Just Published: Theme Park Insider: 2016 Year in Review
On the 22nd, I arrived shortly after park opening which is 9 a.m. eastern time. I had made the 3 hour 45 minute drive the day before. The park was empty. I walked through the queue of Thunderhead and didn't have to wait at all. They had one train going. It was a smooth ride as always, but a little rougher than last time a few years ago. Still, it's an excellent ride. 8.5/10. Next I tested Mystery Mine, a very well themed Eurofigher. It threw me around quite a bit. Eurofighters are no Vekoma SLCs, but I wasn't really blown away like I was back when it was brand new in 2007. Guess I was invincible then. Overall, 7/10. Next I rode Wild Eagle. It's excellent, and there's nothing wrong with it- except the location. After a ride, I began to again wish it was a hyper coaster. In the book it is, but you know, a Diamondback, Nitro, etc. sort of thing. A hyper would have fit in the role perfectly. Mystery Mine and Tennessee Tornado are the "inversion" coasters. It'd be like Magic Mountain adding a B&M hyper when they already have the Giovanola Goliath. Sure it'd be great, but it wasn't the best thing they could have done. I'm just glad Dollywood has a B&M though. It's smooth, and overall excellent. However, it's like Leviathan and Behemoth at the same park. If Wonderland could have pulled off a wing coaster or something, it would be a better fit. They lack a good inversion coaster. Wild Eagle: 9/10. By now you've realized it's impossible for me not to bring any other parks into the equation. Talk to me and you just might hear me go into a rant about the lame waste Ring Racer is during a discussion about politics. Just sayin'. Next was Tennessee Tornado and that brings me back to the invincibility and the park being empty. I walked right on the Tornado and took the front. When going up the hill I thought about if I'd ever waited for anything Arrow. I came up with none. X is one, but it's so good... It's like it's not even Arrow. Well, Tornado was great. Like, totally awesome. When we hit the brakes, I was laughing. I had found a new found love for Arrow. I'd done Tornado before, but this time it was very fun. First ride, 9.5/10, rest 6/10. I'm doing this on Sunday, and to be honest, I can't really remember what I did next. I went to the corner of the park and did some carnies, nothing to report as usual. I also rode Barnstormer, an S&S giant swing. It was great, and I did it 3 times in a row. Clique, but trying to spend a whole day at Dollywood isn't like a 3-day expedition in Sandusky Ohio. I'm lucky to have a park with a line up like they do, but it was 2:00 or so, and I was at the front again. I made my way up the hill and rode Thunderhead again, my last ride on it. I did Mystery Mine a total of 3 times, but they weren't so good. Mystery Mine is officially off my top 50 coasters. It just makes too quick transitions and throws you around. The theming is great, but it's like an apple that looks great, and on the inside it's a little mushy. I did Tornado two other times, and each were rough. It's not that greatly preserved looper I thought it was earlier that day and months before. I took a round on the train, and skipped Blazing Fury. It's a classic, but they were only operating one train all day. (At about 2 or 3, the place really started to fill up.) I'm not really a fan of Fury anyway. The park was closing at 7 eastern time, and around 6, I took that last ride that you don't want to do because you know it's the last one, but you want to do it anyway. That last ride was Wild Eagle. Eagle seems a bit short, but regardless, it's still fun. I exited and bought a Wild Eagle magnet to go with my collection. (Yes I do have one. It may seem weak but you should see it!) I walked right past Thunderhead and Mystery Mine which was a little hard past Thunderhead, but I did, and went straight out.
I had a fun day, but my opinion of the park went down when I left. When I arrived, I looked at Mystery Mine and Tennessee Tornado as pretty fun rides, but now I'm not really a big fan of them. Mystery Mine is still fun, but you can't really ride it repeatedly like Wild Eagle. It's... a lot. After riding, that's a way to put it. Without them, you have, what? Wild Eagle which is certainly amazing but doesn't exactly fit like a glove. And Thunderhead, a smooth woodie. Nothing negative for me to say. Despite all I've said about Wild Eagle, it was the best ride of the day. I'm very glad they have it. These two rides are great, but Dollywood as a whole is missing a few things. To get all of these things they'd probabuly have to remove everything that makes them unique, so it won't ever happen. At the same time, in order for me to go back I'd like to see some sort of drop tower and another Wild Eagle caliber coaster with some good airtime hills. Some sort of launched coaster? They've already announced a water coaster for 2013, and Wild Eagle was certainly big bucks, so it'll be years for those two things to come if they do at all. Dollywood is still a park I'd recommend to anyone. I think the drive was worth it, and if in Gatlinburg a month from now, I'd go back, but chances are I won't be. I want to make a return in a few years, but only if they have something else other than a water coaster.
I really didn't think I'd write this much. Seriously. But I did! Thanks for reading!
Incidentally, you can view my May trip report here.
Walt Disney World
Tokyo Disney Resort