This past weekend, Rob (coasterbear30) and I both attended the Dollywood: Thrills in the Hills event which took place June 6th, 7th and 8th. Included in the event was ERT on Friday night, Saturday morning and Saturday evening on Dollywood's coaster collection. Sunday included ERT at Splash Country next door but Rob and I decided to skip this extended portion of the event.
Because pictures are better than long texts (and that's what we're all here for), we've decided to post all the pictures with brief descriptions instead of giving a play-by-play of the entire event.
In short, the coasters at Dollywood were great. Thunderhead became both of our number one for wood coasters. Mystery Mine was impressive, with great effects and an amazing ride experience. Tennessee Tornado was by far the smoothest Arrow looping coaster we've been on. Blazing Fury was lackluster at best (and I know this is such a classic but, dang were we bored)! The Veggie Tales kiddie coaster had a sick helix. Just kidding! But at least they let us ride it without a child like most parks we've visited.
In conclusion, we were most impressed with the most friendly and professional park staff we have ever encountered. Special kudos go out to Zayne (from the Tennessee Tornado), Charlene (from Thunderhead), Ashley (from Customer Service) and Pete Owens, Public Relations Manager who put the event together and answered all our "coaster dork" questions!
On to the pictures!
Our gifts included a Thrills in the Hills T-shirt, Dollywood backpack (not pictured), lanyard, schedule of events and button (also not pictured).
Friday night, waiting for ERT on Thunderhead. Unfortunately, it had just rained and there was still lightning in the area. Ultimately, we weren't able to get ERT on Thunderhead but the park called the maintenance workers back to Blazing Fury to allow us ERT on it instead. That's what we call "Customer Service"!
Saturday morning, 7 AM, bright and early. We are on our way to Thunderhead for our walk-back tour.
Can anyone spot the ACErs? LOL
Entrance to Timber Canyon.
Arrival at Thunderhead for walk-back tour.
Running a Thunderhead test train.
Walking from the station house to the transfer track.
A look back at the station.
A Thunderhead train being held on the transfer track.
Rob says "This is freakin' amazing! What a great first enthusiast event!"
"Millenium Flyers rule my face!"
Lee and Harry were maintenance workers explaining how the transfer track works.
Don't tell him we said this but it looks like Lee is doing "Thriller"!
Coaster dork shot!
This control operates the transfer track only, Lee says.
Sunrise through Thunderhead...
a new spin on "through the trees" shots. Beat this, biotches!
Final brake run prior to transfer track.
First and second brake runs.
View of the first overbanked turn from the brake run.
View of Mystery Mine from across the Canyon.
This section near the end of the ride had intense ejector airtime.
Harry was telling us about the braking system and the process of tightening the over 600,000 bolts on Thunderhead. Amazing!
Lift hill from the brake run. Does anyone else have this shot?
"I hope there isn't a train coming!"
View from the first brake run to the transfer track.
"I AM the train coming, Rob"
Support structure shot.
"Sorry River Battle boat; you are not allowed to be a Thunderhead train!"
Tie dye much?
Another coaster dork shot of Thunderhead wheel assembly OR
wheel porn for some of ya'll.
More coaster dork shots.
And the tour is over. Simply an amazing experience. Much more complicated than we ever imagined.
ERT nighttime rides are amazing!
After the first drop, the ride doesn't seem to slow down until the brake run. The experience is completely out-of-control.
Onward to our walk-back tour of Mystery Mine!
Scissor lift from underneath the station. This is the Mine's "transfer track" to a holding area directly beneath the station. The trains are literally lowered and pushed forward.
A Mine train being held under the station on the transfer track.
A Mine wheel assembly.
More wheel porn!
GRRRRRR! Hold up that train, girl!
This is under the drop right out of the station into a short brake.
This is beside the drop under the rock crusher into the painful brake run.
Under the first vertical lift.
Lift hill porn!
This is the motor for the first vertical lift.
Vertical lifts are insane!
Under the drop after the second vertical lift.
Heartline roll goodness.
Look how low this ride is to the ground right here!
Surprisingly, this was a completely smooth transition into this element.
Pete Owens, Public Relations Manager leading the tour for us.
This damn annoying bird! He wouldn't shut up.
The first vertical drop into this turn was insane!
Final helix following brake run, heading back into the Mine. This helix...much smoother.
Dip right before tiny bunny hop under the tressle.
The hangtime on this loop was crazy stupid!
Small drop out of the loop.
Mystery Mine through the trees!
Signage at night.
During Mystery Mine ERT, we were literally the only two people on this train. Too bad that a Tennessee ruling has forced the staff to require guests to leave the trains and go back to the entrance for another ride.
Morning ERT on the Tornado was awesome. We actually were able to ride this four times in a row without leaving the station.
Lift hill porn again.
This was probably the hardest coaster to photograph!
Tennessee Tornado through the trees.
Tornado gets two thumbs WAY up from Scott!
Second loop, through the trees.
Tornado onride photos.
One of the several water wheels throughout the park.
River Battle pre-operation.
The line for this ride never slowed down so we never rode it. We just used the water cannons to shoot people in the face while they tried to shoot us back...unfortunately, they couldn't see well enough! LOL
Lumber Jack Lifts.
Scott says "Lumber Jacks are HOT!"
Friday Night Lights...
is that an ORB on Rob's face? Hmmmmm.
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