Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Blast From The Past - Race World's Intimidator Part 1

Race World? Yep! Back in the late 90s a park with a NASCAR Theme was planned in Pigeon Forge TN. And, they even had a wooden coaster planned honoring old #3.

So, there was an Intimidator made of wood, long before the Cedar Fair steelies were a twinkle in Richard Kinzel’s eye. Interestingly enough, the woodie never ran under Intimidator moniker. Rumors abound as to why Dale Earnhardt pulled out of the project, but before the park opened Intimidator became Thunder Eagle.

The coaster was being built by a new company; Coaster Works, Inc which was located in Antioch TN. Construction seemed to be moving along nicely, despite the chilly temperatures.

Thunder Eagle is a coaster with a checkered past, (racing alliteration.) It has crossed the finish line with conceivably one of the lowest coaster ridership numbers ever recorded. We first saw it on Thanksgiving weekend, 1999. The shopping mall located above the ride on the hill offered a nice aerial view.

The park was situated in downtown Pigeon Forge, just off the main drag, next to the river. Which, one should make the park easy to find. But, it wasn’t. The entrance road was more of an alley and if you didn’t notice the coaster’s lift hill peeking out between hotels you may never know the park was even there.

Intimidator looked like it was going to be a fun ride; little did we know what the ride had in store for us, that garnering a ride on this thing could possibly become the bane of our existence!

That one coaster ride that despite your best efforts, could be so darn difficult to get! Stay tuned for part 2.


John said...

This is an excellent article! I remember first passing through Pigeon Forge on the way to Gatlinburg and seeing Thunder Eagle, which I believe had already closed. It was a number of years before I finally discovered what the "mystery" coaster actually was.

Scott and Carol said...

Thanks for the positive commments, Pt 2 will be up this week