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Dollywood report


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My family spent last week in Pigeon Forge including a day at Dollywood (our 2nd trip, prior one was in 2019).


First the weather sucked, but was by no means a washout, actually aside from arrival and our first 30 min or so inside the park, rain was pretty much a non issue, I was hoping that would help keep crowds down a bit (we had similar weather on our prior visit and once the rain/thunder cleared the park was fairly empty) but the crowds were strong for a Wednesday.  It was the last day of the ACE event (I'm not in ACE so this wasn't a planned thing, just a coincidence) and with a lot of ACE name badges around that might have been part of the reason for the larger crowds despite the wetish day (it was also wet all week, so Wednesday was the best of the bunch and might have brought in people that wanted to attend one day and that was the best of the pick).


Anyhoo, we got into the park shortly after opening.  Several rides were still not running yet, but Big Bear Mountain was one of them and it was only listed as a 10 min wait.  We headed back to Wildwood Grove and got in line.  Probably took about 20 min to get thru the line, a nicely themed entry line, to get on.  Sat towards the back, and for 39" height requirement it was an awesome experience/ride.  Great theming, felt like pretty good speed and just a lot of fun.  If KI has any designs of taking back the best themed kids area from Dolly, well good luck cause they will have to "earn it".  Firefly was still not open yet, we had ridden it on our prior visit (I believe that is win Wildwood Grove was still new.  Kinda like Flying Ace Arial Chase, but better cars/restraints and a better ride.  Definitely feels more "kiddie coaster" than Big Bear Mountain or Fire chase express but a fun ride when we went 4 years ago.  When it did open up, it was listed as 40-50 min waits most of the day, so we never jumped on.  Anyhoo, my youngest wanted to desperately ride Wild Eagle so we headed in that direction, however on our way Fire Chaser Express had just opened up, and knowing the lines for Wild Eagle would be shorter all day, we jumped on that while there was only a  min wait.  The Ride, at least my car has gotten noticably rougher than when we rode it 4 years ago, not painful by any means, but a definite rattle; perhaps it just needs new wheels.  Anyhoo, for those that have never been, its a great ride, awesome theming, I'd love to see something like this in Planet Snoopy at KI.  Best family/kiddie coaster I've been on (39" requirement).


From there we jumped on Wild Eagle, maybe a 10 min wait, my youngest son loved it.  I rode it last time with my oldest son and it is as smooth as ever.  Not super forceful but a fun ride.  Lightening Rod opened up at the same time as fire chaser express and what started out as a 10 min wait turned into a 115 min wait by the time we rode FCE and WE and got over there.  Rather than wait in line, figuring it was a bit of a "just opened up rush" we grabbed lunch at the restaurant near the entrance.  Burger themed diner and I've got to say, not the best food experience, Dolly is known for great food and this was sub par (though better than some other parks food that I've had).  By the time we were done, the listed wait was 45 min so we jumped in line, however things we moving very slowly then we saw a car shoot up the lift only to fail to make it over and come back down.  I assumed perhaps they could relaunch it from the bottom, however it went down for maintenance with an evac at the bottom of the lift hill.  So from there we jumped up to Blazing Fury.  We somehow failed to ride that on our prior visit.  Fun little indoor family coaster, not great and a little painful in parts but a quirky coaster/dark ride.  From there it was Tennessee Tornado, which I'm told is still very smooth but I refuse to ride arrow loopers early in the day so I still can't verify that then over to Thunderhead, their GCI.  I'd say I still like Mystic Timbers better, but Thunderhead is still fun like every GCI I've been on (which actually only extends to Renegade at Valley Fair).


By that point, Lightening Rod had reopened and the line was down to 60 min so we headed over and got in line.  For whatever reason they were only running 1 train, which certainly made the wait longer, but it moved at a slightly steady pace.  My daughter waited in line for 60 min then decided to bail, however my 7 year old loved it.  Wife and the oldest had ridden it before along with me on our last trip, still forceful, yet smooth.  Launch up the hill is fun.

At that point, we had cleared all the coasters so it was time for repeats and some flats mixed in.  Had diner over by the pizza place at Drop Line, pretty good pizza for a theme park.  Since my oldest is Gluten Free, I still haven't had the cinnamon bread which I'm told is out of this world and a must try, but don't want to watch him drooling while I enjoy it so we haven't tried it yet.  With the exception of Drop Line, the 7 year old was able to get on everything else that he wanted (WE is a 50" height, he is 52").  I love the park, they had a fun little foam pit set up that the 2 youngest did for awhile during the middle of the day and their summer themeing "road trip" displays were pretty cool, something KI should copy/imitate some day.

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