Roller coaster enthusiasts around the world have come to appreciate the impressive portfolio of world-class rides and attractions available to experience during a trip to Dollywood. Now, a top website for enthusiasts has named Lightning Rod number one in its Top-10 Wooden Coasters of the 2010s.
To wrap up the decade, Coaster101.com is naming the top attractions in the theme park industry in a number of categories. Readers were asked during the month of November to nominate their favorite attractions in five different categories. According to the website, “The Coaster101 team gathered the nominations, narrowed them down and ranked them in a list of 10 for each category.” Coaster101.com writer John Stevenson added,
"Lightning Rod was undoubtedly one of the most defining moments of the past decade for wooden roller coasters. From having the first launch on a wooden coaster to the world record-breaking speed, Lightning Rod has amassed widespread acclaim from the coaster enthusiast community."
Stevenson went on to say, "After reviewing our readers' nominations, Lightning Rod was the clear frontrunner for the top spot on this list. From its innovative launch to its world record-breaking speed, Lightning Rod has become a favorite among coaster enthusiasts who have ridden it and a must-ride for those who haven't. The competition was fierce, but our readers overwhelmingly named Lightning Rod as the best wooden coaster of the last decade. It redefined the limits of a wooden coaster and provided thrill-seekers a ride like no other."
Lightning Rod currently is the only wooden launch coaster in the world, meaning riders hit the gas on the hot rod-themed ride as soon as they reach the lift hill. Once at the top of the hill, riders encounter the ride’s innovative twin summit airtime hills before racing down the 165-ft. first drop.
The ride reaches a top speed of 73 mph at the base of the drop. From there, the coaster races along its 3,800-ft. track through the hills and valleys surrounding Dollywood. Thanks to the rolling topography, much of the track is hidden from view inside the park, serving only to heighten anticipation for those waiting to step aboard the thrilling ride.
The article says Lightning Rod is “…short and sweet, but not a single foot of track is wasted following the 40 mph launch. The coaster’s quadruple-down—four consecutive drops down a hillside—provides sustained airtime that must be experienced firsthand to fully appreciate. Lightning Rod represents another redefining moment for the coaster industry we experienced in the 2010s.”
The ride, which is located in Dollywood’s Jukebox Junction, provides guests with nearly 20 seconds of airtime. The coaster train is comprised of 12 cars, carrying two passengers each, for a total of 24 people per train.
The honor is just one of many Dollywood and its attractions have earned in 2019. The park earned Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards for Best Christmas Event, Best Guest Experience and Best Kids’ Area (Wildwood Grove) this season, while also winning the USA Today 10Best award for Best Theme Park Halloween Event for Great Pumpkin LumiNights.
All of these honors further underscore the quality experience guests have during a visit to Dollywood. The park celebrates its 35th anniversary season in 2020 with the new Flower & Food Festival, returning favorites like the Gazillion Bubbles Show and Great Pumpkin LumiNights, and heartwarming traditions like Smoky Mountain Christmas. The park’s new Pre-K Imagination Season Pass allows children born in 2015 or 2016 to experience the milestone season for absolutely free! Kids must be registered online by Jan. 5 to claim the pass for 2020.
Read Coaster101.com's full article at "Top 10 Wooden Coasters of the 2010s Decade – Attraction Awards"
Dollywood again earned several of Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards, this year picking up four “best of” awards and placing in the top-five in five additional categories during the magazine’s 2016 awards ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 10 at Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH. Dolly Parton said,
“I’m so very proud of the experience families have when they come visit my Dollywood. While they’re here having fun with us, I want them to create those special heartfelt moments they’ll always treasure. I know it’s our people who work here who help make those memories happen for them. Some people call it friendliness, but I just call it what it is—caring for others."
Dolly went on to say,
“Our folks show their love for families through the care they put in to everything they do—from our beautiful landscaping and that delicious food to makin’ sure each guest leaves with a smile on their face. I’m very proud of the way Dollywood has grown, but I’m most proud of my Dollywood team who goes above and beyond to give families memories they’ll share forever.”
Dollywood’s four Golden Ticket Awards include:
Dollywood also ranked in six additional categories:
Tim Baldwin, Golden Ticket Awards Communications Coordinator for Amusement Today noted,
“Dollywood is a finalist in more categories than any other park—ten to be exact. The destination claims four Golden Ticket wins this year! These accomplishments should command the attention of anyone in the industry looking for a model of how to do things right. It’s no wonder Dollywood charms more and more visitors each year. The place is sheer joy.”
Calculated from an international poll conducted by Amusement Today, the industry’s leading trade publication, the Golden Ticket Awards are the results of a detailed survey sent to a database of experienced and well-traveled amusement park fans around the world in balanced geographical regions. Voters are asked to rate the “best” in 23 categories such as best parks, roller coasters, water rides, shows, kids’ area, landscaping and Christmas events.
The Golden Ticket Awards are the most sought-after awards in the business of amusements and attractions. The awards have become the subject of much discussion by park aficionados the world over and garnered mentions in such notable media outlets as USA TODAY and the Chicago Tribune, and by the late radio newsman Paul Harvey. The awards also were the topic of a one-hour Travel Channel documentary.
Dollywood was recognized in 2010 at the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions with the Applause Award in recognition of a park whose management, operations and creative accomplishments have inspired the industry with its foresight, originality and sound business development.
As anticipation mounts for the opening of Dollywood’s Lightning Rod, fans now have one more way to satisfy their appetite for the world’s fastest wood coaster—a new Lightning Rod-themed ice cream flavor, thanks to Mayfield Dairy.
The packaging for Mayfield’s newest flavor, Smoky Mountain Fudge, features the colorful artwork of Lightning Rod launching riders to a world-record 73 mph top speed. The special ice cream flavor features chocolate ice cream swirled with fudge and chocolate sandwich cookie pieces. Dollywood fans can purchase Lightning Rod Smoky Mountain Fudge at Food City, Ingles, Weigel’s, Kroger, Publix, Walmart and Food Depot stores in Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Scottie Mayfield, Mayfield President Emeritus said,
“Smoky Mountain Fudge is the perfect flavor to tell the story of Lightning Rod. Guests are taken for a wild ride through the foothills of the Smoky Mountains every time they board! Now, they can taste some of that excitement at home.”
While the ride has yet to open, it already has received much attention. USA Today called it "The most anticipated ride of 2016."
Lightning Rod rolls to the starting line as part of an adrenaline-packed 2016 season. Both the world’s fastest wood coaster and the world’s first launching wood coaster, it provides guests nearly 20 seconds of airtime, a number of innovative ride features and an unforgettable journey through the hills surrounding Dollywood.
Lightning Rod is not the first Dollywood coaster to receive special Mayfield ice cream packaging. In 2014, Mayfield helped celebrate the opening of FireChaser Express with Crunchy Caramel Pretzel.
For more information about Dollywood, please call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD or visit Dollywood.com.
Construction progress on the most anticipated new theme park attraction of 2016 is moving ahead at "lightning" pace. Dollywood recently showcased Lightning Rod, the park’s new record-breaking coaster, during a construction tour.
Upon arrival at the ride site, onlookers can’t help but notice the coaster’s massive lift hill, which now sits high above Dollywood—more than 20 stories to be exact. The first 165-feet drop propels riders to 73 mph. The ride’s innovative twin summit airtime hills were also on display. Thanks to the undulating topography, which the coaster races along during its 3,800-feet journey through the hills and valleys, surrounding Dollywood, much of the track is hidden from view inside the park. Its position serves to heighten anticipation for those waiting to step aboard the thrilling ride.
The tour featured a glimpse at Lightning Rod’s hot rod-themed ride vehicles, which closely resemble tricked-out speed machines from the 1950s. With the ride’s blisteringly quick top speed, Dollywood guests will soon feel the same adrenaline-packed rush hot rod mechanics have after stepping behind the wheel of one of their newest creations for the first time.
The ride, located in Dollywood’s Jukebox Junction, provides guests with nearly 20 seconds of airtime. The coaster train has 12 cars, carrying two passengers each, for a total of 24 thrill-seekers per train.
Dollywood’s development team has tapped Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC) as the ride manufacturer. RMC is no stranger to out-of-the-box coaster projects, having designed many first-of-their-kind attractions around the world. Lightning Rod employs several unique features including the lift hill launch, twin summit airtime hills, a 90+ degree banked breaking wave turn, a 90+ degree outside banked turn, and a non-inverting half loop.
Lightning Rod has already earned quite a following from roller coaster enthusiasts, thanks to its unique attributes. Lightning Rod not only is the world’s fastest wood coaster but also the world’s first launching wood coaster.
For more information about Dollywood’s Lightning Rod visit Dollywood.com or call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD.
The popular travel review site TripAdvisor recently named Dollywood one of the best theme parks in the world, continuing the Pigeon Forge park’s string of impressive accolades and awards.
Based on reviews and ratings for all theme parks worldwide, TripAdvisor compiled the list of the Top 25 theme parks around the globe. Dollywood placed 19th on the list, which included parks like Universal’s Islands of Adventure (#1), Magic Kingdom (#3), Universal Studios Florida (#6), Germany’s Europa-Park (#7), Disneyland (#8), Denmark’s Tivoli Gardens (#12), Epcot (#16), Six Flags Magic Mountain (#22), Silver Dollar City (#24) and Walt Disney Studios Park in France (#25).
One recent review on TripAdvisor, titled "One of the Best in the World," noted,
"This world-class attraction gets better every year…Great rides including seven roller coasters and some of the best shows and food in any park in the world can be found among the arsenal of activities."
The award-winning park certainly has endeared itself to its many guests, having recently been named #3 Best Theme Park in the country and #6 Best Musical Attraction by USA Today’s 10Best. In 2015, the park also earned Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards for Best Christmas Event, Best Shows and Friendliest Park. Dollywood earned the 2010 Applause Award, the theme park industry’s highest honor.
Dollywood is currently celebrating its 30th anniversary. This year also marked the grand opening of Dollywood's DreamMore Resort. The park's newest attraction, Lightning Rod - the world’s fastest wood coaster, is set to open in March 2016.