Dollywood's new coaster for 2016, Lightning Rod, did not open with the park this month, due to problems with coaster's unique launch system. Lightning Rod was to be the world's first launched wooden coaster, but the new system hasn't worked to the satisfaction of the ride's developer, Rocky Mountain Construction.
In a statement, RMC's Fred Grubb expressed his disappointment with the delay:
"We have been working with the launch system subcontractor on-site to bring it up to speed and working as intended.
As is often the case with prototype attractions and especially with launched coasters, delays are an ever-present possibility. During the course of testing, we determined that the third-party launch system would not be able to perform at the level required for proper operation.
While we strive to meet all of our deadlines, we cannot and will not sacrifice safety or ride quality in the name of saving time. RMC never has nor ever will open any new attraction until it has passed our rigorous standards.
At this time, we cannot speculate as to when the attraction will open to the general public. That date is ultimately decided upon by the customer, therefore all questions regarding an opening should be directed to Dollywood."
The statement raises the question whether RMC will be able to find a way to work with its current subcontractor to fix the launch system, or whether RMC and Dollywood will need to find another company to develop and build the coaster's launch system.
Switching subcontractors at this point could mean a delay measured in months, rather than days or weeks. At this point, though, we're all just speculating. No one knows how long this will take.
Here is a 360-degree animation of what a ride on Lightning Rod is supposed to be:Tweet
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