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Okay. Before I begin my critique, I will admit I have a grudge against Thunderhead. When I rode it in August of '08, the seatbelt was too tight and the bar too low against my body. After exiting the ride, I discovered a pain right where my kidney supposedly is. This lasted for about an hour or two. So I am trying to be objective about the coaster despite its hatred towards me.
There's nothing special about Thunderhead. It's the classic wooden coaster that you have ridden if you've ridden any other woodie. Trust me. The jolts, the "ows, eeks, OOH!" shrieks of pain. If you're a woodie fan, go for it. If not, still ride it just so you can say you did. Not many head choppers, barely any near misses, and basically the same track as everywhere else. Don't know how it's gotten all those damned awards... 100 feet...psshaw....
Wow, one of the best wooden coasters I've ever ridden. The thrill doesn't stop from the second you begin your first drop until you pull into the station. If you're in Tennessee, you have to go to Dollywood to ride Thunderhead.
This is total action after the lift hill. NON-STOP. I am a big fan of this coaster. The turns are great and the station fly by is great to watch. It took me a while to get the nerves out of my system to go on this one. I am hooked on it.
This to me is the perfect coaster. From the time it leaves the chain lift to the final brake it does not let up. The combination of all of the hills with all of the the twists and turns make for a really exciting ride. I love to mountain bike, and this is the first coaster that reminded me of shredding through a fast twisting trail. The ride ops were very friendly and the wait was not that long when I went. Another unique aspect to this coaster is when you go screaming back through the station mid-way through the ride. It is also the smoothest wooden coaster I have ever ridden (I am one of those types that do not care for rough coasters). This is definitely a not-miss while you are in Dollywood. Overall rating 5.0
Thunderhead has a great setting and a lot of intense directional changes. Unfortunately, twists and turns have never been as much fun for me as good airtime. People say that this ride has good airtime, but in my opinion, you have to be able to feel it no matter what seat you're in. Almost every time I've ridden this, I've been in the airtime-less front seat. While you're in the station, the flyby provides a fun entertaining show. Thunderhead is exciting and intense throughout, but it is a little rough. Every time I get off, I'm shaken up, but smiling.
The best GCI I've ever ridden!
This is one of the coolest coasters I have ever been on. It is set into its section well, has many unexpected changes in direction, course is not predictible like an out and back. The coaster has tons of floater air time tossing you up out of your seat with some cool laterals to go with it. It maitains speed very well and the fly though the station is about the only straight track on the entire ride. This twister is anouther defente ride and reride at Dollywood.
This ride is awsome.I rode on my first and second ride to Dollywood.It really has a lot of twists.Dollywood is an awsome park.I really like it.It has a drop that makes your stomach jump.It is an amazing roller coaster.Please ride it!
Very good wooden coaster that is one of the best GCIs out there. The first drop was very fast and following that was a rapid-paced ride filled with many sudden twists and turns that provided some laterals and decent air time. Also, the ride was glass smooth and the station fly by element was very cool on this one.
I had a good nine hours to ponder the question during the long ride home from Dollywood, and Im fully confident that Ive made the right decision: My new Southern metal band will be called "Thunderhead," and our first single will be a cover of "I Will Always Love You." Electric dobro player needed. Please apply below in comments section.
As for the Ample-Chested-Ones gift to wooden roller coaster lovers everywhere, I am somewhat more indecisive, but I must reluctantly conclude that, while worthy of recognition and praise, it still does not rate with such other mid-sized standouts as Raven, Cornball Express, and Avalanche. Sharp drops, airtime, and intensity will always win out for me over twistiness and quick directional changes. I cant fault Thunderhead for anything it does, and its lookin better than a coaster has a right to, but when all was said and done, it wasnt messin up my mind and fillin up my senses like the great ones.
Like Kentucky Rumbler, Thunderhead is sort of the double bock of the GCI genre. It begins with an s-curve, followed by cross-overs aplenty. It also sports Millennium Flyers and the characteristic smoothness of its Boodlian brethren. However, it punches up the standard fare with several notable instances of floater air and a bit of shake, rattle, and roll to remind you that, Millenium Flyers notwithstanding, youre still on a bona fide wooden coaster, by God. We also had the good fortune to ride Thunderhead in a steady rain, and under those conditions, it had an intensity almost approaching aggressiveness. These are the rides that linger in my memory and make my pinky finger hover tantalizingly over the "9" button. Yet after after about a dozen circuits, the Alpine-slideness started to feel a bit cliche, and the moments of inspiration in the layout were ever muted by those stupid Flyer restraints, which lay in ones lap like a vinyl-coated boat anchor. For all the twistiness, the layout did feel more sprawling and less clausterphobic than the worst of the GCI offenders (e.g., SFAs Roar), and it generally stayed low to the ground, maintaining its intensity to the very end. But geez Louise, if ever a roller coaster called for a low, plunging drop augmented by a set of camel backs, one would think the star attraction at Dollywood would be it.
I salute you, loyal legions of Thunderhead, and I recognize the merit in your object of devotion. We part not on the subject of virtue, only on matters of taste. I can no more justify my relative indifference toward twisters than I can argue for coffee ice cream over mint chocolate chip. Thunderhead is every bit the roller coaster that you, and the Songbird of the Smokies, promised it would be. It was not, however, the crossover sensation that would teach me to love a twister.
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