Dollywood: Building A New Hyper Coaster Should Be The Parks Next Project
Dollywood is in dire need of a new coaster. With the new family-themed land, Wildwood Grove, set to open in 2019, a new family coaster is coming to the park. That’s great news, but it’s not going to be enough. To stay competitive with Carowinds and other parks, Dollywood must invest in something big, something fast, something hyper.
There are so many different types of coasters at Dollywood. What there isn’t is a hyper coaster. Some have speculated for years of a hyper coming to the park. Nothing has ever come from that speculation. And while we won’t get that in 2019, it’s possible 2020 or 2021 is the year.
We know that Dollywood has a family coaster planned for the new expansion, Dragon Flier. The new Wildwood Grove is the most ambitious project in the park’s history. In total, 11 different attractions will be in the new land. And Dollywood does need a new kids/family area to the park.
While Dollywood does need to cater to the family, the thrill seeker makes up a big portion of their guests. With Lightning Rod (when it’s open), Wild Eagle, Mystery Mine, Thunderhead, and Tennessee Tornado, the park does have an impressive set of thrilling coasters. (Don’t forget Firechaser Express which is a wonderful family coaster). They’ll need more to attract bigger crowds, especially with Carowinds being 3.5 hours away. We’ve been speculating a hyper for some time.
Hyper coasters are gold for parks attendance. Look at Kings Island with Diamondback. They’ve skyrocketed in attendance since that was built in 2009. It was then the largest investment in the history of the park at $22 million. The park drew 3 million visitors in 2009. That was second highest (only behind Canada’s Wonderland) in attendance for parks outside of Florida and California.
Carowinds has a hyper of their own (Intimidator). This was built just a year after Diamondback in 2010. While that’s been overshadowed by the giga, Fury 325, it was still a monumental coaster for the park. It was Carowinds first 200+ foot coaster. This is what put them on the map, setting the stage for Fury.
It’s Carowinds that Dollywood needs to keep an eye on. As mentioned before, the park is only 3.5 hours away. Dollywood will counter the new MACK launched coaster with Wildwood Grove. They won’t have a new thrill ride.
A new hyper will go a long way in establishing themselves from the competition. It might help sway the Carowinds crowd to Dollywood, especially 1 or 2 years down the line as the new Carowinds coaster loses its luster.
Of course, Wildwood Grove might mean higher attendance with families for 2018, despite Carowinds revamping their family area, Camp Snoopy, in 2018. They’ll lose some of the guest numbers from the thrill seekers and enthusiasts but would gain that back upon the completion of a new hyper.
Dollywood might have a few family coasters and a new family land, but it’s Lighting Rod that draws the big crowd. Enthusiasts will travel from all over for a ride on it. Unfortunately, the coaster has so much downtime. Even when LR is running, there isn’t that other big coaster the park has that’s going to draw guests in. You can make a case for Wild Eagle, but that still doesn’t have the drawing power of a hyper.
If Dollywood is to succeed in bringing a hyper in for 2020, they’ll have a great 1-2 punch with Lightning Rod. And if LR breaks down (and hopefully by the time a new hyper is built it won’t) they’ll have a fallback option for their guests. Pairing an RMC with a B&M (or Intamin/MACK/S&S) hyper is about as good as you can get.
Depending on the amount of room Dollywood has with Wildwood Grove, they might be able to fit hyper coaster in that section of the park. It’s unlikely seeing as that’s a family section, but anything is possible. We know they’ve set aside land in Wildwood Grove and other potential developing zones for future expansion.
Dollywood is going to focus on Wildwood Grove for the foreseeable future. Although, if they are building a hyper in the next 2 years, those plans have already been signed, sealed, and delivered. Let’s just enjoy what the park is giving us now. Let the real speculation begin in 2019.[DanielTwitter]