Lightning Rod
Dollywood - Jukebox Junction Pigeon Forge, TN

The Bottom Line: Other parks definitely have more thrilling coasters, but if you're looking for a thrill at Dollywood, this launched wooden coaster is definitely their most exciting ride.

Lightning Rod

Thrill-seekers, take note!

In 2016, Dollywood added an exciting new ride to its menu of thrills: the fast-moving, heart-stopping (not literally, we hope) Lightning Rod – the world’s fastest wood roller coaster, and the first launching wood coaster of its kind.

At $22 million, the ride marks Dollywood’s single largest investment in an attraction in its long history. And Dolly Parton herself is convinced it’ll be well worth it, as the ride’s hot-rod theme highlights one of the area’s best-loved pastimes:

“Lightning Rod reminds me so much of those colorful cars cruisin’ up and down Main Street in downtown Sevierville back when I was in high school. I remember all those souped up cars; but what I remember most were those good lookin’ boys behind the wheel with those flat top and ducktail haircuts,” Parton said about the ride.

The Lightning Rod isn’t for the faint of heart: It will launch riders more than 20 stories in the air, and goes from zero to 45 mph in its first belly-turning airtime moment. After that, you’ll summit twin airtime peaks before hurtling back down to earth at a top speed of 73 miles per hour – fastest in the world for a wood roller coaster.

There’s also a number of other top-notch details that roller coaster fanatics will appreciate, from a 90-degree banked breaking wave turn to a non-inverting half-loop (and if you don’t know what those mean, don’t worry: Your racing heartbeat will do the interpreting).

The ride runs 3:16 high-octane minutes, with 12 total airtime moments, a 165-foot drop, and an impressive 3,800 feet of wooden track. In other words, this ride is the antithesis of old-fashioned.

While you’re there, check out some well-known favorites: Dollywood is known worldwide for its belly-dropping roller coasters: perennial favorites Thunderhead, Mystery Mine, Blazing Fury and Tennessee Tornado are some of the best coasters in the country, with Thunderhead consistently ranked among the world’s top five wood roller coasters.

Find Lightning Rod in the park’s Jukebox Junction area starting March 2016.

Can’t stand the wait? Check out the hype video and photos of the roller coaster as it plunges dramatically in and out of the rolling landscape of the Smoky Mountains. Or check out construction updates to check the ride’s progress.

Do you plan on doing any hiking or scenic driving while you’re in town? If so, check out our guide to the Smoky Mountains National Park, and then book your cabin today!

*Photos and review produced by our on staff journalists who are in no way affiliated with the brand reviewed on this page.