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Outpost Coasters



Dollywood still does not have the extensive coaster lineup of rival parks, and it is so far behind it may never catch up. However, it sure makes up in unique rides what it lacks in numbers.

Every coaster it has ---water, wood or steel --- is special. Not only does each ride offer a unique experience, but it is located in a deep ravine or wooded bowl where it enjoys the setting all to itself. No crowded scenerios here, with other rides entertwining tracks or drawing attention just over a fence or hedge.

The fact that the park is spread out along a lower valley with ravines extending uphill like fingers divides the crowd and reduces lines except on holidays and long weekends. This allows repeat rides, usually an unheard of luxury at the bigger parks.

A good mine train and perhaps a hyper and Dollywood would leap into the elite ranks. They certainly have the room to expand.

Smoky Mountain Wilderness Adventure. Themed as an off road vehicle tour gone wild, Wilderness Adventure puts you in a specially built contraption and proceeds through beat attacks, trains in tunnels and towering waterfalls. A boat plunge ride on steroids with a heavy dose of comedy.

Blazing Fury. Dolly’s entry in the indoor coaster darkride sweepstakes. Themed as a firefighting epic. Riders get drenched and scared to death. Our staff unanimously thinks this edges out Exterminator for top honors in this category.

Tennessee Tornado. A great looping steeler, comparable to Vortex and T2. Tornado features a 70 mph pace, a triple loop, and a 128 ft. first drop. It ricochets back and forth among three hillsides at the head of the valley. Cows, people and tractors hang from trees, rooftops and supporting beams. If this were in one of the more fashionable parks, it would be a destination coaster. The Tornado is the smoothest of all the loopers out there, with very comfortable trains and efficient operation. It may also be the most photogenic of the loopers. No industrial setting here of concrete and steel backgrounds. The Tornado uses the wooded hillsides to maximum effect.

Thunderhead. Wow. Dolly wanted a top five classic woodie. She sure got one. This is an exhiliarating ride. It’s not the highest, fastest or longest coaster out there. But it’s a technically complex, artful blending of many of the best tricks coaster designers uncovered in the 20th Century. The midrun station flythrough failed to excite any of us; it seems like just a gimmick. But continually shifting trackbed, the loop around the waiting line, sustained speed and sometimes sheer vertical banking make this a treasure.



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