Dollywood Lightning Rod Roller Coaster
Since the beginning of the year, we’ve been sharing rumors and news of Dollywood’s new ride for 2016 in our very detailed article…and we now have an official announcement which confirms a lot of the tips we’ve leaked along the way! Dollywood has announced the world’s first launched wooden roller coaster coming in Spring 2016! It will also be the world’s fastest roller coaster topping out at 73mph! The new coaster will be called Lightning Rod and themed after “a tricked out 1950s-era hot rod”. It will be located in Jukebox Junction next to Rockin’ Roadway and will be Dollywood’s largest investment in a single ride at a cost of around $22 million! This is definitely going to be one of the most anticipated roller coasters in the world for 2016 with numerous exciting elements…let’s go over the details!
First of all, the train cars are designed after a 1950s era hot rod. They will hold up to 24 people per ride and a 1,500hp launch system will LAUNCH them up the first lift hill of 206ft long (83ft above the crest of the lift hill) at 43 mph which then hits the Trick Hill (Twin Summits) and the first of 12 airtime drops…yes, 12! Airtime is that “floating” feeling you get on a ride when you come up out of your seat. After the first airtime drop, it then hits another airtime hill on the main drop, which is a 165ft plunge at 73 degrees, which will send you flying at 73mph through the rest of the track, which totals 3,800ft for a total of 3 minutes and 12 seconds…20 seconds of which your rear will be out of your seat!
This incredible roller coaster features a 90+ degree breaking wave turn, 90 degree outside bank tophat, non-inversion half loop, step up, high-speed airtime hill, quadruple down, and probably a partridge in a pear tree. Seriously, this ride is going to be amazing. This coaster will not have any loops, which is fantastic for people who do not like them. The speed and elements of this ride will provide an incredibly unique and exciting experience that will definitely put Dollywood in the top of the pack of favorite amusement parks for coaster enthusiasts!
The ride will be extremely smooth as it will utilize Rocky Mountain Construction’s continuous welded track. From the video we have seen, it appears to be a topper track for those of you wondering, which allows them to claim the official title of World’s Fastest Wooden Coaster.
UPDATE added June 30, 2016
Lightning Rod has “opened” in what they are calling “technical ride rehearsal” and stating that “the ride may be subject to temporary closure or delays from time to time” according to the Dollywood.com website. In other words, it may or may not be open on any given day right now. And if it is open, then they could close it at any point during the day for various reasons. Because of this, we are reluctant to “advertise” it as being “fully open” at this time. Just be aware of this if you are planning to visit Dollywood anytime soon. If you do get to ride it, congratulations! We are hearing extremely positive reviews from people that have been fortunate to ride it so far…many saying it is the best roller coaster they have ever ridden!
Check out this official video from Dollywood showing exactly what this amazing ride is like!
UPDATE added April 23, 2016
After what has seemed like the longest month in history for roller coaster enthusiasts, we’ve finally heard word directly from Dollywood regarding the status of Lightning Rod! Here is what Screamscape reported Dollywood’s Pete Owens saying on April 21st:
“We are resuming testing this week and will open the ride in a couple of weeks when that is complete.”
They have in-fact resumed test runs and photos are popping up all over facebook, twitter, forums, etc of Dollywood doing tests during the day when the park is open! This is a great sign that they are back on track to getting Lightning Rod open very soon. Our guesstimate is that they are shooting to hopefully open May 2 for the American Coaster Enthusiasts’ special “Lightning Rod Run” event. If they cannot open by that date, our next guess is that they are aiming to open it the day of the annual Dolly Parade on May 6. Dolly Parton is typically at the park at 4pm on the day of the parade, so it would make sense for them to have some special “opening ceremony” featuring her at the ride. Again, this is all just speculation on our part, but it would make a lot of sense from a PR standpoint, so we’ll see!
UPDATE added March 24, 2016
Rocky Mountain Construction, the designer/builder/manufacturer of Lightning Rod, posted the following update on their facebook page today. We like to be optimistic…but this doesn’t sound too good. We’re hoping this doesn’t mean they will have to rip out the launch system and have a new one designed/built/installed by a different company. If that’s the case, the delay for opening Lightning Rod will be much longer. So we’re going to be optimistic and hope it’s not that bad!
IMPORTANT UPDATE added March 15, 2016
Dollywood has announced that Lightning Rod will NOT be open for Dollywood’s Grand Opening on March 19 and no date has been decided yet when to open Lightning Rod. Here is the official announcement from Dollywood:
Lightning Rod will not be open for Grand Opening weekend. Lightning Rod is an innovative ride featuring new technology never used on a wooden coaster. The ride manufacturer asked for additional time to commission the ride. Progress is being made daily. Please check dollywood.com for future updates.
1) Why is it not ready, didn’t you start construction last summer?
A) This an innovative ride featuring technology never before used on a wooden coaster. At the ride manufacturer’s request ride commissioning has been extended to ensure the best possible ride experience for our guests this season.
2) Is it safe?
A) Yes! Safety is our number one priority at Dollywood and we work hard every day to keep our guests as safe as possible.
3) When do you expect it to open?
A) We will open when the ride is fully commissioned and we are comfortable the ride is the best it can be. Unfortunately, at this time we cannot provide a date.
4) When is Dolly visiting?
A) Dolly’s schedule is very full this year with a tour, a new album etc. She will, however, be on park March 24. She will also be in Pigeon Forge on Friday, May 6th for the parade on the Parkway.
Also, here is an update directly from the manufacturer of the new roller coaster:
New video added March 15, 2016
Here is the very first of a full coaster train in action…look how fast she goes!
New video added March 11, 2016
New video added March 3, 2016
New pics and video! February 1, 2016
Dollywood unveiled the train cars for Lightning Rod this week and they are gorgeous! Check them out in the images below:
Check out this excellent video from Theme Park Review’s Youtube Channel showcasing the ride along with more pics of the train cars!
Also, here is the video of the unveiling of the new train cars along with behind the scenes video of the construction of the track, which is amazing! Needless to say, we can’t wait to ride this new coaster at Dollywood!
New Virtual Reality POV Video!
Ok, this is amazing. On November 17th, Dollywood released a virtual reality version of their upcoming Lightning Rod roller coaster! Go to the youtube video below and you can move your phone around during the video to see all views on the ride like you’re actually riding it! If you view the video on a computer, you can simply click in the video and drag around to change the views…you can even pause the video and look around! So cool!
Watch Dollywood’s official animation of what the ride will be like…amazing!
Check out photos of the various elements in Lightning Rod!
Here’s a look at the 200+ft hill that you will be launched up when the ride starts!
This is the first 2 airtime moments followed by the massive 165ft drop at 73 degrees
This is the 90+ degree banked breaking wave turn!
Check out the train cars!
Non-inverting half loop!
And last but absolutely not least…the “twist and shout”! This sequence looks AMAZING!
We are beyond excited about this new addition to Dollywood…can it hurry and open?!?! What do you all think about it???