Jump to content

PTR- Dollywood Opening Weekend and a stop at SFOG

Creed Bratton

Recommended Posts

It's been a long time since I've done a TR...so bear with me.



Thursday March 17th, I woke up around 6:30 am to finish packing for my trip to Pigeon Forge. I met a friend around 8 am and we started our journey that way. 

The traveling wasn't very eventful. Although we did see that land/rock slide on 75 just after Jelico. The north bound lane to me looked to be obliterated as well as the area the rock/land once stood. It was quite odd not seeing traffic on the opposite side of the highway. We arrived to our cabin at about 2:30 in the afternoon....we each claimed our bedrooms, checked out the cabin and soon after headed out to get some things accomplished. We ran over to Dollywood to process passes and then over to Wonderworks so I could pick up coupons for those attending the event. Before heading back to the cabin we stopped at Kroger to get things for breakfast the next morning. We relaxed at the cabin for about an hour before heading to the Olde Mill area of Pigeon Forge. We decided on dinner at the Olde Mill but as we were walking up, we decided to do a tasting of moonshine. Let me just say, I'm not a huge fan although there were a few I liked. We left and decided to put our name in for dinner, while there was a wait, I enjoyed hanging out with my friend's son talking about different things and looking at the area from above. Our party name was finally called and we enjoyed a wonderful dinner. By the time we got out of there and back to the cabin, it was about 9 pm. The group that was already there played a game of Cards Against Humanity (if you haven't played, you should, if you don't get offended easily). Before I turned in for the night NoChickens, Mrs. NoChickens and Princess Sparkles (P.S. for short) arrived to the cabin. We all went to bed soon after. 


Friday morning we woke up to pancakes, eggs, bacon, toast and coffee before Passholder Preview Day. As we got to the gates, we heard the National Anthem being sung by a group of Dollywood performers. It was a great rendition!  Soon after they started letting us through, we all were promptly handed car magnets featuring Lightning Rod. As we walked a little further away from the gates, a news reporter and a camera walked right up to Mrs. NoChickens and I. The news reporter started to ask us a few questions about the park, what we were looking forward to, etc. Soon after, we were joined by 1lillybug (Lilly) and her husband Peter (I can't remember his username)  on our way up the Timber Canyon path. We decided since everything was about to open, we'd go to Thunderhead. Once at Thunderhead we were greeted with a rope and the ride testing. We figured it would open soon so we waited. Thankfully we waited because we got a great ride on it, P.S. and I watched Lilly and Pete's kids while they road Thunderhead. We then headed toward Mystery Mine. While the NoChickens clan, P.S. myself, Peter and his oldest Daughter rode Mystery Mine Lilly went to feed their youngest daughter. After our ride, I grabbed a ride on the Lumber Jack Lifts with P.S. and then again with Peter and Lilly's oldest. We continued to make our way around the upper part of the park, including rides on Firechaser Express, Wild Eagle, Tennessee Tornado and Blazing Fury. Surprisingly the waits were not terrible at all.....the longest we waited in a line was for Firechaser Express and that was maybe a 15 minute wait....the other coasters landed around a 5 minute wait.


^^ Peter and Zoey on Firechaser Express. 
^^ NoChickens and the Mrs. enjoying the kiddie coaster.


^^ Love this train!


We continued to make our way around the park and landed in the Country Fair section of the park. Lilly and Peter decided to go grab lunch at Ms. Lillian's Chicken House while the other half of our crew went and grabbed chicken fingers and fries in the Country Fair section. Afterward we decided to do the dodgems. As we waited our turn in line, we were blown away by how many cars were in the attraction, many pile ups happened and we even coached from the sidelines.... "turn your wheel my way" (while pointing toward me)...."turn your wheel the other way"....."back up....BACK UP!", etc. We entered the ride finally and there weren't as many pile ups but I'll tell you I had a blast, the cars seemed to go fairly fast. Afterwards, P.S. and I rode the park's SkyRider (Dollywood's version of WindSeeker lol) while the NoChickens went to ride the kiddie coaster. We then met back up with Lilly and Peter to ride the train. I LOVE the train at Dollywood. Such a calming ride as you travel up and down the mountain. By the time we were off the train, it was almost time for the park to close. So we headed down to the Jukebox Junction to get a closer look at Lightning Rod! Wow! What a beauty this coaster is! The area has been drastically changed and looks absolutely amazing. Before the park closed we decided to take a spin on the Rockin' Roadway. Out of the numerous trips I've been to Dollywood, I had never rode them. I do know that the entrance building has been spruced up and the area around it has had some sort of facelift. P.S. and I rode together in a car and the NoChickens rode together. P.S. had found a button that acted as a horn and I giggled the entire time at it. Before we knew it, the ride was over and we headed out of the park to head back to the cabin before dinner at the Apple Barn.


^^ Our Posse -- Me in front, Princess Sparkles behind me and then the NoChickens fam! 






We quickly freshened up and headed to the Apple Barn to meet about 50 members of Coaster Crew/event attendees. We got there just a little early and I wanted to grab some wine from the Winery on property. I was happy to pick up a couple of bottles. My friends Shawn (from North Carolina) and Daniel (from Tennessee) met me there. As a group we walked over to meet the rest of the group and were promptly ushered back to a private dining room. We spent over an hour and a half at the restaurant enjoying the food, the company and the laughs. Shortly after leaving we were back at the cabin, Shawn and Daniel included, to play Cards Against Humanity again. We had a blast! I ended up getting extremely tired after Shawn and Daniel left but I think that may have been due to the wine I consumed. Lol. 

The first night true night of my coaster season was over. 
^^ Our table at the Apple Barn. 

10426820_10209455616213336_5871144066617^^ Daniel, Me and Shawn. I like to dub us as "The Holy Trinity" based off our experience working for a website together before we left the craziness. 


Part 2 coming soon! 

  • Like 12
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On Saturday the 19th, I woke up a butt crack o'dawn. The NoChicken family, P.S. and I headed over to Dollywood and arrived shortly after 7 am for the event registration. Once everyone was registered we all headed up the Timber Canyon pass to get the famous Cinnamon Bread from the Grist Mill. We all ate around Lumber Jack's Pizza and Mystery Mine areas. What seemed to be a couple of minutes later, we were greeted by Pete Owens. He gave us a heads up on the next portion of our event, the Mystery Mine behind the scenes tour! 



Pete took about 60 folks first, including myself, the NoChickens and P.S. We headed back to the maintenance area that hosts the train storage below the station.  Here we looked around at the trains that hadn't been transferred up by a scissor lift, the multiple wheels, and other neat maintenance items. As we were ushered out, we walked through a door that took us right under the first drop of the ride (out of the station). We walked around the track, looking at the theming until we got to the first lift. Looking up was mind blowing. Shortly after, we walked back out onto the midway but then walked through another backstage area. We headed to the 2nd lift's drop. Holy cow, it was amazing seeing the height and how the track moved. This area also allowed us to move around the track and see track from a different perspective from the midway. Once our group got pictures, we headed out to wait for ERT. We had ERT scheduled on Mystery Mine but it didn't get started until really late due to the number of people and groups touring the ride. It was okay though, because we got to participate in Wild Eagle ERT that pass holders had. Myself and a group of friends had a good 2-4 rides on Wild Eagle before returning to Mystery Mine. Mystery Mine opened shortly before the park opened and we all got a great ride. Once ERT was over and the park was open, our group went to hit Blazing Fury up, as I had told my friend Jarred he had to ride it with me since he wasn't a fan of dark rides or indoor coasters. I told Jarred he couldn't look at any POVs (Not that he'd see much) or look at anything about the ride.  Our friend Alex rode behind us, I kept telling them while we were traveling in the dark just before the bridge get ready for the inversion, each time I'd say this, they'd freak out a little. There have been some effects added that include noise and each time they heard it, they'd jump. When we got to the bridge they screamed quite loud. I laughed my butt off. Once we pulled back into the station and walked out, both Jarred and Alex told me I had them quite worried and freaked out at the same time. Alex and Jarred headed off with another group to take part in the discounted Time Saver program. Shawn, Daniel and I went to ride Barnstormer before heading toward lunch. I absolutely love Barnstormer. It may be one of my favorite rides at the park.

12144661_10209455620453442_1164394897999 1452246_889708431141679_1962220436075722^^^Jarred and I behind the scenes


^^^Looking up at the staiton10530843_10209455624013531_69217982989461930103_10209455624293538_37539336898619
^^^Looking up at the first lift1919378_10209455627613621_29335689461748

^^^There are cats on the property, so some folks in the park feed them and give them shelter!1185983_10209455632933754_60823086698987

^^^Terrible Quality but looking up at the drop from the 2nd lift1014074_10209455649374165_36791531957400995338_10209455652094233_40222180262930412494939_10209455658894403_1920632306494
^^^Front Row Left - Jarred, Front Row Right - Me and 2nd Row Left - Alex

We then headed toward the Country Fair section (our lunch was in that area). We decided to ride the carousel in the Village. Afterwards we hit up the "scurry" as I call it, Ferris Wheel. I'm not a fan of Ferris Wheels that don't have gondolas but have the swinging benches. It was actually a fun ride, it was my first on it. Before lunch we decided to ride The Waltzing Swinger. Once we got off of that, it was time to get in line for lunch. Lunch was amazing! BBQ Pulled Pork, Mac n Cheese and many other fixin's. Dollywood donated items to an auction for attendees. The proceeds went to the National Roller Coaster Museum! They had some sweet items. Event Attendees were also supplied with a raffle ticket for many park themed goodies. 

Once lunch was over the NoChickens family and P.S. went back to the cabin to take a nap....all while Shawn, Daniel and I hung around the park. The three of us headed back to Barnstormer again. Shortly after, we went and checked out the Rainbow Glass Factory where we watched the Glass Blower make a flower, we then looked through the shop. We then headed toward Jukebox Junction. Before we stopped there, I got my Souvenir Cup and we stopped in the bakery at the main entrance. Daniel and I got a cheese danish and Shawn got some other pastry. Once finished, we decided to check out the Chasing Rainbows Museum and Dolly's tour bus. We decided to hit up the Rockin' Roadway before heading back to the coasters. We rode Firechaser Express and did some more riding on Wild Eagle and Mystery Mine. Our last ride on Mystery Mine was wonderful! As we pulled into the breaks, we realized we weren't too incredibly close to the station....all of the trains were in the station or on the brakes. Shortly after arriving, we found out that the ride went down and we were going to be evacuated. The ride hosts told us that some kid was shaking on the gates quite hard and the system thought the gates were opening while trains were moving in and out of the station so it shut down. After we were evacuated we ended up walking the park a little bit more. This time the lines were longer and Tennesee Tornado had the 2nd highest wait at about 30 minutes. We decided to skip it and enjoy the park. There was a social right before evening ERT so we headed over there. 

^^^The restraint that is up is where I was sitting.1470116_10209455669054657_44615888921097
ERT on Thunderhead was absolutely amazing! I think I rode about 8-9 times in various places on the train. The crew was absolutely amazing. The lady at the controls I swear was my grandmother. If anything she was close in age (early 80s). She kept telling us that she enjoyed having us there, she always likes to operate rides when we are at the park (Coaster Crew), she wants us to come see her at the Time Saver building and she kept saying over and over (it made my heart melt) "I want you to know that I love each and everyone of you!" At the close of ERT we all started to say our goodbyes....however, a group of us went to the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster. I had rode it before, but never at night! It was absolutely amazing! 

Shortly after leaving there....I headed back to the cabin for sleep as we had an early morning coming up. 

Stay tuned for Pt. 3!

  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here comes the final installment of the PTR! 

Technically Day 4 of my trip....Sunday the 20th.



NoChickens, MrsNoChickens, Princess Sparkles and I left the cabin just before 7 am to head over to Six Flags Over Georgia. Our route was easy and we pulled into the parking lot around 10:30ish. We headed through the security checks and front gate. We had heard that the lines were horrendous for Dare Devil Dive so we headed over there first. As we got to the area at 10:45, we were greeted with a line well out into the midway. We knew going into the park that they would probably start testing as the park opened and well after the park opened, so we weren't surprised. However, after getting our spot in line we noticed that there wasn't trains being tested. There were a few ride operators walking the line and talking to guests. We had asked whether or not they had started testing...the response was...."Not yet....the VR headsets weren't charged so we are waiting for them to charge." To us, that was odd....what does it matter if the VR headsets are charged or not? We asked the ride operator why they didn't test and open for the folks who didn't want to use the VR headsets....their response was "they want us to open with the entire experience for those who want to use VR." So we felt discounted since we didn't care to to do the VR. Folks kept getting out of line and we kept moving forward. Around 11:15/20ish we noticed there were more ride operators and maintenance on the ride platform. Testing was starting! They sent each train (only running 3) around once. The 2nd go round, they tested the block system. Interestingly enough, they didn't place any weights in the trains. 2 of the trains barely made it down out of the station to the base of the lift hill. The trains didn't engage with the chain/ chain dogs at all, missing the sensors so the system faulted not knowing where the train was. Maintenance left the platform, walked to the train, pushed it to the chain/sensor. They tested the blocks and with all trains in the station, the ride operators said, give us 2 minutes and we'll open (big mistake). They sent out a train with a ride operator wearing the VR headset. Guess what.....it missed the chain/sensor so the ride threw a fault. Maintenance again, had to come and push the train forward. After that test, they opened the line at 12:05. As we snaked through the queue I thought to myself, I couldn't imagine waiting/walking through here. We had about 20 people in front of us in line, we ended up in the station and was greeted with a sign that stated from this point, there's a 30 minute wait. The station isn't that huge and it was hard for me to believe that time since there was 3 queue lines (2 facing one way and the one in the middle facing the opposite). 

^^^ Note the lack of people by the entry gates

By the time we started moving in the station it was about 12:15. We started to watching the VR procedures as we started moving. They'd have everyone who wanted a VR headset go into this bull pin type area to learn how to use the headsets....they were fitted and adjusted. After that, they were told to take the headsets off and head over to the entry gates for the train. Once they sat on the train, they were instructed to put the VR headsets on, then they were adjusted, the guests were then asked if they saw anything....half of them said no, so they had to take the VR headsets off and get new ones. They had to be fitted/adjusted and then asked whether or not they could see anything. (During this time, no one was being fitted in the bull pin, everyone was still in the regular line.) They then lowered the restraints and then had to raise them to move a person to the back row and the person they replaced had to be moved up. The ride ops then made sure they adjusted the headsets one more time. They finally dispatched about 12:30. 1 train sent in 15 minutes. After that train was sent, the process was repeated. The next train was sent about 10 minutes.  Then the next train in about 10 minutes. The 4th train was sent at about 12:50. In between the 4 trains we noticed the ride operators cleaning the VR headsets. They all had gloves on, one had what looked to be a wet nap that you'd get at your local wing place or BBQ place. They'd wipe the headset off and then pass it to the girl in the middle and that girl would then pass them to the final girl who then picked up the VR Headset, placed it on her face to make sure it was working. Once it was working they passed it over to the ride op who gave the VR Headsets to the guests. Real sanitary hu? When we got to where they asked us to go to the VR bull pin, we said no we just want to ride, they handed us a plastic wrist band (still don't understand why) and we headed over to the entry gates. They finally got us on the train at 1:00pm. We were in line since 10:45. As we got seated on the ride, the ride went down for technical reasons. They promptly told us to stand up and get back behind the gates. I was already unhappy with the slow operations (that I can guess had something to do with the technical fault) so I said no, walked out of the station through the exit gate and marched my butt to Guest Services. 

^^^ Sanitizing the VR Headsets

I'm not one to normally go to guests services for something negative. In fact, I've been to guest services on most of my park visits to give a good report about an employee. However, this was one time I couldn't stand the horrid operations at a park. Having worked at a park before, I get that rides have issues and there are delays out of the ride operators hands. However, from what I witnessed, it wasn't the ride's fault I had a bad experience. As the others could tell you, I told the woman at Guest Services that sending out 4 trains in about an hour was way unacceptable for a low capacity ride (a total of 24 riders) where sent out in an hour! I said, I absolutely think that doing the VR on a low capacity ride does not help the park at all especially when the ride operators don't know how to deal with them, clean them and get the ride moving. The ride operators had no management of their platform. There were several opportunities they could have sent trains out with those who didn't want VR (there were several that we saw) while those who wanted VR could be fitted. I told the lady that I had to travel 600 miles from the park home and the park had already left a bad taste in my mouth. I didn't particularly want anything from the park, I just wanted to let them know how terrible the program was, how horribly it was being implemented and how disappointed I was that only 24 people got to experience the ride in an hour. Mrs. NoChickens also filled in when I thought about using my words respectfully and the lady behind the counter just stared at us. Like it was an uncomfortable stare. Once she realized we were done talking, she said, "well I can give you some exit passes." We looked at each other and said, "okay?" She handed us 4. I told the employee thanks and vowed to write a letter to corporate, whether or not they care, I need to express my distaste for the park based on that single experience. 


Next we decided to head over to Goliath to ride using our exit pass. We noticed they were running 1 train. Thankfully we had a pass, we only had to wait until the train got back into the station. We chose to sit up front and what a ride it was! We then headed over to Great American Scream Machine. I was happy it had buzz bars, but the seatbelt and the seat divider were so tight, there wasn't great airtime. After that we decided to hit up Superman...Mrs. NoChickens sat out but NoChickens, Princess Sparkles and I went and used our exit pass to ride literally as the train came into the station. We sat up front. The operations on this were a little lackadaisical. The two folks at the panels (I assume were supervisors) kept pushing for the others to make sure the seats were locked with an external key. At one point the operator at the main panel called out probably 15-20 seats that weren't locked.....and called them out again and again. The other operator yelled out "Come on it shouldn't take this long!" Shortly after she went and helped get the seats locked. Soon after we were on our way. This was probably the one Superman I really enjoyed. Next we headed over to Mindbender. I think I was looking forward to this ride the most. Using our exit pass we were right on. This time Princess Sparkles and I sat in the back and the NoChickens fam sat toward the front. This was a fun ride. We then headed over to Batman and again used our exit pass. However they didn't collect it. We boarded the back of the train and as we watched the ride operators we saw they were kicking some serious tail. We gave them major props. We told them we visit many parks and we appreciated their work and hustle. They said we appreciate you. We were shortly out of the station and went through the circuit. 


^^^Ninja getting ready to be worked on.


We took a short bathroom break and grabbed some lunch at the diner outside of Goliath and Dare Devil Dive. We had noticed that the line for DDD had gotten longer and so did the Flash Pass line. Hmm. After lunch we walked to the other side of the park. I went scouting for park maps, as I hadn't seen any, anywhere. I finally found some in a gift shop. We decided to rest for a few and figure out what our next step was for the day and the next day. As we started to decide what to do, Mrs. NoChickens noticed a girl choking so Princess Sparkles ran over to see if she could help since she is a certified lifeguard. 
The young girl choked on a Mentos, through coaching/talking with her she was able to breathe and cough it out. It was a little scary.


We then headed to Monster Mansion. The line for this was fairly short so we didn't wait too long. Let me tell you I think it was my favorite ride at the park. The theming was great. I also enjoyed Princess Sparkles jumping at every little noise and light change. The attraction was well themed and honestly had a cool storyline. After we exited, we headed back to the front of the park. We still had an exit pass to use and we grabbed a ride on Georgia Cyclone. It wasn't worth it. After exiting, we headed out of the park and on our way to our hotel. We arrived to our hotel a little after midnight and shortly I was asleep. We woke up the next morning and finished our trek home. I got home around 1:30-2ish. 
I had a wonderful time on the way to Dollywood, at Dollywood, in Pigeon Forge and on the way home. Six Flags Over Georgia really was the lowest point in the trip. 

  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

We'll have to compare notes sometime on SFOG.  I have yet to have a good experience there after three trips.  There are only a few things that ever keep me going back - Great American Scream Machine, Georgia Cyclone, Mindbender, and Goliath.  I will also admit that Georgia Scorcher is my favorite stand-up.  It's such a pretty park with some good rides, but the operations in general are about equivalent to Mt. Olympus...if they're that good.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Goodness gracious, that Dare Devil Dive sounded like a horrible experience. It's funny because we had all predicted this before it opened with the VR. The "assembly line" cleaning of the headsets is simply ridiculous, and they shouldn't have to be tested by a ride operator - which also in turn nullifies the point in cleaning them in the first place.


Was this the first day it was open? If so, I guess I can kind of understand. But they better get it figured out quick.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The "assembly line" cleaning of the headsets is simply ridiculous, and they shouldn't have to be tested by a ride operator - which also in turn nullifies the point in cleaning them in the first place.

Heh, at least it protects the operator from wearing the sweat from hundreds (well, ok, dozens... A dozen?) of the general public.

This entire thing makes me really hope that when the day comes for the merger that Terpy keeps ominously predicting, FUN buys SIX and not the other way around.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...