World’s Fastest Roller Coaster Coming To Dollywood!
Dolly’s done it again! Dollywood, the pride of Great Smoky Mountains, TN, unveiled on August 7th the renderings and layout of their new wooden coaster, Lightning Rod, which will open next year in the Jukebox Junction section of the park. This is billed as “The World’s First and Fastest Wood Launch Coaster” and the trains are designed after sweet, tricked out 1950’s hot rods. As down-home and comforting as Dollywood is, they certainly like to compete for thrill ridership from coaster crazies looking for their next thrill adventure. The announcement coming down has coaster enthusiasts excited about a thrilling wooden coaster being added in the industry, as that type of coaster is in demand. The stats for Lightning Rod look pretty sweet: a Top Speed of 73 MPH, a 165 foot drop, Non-Inverting Half-Loop, 12 Total Moments of Airtime and 90+ Degree Outside Banked Top Hat, according to Dollywood’s website. This is certainly going to be highly-anticipated addition to the park like Wild Eagle, the Bolliger & Mabillard manufactured Wing Coaster that opened in 2012. In the 30 year history of Dollywood, this is the largest investment made in an attraction, with the cost clocking in at $22 million.
For Dolly Parton, the hot rod theme is apart of what she remembers from her high school days in Downtown Sevierville as she saw the tricked out cars in person. However, these aren’t your typical hot rods. Once strapped in for a ride, you’ll zoom from zero to 45 MPH and climb more than 20 stories up the lift hill to one of the first airtime moments on the coaster. Just as you get to the crest of the hill, you’ll face twin summit airtime hills before conquering the bold first drop. Then, you’ll be well-above cruise control speed when you race down the 165 foot drop as you race on a total of 3,800 feet of track. For fans of “woodie” coasters expecting to go upside down, like Kings Island’s Son of Beast, that won’t be happening; however, expect lots of airtime to keep you on the edge of your seat, and to be lifted off of it. Parton, who was present at the ride announcement dressed in an outfit fitting for the movie Grease, told the crowd at the event that you won’t see her on the ride at all!
I’m not riding that thing!….. I’ve got too much to lose–like my hair! –Dolly Parton
The ride does have a fun story to go with all that airtime and speed while conquering the lifts and banks. Johnny Rev has been tinkering with his hot rod for months, he invites guests of Dollywood to sit behind the wheel for a test drive of his tricked out ride. When you see the hot rods, you’ll love the flamed body work and big header pipes and boss injector scoop that come out the train. The impact Dollywood has on the region is undeniable and this exciting addition will continue the growth and success of the park and local economy. Since the park has changed from Silver Dollar City to Dollywood, the success has been abundant. Park guests also enjoy other attractions such as FireChaser Express, which opened last year and is billed as America’s first dual-launch family coaster. There’s also Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort, which opened just last month and is between the amusement park and Splash Country, and boasts of kid’s play areas, indoor & outdoor pools, a spa and some good, down-on-the-farm home style restaurant.
This is certainly a ride that’ll endure much success over time and become a new favorite with coaster enthusiasts. Like Kings Island’s 35 year old The Beast, there’s lots of love given to wooden roller coasters when it meets with fan expectations. There’s speculation that Cedar Point could be unveiling a woodie soon when they have their big announcement on August 18th, however that’s in “To Be Continued…..” mode until the big day. Lightning Rod is destined to be featured as an Epic Attraction soon after it opens; Nice way to usher in the third decade of thrills at Dollywood!
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