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August 7, 2015

Dollywood Building World's Fastest Wood Roller Coaster

Pigeon Forge, Tenn.Dollywood will up the thrills in 2016 with the addition of Lightning Rod, a $22 million roller coaster, that will be both the world's fastest and first launching wood coaster. The new roller coaster already under construction will be set to roll in March 2016.

Located in Dollywood's Jukebox Junction, Lightning Rod will rocket riders around its massive wooden structure on an adrenaline-charged lap through the trees in the hills and valleys surrounding the area.

First Drop Lightning Rod Wood Roller Coaster Dollywood
Opening at Dollywood in 2016, Lightning Rod, the world's fastest and first launching wood roller coaster.

Trains designed to look like ticked out 1950s-era hot rods will launch from zero-to 45 miles-per-hour up the more than 20 story lift hill to start one of Lightning Rod's first "airtime" moments. At the crest of the lift, riders will face twin summit airtime hills before sailing down the coaster's daring 165-foot first drop.

During the daring descent the hot rod themed trains will reach a top speed of 73 miles-per-hour, the fastest speed for a wood coaster in the world.

"Lightning Rod reminds me so much of those colorful cars cruisin' up and down Main Street in downtown Sevierville back when I was in high school. I remember all those souped up cars; but what I remember most were those good lookin' boys behind the wheel with those flat top and ducktail haircuts," Dolly Parton said with a laugh.

Ligtning Rod Roller Coaster Dollywood
The $22 million Lightning Rod roller coaster is the single largest ride expenditure ever at Dollywood theme park. The ride is slated to open in March 2016.

The storyline for Lightning Rod is that riders are being put in the driver's seat of Johnny Rev's newest hot rod. After months of tinkering, Johnny invites Dollywood guests to step behind the wheel for the first test drive of his flashy new creation. Like any proper hot rod, massive header pipes and an imposing injector scoop peer out from the train's flamed bodywork. Each hot rod train will carry 24 passengers in twelve cars.

Dollywood's development team hired Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC) as the ride manufacturer. RMC is no stranger to out-of-the-box coaster projects, having designed a number of innovative attractions around the world.

Lightning Rod's layout will include several unique features including the lift hill launch, twin summit airtime hills, a 90+ degree banked breaking wave turn, a 90+ degree outside banked turn, and a non-inverting half loop. In total, riders will experience nearly 20 seconds of airtime.

Breaking Wave Turn Lightning Rod Roller Coaster
Lightning Rod will include several unique elements like the beyond 90° Breaking Wave Turn shown in this rendering.

"I'm truly excited about this ride because it will let our guests experience something just as fast as those hot rods I remember," added Parton. "Even better, it's the fastest wooden roller coaster in the world, so I think we're going to see a lot of people coming from all over to peel out on the Lightning Rod."

Lightning Rod is the latest addition to Dollywood's lineup of award-winning attractions that includes seven existing roller coasters. The $22 million price tag also makes it the single largest attraction investment ever in the company's history.

Lightning Rod artwork courtesy of Dollywood. All rights reserved.

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