Alexander: If you ask me, to two best places to be during the holidays are Disney or Dollywood.
On the heels of our Disneyland visit last month, we now bring you some December coastering courtesy of Dolly!
– Over the years, many of our images have popped up on other sites and forums, awesome that our coverage spreads, not so awesome that not everyone mentioned where they got the images from. We are totally fine with our audience using our images, BUT ONLY IF credit is given to cabincrewcoasterkings.com. Thank you! –
And this one is really a miracle. Due to the explosion of developers like B&M and Premier Rides, the odds of one more Arrow multi-looper coming in the late 90’s was slim. Fortunately, Herschend Family Entertainment knew the best way to repurpose their elaborate Thunder Express Mine Train station, maintenance bay, and queue was to go with another Arrow; it would ultimately be the last of a proud pedigree of rides.
Dollywood remains one of the world’s most self-aware parks. At every turn, the park seems to always know exactly what move to make; if something isn’t working out like they’d hoped, they waste no time redeveloping the space. The “coaster alley” of Dollywood has grown a lot since its inception, but some of that growth has come from the replacement of relatively new things that simply didn’t pull their weight.
Adventure Mountain (the ropes course replaced by FireChaser Express), Timber Tower (Huss Topple Tower replaced by Drop Line), the playground in Thunderhead’s infield (replaced by Whistle Punk Chaser), and now Splash Battle; the not-quite-popular-enough-to-justify-operation Mack flume retires after only its 10th summer at Dollywood to become The Venue, a much-needed multipurpose show space (the only such space in all of “coaster alley”).
Dollywood’s brake-neck growth plan remains steadfast; four coasters in five years (if you count the roundabout replacement of the park’s L&T Systems Sideshow Spin coaster with Whistle Punk Chaser (removed from Country Fair to help with overcrowding; sold to a Family Fun Center in Kentucky)), plus plenty of non-coaster additions and a 5-star resort hotel are so far giving way to only more major growth!
The previous kiddie coaster, the remarkably compact Sideshow Spin, once bore a “VeggieTales” tie-in (VeggieTales Sideshow Spin). Understandably, the name was shortened when branding wasn’t renewed, but now (for reasons unbeknownst to us), the “VeggieTales” part of the name is reinstated at Kentucky Shores Family Fun Center. Additionally the “Sideshow” part was dropped, reducing the name to VeggieTale Spin.
Lighting Rod went down to one train mid-day due to some operational hiccups, but by the evening it was back to two-train ops. It rides wonderfully, but plenty of off-season maintenance is necessary to keep the ride feeling comfortable. Lightning Rod had a more successful season this year than last, and with that trend (hopefully) continuing towards predictable operations, Dollywood will now have to rise to the occasion of maintaining two wooden coasters that run consistently enough to accumulate wear and tear at a normal rate.
While some of this space had already played host to a service road and a boneyard (up until this year, leftover pieces of Adventure Mountain could still be seen on the plateau behind Thunderhead), a great deal more land has been cleared within the perimeter of Dollywood Express.
Details on the development are slim, but anything from a major park expansion to a 2nd resort hotel could fit in the space created. Mack rides has been rumored to be doing a massive project for Dollywood since at least 2014, and with Silver Dollar City’s Mack Time Traveler launched spinner coming next year, a Mack coaster for Dollywood seems increasingly likely.
The upper train turnaround has been long rumored for park expansion (since the park went through the trouble of developing the land between 2008-2011), but for now it remains a peaceful clearing with a handful of themed structures for guests to admire from the train.
This large building behind the candle shop serves as a Rudolph-themed activity area. It used to be something else (related to woodworking, I think?) but now it’s holiday decor storage during the rest of the season.
As the park continues to expand, Smoky Mountain Christmas decor must follow. There isn’t much in the way of lights between Tennessee Tornado and Mystery Mine, but when The Venue opens, that’ll change.
Everyone’s crowding up Adventures in Imagination for the start of The Parade of Many Colors, a small nighttime parade in the tradition of Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade. The floats are small (so they can fit through some of the midways’ low clearances) and there aren’t too many of them, but it’s a very charming parade that seems to please the masses. We were able to see the entire parade from the brake run of Lightning Rod.
In order to beat the masses, we waded through the Disneyland-sized cluster of people on Showstreet and made our departure. Thank you for always putting on such an amazing Christmas display, Dollywood!
Our Dollywood visit may have concluded, but our night wasn’t over! We were invited to visit Pigeon Forge’s NASCAR Speed Park as guests, so we made our way over to check things out and get Sean’s Speedway Drift credit.
See you there!