Enjoying the Smoky Mountains at Dollywood


Timber Canyon

The Timber Canyon themed area is home to two of the theme park’s largest roller coasters, as well as the small children’s roller coaster Whistle Punk Chaser.


The largest roller coaster in the Timber Canyon themed area is Thunderhead, a wooden roller coaster built by GCI in 2004.

The ride on Thunderhead starts with a short pre-lift section consisting of a right turn and a small left turn. Shortly afterwards we enter the lift hill which takes us up to the starting height. With the best views over the Wildwood Grove themed area, we then descend in a steep turn. While climbing a hill, we first turn left and then right. We then cross the next valley and immediately climb another hill. A wide right-hand bend takes us over several hills and through the station. We then ride over hill and dale to the other side of the track, where we enter a sweeping helix. After two more turns we reach the final brake of the ride.

Like Troy at Toverland, Thunderhead is a really good wooden coaster. The GCI coaster is a merciless fun machine, especially in the rain, giving the layout an even wilder feel due to the limited visibility. In short, a truly great coaster!

Drop Line

Due to an incident on a similar tower from the same manufacturer, the Drop Line freefall tower was unfortunately closed during my visit.

Mystery Mine

Mystery Mine is one of the first Eurofighter coasters from Gerstlauer. The ride has a very impressive setting and is designed to simulate a ride through an abandoned mine.

The ride on Mystery Mine starts with a small drop out of the station. The ride then goes up to the first vertical lift. Interestingly, the ride doesn’t go straight down, but through a series of small drops. Where before there was a big drop followed by an Immelmann turn, now there is a left turn. This is followed by a fairly steep descent and the steep bend that leads to the block brake. After a Bayernkurve we return to the building where we enter the second vertical lift. At the top, we narrowly avoid an explosion by plunging into an overhanging and twisting drop. Back in daylight, we ride through a 1. 5-fold roll and finally into the final half loop. Shortly after we reach the brakes.

Mystery Mine is an interesting mix of roller coaster and dark ride. All the turns are extremely tight and make full use of the Eurofighter car’s capabilities, to the regret of the passengers, as the ride characteristics are not the best on this ride. However, the high-speed finale of the ride makes up for all the effort. All in all, a fun rollercoaster.

Wildwood Grove

Wildwood Grove is a very nice themed area. In addition to the large suspended family coaster Dragonflier, there is the ship swing Giant Tree Swing and the flying scooter Mad Mockingbird, where you can control your own flight. 


When the Orkanen roller coaster opened at Fårup Sommerland in Denmark, it was met with great amazement. The layout, which was specially designed for the park, was built on a lake and dives into a tunnel immediately after the first drop, while the rest of the track runs largely at ground level over the lake. When Dollywood then built a ride with the same layout, a tunnel was also included. After the first drop, the track leads us very smoothly through an overbanked turn and over a small speed bump into a wide helix. We immediately cross the station building to land in another helix on the other side. A compact right-hand bend leads us into a small depression. After another bend, we enter the station building and our very entertaining ride unfortunately comes to an end.

Wilderness Pass

FireChaser Express

Firefighters are considered heroes in America. So it’s no surprise that Herschend Family Entertainment’s two major theme parks have a roller coaster and even an entire themed area dedicated to them. Dollywood is home to the FireChaser Express family roller coaster.

The ride on the FireChaser Express begins with a launch out of the station. After two sweeping turns, we reach the coaster’s lift hill. Once at the top, the track first takes us through a right turn and a dip. After a left turn, there is a larger drop, which then turns into a steep turn. We then go over two hills at some speed. We then cross another dip and climb a slope.  After passing a block brake, the track takes us through another left-hand bend, which again drops off quite steeply. Now it’s over hill and dale to the other side of the track. After a fun ride around a bend, we ride over a switch to the next block brake. Here we are treated to a little show. As the fireworks go off, we back out of the area, then ride over a short hill and through a Bayernkurve. After a steep descent we reach the final braking section. Shortly afterwards we reverse into the station.

FireChaser Express is the perfect family rollercoaster. The impressive height and the great location in the park make the ride even more interesting and the backwards final is a real highlight.

Wild Eagle

One of the most impressive roller coasters at Dollywood is the B&M Wing Coaster Wild Eagle. The ride looks even more impressive from a distance thanks to the track layout on a mountain ridge. But before the ride begins, passengers can expect a Dolly Parton song on a loop and really bad jokes from the staff.

After a left turn we reach the lift hill. Once at the top, the descent is unusually straight for this type of coaster. After a steep descent we enter a huge loop. A short left turn then leads us into a zero-G roll. With a lot of momentum we enter the classic Immelmann and then a long corkscrew. Finally, the ride takes us over an airtime hill into the double helix finale of the ride, before coming to a stop in the coaster’s braking section.

The Wild Eagle Wing Coaster is particularly impressive due to its breathtaking location. The layout has some great elements, but at the end it seems a little too long due to the double helix finale. All in all, Wild Eagle is a very solid coaster.

Craftman’s Valley

Craftman’s Valley is the most beautiful part of Dollywood. As in its sister park Silver Dollar CIty, numerous artisans showcase their skills in this area. In addition to many already manufactured goods, you can also buy individual products and watch them being made.

Tennessee Tornado

Tennessee Tornado is Arrow’s latest looping coaster. It is also the only looping coaster from the manufacturer that was developed with a different design philosophy – so there are no copy & paste elements like on their previous rides.

After a ride through the coaster’s maintenance hall, we immediately climb the coaster’s lift hill. Once at the top, we enter a very tight turn before plunging down into a large tunnel. Back in daylight, we immediately enter an oversized loop that is slightly tilted to one side. After a steep turn we enter the second, more classic loop. Finally there is a quick change of direction in a sidewinder. Our path then takes us through a very sweeping turn, before the final climb towards the brakes. The transition is very abrupt, which makes for some great airtime, especially in the front of the train.

Tennessee Tornado is a really nice looping coaster with unusually sized loops. While the airtime is very pronounced as you enter the braking section at the front of the train, the drop at the back of the train is much more of a pull. All in all, a great ride!

Blazing Fury

The Blazing Fury indoor roller coaster is based on the Fire in the Hole dark ride from its sister park Silver Dollar CIty. Passing various scenes, the ride continues uphill in a large oval. We watch as the residents try to extinguish their village before we cross a collapsing bridge, giving the ride a rollercoaster feel. A second descent follows when we have to dodge an oncoming train. Shouting “Fire in the Hole”, we crash into a dynamite store, which fortunately can be extinguished. Shortly afterwards, the train slows down and the lovely dark ride comes to an end.

Daredevil Falls

The Daredevil Falls log flume is a beautifully slatted super flume by O.D. Hopkins. The ride has a single drop with additional water fountains that set the scene nicely. However, you won’t get particularly wet on the ride.

Owens Farm

Owens Farm is home to the big Barnstormer Swing. Made by S&S, the Screamin’ Swing is one of the most beautiful flat rides in the park and offers a terrific ride.

The Village and Country Fair

The Village and Country Fair themed areas are located close to each other. Most of the theme park’s family attractions are located in these areas, including the Waltzing Swinger wave swinger, the Lemon Twist tea cups ride and the Aviator Sky Rider, where you can control the flight of your own car. The main attraction in this area is the film Heartsong, which is shown in the Heartsong Theatre and features a flight over the Smoky Mountains and several scenes with the young Dolly Parton. Basically, Dolly hasn’t changed in all these years, but the film technology has, which is why the film looks a bit old-fashioned today despite the many special effects. The fantastic flying scene at the beginning of the film would really come into its own in a flying theatre – an attraction that unfortunately does not yet exist here in Dollywood. In any case, you shouldn’t miss a visit to the Heartsong Theatre.

Dollywood Express

The Dollywood Express takes us on a longer tour of the park. Unlike the train ride at its sister park, Silver Dollar City, the train does not stop for a comedy show in which the train is robbed. However, the views of the park and the Smoky Mountains are well worth the ride.

Rivertown Junction

The Rivertown Junction themed area is home to the Smoky Mountain River Rampage rapids ride. Here you go through a neatly designed canal with all kinds of obstacles. Fortunately, the ride wasn’t too wet on the day I visited, as the water here was quite cold.

Jukebox Junction

The Jukebox Junction themed area takes you back to the 1950s. In addition to the main attraction Lightning Rod, you can also take a ride on the beautifully designed vintage car ride Rockin’ Roadway.

Lightning Rod

Like Silver Dollar City, Dollywood is home to one of RMC’s masterpieces. As the first wooden coaster with a launch, Lightning Rod takes its passengers up the mountain and then back down over a series of wild elements.

Even before I could take my first ride on Lightning Rod, the ride came down for several minutes. While waiting, I struck up a conversation with another rollercoaster fan, with whom I quickly became friends. As a big fan of the Kangaroo Chronicles, I was delighted to meet a variety artist who travels around America’s stages as Showtime Steve. In this sense, I am the kangaroo. His act of balancing two ladders on his chin is pretty crazy.

After a bend, we immediately enter the launch section of the track, which takes us up the hill quite quickly. However, the following crest is crossed at a more leisurely pace. After another hill, we start to descend relentlessly. We then shoot up a hill, where we experience the greatest airtime when tilted 90° to the side. Following the terrain, we then enter a wide right-hand turn, at the top of which we briefly turn in the opposite direction. Back in the valley, the track climbs up over several hills. This is followed by the quadruple down, visible from the park, where we find our way back into the valley over four airtime hills and are mercilessly lifted out of our seats. Finally, we climb a steep turn. After another descent we finally reach the braking section of the coaster.

The Lightning Rod is a world class ride. The launch up the hill is pretty awesome. The rest of the layout is also very impressive and fits perfectly into the topography. The quadruple drop towards the end of the ride is awesome. Unfortunately the last turn ends with a drop that is a bit too high.

Pictures Dollywood

Conclusion Dollywood

Like Silver Dollar City, Dollywood is an amusement park that is second to none. What Dolly Parton has created together with Herschend Family Entertainment since 1986 is impressive. The park has its very own charm, which is not only due to its location in the Smoky Mountains, the great atmosphere and the remarkable attractions, but above all to the people who work here. You simply feel at home. I for one can hardly wait to go back to the Smoky Mountains.

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If I could turn back time

Branson, Missouri is a very interesting town. The Vegas in the Bible Belt simply stands out for its immense number of tourist traps, country theaters and hotels. Bible faithful Christians definitely get their money’s worth and go to the top with the big musical show in the Sight & Sound Theatre. Yes, the audience in Branson is different and this is also a good thing, as this way, the tourist stronghold is at least halfway tolerable. I was looking forward to two days in the amusement park Silver Dollar City.

History of Silver Dollar City

When the Marvel Cave was explored for lead ore in 1869, the potential of the area was of course still little known; after all, the first expedition did not lead to any findings. But as the miners were sure that one of the hall ceilings contained marble, another expedition was started in the year 1882. Admittedly, instead of marble, only limestone and a huge amount of guano (bat poop) was found. After four and a half years, the mining was over and the area was sold.

William Henry Lynch acquired the cave and a square mile of surrounding land in 1989, in order to guide tourists through the cave a few years later. After some initial difficulties, the cave has now been open to visitors without interruption since the early 1900s, making it one of the oldest tourist destinations in the Ozarks. After the death of William Lynch, his daughters took over the business before vacuum cleaner salesman Hugo Herschend leased the cave for 100 years.

After his death his wife Mary and their two sons Jack and Peter took over the business. After the construction of a funicular railway at today’s cave entrance, the focus shifted to the area around the cave to attract more tourists. With the reconstruction of a typical 1880s Ozark Village, the foundation stone for today’s Silver Dollar City theme park and the Herschend Family Entertainment Group was laid.

And this is exactly what one enters immediately after leaving the parking tram. In a deeply immersive way you are immediately transported back to the 80s, more precisely 100 years before my year of birth. In this area, you will find the craftsmen in the different manufactures, regardless of whether candles, fudge, jam or all imaginable wood and glassware, everything is produced in front of the eyes of curious passers-by.

Tour of Silver Dollar City

Time Traveler

The first attraction on our round trip takes us on a time travel as well, although a more modern interpretation of it. Steam punk has gone all the way to Silver Dollar City and on board is the company Mack Rides. The roller coaster manufacturer from the Black Forest surprises with its most innovative roller coaster so far, the Time Traveler. The concept of a revolving gondola roller coaster is by no means new – but the design is definitely.

After having taken a seat in the train with its four gondolas, the trip can start right away. Slowly, one is carried out of the station before one immediately gets into a 90° fall. The passengers that up to now only went forward and backwards are rotated by an eddy current brake that is installed on one side, whereby no ride is the same as the other.  27m further down the ride takes us through a valley, before we climb up a dive loop and see the world in all imaginable positions upside down. With momentum we now follow the terrain along the roller coaster Thunderation in slight swings. A turning curve leads us into the first block brake of the ride, where we also come to a stop and the rotation slows down to a minimum.

It doesn’t take too long and our train is accelerated on the launch track ahead, but unfortunately the rotation starts jerkily. Over a high banked turn we are now rapidly heading for the next element in a steep curve. In a 95ft high loop we now experience the world upside down for a second time, which is a breathtaking feeling. This is followed by a fast driven turn, which immediately leads into the third inversion element of the ride. The corkscrew marketed as Zero-G Roll is not of bad parents and convinces all along the line. After another turn and a small hill we reach the second launch section, which gives the train the necessary energy to reach station level. A turn, reminiscent of a dive loop, and a steep curve leading up to it mark the finale of the ride, before we immediately find ourselves on the braking track and soon at the station.

The Time Traveler is a very special roller coaster, which convinces with its breathtaking setting in all points. The layout is simply unique and stands out by the elements used; the not quite jerk-free first launch is the only weak point of the ride, which convinces the family audience of the amusement park like no other roller coaster.


To the sounds of a country version of If I Could Turn Back Time, we go straight to the neighboring roller coaster Thunderation, where I would have loved to have fulfilled my wish for a time travel. Until a few years ago, the second, as well as the fourth car of the five-unit trains ran backwards. Nowadays, however, all eyes are directed to the front, which unfortunately makes this very special mine train from Arrow a little less special.

Like the Time Traveller, Thunderation’s wild ride starts right after leaving the station. In a right turn we slowly but surely pick up more and more speed. After a short straight we immediately whiz through a left turn before we enter a steadily tapering right turn spiral. This then leads into a short tunnel, whereupon we race over a short hill. A right-hand bend close to the ground on the slope is the highlight of the ride. After a short left turn we are slowed down in a block brake, whereupon the lift hill of the ride is waiting for us. We are now leisurely going uphill again. At the top we immediately enter another left turn, which soon falls off unexpectedly steeply. After a short ascent and a right turn we are at the station level, where we now come to a halt in the braking section in front of the station.

Thunderation is a great Mine Train, which like all late Arrow Mine Trains is characterized by its very intense ride. The layout is incredibly impressive due to its hillside location, even though the ride after the lift hill could have been a bit longer.

The Flooded Mine and Frisco Silver Dollar Line Steam Train

Fans of rustic theme rides will get their money’s worth with The Flooded Mine. On the way through the Flooded Mine of the local Country Prison you try to stop the prisoners from escaping. You can aim your pistols at various targets, but a ride without using them is much more fun.

Right next to The Flooded Mine is the station of the Frisco Silver Dollar Line Steam Train. The big small gauge steam train takes you through the Ozark Mountains and the amusement park for about 20 minutes. In between, the train is robbed in a show interlude by several inexperienced bank robbers. A wonderful fun, which you should not miss by any means.

The Grand Exposition and Fireman’s Landing

In the children’s area The Grand Exposition we meet numerous rides from the Italian manufacturer Zamperla. Here, little amusement park fans can experience their first roller coaster ride on The Grand Exposition Coaster or take one lap after the other on one of the numerous roundabout rides. In addition to a boat swing, there is also a wave swinger, a teacup carousel, a Regatta ride, as well as a Disk’o and several smaller carousels from the manufacturer.


The children’s area that I find particularly interesting is Fireman’s Landing, where there are other classic round trips in a coherent atmosphere. The most interesting attraction is the S&S Double Shot Firefall, which was previously located in the nearby amusement park Celebration City. When the sister park closed in 2008, the ride moved from one location in Branson to the other. The ride itself convinces with its great airtime and should therefore not be missed by anyone.

Giant Barn Swing

Passing the construction site of the new rafting ride Mystic River Falls we are now heading towards another attraction from S&S, the Screamin’ Swing Giant Barn Swing. This oversized swing transports the passengers with compressed air to a very remarkable height, from which you should have a great view of the new rapids ride, as well as of the nearby roller coaster Outlaw Run.

Outlaw Run

Outlaw Run is the first wooden roller coaster from the manufacturer RMC, who previously gave the old wooden roller coaster Texas Giant from the Six Flags Over Texas amusement park a new life as a steel roller coaster with its I-Box solution. As with the New Texas Giant, visitors can expect a wild ride over numerous breathtaking elements, many of which were first installed on this roller coaster.

The ride on Outlaw Run begins immediately with the lift hill of the resort, which takes you up to a height of 107ft. After a small dip, the train speeds over a narrow hilltop, whereupon, detached from our seat, we fall a good 162ft to the ground in an 81° steep gradient. After a pressure-laden valley we immediately shoot up a steep left turn, which immediately changes into an over-banked inversion at the top of the hill. In another left turn we race through the valley and instantly take a series of turns that lift us out of our seats at all times. In a twist & turn we experience for the first time the feeling of lateral weightlessness on a roller coaster before we enter the next valley. Over another curved airtime hill we approach the finale of the ride. Following a flat Airtime hill we spiral up close to the ground in a double Heartline Roll. Shortly afterwards we reach the braking section of the layout, whereupon our ride ends in the station.

What a ride! Outlaw Run is definitely not a roller coaster for weak stomachs, as it is a pretty tough one. The many airtime moments and at the same time incredibly pressure-packed valleys make for a breathtaking ride that you will never forget. The two inversions at the end of the ride are also a novelty for a wooden roller coaster, which can make you feel a bit dizzy. The ride is simply awesome and should be experienced by every roller coaster fan!

Tom and Huck’s River Blast and Fire in the Hole

On our way back from the dead end around the roller coaster Outlaw Run we come across the very slick interactive water ride Tom and Huck’s River Blast, where you can follow the paths of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

Another highlight in Silver Dollar City is the dark ride Fire in the Hole. The ride deals with the fire in the mining town of Marmaros, which was created from the guano mining of the Marvel Cave. A vigilante group called Bald Knobbers is suspected to have burned down the village. More details are not known, but in the end the park decided to tell this story. Passing several scenes, the path leads us uphill in a big oval, whereby you watch the inhabitants trying to extinguish their village before you cross a collapsing bridge and the ride becomes a roller coaster. A second descent follows as one avoids an oncoming train. Under the yell Fire in the Hole you crash into a warehouse for dynamite, which fortunately could be extinguished. The watering slows down the train, shortly after you’re back in the station.

Powder Keg

The Powder Keg roller coaster has an equally interesting history – even if only from an engineering point of view. Before it became the unique launch coaster of today, it was a water roller coaster for several years. The roller coaster was opened in 1999 under the name Buzzsaw Falls. The prototype from Premier Rides had a longer whitewater ride before it changed into the roller coaster part. A longer helix led towards the lift hill, where after a short ride in lofty heights the final shot was waiting. However, just four years later the ride was already rebuilt. The manufacturer of the new hardware became S&S Power, which means that the visitor can now expect a powerful blast of compressed air.

The journey starts with a transfer track leading up to the side of the launch track. After arriving at the launch track, the train now moves to its starting position, hooks into the catch car and waits for its release. At some point a warning siren is switched on and a traffic light switches from red to green. The launch rapidly brings us up to 64 mph, whereupon we climb a hill. Accompanied by delicious airtime you glide into the valley below you. In a wide right bend you approach another airtime-laden hill. A slightly over-bent curve joins, followed by a third hill, which bends to the left at its apex. After a speedy curve the track profile suddenly changes, whereupon you ride the track of the former water roller coaster at a breakneck speed. Then after a wide curve the lift hill of the layout follows. At the top, the rail profile changes again. While the water roller coaster would have started its final shoot down at the same level as the launch section, we now bend a bit further to the left and plunge down the big slope of the roller coaster. This is followed by an extremely intensive helix, which however also describes the final part of the ride. Shortly afterwards we find ourselves in the braking section of the ride.

Powder Keg is a really fine roller coaster. The launch, the plentiful airtime and the nice pressure in the curves and valleys characterize this roller coaster, even if the finale is a bit too much anti-climactic. All in all, however, the roller coaster is a guarantee for a good mood.

American Plunge and Wildfire

Just like the neighboring whitewater course American Plunge. Although the ride basically consists of a slightly longer concrete tunnel and a single and extremely wet shot, the ride built by O.D. Hopkins is definitely worth a ride.

Right next door is the entrance to the last roller coaster of the park. The B&M Sitting Coaster Wildfire is the top dog in Silver Dollar City since the year 2001. With its location directly on one of the slopes of the park the ride looks even bigger, which is underlined by the skilful use of the terrain.

The trip begins with a short dip out of the station, where you dive under the large viewing platform. On the other side of this platform the lift hill of the roller coaster is added, which takes you up to a height of approximately 120ft. After a predrop, a wide curve follows, whereupon a slope with a height difference of 155ft descends. As is typical for B&M, strong G-forces await you in the valley before we approach the first inversion of the ride. In an Immelmann we change direction, whereupon we make our way towards the huge loop. In a wide curve close to the ground we rush towards the Cobra Roll, which we pass through as usual. This is followed by a sweeping over-banked turn, which releases you just as sweepingly into the final corkscrew of the track. A helix introduced close to the ground then sends you into the final brake of the layout. Shortly thereafter you’re already back at the station of the roller coaster.

Wildfire is my favorite roller coaster in Silver Dollar City. The ride is simply terrific and is enhanced by the setting directly on the hillside and surrounded by the Ozark Mountains. Besides, Wildfire is actually my 600th roller coaster I’ve ridden – a milestone I wouldn’t wish otherwise.

Marvel Cave

After all the roller coasters and rides it is now time to take a closer look at Marvel Cave in a one hour guided tour. Over the huge Cathedral Room we first go deeper and deeper into the cave. In the following rooms, the history of the cave is then more and more explained. After several narrow passages, whereby one should always take care of one’s head, the old funicular takes us back to the daylight. The Marvel Cave is basically the highlight in Silver Dollar City and should not be skipped.

Echo Hollow Amphitheatre

This brings us to the end of the report. The day is coming to an end and the rides are now all closed. However, Silver Dollar City wouldn’t be Silver Dollar City without adding a little more to the fun. In the Echo Hollow Amphitheatre the big show at the end of the day is just beginning.

Pictures Silver Dollar City

Conclusion Silver Dollar City

Silver Dollar City is a beautiful amusement park that can rightly be called the best amusement park in the world. The park offers a great mix of roller coasters, rides and shows that you can rarely find anywhere else. Accordingly, the park’s target group is a bit different – during my visit in April, it consisted almost exclusively of pensioners or families with younger children. In other words, Silver Dollar City is a theme park for everyone.

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