Photo TR: Dollywood and Beech Bend

Winter coaster fix in the Smokies.
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Photo TR: Dollywood and Beech Bend

Postby jimths08 » Wed Dec 31, 2008 1:30 am

So my girlfriend, Jenni, and I decided in early December that this year we wanted to try and go to some parks that offer Christmas events. We thought about Silver Dollar City, but it didn't seem like enough of a getaway being only 5 hours away from our home near St. Louis. Our next option was Dollywood, as we got into it for free for working at Six Flags. Then I got to thinking and realized Beech Bend was practically on the way! Our first weekend pick was the weekend before Christmas. We invited a few friends, but a couple days before we left, things fell through, money got tight, and everyone dropped out. Jenni and I then decided to shoot for the weekend after Christmas with or without friends.

Friday the 26th rolls around and we hit the road. We left Highland IL at 10:30 and arrived at Pigeon Forge at 7:30 their time for a total of 8 hours driving. Pretty good considering Betty, our GPS, predicted it to be a 9 hour drive. It was hella foggy Saturday morning from the drastic temperature change over the past day. Dollywood didn't open until 10am so we had a couple hours to kill. We drove into Gatlinburg and took some scenic routes north of the village until we killed enough time to head to Dollywood. We pulled into the parking lot at 9:30. It was looking pretty dead so far. We headed to guest relations and grabbed our tickets, rolled through the turnstiles, and headed up to Thunderhead Gap. It was still hella foggy.

When the chain dropped, we hit up Mystery Mine a couple times and then Thunderhead a couple times. Both are gem rides. Really nice set of coasters Dollywood has on their table. They're all very well maintained too! It seems that most parks have a couple good coasters and then a bunch of so-so ones. At Dollywood, their all top notch! Anyways, we worked our way around the park once getting in all of Jenni's credits. After a couple hours, we headed back into Pigeon Forge and booked our room at Smoky Shadows Motel. It was a cheap $45 room that didn't come with everything you would expect out of a $45 room. We napped for a couple hours, mind you we had been up since 1pm the day before, and then headed back to Dollywood for Smoky Mountain Christmas.

The lights were absolutely AWESOME. I've never seen anything like it in my life. Everything was completely decked out, detailed, and just awesome. We walked around the park twice just looking at all the lights. We got our final rides on Mystery Mine and Thunderhead, grabbed a souvenir and left. We didn't realize it until we left, but the parking lot was filled to capacity. I'm not sure whether they were into the overflow yet, but the parking nearest the toll plaza was filled. All in all it was an awesome day, lots of fun!

That night we grabbed the BEST hamburger ever at Hard Rock Cafe in Gatlinburg, walked around the shops a bit, and slammed into bed at 1am. The next morning we got up around 9am and checked out of our motel. We planned on getting to Beech Bend around 5pm. It was a 5 hour drive and we gained 1 hour driving so we had to leave the mountains by 1pm. I decided to kill that four hours by driving around the national park. We headed up 441 I think? across into North Carolina. It was hella foggy and the views were nonexistent. I still loved driving on those curvy roads. We turned around the drove back, hitting up route 73 on the way. After a ways I saw a sign for a trail head and decided to hit it up. It was a four mile round trip hike on paved trails to Laurel Falls. We walked up to the falls, took some pictures for about an hour, and walked back. Two hours killed, boom. The falls was really neat. I was glad we did something out of the ordinary like that.

So 5 hours later, we arrive at Beech Bend. The way it works, I think, is that you pay $15 to drive through some lights, park on the raceway, and play in the park. It's all pay per ride too, no wristbands. ARG! Kind of a rip to me, but I guess they have to make money and it's worth it to me. So why am I complaining... The lights were neat, unique, and a good idea for the park to do. Not saying I would do them if I didn't have to, because I wouldn't. There were about 10 other cars on the track. The park was dead as all get out. We bought two packs of 50 tickets for 9 rides on Rumbler. We had all 9 rides to ourselves. It was really special, I'll never forget it! The crew was awesome, very welcoming and considerate. Rumbler has this odd trait to it for me. It seems that no matter how much I ride it, I can't remember it's exact layout. Thunderhead seems much more twisted and intense, yet I can remember it's layout to the bone. Not so much with Rumbler. Is it just me?

So we spent 2 hours at Beech Bend. 1 hour riding Rumbler, a few minutes feeding goats, a few more sitting, a few more taking pictures, etc. We left around 8:30 and arrived back in Highland IL around 1:30.

The trip was a BLAST. It was our first trip alone so it was extra special. We plan on making the Dollywood/Beech Bend trip a yearly deal! Ending cost, $100 per person. Totally worth it!

More pictures of Dollywood and Beechbend from earlier trips can be seen here.
Yay! We're finally here!
Neck shot, check!
Jenni's first ride on Thunderhead!
Smoky Mountain fog.
Cool by day, even cooler by night.
Dunce hat.
Almost as important as the Myspace mirror pic, the neck fat and kiss pic.
Beyond cool.
Without sounding gay, it really was magical.
Singers man.
I never realized until later that they don't take the lights down. Proof
Same tree as before, but later that night.
I'm going to try this next year. Smaller tree though...
Not sure what this was, but it was a centerpiece, therefore, image.
Even Jesus gets lit up.
Get it? Tornado? All the lights are messed up, HAH!
The trestle.
I still have that song stuck in my head.
And finally, a 50's place. Bye Bye Dollywood.
True mountaineers.
It's rough on the paved trails. Real rough. No plumbing or nothin.
I thought it was a joke. I was wrong.
Laurel Falls.
Watch your step!
Me making a fool of myself, for a picture.
Alright, how cool am I. It was actually hella scary.
Postcard pic!
Jenni showing off......her booty.
Ahh, how cute.
I dunno why, but I really like this pic. The massive amount of water in the background is just so cool!
YAY! Beech Bend!
I paid $15 for this?!
Getting cooler...
There we go!
Is that Greg (Eagle Rider)? EDIT: I later found out it is not. My bad...
Mmm, Rumbler....
Good times, good times.
Back row is the way to go.
Last time we rode Rumbler it was 95 degrees. This time it was 35 degrees.
So I'm wondering what happened to the logo on the front?
Zoom zoom zoom. This ride is so disorienting.
They had smores for the kids.
Little fire pits to sit around. This park has such a home-town feel. Really memorable.
Jenni getting attacked by goats. HAH!
They started to eat her hair.
That black one was mean.
Me and Rumbler. Bye Bye Rumbler!
Sigh... Our last ride of the season. I guess we'll do it all again in April!
Such an awesome GCII. Really top notch. And they take really good care of it!
Every ride was lit up, regardless of whether it was open. Didn't matter, all I wanted was my Rumbler.
It was an awesome trip. We'll definitely do it again. Thanks Dollywood and Beech Bend for a great weekend!

More pictures of Dollywood and Beechbend from earlier trips can be seen here.

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Postby Reon » Wed Dec 31, 2008 8:58 am

This makes me sad for not checking scheduals. I had no idea that Beech Bend was open year round. I was avoiding it because I thought KY was one of those states where parks would close in the winter, but I've been afew hours away with no Rumbler credit all month!

Oh well, great TR, and I fully endorse and agree that all goats are evil.
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Postby Papas » Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:02 am

Beech Bend is not really a year round park. Only open nights in December (through Jan 3) for the holiday event, its closed in November and the rest of the winter.

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Postby PKI Jizzman » Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:23 am

Did Beech Bend have the Power Surge opened? It's by the log flume...

Some guy said last year they needed new hydrolic fluid to have it working in colder weather, and that they'd have it this year.
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Postby thrillerman1 » Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:54 am

Beech Bend is open tonight for New Year's Eve and through the night til 1 am.

jimths08 this was a fun and good Photo TR. Thanks for sharing!

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Postby jimths08 » Wed Dec 31, 2008 11:18 am

Thanks guys! I believe this is the second year that the park has had a Christmas event. They really pulled it off well for being such a new event. Nothing as grand as Silver Dollar City or Dollywood. But the event definitely feels right at home at Beech Bend.

I didn't really pay too much attention to what was open, but I didn't see any ride ops at Power Surge when I walked by it. I know that the rides that are opened varies each night so it may have just been a fluke that it wasn't open.

All I can say for sure that was open was Rumbler, the kiddie drop tower near the petting zoo, the petting zoo, carousel, the little maze house near Tornado, and Tornado.

Anyways, thanks for reading guys!

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Postby stevenpensacola » Wed Dec 31, 2008 11:19 am

I'm not sure what impressed me more....the incredible photos, or the fact that one of the TPR Fanboys actually has a live, breathing girlfriend!!! ::shock::

Great trip report and photos Jim. Thanks for sharing.

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Postby Fisherman » Thu Jan 01, 2009 5:15 pm

Awesome pictures! So how was Mystery Mine at night? I've never had the chance to ride it in the dark. Looks like I need to go in December.


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Postby jimths08 » Thu Jan 01, 2009 6:01 pm

Mystery Mine was very fun at night. It was very neat dropping down the final drop and then roaring into the barrel roll at night. The trestle section was cool as well. The themeing has a very neat atmosphere at night as well. Kinda adds to the whole creepy effect.

Thunderhead was the real treat though. Riding Thunderhead at night was a completely new experience. The section after the station fly-through where it heads over by the first drop is absolutely pitch black, very cool. It's such a well built and maintained ride, a real gem.

I'm not sure how often the park is open after the sun goes down during the regular season but it was definitely a very memorable experience being there at night. Almost as neat as a night at Kennywood.

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Postby mr_teisco_delrey » Thu Jan 01, 2009 7:05 pm

Man, I can't wait for Spring. I love the Rumbler. By the way, not to be too technical but what you called a trestle in the Mystery Mine pic is actually called a tipple. Excellent pics.



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