Dollywood to Replace Lightning Rod’s Launch with High-Speed Chain Lift for 2024

One of the most popular attractions at Dollywood, Lightning Rod, will be getting a major change over the park’s off-season to help improve the ride’s operations.

What’s Happening:

  • Originally opening in 2016, Lightning Rod has had quite a few issues over its lifetime so far, leading to lengthy downtime.
  • In 2021, much of the wooden “topper track” from manufacturer Rocky Mountain Construction was replaced by the all-steel “Ibox” track.
  • Now, to further help improve the attraction’s up-time, the coaster’s launch will be replaced with a high-speed chain lift.
  • Lightning Rod will close for the season on October 30th and will reopen Spring 2024.
  • Once the ride crests the lift hill, the ride experience (including a top speed of 73 mph) will remain the same upon reopening.
  • Eugene Naughton (President, The Dollywood Company) and Pete Owens (VP, Marketing & Public Relations) talk a little more about the refurbishment in the video below:

About Lightning Rod:

  • Themed after a tricked-out 1950s-era hot rod, Lightning Rod launches riders from zero to 45 mph more than 20 stories up its lift hill to one of the ride’s first airtime moments. At the crest of the hill, riders face twin summit airtime hills before tackling the daring first drop. Lightning Rod races down the 165-foot drop and propels guests along its 3,800-foot track to a top speed of 73 mph.
  • Located in Dollywood’s Jukebox Junction, Lightning Rod gives riders nearly 20 seconds of airtime across its unique hybrid track structure, which includes both a wood stack “Topper Track” and a steel “Ibox” track atop a massive wooden frame. The coaster train comprises 12 cars, carrying two passengers each, for a total of 24 people per train.
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Luke Manning
Luke is a fan of all things theme parks and self-proclaimed #1 fan of Joffrey’s Coffee, who lives in Kissimmee, FL