Alexander: Our last update for this visit to Pigeon Forge is a look at all of the other goings-on at Dollywood beside Wildwood Grove and Smoky Mountain Christmas.
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It was SO COLD on our visit that our first attempt at riding coasters was squashed by cold weather.
Fortunately Dollywood’s most important attraction is virtually weatherproof!
This is pretty much what we came for anyway.
COME TO ME MY PRETTIES.
On this visit we noticed that the signage for summer-only-attraction Mountain Slidewinder has been taken down. We also noticed that the ride was removed from the Dollywood app (You can no longer navigate to the ride’s page on Dollywood.com, but it is still accessible via Google).
While the other water rides remain listed on the app (and depicted in the map’s app function), all traces of Slidewinder have been erased from the park and its media. Perhaps after 30+ years of service, the ride’s finally ending its run? It’s a fabulous, unique ride, but the season is very short, the ride takes up a lot of space, needs lots of staffing, is high maintenance, and there’s plenty of other water attractions on property.
Even if Slidewinder is done, we’ll be ready for rides on Daredevil Falls in the Spring!
Glacier Ridge, the newest expansion to Smoky Mountain Christmas, encompasses the enormous stretch of midway between Blazing Fury and Thunderhead, which includes parts of Craftsman Valley, most of Timber Canyon, and all of Wilderness Pass.
Blazing Fury was the only coaster ride we got that day. Oh well!
Northern Lights, one of Glacier Ridge’s light displays, doesn’t look like much during the day,
but it looks amazing at night!
Smoky Mountain Christmas lights used to sorta fizzle out once you got to Tennessee Tornado, but now it’s part of the show!
Dollywood’s 2018 addition, The Plaza at Wilderness Pass, makes great used of the plot previously occupied by Splash Battle.
Dollywood really has a knack for repurposing existing attraction spaces and making them look like they were part of the plan all along. Timber Tower, Adventure Mountain, and Splash Battle didn’t exactly pan out the way the park had hoped, but Drop Line, FireChaser Express, and this new plaza don’t even look like they replaced prior attractions.
This giant tree spent several years on Timber Tower‘s plot before finally being evicted by Drop Line in 2017. Now it has a new permanent home in Wilderness Pass!
As we pass under Mystery Mine, we see the construction for Wildwood Grove!
The Wildwood Grove midway will plug into Timber Canyon right next to Mystery Mine (and will hopefully eventually connect back around to Thunderhead’s entrance).
As it turns out, Drop Line is virtually impervious to cold. With a minimum operating temperature of 5ºF, the park will never have to close the ride due to low temps (because with temps that low, I wouldn’t expect the park to be open at all).
What’s that poking out in the background?
I see some handsome green track! It’s Dragon Flier!
Making our way back down to Showstreet, we exit the massive Glacier Ridge.
We are so excited for this. So much great stuff going on, and plenty of room to grow!
Dollywood Express is a must-ride, even in freezing temps!
In a few minutes, we’ll board the train to get a close look at Wildwood Grove construction!
Country Fair has a nice handful of rides that can operate in this frozen weather!
You could probably run an Eli Bridge Scrambler in a hurricane and it would be fine.
We noticed on this visit that Dolly’s Wonder Wheel is inconspicuously absent. I’m willing to bet money that a much larger Ferris Wheel is coming to the park; one that will be situated at a much higher elevation (Wildwood Grove, perhaps?)
Thunderhead was “The Wildest Ride in the Woods” until they chopped all the trees down.
We got LOTS of amazing shots of Wildwood Grove on our train ride! Check them out here!
After our train ride, we took in a few shows (including the utterly rapturous It’s A Wonderful Life musical at the Palace Theater) and then photographed all of the amazing Smoky Mountain Christmas lights! Check them out here!
On our second Dollywood day, we got some actual coaster rides in!
Wild Eagle, Tennessee Tornado, and Thunderhead are all troopers running in 36ºF!
We enjoyed our rides, and everything ran great, but it hurt our faces!!
Really gorgeous, sunny weather despite the cold!
Thunderhead is running exceptionally well. Smoothest ride I’ve had on it in years!
Of all of Dollywood’s outdoor coasters, Wild Eagle is the most cold-weather friendly. It was the first coaster open that day and the last one to close once the temp dropped closer to freezing.
The rides all ran pretty fast, all things considered. Even in bitter cold temps and half empty trains, the coaster didn’t seem overly sluggish.
Drop Line got a lot of love from visitors on these days!
Thunderhead looks radiant in the sunlight!
But there aren’t many riders today.
Even Wild Eagle struggled to fill the train.
Such beauty! Such grace!
With 2pm openings most days this time of year, guests only get a few hours of sunlight to enjoy the park.
But afternoon openings help ensure that rides are open as soon as guests arrive, and allow for later closings/more time for guests to enjoy the Smoky Mountain Christmas lights!
The Plaza at Wilderness Pass gleams in the sunlight!
Tennessee Tornado time!
As the last installation of Arrow Dynamic’s iconic looping coaster, and the first design of now-famed designer Alan Schilke, Tennessee Tornado is one of the most priceless steel coasters in the country.
AND it’s just an excellent coaster.
Tennessee Tornado is a portrait of industry evolution. It has one foot in the past (Arrow), one foot in the future (Schilke), and in its 20th season of operation, proves itself to be timeless.
And these giant Arrow looper trains, particularly Tennessee Tornado’s whisky barrel-themed units, will probably always be among the best rolling stock to ever grace a coaster.
It’s hard to capture Tennessee Tornado‘s unique curb appeal. Even a panorama can’t adequately demonstrate the ride’s presence.
The temps are starting to drop again and all the coasters have closed for the day. Time to go home!
That concludes our Fall/Winter Pigeon Forge coverage! Stay tuned for some winter Orlando park coverage!