Regional roller coaster named ‘Wooden Coaster of the Decade’

Take a ride on Lightning Rod at Dollywood

It hits speeds of 73 mph, is the only wooden launch coaster in the world and riders get to experience a quadruple-down—four consecutive drops down a hillside. Those are just a few of the reasons that Dollywood’s Lightning Rod roller coaster was named the top wooden coaster of the 2010s.

To wrap up the decade, Coaster101.com named the top attractions in the theme park industry in a number of categories. Readers were asked to nominate their favorite attractions in five different categories. According to the website, “The Coaster101 team gathered the nominations, narrowed them down and ranked them in a list of 10 for each category.”

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Coaster101.com writer John Stevenson added, “Lightning Rod was undoubtedly one of the most defining moments of the past decade for wooden roller coasters. From having the first launch on a wooden coaster to the world record-breaking speed, Lightning Rod has amassed widespread acclaim from the coaster enthusiast community."

“After reviewing our readers’ nominations, Lightning Rod was the clear frontrunner for the top spot on this list," Stevenson said. "From its innovative launch to its world record-breaking speed, Lightning Rod has become a favorite among coaster enthusiasts who have ridden it and a must-ride for those who haven’t. The competition was fierce, but our readers overwhelmingly named Lightning Rod as the best wooden coaster of the last decade. It redefined the limits of a wooden coaster and provided thrill seekers a ride like no other.”

Lightning Rod currently is the only wooden launch coaster in the world, meaning riders hit the gas on the hot rod-themed ride as soon as they reach the lift hill. Once at the top of the hill, riders encounter the ride’s innovative twin summit airtime hills before racing down the 165-ft. first drop.

The ride reaches a top speed of 73 mph at the base of the drop. From there, the coaster races along its 3,800-ft. track through the hills and valleys surrounding Dollywood. Thanks to the rolling topography, much of the track is hidden from view inside the park, serving only to heighten anticipation for those waiting to step aboard the thrilling ride.

The article says Lightning Rod is “…short and sweet, but not a single foot of track is wasted following the 40 mph launch. The coaster’s quadruple-down—four consecutive drops down a hillside—provides sustained airtime that must be experienced firsthand to fully appreciate. Lightning Rod represents another redefining moment for the coaster industry we experienced in the 2010s.”

The ride, which is located in Dollywood’s Jukebox Junction, provides guests with nearly 20 seconds of airtime. The coaster train is comprised of 12 cars, carrying two passengers each, for a total of 24 people per train.

The honor is just one of many Dollywood and its attractions have earned in 2019. The park earned Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards for Best Christmas Event, Best Guest Experience and Best Kids’ Area (Wildwood Grove) this season, while also winning the USA Today 10Best award for Best Theme Park Halloween Event for Great Pumpkin LumiNights.

Other winners in the Coaster101.com awards included Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios as the top non-coaster attraction of the decade and Carowinds’ Fury 325 as the top steel coaster of the 2010s.