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 Review of Thunderhead @ Dollywood
2 Rating Posted by: CoastrGlxy on 3/19/2007 1:06:00 PM
By some random chain of events my family decided to take a summer vacation in Tennessee. This gave me the opportunity to stop at Dollywood on our way back home. I had heard a lot about Thunderhead, the 2004 GCI wooden coaster that topped many enthusiasts Top 10 lists. Also, Thunderhead had been awarded the Golden Ticket Award for the best Wooden Coaster in the World. Needless to say, I was expecting an amazing ride and for the most part I wasnt disappointed. Thunderheads location in the mountainous park was very scenic. The Timber Tower had just opened next to the ride and the area had several "back-country" themed buildings in the newest section in Dollywood known as Thunderhead Gap. As my wife and I approached the queue I noticed the Golden Ticket signage under the main sign. It was good to see that Dolly and her park management werent clueless about the success of the ride.

As we entered the station I noticed that the trains were millennium flyers. They were padded with leather and the lead car was themed. The ride op had personality, which is always a big plus in my book. She sent every train out of the station with "Let the thunder rolllllllll!!!!!". An excited station is high on my list of what makes a world-class coaster and so far Thunderhead was doing great. If the ride op wasnt enough to get people in the queue excited, then the unique station fly through did. At about midway through the coasters twisted course, the trains curve back around the queue and fly through the station. The roaring train every few minutes kept the waiting riders anticipating their ride. Nice touch GCI!

Finally, we board the comfortable trains and were lifted up the modest 100 foot lift hill. The swooping drop led to a banked twisting turn and then another and so on. Thunderheads twister layout offered some great lateral g-forces and a seemingly fast, but pretty smooth ride. There were a few nice pops of airtime and the station fly through had a great head chopper effect. After returning to the station, the train was packed with smiles and laughs. Thanks to its unabusive ride, my wife and I decided to immediately ride it again.

Why only an 8? I just dont think it did anything all that amazing. It was a great ride and the overall experience was fast, fun, and smooth. I didnt walk away with any big wow moments or legendary launches of airtime. Also, it was just more fun than thrilling. The majority of my highest rated coasters are thrilling and really get the adrenaline pumping. Not to take anything away from Thunderhead, its definitely a crowd pleaser. Its great that a smaller park like Dollywood can boast one of the top wooden coasters in the World, probably for years to come. The park may have quite a one-two punch if Mystery Mine turns out to be a winner. Final Rating (8.5 - Great Approaching Excellent)

Review Comments

RCGenius on 3/20/2007 7:27:36 AM said:
Excellent review CoastrGlxy. Thunderheads definitely one of the top wooden coasters in the world. It seems that the ride has a mix of everything interwined into one that makes it one heck of a beast to try to maintain. Sorry that you didnt feel as if it could be one of your top coasters, but at least you explained to us why you didnt feel that way eloquently & descriptively. Id love to ride Thunderhead one day too. I recently submitted a form for my chance to win 2 free tickets to Dollywood. Even if I won, I doubt that Ill be going to that park at all this year.
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