Dollywood: A Comparison and Trip Report

Dollywood: I went to Dollywood recently.

From David L.
Posted August 6, 2011 at 3:31 PM
I came to Dollywood with high expectations, and the park exceeded them. Some rides were not that great but others were amazing. Here's what i was able to do:
-Smokey Mountain River Rampage-This ride I only rode once for about a 20 minute wait. This ride is very different from all other rafting rides at a theme park that i have been to. The theme is decent in the queue and on the ride. Sadly, many people only got their shoes wet and a couple of sprinkles everywhere else. The rapids were not very fun but the drops made the ride much more fun. As a comparison, Thunder River at SFOG tops this ride because of the amazing rock work and thrilling rapids. Kali River Rapids was even better. The only raft ride that I have ridden that was worse was the one in Elitch Gardens.

-the Scrambler- Well, it's a scrambler. However, these rides are some of the most fun midway rides and definitely worth riding if you have the time(and if your local one was removed). The one at SFOG used to be better due to it being indoors and with some neat effects.

-Dizzy Disc- This is a great ride that provides great thrills. Sadly, the ride operator does not allow one to hold their hands up.

-Sky Rider- This is a mildly thrilling midway ride and only worth riding once and if you have time. The steering is pretty much dumb and useless.

-Barnstormer- I rode this 5 times in a row and never got tired of it. Each swing is different and amazing in a different way. The nifty theme is just enough to make the story convincing in the line but it is mostly lost on the ride. The ride is worth riding 100 times if lines allow and is perhaps the best ride in the park.

-Blazing Fury- I had high hopes for this ride but they came to nothing. The dark ride sections NEEDS to be updated and the drops are slightly rough and small. Any dark ride is better than this but the ride is still worth riding once.

-Dare Devil Falls- This is a great log flume with an amazing drop. The theme could be updated, and one of the rock walls NEEDS updating(at least natural rock behind it keeps it looking a tad better). The drop is very fast, , smooth, steep, and thrilling. The log flume at SFOG is nothing compared to this, but Splash Mountain is 10x better due to multiple drops and an amazing theme.

-Mountain Slidewinder- This is a fun ride that can very in how good the ride is. The heavier the party, the more fun it is(and rougher).

I will be able to get to more rides later(and shows, food, and more).

From David L.
Posted August 8, 2011 at 6:04 AM
Here's the rest:
-Mystery Mine-The best ride in the park. The coaster feels fast and has many unique parts. The theme and the scenes add quite a lot to the ride( surprising and scary the first time you ride). Any other themed coaster has tough competition compared to this ride. As for Dare Devil Dive at SFOG, The coasters themselves are very different with Mystery Mine being more thrilling and unique. Then through the amazing theme on top, DDD is a good ride, but nothing compared to MM.
-River Battle- This is a good ride for gets to strain more energy out of them. Other than that, it's a shooter with limited range and targets that do nothing(or they were broken). Worth riding if it is scorching outside because you are guaranteed to get soaked to the skin.
-Tennessee Tornado- This is a fun, but short coaster. The theme is mild, but there. The first drop and loop are great but after that it's rough (but only for the later 20 seconds of the ride)
-Thunderhead-well, it made my head thunder. I had a headache before i rode it so that didn't help. The ride itself is fast, furious, fun, and rough. Even with a headache i had a blast(and when i rode it later with out one it was even better). I though that the padded seats would make up for the roughness my first ride, boy was I wrong. The roughness was about equal to the old rickety woodies at SFOG and the layout wasn't much better so i can't really figure out why this ride won the best wooden coaster 2 years in a row.

That's it for rides but here's some other stuff:
-The park staff was amazing. They were friendly, helpful, and seemingly happy to be there.
-Parking was a breeze. The staff there was just as good as in the park and they showed you straight to the nearest parking space. The trams were quick and the guides made it so you don't mind waiting 5 minutes for that person racing to make the tram from the other end of the lot.
-The entrance was quick to get into and the exit was was clever. A massive shop to weave through means they would appreciate some extra change for the new coaster next year.
-The Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame was neat to take a break in. We told one member of my family to go there for a break as she could listen to a quartet. She didn't realize they were going to be AAs.
-Sha-kon-o-hey was a very good show for a theme park. The acting was great, the music was phenomenal, the direction was pretty good, and the acrobats were amazing. Some parts of the script were cheesy and stupid but other than that, well worth 45 minutes.
-Wings of America was a very basic bird show. Worth seeing once if you have time. Some parts were neat, but Zoo Atl, Calaway Gardens(a large botanical garden park), and Animal Kingdom put on much better bird shows.
-The bird exhibits were neat as you get to see tons of eagles and other birds.
-Heartsong was a show that one member of the family wanted to see... so we all got dragged in. At least the show exceeded my expectations. You essentially listen to some decent Dolly Parton music as she tells you about things about her life. You also get rained on at one point.
-One person saw Dreamland Drive-in and said it was worth the price of the admission ticket. They also saw the Smokey Mt String Band and said they were good.

Food, other notes, and more are coming up next.

From David L.
Posted August 8, 2011 at 7:59 AM
More stuff:
-My family went during kids fest so they had many kiddie shows and street performers. Some street people took kids and taught them how to use a unique type of hacky-sack. Also throughout the park were clay pot people. Destination South has a recent Trip Report with pictures of them. There were so many throughout the park and so many variations so it was neat to see all of them.
-The park layout was alright but the river junction and lands around there got confusing with all of the loops.
-There are also many shopping places to find unique things from blown glass to Irish things.
-Most areas were well themed but not Disney quality.
-Red's Drive-in- This is a neat 50s restaurant with very good burgers. My family of four were able to split to 1/2 lb burgers which come with fries and 2 shakes. We were all full after the meal.
-Aunt Granny's- This is an all-you-can-eat buffet. It serves primarily southern food and is pretty good in general. Only go if you have a meal voucher or coupon as it's regularly $16 per person.
-Grist Mill-This place has the amazing cinnamon bread. A great snack to split between people for a decent price.

Overall, it's an amazing park, half way between a Disney park and a Six Flags park but with an amazing staff.

From James Rao
Posted August 8, 2011 at 7:21 PM
Thanks for your report. There's no doubt that Herschend Family Entertainment provides top notch themed entertainment. Dollywood and its sister park, Silver Dollar City, are two destinations all theme park fans should put on their travel itinerary sooner than later.

From Christy Hall
Posted August 9, 2011 at 6:05 AM
I've been wanting to go to Dollywood for some time now, but wasn't sure if it was worth it. Thank you for the trip report - I've definitely made up my mind to go sometime soon.

From Anthony J
Posted August 10, 2011 at 8:45 AM
I'll be making my first-ever visit to the park in just a few days. Can't wait!

From Todd Houts
Posted August 11, 2011 at 5:47 PM
Dollywood is one of two parks scheduled for American Coaster Enthusiasts Coaster Con XXXV next June. I was going to visit this year but decided to wait to experience the personal experience they'll probably give us. They sent several reps to Coaster Con this year, so being the people-centric place they are - I know they're going to blow me away.

From steve lee
Posted August 11, 2011 at 9:20 PM
If Dollywood is HALF the host that Silver Dollar City was, it'll be a great Con park. The November ACE event at the park is always great fun. Also, there's that not-very-well-kept secret new attraction for next year. I think it'll be worth the wait. Not so sure about the Carowinds half of the Con, however.

Now if only we can get an add-on day for whatever Freestyle ends up being (if they actually open). When the ACE con was SFOG/Wild Adventure there was an add-on day for Hard Rock that was a really great event. The merchandise they gave us actually exceeded the event admission...

From David L.
Posted August 13, 2011 at 11:33 AM
James, Have you been to Dollywood? If so, how does it compare to Silver Dollar City?

Christy, Take advantage of their many special offers like the free meal deal(Includes the Buffet at Aunt Granny's) and the come-after-3,-next-day-free deal.

Anthony, could you also give a trip report?

I also found it interesting that the new B&M coaster(rumored to be a wing rider or whatever B&M's new type is called) goes from Wilderness pass all of the way to behind the Slidewinder.

From James Rao
Posted August 14, 2011 at 6:58 PM
They are comparable experiences, but I prefer SDC mainly because it is 3.5 hours from my house instead of 12.5 hours! Also, it is hard to beat the unique Marvel Cave tour that is a featured SDC attraction unavailable at Dollywood.

Of late, though Dollywood seems to be getting all the love - with another potential new coaster on the way for 2012... not sure what SDC has up its sleeve, but a GCI woodie would be very welcomed!

From steve lee
Posted August 14, 2011 at 7:25 PM
Meh, Branson already has a pretty good looking GCI woodie. I'd prefer someone figure out what to do with that one first.

From James Rao
Posted August 15, 2011 at 3:24 AM
I would be quite happy with an expensive relocation project for the beloved Ozark Wildcat, but all rumors indicate that project is not even on the drawing room board. *Sigh*

From Heather Olson
Posted August 15, 2011 at 8:02 PM
We absolutely love Dollywood. We live in Orlando and still regularly make the trip out to TN to visit Dollywood! The food and shopping are unparallelled in the theme park world. Just absolutely love it.

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