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 Review of Mystery Mine @ Dollywood
3 Rating Posted by: Timberman on 9/16/2007 12:35:00 AM
From the first time I saw a Euro-Fighter in "ACE News," Ive been itching to get on one. The ultra steep drops and convoluted layouts of these rides have great visual appeal, so I was intially a bit surprised and disappointed that Dollywood choose a theme that enclosed so much of the track. Shows what I know.

I really dont want to say too much about Mystery Mine, because the themeing turns out to be an integral and very effective part of the ride. The grand finale, in particular, is a real doozie. Im not sure what you call that last manuever, but the hangtime is superb and quickly emptied my pockets of change (which, remarkably, an attendant had waiting for me as I exited the station). Other critics have mentioned the 90-degree lift hills, so Ill just add that I loved this aspect of the ride. While not quite as clausterphobic and scary as those on a Toboggan, they are longer, and they work particularly well with the themeing.

I had the excellent good fortune of visiting Dollywood on a day when Mystery Mine was a walk-on, so I could ride as much as I wanted. However, I had to pace myself, as rapid-fire rerides became a bit grueling. I experienced some slight headbanging on the outer seats, but nothing that I would call punishing. Indeed, given the moves Mystery Mine pulls off, I thought the restraint system was about as comfortable and unobtrusive as feasible. Rather, the inversions on this ride are unlike any Ive experienced, and multiple rides in quick succession tended to make my stomach, as Shakespeare would say, inconstant. Im still not clear on how the mine motif accounted for this aspect of the ride. Perhaps a more natural theme would be the fighter jets implied by the coasters model designation. You could call it "Airshow: the Ride."

Having chosen to go with a mine theme, however, Dollywood went all out, and to excellent effect. I grew up in a coal-mining region of the Appalachian Mountains, and Mystery Mine does a great job of capturing the meloncholy but stubbornly-proud aura of a coal mine. Along with the elaborate building that houses about 50% of the coaster are a host of small touches, like the board listing the daily wages for different jobs in the mines (with the proviso that they are based on a minimum shift of 12 hours) and another specifying which jobs are available to teens and preteens. The ride even has its own greeter, identified on his nametag only as "Old Coot." He certainly looked the part, but far from an ornery ol cuss, he was actually quite friendly and talkative and seemed very proud of Dollywoods latest addition. My favorite sign, however, bears the simple legend: "My lamp is my sun, and all my days are nights." That gave me chills. Its a hard life, and all too often an even harder death, that coal miners endure.

Somber notes nothwithstanding, Mystery Mine, like the rest of the big three roller coasters at Dollywood, is immensely fun and rideable, at least with short breathers between repetitions. The sharp, quick movements of the coaster are almost Schwartzkopfian, yet they take place on a much grander scale than the mobile rides they mimic. Dividing the coaster into two acts was a calculated move that works well here, although it does decrease the intensity somewhat. Overall, it was the right call for this ride at this park, but Id sure like to try a Euro-Fighter in full-attack mode some day. In the meantime, Dollywood clearly has found the mother lode with a ride that nimbly combines fun, intensity, themeing, and rideability with a hint of tribute and conciousness-raising to boot.<

Review Comments

ginzo on 9/16/2007 1:26:16 AM said:
Nice details. This review is more "just the facts maam" than your previous efforts.

MM is an excellent addition to Dollywood, and theyve integrated it expertly. Do they ever do anything even remotely wrong in this park? The ride isnt the most thrilling. I think Maverick has it beat in that department. But its a fun, unique ride that will surely draw in the crowds. I mean were talking Disney-level theming on this puppy. Whats there not to like?

In closing, yeah I agree this ride just makes me want to try the full-on Eurofighters, like Speed at Oakwood.
shag9004 on 9/19/2007 7:57:43 PM said:
That is a great review and I agree 100 percent. Mystery Mine has lots of character and will be a favorite for many years to come as we know Dollywood will keep it in tip-top shape the way they have Thunderhead. Those two coasters plus the Tornado make it a definite yearly stop in my book. Just beware the Pigeon Forge traffic as it is usually a mess.
nyeboy9 on 9/20/2007 9:30:25 PM said:
Well, the traffic is just terrible, but they have built a new road that goes right to Dollywood that nobody uses! It is longer, but it is much faster than going "into the lions den." Well, thats just one locals opinion.
shag9004 on 10/6/2007 7:50:14 PM said:
I would love to know the name of it and how to use it, Also, I know Dollywood is open basically year around but how many of the rides are actually running? Has anyone ever been in December and rode the big outdoor rides like Thunderhead and the Tornado?
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