The marquee outside the Pines gives you all a good idea why we were at Dollywood today. Once the invited guests were situated, anyone walking by on the midway could come into The Pines theater and enjoy the festivities.
PR Guru Pete Owens kicked off the festivities, announcing Dollywood was adding another coaster. Since it was obvious that something big was climbing the hillside behind the Human Resources Department, and Dolly Parton was in town for her concert benefit, it was decided to let the world in on the secret.
And anytime something big happens at Dollywood, you can count on Miss Parton being in the park. There are benefits to being the person who everybody thinks of when Dollywood is in the news.
To tell us a bit about Lightning Rod, Dolly asked Dollywood's President and General Manager Craig Ross for some assistance. When you announce the first launched wooden hybrid roller coaster, it is definitely a two person job.
Here is a short excerpt from the media event, in case you were not able to watch the live webcast.
These really cool banners were hanging around the Pines Theater stage.
This is an aerial overview of the area Lightning Rod will occupy.
State Commissioner of Tourism Development Kevin Trippett was kind enough to speak on tourism in the area. Un-recorded, he also talked about how Dollywood was being such a great partner to the citizens of Tennessee when they pledged the $300 million investment in Dollywood, without any public funding being used. There will be a lot of dollars from outside Tennessee flowing into the state with visitors coming to Dollywood.
This graphic shows Lightning Rod's haulin' details.
And in this video Craig Ross describes those haulin' details with a little more detail. You can tell how excited he is to finally announce those details, because everybody wants to be a trendsetter in whatever business they have, and for Craig and Dollywood, this is a great day.
Construction is already well underway on Lightning Rod. Unfortunately, the rain that came through earlier in the day made it too hazardous for us to go on an onsite construction tour. This is a shot from the associate parking lot, and the crane is towards the top of the launch/lift hill. You are basically looking at it from the side, and the train will be traveling from left to right over the crest.
Here are a couple of views of the station area. Right now it appears to be a big hole with some cinder blocks in place. Somewhere the 1500 horsepower motor will fit, and in accordance to the immersive level of theming Herschend Family Entertainment Company has established for past attractions, it will be heavily themed and beautiful.
These views can only be seen from a back area of the park, limited to associates and invited guests...
but only for now!
Once the construction is complete,
and this fence comes down guests will get to see Lightning Rod in all its glory!
This the park side view of the construction of the launch run where riders will accelerate up the hill going 45 miles per hour, from just behind Red's Restaurant.
Even though it was off limits to press this day, the Rocky Mountain Construction team is hard at work. Notice the precast footer, different than past coaster construction. It is pre-made, and set in place as a finished product. No hauling wet concrete around with this system.
Digging a hole for the footer, this view is looking straight up the launch/lift hill. We will be going back to follow the progress for Lightning Rod, the 2016 record breaking attraction at Dollywood during the coming months. Congratulations to Dollywood, Rocky Mountain Construction, and Alan Shilke for advancing roller coaster thrills in a new way.