In Tennessee, one of the best theme parks that anyone can visit is Dollywood. Not only is the Park owned by musical sensation Dolly Parton, but it is also doing a lot for the employees who work there.
Recently, we have seen a lot of chatter among Dollywood fans, praising Dolly Parton, the theme park’s owner and notable star for providing free tuition to the Park’s employees. Before the Park opened in 2022, Tennessee’s Dollywood announced it would provide free tuition to all workers. It was stated by Tim Berry, Dollywood’s vice president of human resources, that the new offering would go out to current employees, as well as new ones looking for a job to help attract more people to apply for a position as the Park continues to rebound from COVID and the ongoing pandemic effects.
Dollywood is currently in operation for the 2022 season, including Dollywood’s Splash County. Although the Park is open, one of the attractions has been having quite a few issues, according to Guests. Lightning Rod is a steel coaster that opened in 2016. As stated by Dollywood, Lightning Rod is:
Themed after a tricked-out 1950s-era hot rod, Lightning Rod ® launches riders from zero to 45 mph more than 20 stories up its lift hill to one of the ride’s first airtime moments. At the crest of the hill, riders face twin summit airtime hills before tackling the daring first drop. Lightning Rod races down the 165-foot drop and propels guests along its 3,800-foot track to a top speed of 73 mph. There is no surprise why USA Today readers have consistently named Lightning Rod ® one of the top-10 best roller coasters in the country.
Located in Dollywood’s Jukebox Junction, Lightning Rod gives riders nearly 20 seconds of airtime across its unique hybrid track structure, which includes both a wood stack “Topper Track” and a steel “Ibox” track atop a massive wooden frame. The coaster train comprises 12 cars, carrying two passengers each, for a total of 24 people per train.
Guests with casts above the elbow or hard casts on legs are not permitted to ride. Another note about the coaster is that Lightning Rod is subject to closures during inclement weather conditions including lightning, snow, extreme cold, or hot temperatures, and high winds. A few Guests have been chatting about the coaster online, discussing the issues that they feel the ride is currently undergoing. One Guest posted:
LRod has been down more than it’s been open this weekend. I was lucky enough to get a morning ride in the front for my first ride ever, and I’m very grateful as I know many come to the park without getting to ride it. It was rolling back frequently and seemed to be having an issue with the brake run. Every time it would reopen it would go back down 10-15 minutes after. It felt like I was reliving my Cedar Point visits to ride TTD in the early 2000’s. I’m hoping for better luck tomorrow.
After that, others noted that “It’s just always going to be problematic. The steel track only solved one of what seems to be a multitude of issues.” Another Guest also noted that due to snow the coaster was having issues recently, and on another occasion, it overheated.
It ran for just the final 8 minutes of the day last Sunday (due to the prior day’s snow) and then it seemed to have issues on Monday with the launch system overheating (way more mist was coming out that usual and employees were hanging around there).
One Guest also noted that the coaster was recently evacuated after a rollback sent the ride back down the hill. The Guest then got out of line unwilling to wait for the ride to get fixed. Many continued on the thread and noted that they think it is the launch that is causing issues. Another Guest said, “Honestly at this point I don’t even care if they remove that coaster, it’s such a mess.” At the moment, there are no plans to replace the coaster at Dollywood. Guests at Dollywood can ride Mystery Mine, Wild Eagle, Blazing Fury, Thunderhead, Dragonflier, Tennessee Tornado, and more!
What do you think of Lightning Rod? Have you ever ridden the coaster?