On the way home from IAAPA we stopped in at Dollywood. Our mission: to get a brief update on progress for their new attraction. The sky was dripping with overcast, but the newest coaster is coming along fine to date. No weather related issues so far.
Lots of footers have been poured, and the concrete work is complete. You can see from the distant footers that the coaster track will pass over the service road that goes back to Thunderhead. Around the bend is holding area for the track and supports for Fire Chaser Express.
There are lots of footers up close to the midway. If you remember how this hillside used to be covered with trees, there is no need to worry. It is the corporate policy of the Herschend Family Entertainment company that for every one tree removed that three trees will be replanted, which while they won't fit here amongst Fire Chaser Express, they will be providing shade in a new location in the foreseeable future.
This special effects building is located high above most of the track and if Mystery Mine is any indication, it will be wonderful. Flames and explosions are fun things to safely experience, and no doubt the riders will return to the station very excited.
Here are some track supports and a piece of track with the motors already mounted. You have to wonder how they know exactly where the next piece to be assembled is located!
There are pieces of track and supports lining the access road most of the way up the mountain. According to Chris, most if not all, of the track and supports are onsite already.
This pile of track supports almost looks like logs piled outside a sawmill.
The first launch will roughly follow the caution tape and end on the 79 foot lift hill between the two towers. The track will go through the tower on the left before climbing into the special effects building. Luckily some of the rockwork from Adventure Mountain is staying as part of the extensive theming for Fire Chaser Express.
Lots of side-friction motors will be used for both the forwards and backwards launches. As you saw from the previous photos, some of them have already been installed on the track.
Did we mention there was a lot of track scattered along the access road? It was like this most of the way up the mountain. It is visible during the daytime from the Dollywood Express. If you look carefully, you can also see reflections after dark from the moonlight.
Our thanks to our tour guides, Brian and Chris, for being outstanding hosts and answering numerous questions along the way. All this on a cold and wet day, and as you can see, they both still managed a smile. Lots of families will be thanking Chris and his team this spring.