Dollywood announces world's first wooden launch coaster

Edited: August 7, 2015, 11:03 AM

Dolly Parton today announce her namesake park's new attraction for 2016 - Lightning Rod, a $22 million Rocky Mountain Construction coaster that will be the world's first wooden launch coaster. From the press release:

Themed after a tricked out 1950s-era hot rod, Lightning Rod launches riders from zero to 45 mph more than 20 stories up its lift hill to one of the ride’s first airtime moments. At the crest of the hill, riders face twin summit airtime hills before tackling the daring first drop. Lightning Rod races down the 165-foot drop and propels guests along its 3,800-ft. track to a top speed of 73 mph, the fastest speed for a wood coaster in the world.

Here is the video of this morning's announcement:

Lightning Rod will open in the Jukebox Junction section of Dollywood, in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, in March 2016.

Replies (13)

August 7, 2015, 8:12 AM

Looks terrific! And I agree with DW Spokesman Pete Owens, besides the launch and the top speed, the quadruple down will be the highlight of the ride.

August 7, 2015, 8:24 AM

Looks great! However, I am disappointed that the launch is part of the lift hill and is only 45 mph. Besides that, the ride looks amazing.

August 7, 2015, 9:49 AM

Looks excellent! It looks like it will be a star in Dollywood's great coaster lineup.

I probably won't get to ride it, but still, excellent coaster Mrs. Parton.

Edited: August 7, 2015, 10:10 AM

Don't let the speed of the launch fool you. The launch is up the "lift hill", but the top speed is reportedly over 70 MPH. The Incredible Hulk launch has been clocked around the same speed, but it exceeds 60 MPH after the first hill. The launch is just a faster way to get the trains over that first hill.

I'm shocked that this is an RMC. Because they're a smaller firm, they are unable to do a lot of projects in a given year, so the fact that they're doing this full custom installation probably means that many other RMC-rumored projects (like retrofits of ROAR at SFDK and SFA) might not happen now.

Goliath at SFGA was my first and only experience with RMC (hopefully I'll get on New Texas Giant in October), but Lightning Rod seems to address my biggest complaint with Goliath, which is that it was too short. Dollywood is building themselves quite a collection of top notch custom coasters - Thunderhead, Mystery Mine, Wild Eagle, Fire Chaser Express, and now Lightning Rod.

August 7, 2015, 11:28 AM

Based on the video clip, I'm sold. Definitely want to ride this one.

August 7, 2015, 11:30 AM

This roller coaster is going to feel very short as well because the top speed is so high and the track is not very long....

August 7, 2015, 11:36 AM

No inversions but a couple of over banked turns, a good length, a great high speed drop and the four bunny hops at the end a la Phenoix at Knoebels. A more family friendly RMC than we've seen before. Nice!

August 7, 2015, 11:38 AM

Ride time is probably 1:45 with the launched lift hill.

August 7, 2015, 11:57 AM

How did this not make the front page?

August 7, 2015, 12:50 PM

Because Dollywood is not in CaliFlorida.

August 7, 2015, 1:38 PM

Wow, Lighting Rod looks outstanding. Based on my previous RMC experience (Goliath and Twisted Colossus), this ride definitely has the potential to be top 5 in the world. It looks like the best RMC to date despite appearing a little less intense than many of their other projects. If I can't make a Florida trip in 2016, the Deep South triangle (Carowinds, Dollywood, Six Flags Over Georgia) is now at the top of my list.

August 7, 2015, 6:39 PM

@ Russell

This pretty well ties up Rocky Mountain Coasters for next year. Typically they have only been taking on two coaster projects per year and they have already announced three so far. This one, Storm Chaser @ Kentucky Kingdom, and Wildfire @ Kolmarden.

August 8, 2015, 8:41 PM

Looking at the animation and renderings, Rockin' Roadway will stay as will the access road.

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