August. Ever since, I have had Lake Winnie on my radar.

As soon as we got in the park we headed for the John Allen Woodie, Cannonball. The park was crowded and they were only running one train so it was about a 15 minutes wait. On Cannonball, you cannot wait for a specific row, it's luck of the draw. Our first ride was in the very front. Cannonball is very similar to Blue Streak at Cedar Point, but not as smooth. It's not rough by any means, and very reridable. It has very good air time. We rode it 4 more times during the day and the back seat was my favorite seat. I've now ridden every John Allen coaster, except for Swamp Fox. Cannonball is my second favorite John Allen coaster, with only Blue Streak being better. It's a top 30 wooden coaster for me and I've now ridden 110 wooden coasters.

Lake Winnie has a great mix of old, classic rides and modern rides. Their Boat Chute is the oldest flume in North America and the oldest one in the world with a Splash down. There's not much to the ride, it's a long journey through a dark tunnel, a lift hill, and a splash down. The boats are magnificent with an enormous front end. We rode it twice Both in the front seat. My son grabbed another ride on it, so I could get a photo of him on it.

Now, one classic ride we didn't get to cross off our bucket list was Fly O Plane. It's still closed from that incident earlier this year. They do have a Bill Tracy dark called Wacky Factory. It's done well, but not nearly as good as Wacky Shack at Waldameer and is much different from Wacky Shack.

They do have a wild mouse coaster called Wild Lightning. It was very rough even for a mouse coaster. They also have a Wacky Worm Kiddie coaster we rode for the credit. Lake Winnie also has Constenoga, which is a flat ride that used to be at Hershey. I used to love that ride as a kid. I finally got to ride it again and it's still a very fun ride.

Some other rides we rode at the park are you typical amusement park rides, they have a Scrambler, a Matterhorn, a Tilt A Wirl, a Wave Swinger, a Sky Ride, an ARM drop tower, and a small but very good top spin that is new for this year called Twister.

All in all Lake Winnie has a beautiful natural setting, but the park was a little run down. I was expecting everything to be in pristine condition, but that wasn't the case. It's not dirty or poor by any means, but just not what I was expecting. I still want to go back for Fly O Plane and to ride Cannonball again.

The next day we woke up and drove up to Pigeon Forge. If you buy a single day ticket for Dollywood you get in for free the day before at 2:36. Being we had some time we stopped at NASCAR Speed Park in Pigeon Forge in the morning. They have 8 go cart tracks, bumper boats, 36 holes of mini golf, Hoover number cars, a few flat rides and a Kiddie coaster called Daytona Draft. We rode Daytona Draft and it was Hayden's 349 different coaster. We also rode 5 of the go cart tracks and they filmed us for a commercial on their new bumper hover cars called Spin Zone. At 2:00 it's was time to leave and make our pilgrimage to Dollywood.

We got to the park, bought our tickets, and patiently waited until 2:36. At 2:36 we ran to Lightning Rod and it was running with 2 trains. We had to wait 2 trains for front seat. It was my son's 350th different coaster and I got a fantastic photo of him with his 350th sign he made. We got strapped in, and the train was dispatched. The launch is 0-45mph and is extremely fun. The first little hill you get a pop of air time. The big for tries to dump you out of the seat. The one flaw it does have is there is a bump at the bottom of the first drop. It's not a big deal, but it is noticeable. Next you climb the 90 degree banked wave turn and it's ejector air time. Next is an element that banks to the left then the right creating ejector air time and laterals. Then there's another ejector air time hill. Then another 90 degree mini wave turn. Then comes the quadruple down. It is the best element on any coaster and has ejector air time that would throw you to California if it wasn't for that lap bar. The finial hop of the 4 is the best. Then right after is another ejector air time hill. Then you bank right and get one more air time hill. The speed it maintains throughout the entire ride is amazing. It's non stop action, not an inch of straight track. Think of Skyrush air time that is non stop. It's Outlaw Run on Steroids. It's the greatest coaster ever built. It's almost too extreme. In fact most people will like the front seat better. The back was my favorite, but it's only for the die hard thrill junkies like myself. Some of you may not like the ride at all, because how it pushes your body to the limits. We rode it 4 more times that evening and 9 times on Monday. It does go down often and for long periods. If it's running, ride it until it goes down. On Monday we got first train of the day and the second train had a roll back and took 2 hours to reopen. It reopened for a hour and we got 8 rides in that hour. It went down and never reopened the rest of the day. Also for you big guys they will not push the bar down for you. I'm 5'10" and 235 and I didn't have any problems, but people slightly larger than me did. All in all Lightning Rod is an epic experience and the crown jewel of roller coasters.

The park was dead on Sunday evening and on Monday. We walked onto everything. We rode Thunderhead 6 times. It's still running great, but I usually prefer the back seat, but on this visit I liked the front better.

Our last visit to Dollywood was in 2013, so Fire Chaser Express was a new credit for us also. I must say I was extremely impressed with it. It's a very fun coaster with elaborate theming. It now brings my coaster count to 414 and Hayden to 351. We rode it 3 times during our visit. I liked the back better than the front.

We rode Wild Eagle 4 times, Mystery Mine 3 times, 1 front seat ride on Tennessee Tornado and rode Blazing Fury once. We also rode their flume Dare Devil Falls, Barnstormer, a S&S swing ride, some flats at The Country Fair section of the park, and even watched a show.

All in all this was my favorite amusement park experience ever. Dollywood is now one of my favorite parks because of Lightning Rod and just their entire line up of coasters and rides. The park gets better and better every time I visit. The theming, the cleanliness, the staff, everything is top notch. We drove home on Tuesday and that's it. That was our last trip of the year, and what a way to close out 2016. The kids want to do Florida next year, so I have to start saving now. Dollywood was my 29th different park this year. I hope 2017 is half as good as 2016. What a blessed life we have.

Thanks for reading,
Ken

Re: Lake Winnie/ Dollywood TR by NotSo NotSo Profile at 9/15/16 6:34:32 PM
That sounds like an awesome trip! Thanks for sharing this, pretty cool.
Dollywood has been on my radar for awhile, I gotta make it happen....
Re: Lake Winnie/ Dollywood TR by frontrow frontrow Profile at 9/15/16 7:36:59 PM
Thanks NotSo. I don't want to talk up Lightning Rod too much, because like I stated it may be too extreme for some people. For me it was the most amazing coaster experience ever. Dollywood itself is a really nice park. Thunderhead is fantastic wooden coaster. Mystery Mine, Wild Eagle, Fore Chaser Express, and Tennessee Tornado are all solid coasters. It's kind of hillbilly themed Busch Gardens. I highly recommend a visit.
Re: Lake Winnie/ Dollywood TR by NotSo NotSo Profile at 9/15/16 9:18:40 PM
frontrow said:

Thanks NotSo. I don't want to talk up Lightning Rod too much, because like I stated it may be too extreme for some people. For me it was the most amazing coaster experience ever. Dollywood itself is a really nice park. Thunderhead is fantastic wooden coaster. Mystery Mine, Wild Eagle, Fore Chaser Express, and Tennessee Tornado are all solid coasters. It's kind of hillbilly themed Busch Gardens. I highly recommend a visit.


Hillbilly themed Busch Gardens, I like that. I got a little hilljack in me, how much for a beer in Dollyworld?
It was more than Lightning Rod, it was how you told the story. With your son and how you had one of the best times. I can feel that.
But yeah, Lightning Rod is the reason that pushes me to want to get there.

Oh yeah, by the way,, I am also 5'10" and 235. I am a funny combo of beer gut and muscular upper body, with a fat head. Yeah i'm weird lookin, it's funny what getting older does...

* This post was modified at 9/15/16 9:25:59 PM *

Re: Lake Winnie/ Dollywood TR by frontrow frontrow Profile at 9/16/16 7:55:23 AM
I love to drink beer, but I never drink while on vacation, so I have no idea how much a beer would cost at Dollywood. I've been trying to lose weight, so I've been cutting back on the beer at home.
Re: Lake Winnie/ Dollywood TR by RobLec RobLec Profile at 9/16/16 1:20:54 PM
frontrow said:
... Lightning Rod too much, because like I stated it may be too extreme for some people. For me it was the most amazing coaster experience ever. Dollywood itself is a really nice park. Thunderhead is fantastic wooden coaster.

Thanks for the TR, and congrats to your son on #350.

My last trip to DW was also 2013 iirc for the opening of Wild Eagle. Agreed that Thunderhead is probably one of the best wood coasters out there. Thanks for the heads up on L/R. As I get older I find it more and more difficult to "enjoy" extreme coasters. The old body just can't take so much physical stress any more. Sad but true.

DW really is a nice park, but as everything is always uphill from wherever you are, again it becomes difficult for us old timers. But I do enjoy reading others' experiences there. Enjoy!

Re: Lake Winnie/ Dollywood TR by frontrow frontrow Profile at 9/16/16 1:41:06 PM
Thanks Rob. This year alone, I rode El Toro 20 times in one day, Skyrush 12 times in a day, Storm Chaser 25 times in a day and 14 on Lightning Rod. I can still marathon these extreme coasters, but the next day I'm bruised and have a really tough time getting around. I'm fine when I'm riding, but it really takes a toll on me for the next few days after. We usually do trips that are multiple days, so it will really slow me down. I'm trying to enjoy it now, because I know eventually I won't be able to ride those extreme coasters.
Re: Lake Winnie/ Dollywood TR by MABrider MABrider Profile at 9/18/16 11:21:27 AM
frontrow said:

I don't want to talk up Lightning Rod too much, because like I stated it may be too extreme for some people. For me it was the most amazing coaster experience ever.

Nice report.
I thought I would get back to DW this year but that did not happen.

As to LR, I like reading what you wrote, and appreciate the detail. I like knowing you control your lap bar at the beginning (no stapling). Like almost everyone, I'm no fan of coasters that allow the lap bar to get progressively tighter as the ride proceeds. With all the air time moments you described, I wonder. Does the lap bar remain in its original position during the ride?
Mike B.
Re: Lake Winnie/ Dollywood TR by frontrow frontrow Profile at 9/18/16 12:38:05 PM
That's correct there is no stapling. I have read some people complain that the lap bar does ratchet down on them during the ride. Out of our 14 rides that only happen to me once, and it was because I was trying to brace myself for that bump on the bottom. When you marathon it, that bump at the bottom of the first drop starts to take a toll on you. I learned how to ride, without it affecting me and without the bar racheting down. It's full of ejector air time and laterals. The only moment of positive g's are at the bottom of the first drop. If you literally hold the lap up at the bottom of the first drop, it will not rachet down and you can ride cruise through the rest of the circuit with hands up.