Dollywood wraps up construction on newest roller coaster

PIGEON FORGE, TN (WATE) – The start of the spring season at Dollywood, and the launch of the park’s new roller coaster, are just about six weeks away

There is still some work to do before thrill seekers can get their first scream, but the project has come a long way since it was first announced last August. From renderings to real life, the Lightning Rod roller coaster is taking shape.

“It’s going to have a decidedly ’50s, early ’60s feel to it,” said Pete Owens, Dollywood’s public relations director.

It is a wooden coaster with some unique features. It is the first launched wooden coaster in the world.

Related story: Take a virtual ride on Dollywood’s fastest wooden coaster

“Basically once you come out of the station and you hit the bottom of the hill, you’re going to be shot up the hill to reach a speed of 45 miles an hour,” said Owens.

It will also be the fastest wooden coaster in the world. The coaster’s hot rod themed trains will race down a 165-foot drop reaching a top speed of 73 miles per hour.

Lightning Rod is not the only new thing people can expect to see when the park opens this year. The old staples like Rockin’ Roadway and Red’s Drive-In will be staying, but everything in Jukebox Junction will be getting a face lift.

“We’re adding a lot of little treats to people that are from Sevier County. There will be a tip of the hat to Cas Walker. There will be a lot of other things that if you’re from the area, you’re from East Tennessee, you’ll recognize,” said Owens.

Watching the massive coaster go up in a just a few months has been a sight to see.

“It’s amazing to watch it go up. We’ve been taking a lot of time lapse, and to watch that happen over time has really been amazing,” said Owens. “When our guests walk into Jukebox Junction when the park opens I think they’re going to feel like it’s a new area. There are so many different changes going on.”

Dollywood opens for the season March 19. As of now, the coaster construction is on schedule to be open then.

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