Thrills in the Hills; Roller Coasters of Dollywood
Nestled in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains is a theme park that combines southern hospitality with the great food you’d expect and awesome thrills in the form of a ever-growing coaster collection. Dollywood, formerly Silver Dollar City, formerly, Goldrush Junction started as just a small park offering train rides as a place called Rebel Railroad.
But were here today to talk about the present and where Dollywood is headed on the coaster enthusiast radar. Arguably that direction has only been up for a couple of decades now. So let’s start at the beginning of the coaster timeline and roll into the future.
Starting back in a time that pre-dated the Dollywood name was Blazing Fury, a unique indoor coaster in 1978. The coaster features several powered sections and used to feature a drop. Be sure to check out this hidden gem of a ride at the park:
An Arrow Mine Train coaster came and went from 1989-1998. In 1999, Tennessee Tornado took its place, quite literally, by using the former station of the troubled mine train. TN Tornado is one of my personal favorites in the Arrow looper family. Many these days are quite rough but somehow Tornado keeps its charm and isn’t that rough of a ride comparably.
Thunderhead roared onto the scene in 2004, the 7th project ever for GCI a company we told you about in our Hersheypark feature. With a pretty awesome station fly through and nifty pair of fan-turns this coaster quickly went to number 1 on many lists for wood coaster fans.
A great new story about a mysterious mine shaft brought us Mystery Mine just 3 years later. The layout is just a continuous flow only interrupted by 2 vertical lift hills, which you may not notice with all the theme elements and action taking place.
In 2012, Wild Eagle became the first B&M Wing Coaster in North America. For many it is a mellow version of other models out there these days but still provides a great view of the park and mountains around it. Representing an important iconic figure to the park, the coaster soars through 4 inversions at speeds up to 61 mph. Dollywood is a leader in Eagle conservation, and raising awareness, so having such a great coaster representing it just creates a great synergy.
Just across from Wild Eagle we find FireChaser Express, opened in 2014. A fun family coaster that launches both forwards and backwards, FireChaser also pays homage to the brave men and women that serve as first responders to protect the area.
Rocky Mountain Construction has become the hot brand of coaster builders in recent years and Lightning Rod, despite its early troubles, is well worth some high praise. Unlike other current RMC projects Lightning Rod was a new build in 2016, not using any previous structure as we saw with Steel Vengeance. The coaster still packs a punch and has some pretty cool elements like a quadruple down.
Our current line-up of coasters of Dollywood closes out on a kids coaster, Whistle Punk Chaser, opened 2017. Understandable as the area the coaster was built-in is surrounded by mainly adult thrills. So between this excellently themed coaster and a few other rides nearby the area is well-rounded out:
As you can see, there are tons of thrills in the hills at Dollywood! If you’ve never been the park is truly an experience in not only coaster riding but classic fun and excitement. With great staff and great food, just ask anyone who has been about cinnamon bread, the park delights everyone. Be sure to also take the train ride up the hill. This is like no other amusement park can offer!
A special thanks as always to Roller Coaster Database for helping out with the years and some other details outlined in the post! Be sure to click on over there for all you coaster fact checking!