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SE Trip Lite- silver2005's Trip to Carowinds and Dollywood


silver2005
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Had my introduction to alpine coasters this evening.  Rode Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster and Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster.  I like the former just for being longer, but the later is a bit more intense.  I'm ranking them on their own separate list.  They're also quite relaxing, both were had a nice quiet-ness to them being back in the woods.  

Also put in a round of putt-putt at Hillbilly Golf. ^_^ Shot 48 on a 41 par. 

Hitting the trails in GSMNP tomorrow.  Getting an early start, too, especially because I'm doing Clingman's Dome first and working my way back to Gatlinburg.  Doing 3-4 trails as the game plan (Laurel Falls is a high likelihood).  

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Took on 3 miles worth of trails so far.  Went up Clingman's Dome, and took on a lower trail when I got a downpour.  Recharging at the hotel after drying off.  Planning at least 2 more trails before I'm done.  Might head into Gatlinburg again afterwards.  I did find a decent parking spot that's reliable, but its on the outskirts with a long walk.  Definitely getting there early Friday when I spend the day there.  

My favorite park looms tomorrow. B) 

Also bear-less so far. 

EDIT: Finished with 5 miles of trails.  

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On 7/13/2021 at 11:26 PM, silver2005 said:

Had my introduction to alpine coasters this evening.  Rode Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster and Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster.  I like the former just for being longer, but the later is a bit more intense.  I'm ranking them on their own separate list.  They're also quite relaxing, both were had a nice quiet-ness to them being back in the woods.  

Also put in a round of putt-putt at Hillbilly Golf. ^_^ Shot 48 on a 41 par. 

Hitting the trails in GSMNP tomorrow.  Getting an early start, too, especially because I'm doing Clingman's Dome first and working my way back to Gatlinburg.  Doing 3-4 trails as the game plan (Laurel Falls is a high likelihood).  

Rail Runner had no trims

 

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Thanks @silver2005 for taking us along on your adventure!  You've given me some ideas if things I need to hit up the next time I make a trek to Tennessee. 

 

@coaster sally Does everything have to be a competition and stats comparison with you?  You've now been added to my list of people with "one-upper-itis", there is no known cure :rolleyes:

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Thunderhead has aged like fine wine.  Has a nice amount of bite.  So so good. A good sign for Mystic Timbers.  And Thunderhead is 15 now.

@Maddog I have a bazillion other suggestions for the area.  ;) I try to gear my TR threads to help other people plan similar trips which is why I include planning. I also like to do non-park things when I travel.

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Dollywood TR July 15

Got in a pretty full day at Dollywood today, got their just after open till close.  Overall spectacular day at my favorite park, and everything today pretty much solidified it as such (as much as I still love Hershey at #2, Dollywood is a mile above them if I could show margin for error between my park rankings).  They mesh every single aspect so, so well.  Great balanced ride line up, great food (had a great burger at Reds and FINALLY tried and loved the cinnamon bread), well performed shows, aesthetics and theming used in such a way that's engaging, detailed, and doesn't expose BTS areas too much (which takes meticulous planning, massive kudos), excellent staff, overall great atmosphere.   Also helps they're in a great location up in the foothills of the Smokies.  Rides like Wild Eagle and Barnstormer take advantage of that IMO.   Adding Ms Parton's history to the whole shebang is the cherry on top.  Much respect to her as a musician and overall. 

To me at this point, the only parks that have a shot of topping Dollywood are SDC, the 2 Busch Gardens parks, or if I ever get to one, a good European park like Alton Towers. 

I made several laps around the park, 2 counterclockwise and 2 clockwise.  Routed so 2 coasters in, Wild Eagle lined up to be #130 for me (only got 3 new credits, LR, WE and FE).  Saw a few music reviews which were pretty fun.  Not much in the way of shows.  The park still has some covid protocols in place like no use of indoor theaters, no drinking fountains, and more serious limit of customers via reservations.  I also didn't get any of the REALLY good food as they were either closed to staffing, or because there were fewer, had long waits.   Speaking of which, food prices are amazingly reasonable.  More serious kudos for them sticking to that practice.  

Waits were all over the place.  Lightning Rod was by far the longest at over an hour.  Some other slower capacity rides like FireChaser were around 30, and higher capacity stuff, in particular Wild Eagle, Tornado, and Thunderhead, were walk-on to 10 minutes.  

Non-Coaster Reviews (disclaimer on everything, all the following have good theming with a few minor exceptions)-

Barnstormer- As stated, the world needs more S&S Screaming Swings pronto.  The added height being on the mountainside added some vertigo-esque views with it.  

Daredevil Falls- this is my favorite log flume.  More original with the theming than stuff like Splash Mountain, though, the saw mill at the top of the lift didn't have a bit of its theming going.  Still a nice course and good build up to the drop.  Gets you decently wet for a flume.  

Smoky Mountain River Rampage- This on the other hand doesn't get you that wet.  Only a few dips which don't do that much and some sprayers that are rarely used by guests.  Kind of an uninspired and flat course, too.  

Dollywood Express- Best train ride at an amusement park.  The crew manning the mics and the drivers have fun with it.  Cool that you can hear the engine and whistle around the park (miss that with KIMVRR).  Nice long course that's heaven for a good photographer, too.   Lots of great history with the engines. 

Coaster Reviews (Alphabetical Order)

Blazing Fury (2 laps)- I have a big soft spot for this.  Between my 4 visits, I probably have 3 dozen rides logged on it.  Such a cool dark coaster (yes, it has drops clearly powered by gravity), and the story line going through a burning town makes it gloriously unique.  

FireChaser Express (1 lap)- Pretty fun family coaster.  Its pretty amazing how only a few tire motors get those trains up to speed so quick on the launches.  Has a nice course along the hillside and has some decent forces for what it is.  The way they use and incorporate the backwards stuff works pretty well, too.  

Lightning Rod (1 lap)- Short but sweet.  Doesn't have the mind bending forces that other RMC's I've done have due to the work done on it, but its a pretty good coaster none-the-less.   The last few hills down the hill have really good acceleration before curving off the top of the last hill.  It along with Wild Eagle look MASSIVE from afar.  Favorite RMC is still SteVe, but I like it better than Storm Chaser.

Mystery Mine (1 lap)- Jerky for sure.  I'm leaning to liking the new track work for a bit more comfort.  I don't like that it requires 2 lifts as both sections are short.  However, the 2nd lift and the finale through the heartline roll and dive loop works well, especially with the theming surrounding the lift, holding brake, and drop.   Love how it looks at night. 

Tennessee Tornado (4 laps)- The best half of an Arrow looping coaster out there.  Forceful akin to its older brothers with a bit more smoothing in the transitions being its not a Toomer creation.  Very re-rideable.   Insane in the back on the first drop a la Vortex (probably more since its underground).  Super hard stop on the final brakes though.  Also a little rough in spots, but not that detrimental.  Also has the tornado sound effects in the train shed turned off which makes the brakes slowing it down pointless.  Also, depending on where you sit (I think back), you get some weightlessness on the first loop.  

Thunderhead (6 laps)- Aged like fine wine.  However, if you're not prepared for the intensity, it does have the potential to kick your butt.  It has gotten a bit of roughness, but I'm still fine with it and its still my favorite GCI.  I finally got the opportunity to ride it at night and it delivers in spades.  Even has a subtle lighting package.  Its OMG good in the back as well.  Very good in the front.  Still only one of three wooden coasters that have left me breathless (others being trimless Voyage at HWN and Knoebel's Twister).   The aging is definitely a good sign for Mystic Timbers' future. 

Wild Eagle (5 laps)- While GateKeeper will remain my favorite wing coaster, Wild Eagle delivers a very graceful ride.   The smoothness as well as incredible views of the area (you can see Gburg and PF from the top if you look way to the left, better if seating on the left) just makes a great combination.   Gorgeous station as well.   One of the most beautiful coasters I've ridden as a whole.  Also managed to snag last train of the night. B) I actually could watch the course at night as during the day, its facing into the sun most of the first half up to the Immelman.

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I feel like Dollywood has the history and equity built up to be able to avoid that.  It was a huge ratio of families compared to other demographics.  Not many groups of just teens.

 

Remember PF and Gatlinburg are pretty isolated compared to most traditional parks. 

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Finished up my trip just strolling through Gatlinburg today (probably got in another 4-5 miles walking).  Got through the rest of my check list including checking out a few of the museums (movie cars and Ripley's), went up the Sky Ride (chickened out on the bridge, only got a third of the way across before actual vertigo took over).  Had wonderful blackened rainbow trout for dinner (Trout House on US 321 between the strip and Hillbilly Golf).  Got some good sunset photos of town on the bypass before turning in.  

Ready to get back to Cincy.  Got 2 days to wind down before going back to work.  

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One other thing I want to mention about Carowinds- they miss Thunder Road a LOT.  I heard it mentioned quite a bit, even the catch phrase. 

That park needs a good wooden coaster pronto.

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I also also forgot to mention I did ride Mountain Gliders at Carowinds.  Runs like it did at Kings Island, managed 5 snaps myself (which is my first attempt trying to snap on gliders ever, proud I pulled off 5).  

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