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Thunderhead
Website: Dollywood Homepage
Ride Type: Wooden Coaster
Ride Status: Running
Average Rating: 4.7143
TPC Overall Rank: #15 out of 2899 rides.
Reviews: 41
Last Review: 7/27/2010 8:29:00 PM
In User Top 10: 51 times.
User Tracker Count: 65 times.
 


Thunderhead

Thunderhead

Thunderhead

Thunderhead

Thunderhead
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5 Rating
+2 Rating Rate Down Rate Up shag9004 on 8/8/2007 9:34:00 PM - User's Top Ride #8
Date Ridden - May 2007 Times Ridden 2 (Front and back seats).

In scanning this site, most of the hardcore posters seem to be huge woodie fans. For that reason, I feel like I have little to add to some of these outstanding coasters that have received such rave reviews. This coaster makes me nervous to review because Ive been debating on whether to give it a 9 or a 10. To begin with, I think its safe to say that Thunderhead is not as a good a ride as Voyage (which may change if the trims are in effect.....Ill know in a few weeks) or El Toro. However, as a pure woodie (regular wooden supports instead of steel and not pre-fabricated) there is probably not a better coaster out there. Now granted, Ive not ridden Phoenix, Cyclone, Boulder Dash or the new Renegade, but I have ridden Raven, Legend, Beast, Rampage, and the Kentucky Rumbler and I think Thunderhead beats them. It is my favorite wooden coaster (not counting Voyage and ET) so Im gonna go with the 10. Both rides I took gave great rides with abundant floater air all over the track. The fly-through is a wonderful element which adds excitement to the ride while waiting in the que (although I only waited about 10 minutes for each of my rides). Its also a fun element while riding since you can see it in time to get prepared to make faces or yell things at the people in line (not that I did that. . With its numerous crossovers (I think Dollywood claims 30 something) the ride is smooth yet out of control as you never really know where you are on the course. The scenery is beautiful and the station ops do a great job of pumping up the riders before releasing the train. Overall this is an outstanding ride which deserves its Golden Ticket as the top Wooden Coaster in the world. Dollywood is only a couple of hours from my house so Im looking forward to getting back up there and riding this coaster some more. Its intense enough to satisfy any coaster enthusiast yet smooth enough to take the family on. Make a trip to Dollywood, ride the other coasters once or twice (including the Mystery Mine) and then spend as much time as possible on this beauty. It will be worth it.

5 Rating
+4 Rating Rate Down Rate Up biosciking on 6/23/2007 4:13:00 AM
Thunderhead is an exceptional GCI wooden coaster, the best I have ever ridden. First of all, it looks absolutely spectacular in front of a backdrop of forested hills. More importantly, though, it provides an outstanding ride, delivering all the goods of a usual GCI woodie, only delivering them better. The first drop sets the pace for the coaster, providing everything this ride is about all in a single maneuver--speed, curves, drops, airtime. Every single curve and drop that follows, be it huge or subtle, is executed perfectly, and the transitions between elements are flawless. The turns and dips all flow so well. What sets this apart even more is the extreme smoothness of the track and the comfort of the trains. Thunderhead is almost un-wooden-like in its smoothness. The station fly-through is very original as well. Overall, this ride is very, very good, plain and simple. It just barely misses making my top 10.

4 Rating
0 Rating Rate Down Rate Up spartanfan on 5/23/2007 9:47:00 PM
What a ride! Tons of airtime and amazing turns, you really dont know which way your going next!

5 Rating
0 Rating Rate Down Rate Up Swimace on 4/23/2007 10:40:00 AM
I think this is probably my favorite wooden coaster because it was just a total package. The twisted layout with the quick changes in banking and fast pacing was great, and I was surprised at the amount of airtime this ride packed. The ride itself looks amazing and runs really smoothly for a woodie.

4 Rating
+2 Rating Rate Down Rate Up 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)

5 Rating
0 Rating Rate Down Rate Up Imagineer1 on 2/4/2007 9:59:00 AM - User's Top Ride #1
Let me just say that the Thunderhead is an absolutely fantastic ride adn that Dollywood is one of the greatest hidden treasures around. After and eerie ride up the hill you are zipped down and flung in the air so many times that you just fall in love with the ride. It also helps to put your hands in the air you almost feel like youre flying. To finish off let me say that the employees who run it are fantastic and fun and deserve awards in there own right!

4 Rating
+1 Rating Rate Down Rate Up ginzo on 8/6/2006 10:12:00 PM
Thunderhead is the most overrated coaster out there right now. Dollywood is a great park, but come on. This thing jackhammers and has very little airtime. Reriding gets painful very quickly as I learned when I did 10 laps in 2 days. Its a good ride, but doesnt deserve the obnoxiously high ratings it has in the Internet Coaster Poll and Amusement Today rankings. Kentucky Rumbler is better. It runs so smoothly, and you can reride that without any pain. Did this thing run better in years past? My first ride was this season (2006).

Update: I rode Thunderhead last month in the front seat, and had a very good ride. The little pops of airtime were much more pronounced than I remember them being last year. I also noticed no jackhammering. Cheers to Dollywood for keeping this complex woodie in good shape. Ive raised this to a 9.

5 Rating
0 Rating Rate Down Rate Up woofboy111 on 7/13/2006 1:09:00 AM
Let me start out by saying that I thought Dollywood was a horrible park. I had good expectations and was highly let down. The park did have a few redeeming qualitys though. Thunderhead was one of them. The coaster did not seem like much (especially with only a 100 foot drop), but I cant say too much bad about it. It was set up perfectly. You really couldnt see to much of what happened beyond the curves that went in front of the station and the peak of the lift hill. Once I sat down in the train, the first thing I noticed was the extra padded seats compared to other wood coasters. To me, that either ment that the ride would be horrible painful and the extra padding was an attempt to make up for it, or the padding would provide an exceptionally confortable ride. The second choice turned out to be correct. The ride started with a spiral under the station and up the lift hill (which provided mist to cool of the riders). Then over the first drop into a curve, and up around a highly banked turn, and then beyond that the coaster train took me through a twisted mess of wooden coaster bliss. There was air time all over the place in the most unexpected spots. The track twisted in and out of itself in wonderful combinations (like flying though the station at high speeds).

It is the only ride at Dollywood that I will give a 10. I havent enjoyed a wooden roller coaster like this one in years! Although it is a great ride, I dont know if its worth paying $45 for the waste of the park that Dollywood is. Thats a lot of money for 3, maybe 4 decent attractions...

5 Rating
0 Rating Rate Down Rate Up nyeboy9 on 4/19/2006 4:48:00 PM - User's Top Ride #1
This is by far the best wooden roller coaster design ever. The fly through is ingenius! I didnt like wooden coasters until I got on this ride. But when I rode it once I couldnt get off! It was great. With more rides like this, Dollywood will become one of the best parks in the nation! (besides Disney obviously)

5 Rating
+4 Rating Rate Down Rate Up benleibo on 8/19/2005 6:16:00 PM - User's Top Ride #4
When Thunderhead opened to rave reviews, I was little bit shocked. After all, its only 100 feet tall and Dollywood isnt really known for awesome thrill rides. I also was surprised by the claims of awesome airtime because when looking at the photos the ride doesnt have too many straight hills. I was definitely a doubter, but one ride in the front seat of Thunderhead was enough to convince me that this coaster is something special. Ive never ridden a wooden coaster anything like this one. Ive been on some good ones (Boulder Dash, Legend, Ghostrider, etc.) but none of them combine speed, pacing, airtime, laterals, comfort, and all-out fun the way Thunderhead does. Approaching the station all you see is a massive wooden support structure nestled between two wooded hillsides. Views of the lift hill are obstructed by the sprawling structure. Theming is simple but good, and the ride ops in the station are all characters. While waiting in line for the ride, its easy to get startled by the roar of the train making its fly-by through the station. Really is loud and gets your adrenaline going. Then you get into the car and hear "Let the Thunder Roll!" From that point on its pure excitement. First drop is good but not the best - just a little something to get the train going. Good positive Gs at the bottom and coming into the first turn. On Thunderhead there is airtime on every single hill! Rising, turning, dropping, flying out of your seat all at the same time. The ride just does not stop. Every single second you are either floating out of the train or being slammed down into it. The trains are comfortable and the ride is incredibly smooth for a wooden coaster. Its such a letdown when the train hits the breaks. Such a fun ride. The front seat is the best in my opinion. Lines are not long at all on weekdays; I walked on to the front seat in the afternoon. I must admit that I didnt expect Thunderhead to live up to the hype. But now that Ive ridden it, Thunderhead has become my favorite wooden coasters and is a ride that everyone should have the chance to enjoy. Perfect all around.

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