Alexander: NOW OPEN! The longest coaster in East Tennessee, Rocky Top Mountain Coaster, is open for business! The folks who run the coaster were kind enough to let us take some photos of the massive ride – get ready for a comprehensive look at all the things that set Rocky Top Mountain Coaster apart!
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First things first: We embark on one of Rocky Top’s four separate inclines!
Rocky Top has 4 unique lift hill sections, the first of which is composed of two seperate lifts.
We’re gonna follow Sean on his ride!
As we near the top, we see one of the ride’s numerous tunnels. This one is the namesake Rocky Top tunnel.
There goes Sean!
Below us is the barn-themed station of Rocky Top.
More rock work is on the way to create a sort of valley at the top of the first lift section.
Off in the distance is Dolly’s Splash Country (take my word for it).
Structures around the ride are still in various states of construction; everything will be finished for the ride’s official grand opening in the Spring.
This mess of track in the valley is only some of what comprises Rocky Top Mountain Coaster!
Here you’ll encounter the first of 4 helices on Rocky Top,
beyond which is this little spaghetti junction where the first and third block sections cross each other.
Filming privileges allowed me and Sean to stop and take photos/video, wherever on the ride’s 3691ft of track.
Sean’s crested the 2nd lift. Let’s say hi!
There he goes!
Aw yay! Hi Sean!
Sean is busy making his Instagram story (make sure you’re following our brands on social media!
Sean’s doing his very best to look like an L.L. Bean catalogue.
Yes, I’m still actually on that first helix. Behind me is one of the ride ops; rather than staff folks out in the freezing-cold to monitor the ride on slow days, Rocky Top cleverly sends out operators to shadow riders. Clever, right?
There goes Sean up the 3rd lift!
Rocky Top is unlike any other Mountain Coaster because of its one-of-a-kind block system. While riders can apply the brakes on their vehicles like any other mountain coaster, a block brake section before each lift section helps keep the vehicles comfortably spaced out. They also recharge the headlights!
Up lift #2!
I love the echoing of sequences here – while they look almost the same from this perspective, they ride quite differently.
Time for round 2!
Rocky Top has taken great care in preserving as much foliage as possible.
Sometimes a strategically located tree makes all the difference!
Like this tree here, which is framed by the nice squiggly bit in the ride’s 2nd quarter.
I don’ think this was a pond on purpose, but it looks nice.
Sean’s completed the 3rd section and heading into the 4th lift segment!
I really appreciate the “tunnels for the sake of tunnels” approach here.
The 3rd chapter of Rocky Top is largely out and back, save for this helix.
Here we embark on the longest single lift on the ride.
Behind us, we see the approaching headlight of a staff vehicle shining through the ride’s 3rd (?) tunnel.
The tunnels feature lighting effects – they’re visible in the daylight, but best appreciated at night.
The fastest part of Rocky Top is this long straightaway immediately following the 3rd lift.
I think the angle of ascent on this one lift changes about 3 or 4 times.
As we approach the farthest reaches of the property, riders find themselves quite a ways away from where they began.
Feast your eyes on what will soon be another thematic element of Rocky Top! I think it’s going to be a barn, but I can’t quite recall.
Alright! Enough rest! Time for round 3!
The far end of this U-turn is the very edge of Rocky Top‘s footprint. We’ve got quite the ride back!
*flies into the zig zags*
Considering how long it took for us to get all the way out here, we sure are making short work of the return!
Tunnels: just because.
Back at the base of lift 3 we see another associate monitoring the ride.
Can you guess what’s behind all these trees?
It’s that helix from earlier!
Did I mention it was SUPER COLD? My hands were numb taking these pictures.
We’ve arrived back at the spaghetti junction!
Time to embark on the 4th and final incline!
By the way, this ride is over 9-and-a-half-minutes long. Talk about bang for your buck!
Man! The helix from the 1st quarter of the ride feels like such a long time ago.
Time to make our way up to one final track crossing…
We finally get to go through the mountain, guys!
Earlier this was an L.L. Bean add but now I’m thinking it’s a truck commercial.
Look how far we’ve come! Now for the final stretch.
Into *the last tunnel*
Look! There’s Splash Country again.
The 4th section of Rocky Top is the most conventional of the 4, but who doesn’t like a few helices?
Such a beautiful mountain.
It’s a long way down to the station!
I think the location on Veterans Pkwy between Dollywood and the rest of Pigeon Forge will serve Rocky Top well. I can’t imagine a better place to build a mountain coaster.
I love the curvy fluidity of this last section.
Time for one final helix to bring it on home!
The helixes all have Christmas lights that signal their respective entries and exits, which I think is pretty cute.
Hey look! It’s our ride op friends!
Since Sean’s ride is long since over, these guys are my last chance to get shots of Rocky Top in action!
Do these guys look cold to you? They look cold to me.
But hey, getting paid to ride this thing is a pretty sweet gig, no matter the weather!
Coming in for a landing!
Whew! What a ride! Feels like we left ages ago!
Gotta come back for this one at night too!
Rocky Top Mountain Coaster will soon be home to a cozy gift shop and lounge.
Shirts and other lovelies will soon be available. And look at that ceiling!
Rocky Top went all out for lighting. Lots of fun little details to enjoy!
And that’s a wrap! All other mountain coasters in the area are officially obsolete! Rocky Top or bust!
Be sure to check out Rocky Top Mountain Coaster on your next visit to The Great Smoky Mountains – we think you’ll agree that it’s the best of its kind around!