Lightning Rod opens officially at Dollywood
The world's fastest and first launched wooden coaster is now open. Dollywood officially opened
today. The Rocky Mountain Construction coaster had been scheduled to open with the park back in March, but troubles with the first-of-its-kind launch system for a wooden-support coaster delayed the official opening until today. The park had been testing the ride under a soft opening since late last month.
Lightning Rod gets moving with a 45 miles per hour launch from a rolling start, then hops across twin airtime hills before plunging toward its top speed of 73 mph at the bottom of its main drop. From there, the coaster twists and jumps while hugging Dollywood's Smoky Mountain terrain before returning to its Jukebox Junction station.
Let's take a ride, with the POV video:
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WOW! That one snuck up on me. I thought they were still testing/tweeking it. All of a sudden, "Lightning Rod is OPEN!"
That's a short, but intense looking ride. I can't wait to ride it!
Glad to see that this is finally open. There is still a slight possibility I may be able to make it here this year, but if not Dollywood is definitely at the top of my return visit list as soon as possible.
It still isn't a wooden coaster though, since the tracks are made of steel. The supports don't determine the coaster type. If you placed wooden tracks on steel supports it would still be a wooden coaster. I think the best name for the RMC coasters would be "Hybrid coasters" because while the look like wooden coasters they are actually steel coasters.
I'm afraid I don't agree with you Ireeb. It the ride was using tubular steel track sitting on a wooden support I might see your point. This however (as best as I can see) is a flat steel track built on wood, supported by wood. All coasters ride on metal track of some kind. California Screaming tries to match the look of a classic wooden coaster, but I think everyone would agree it's all cosmetic. Additionally, the quality of the ride is greatly impacted based on rather the supports are wooden or metal. I agree lines are being blurred on how we define coasters, but I doubt many would disagree that Lightning Rod is a wooden roller coaster.
No it is a wooden track. RMC coasters like The Joker, and Storm Chaser have steel track. Lightning Rod, Wildfire, Goliath, and Outlaw Run have wooden track.
Looks great, would love to make it back to Dollywood soon.
@Jaiden - RMC uses metal I-beam track for all of their installations. As Rob has noted, technically, all wooden coasters have a metal track that the trains ride on. Before RMC, most builders nailed metal rails to the top, side, and bottom of wooden timbers to form the track. The trans glide along the metal rails (older coasters would require maintenance to grease the rails daily to reduce friction and rust), but the heart of the track was made of wood, along with all of the supports.
RMC uses two types of track: I-Box and Topper Track. I-Box (also known as Iron Horse) is a steel I-beam with an extra wide top flange in order to create a running rail. This type of track is used on all the RMC conversion coasters as a replacement for the original wooden track, and is designed to ride like a wood coaster with the elements possible on a steel coaster. Topper Track, on the other hand, consists of a single steel running rail on top of a standard wood stack. In essence, the top two layers of wood are replaced by a single steel beam instead of having flat steel rails secured to the sides of the wood stack. This allows significantly more precision in design and also reduces maintenance requirements significantly. All RMC coasters that are built from the ground up use Topper Track, and a handful of wood coasters have had this track installed in high maintenance sections of the ride. A photographic comparison of the two track styles can be found
I was at Dollywood a few weeks ago. Lightning Rod was non-operational. I was emotionally shattered.
Lightning rod is a fantastic ride. We rode it yesterday and today. It is one of the funnest coasters I've ever been on and we've been to a lot of parks. It starts out fast and never feels like it slows down all the way to the end. Also with lots of airtime. Its a whole ton of fun and a must ride if you are able! Wow!!!
I rode it today, it is relentless. You never catch your breath until it's done and you're sitting there heart pounding waiting to pull up to the exit. Too bad the wait was close to an hour bc I'd like to see if the insanity tempers off on a second ride.
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