PIGEON FORGE, TN — Roller coaster fans rejoice! After months of anticipation, excited Dollywood guests will be able to step behind the wheel of Dollywood’s Lightning Rod when it officially opens to the public today. The record-breaking coaster has been in a technical ride rehearsal since May 23.
Not only is Lightning Rod the world’s fastest wood coaster, but it also is the world’s first launching wood coaster. The ride marks another incredible addition to Dollywood’s impressive list of world-class coasters. 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 Dollywood Theme Park is located in Tennessee and is named after its owner and country music singer Dolly Parton.
“I knew we really had something truly special when we started talking about building Lightning Rod,” said Dolly Parton. “It’s going to bring people from all over the world to Dollywood so they can experience all that speed and excitement. I just can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks when they burn rubber on that wild ride through the hills in our newest hot rod! I know one thing; it’s definitely going to flip your wig!”
Once launched to the top of the lift hill, riders encounter the ride’s innovative twin summit airtime hills before racing down the 165-ft. first drop. The ride reaches a world record-breaking 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.
Lightning Rod already has earned quite a following from roller coaster enthusiasts, thanks to its unique attributes.
“Just as Dollywood has already reached iconic status in the amusement industry, Lightning Rod has the potential of being that rare breed of coaster which is considered an icon 25 years from now,” said David Lipnicky, Vice-President, American Coaster Enthusiasts. “Lightning Rod’s quadruple-down might be the single most anticipated element on a wood coaster in maybe a decade.”
“This is a big year all around the world in terms of new coasters,” Lipnicky continued, “but it’s undeniable that Lightning Rod is generating more buzz among coaster enthusiasts than any other new ride this year.”
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.
Lightning Rod’s hot rod-themed ride vehicles, which closely resemble tricked-out speed machines from the 1950s, have been noted as being some of the most unique coaster trains in recent memory. With the ride’s blisteringly-quick top speed, Dollywood guests soon will feel the same adrenaline-packed rush that hot rod mechanics have after stepping behind the wheel of one of their newest creations for the first time.
One-day admission to Dollywood Theme Park is $65 for adults and $52 for children 4-11.