Dollywood’s Lightning Rod Wooden Roller Coaster To Be World’s Fastest

Update June 13, 2016

Dollywood’s Lightning Rod wooden roller coaster is finally open.  After months of anticipation, excited Dollywood guests will be able to step behind the wheel of Dollywood’s Lightning Rod when it officially opens to the public on Monday, June 13.  The record-breaking coaster has been in a technical ride rehearsal since May 23.  Not only is Lightning Rod the world’s fastest wood coaster, but it also is the world’s first launching wood coaster.  Once launched to the top of the lift hill, riders encounter the ride’s innovative twin summit airtime hills before racing down the 165-ft. first drop.  The ride reaches a world record-breaking 73 mph at the base of the drop.  From there, the coaster races along its 3,800-ft. track through the hills and valleys surrounding Dollywood.  Thanks to the rolling topography, much of the track is hidden from view inside the park.  Continue reading for more details on Dollywood’s Lightning Rod wooden roller coaster in Mary Jo Collins’ original post from March 28.

Lightning Rod Wooden Roller coaster

Lightning Rod Wooden Roller coaster, image courtesy Dollywood

Article and photos by Mary Jo Collins

On March 24, 2016, Dolly Parton beamed with burning love for Dollywood’s Lightning Rod wooden roller coaster. From a stage deep in Dollywood’s Jukebox Junction, a delighted crowd was treated to Dolly raving about the marvel of Lightning Rod even though Dolly doesn’t ride any of the attractions herself.  Check out the video below.

Dolly Parton at DollywoodLightning Rod at Dollywood

As Dolly said, Lightning Rod, Dollywood’s newest wooden roller coaster, will also be the world’s fastest wooden, reaching a top speed of 73 mph.  Additionally, Lightning Rod will be the world’s first launched wooden roller coaster.  Riders will go 45 mph by the time they reach the top of the lift hill.

Lightning Rod at Dollywood

Here are some more impressive facts about Lightning Rod:

  • Riders on Lightning Rod will experience nearly 20 seconds of airtime during a ride.
  • The top of Lightning Rod’s lift hill is more than 20 stories above Dollywood.  Riders will plunge more than 16 stories on the first drop.
  • The power of Lightning Rod’s launch packs the equivalent of 1.500 horsepower.  The horsepower of a base model 2016 Toyota Camry (the #1 selling car in America) is 178. It would take a 8 & 1/2 Camrys to equal the power of Lightning Rod’s launch.
  • Lightning Rod at Dollywood
  • Lightning Rod’s massive 3,800-ft track sits atop more than 1,200 footers.
  • Just under 500,000 board-feet of southern yellow pine lumber was used in the construction of Lightning Rod. That’s enough lumber to build an entire subdivision.
  • Lightning Rod’s innovative launch system requires four miles of power cable to operate. Those cables weigh 38,000 pounds.
  • Lightning Rod will race along a track nearly 2/3 of a mile in length.

Lightning Rod at Dollywood

Dollywood’s award-winning Gem Tones crooned their way into the audience’s heart in honor of Lightning Rod wooden roller coaster.

Lightning Rod at DollywoodLightning Rod at Dollywood

Dolly then treated the audience to one of the first songs she ever sang, Puppy Love.  Lightning Rod is in the Jukebox Junction area of Dollywood that has a 50’s theme.  Dolly Parton sang Puppy Love during that time period, and its very cute and sweet.

Due to extended ride commissioning, Lightning Rod has not opened for the season opening of Dollywood.  It is anticipated that it will open within the next month.

Lightning Rod at Dollywood

Lightning Rod is the newest member of The Dollywood Company’s collection of award-winning attractions.  In March 2012, Dollywood opened the $20 million Wild Eagle, the country’s first wing coaster.  The company introduced RiverRush, Tennessee’s first and only water coaster, at Dollywood’s Splash Country in 2013.  FireChaser Express, the nation’s first dual-launch family coaster, was added at Dollywood in 2014.  Dollywood mainstays Thunderhead, consistently among the world’s top five wood coasters, Mystery Mine, Blazing Fury and Tennessee Tornado round out the park’s list of innovative coasters.

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