Archive for August, 2015

Dollywood Plans to Add World’s Fastest Wood Coaster for 2016

August 12, 2015

Dollywood, the themepark in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, plans to open Lightning Rod in March 2016, which it claims will be both the world’s fastest wood coaster and the world’s first launching wood coaster. Lightning Rod adds another groundbreaking roller coaster to the park’s already impressive portfolio of world-class attractions. The thrilling $22 million ride also marks the single largest attraction investment in The Dollywood Company’s history.

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-ft. track to a top speed of 73 mph, the fastest speed for a wood coaster in the world.

“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,” Dolly Parton said with a laugh.

“I’m truly excited about this ride because it will let our guests experience something just as fast as those hot rods I remember,” she continued. “Even better, it’s the fastest wooden roller coaster in the world, so I think we’re going to see a lot of people coming from all over to peel out on the Lightning Rod.”

Located in Dollywood’s Jukebox Junction, Lightning Rod rockets riders around its massive wooden structure on an adrenaline-charged lap through the trees in the hills and valleys surrounding Dollywood. During the ride, guests experience 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.

Lightning Rod is the newest member of The Dollywood Company’s collection of award-winning attractions. In March 2012, Dollywood opened the $20 million Wild Eagle, the country’s first wing coaster. The company introduced RiverRush, Tennessee’s first and only water coaster, at Dollywood’s Splash Country in 2013. FireChaser Express, the nation’s first dual-launch family coaster, was added at Dollywood in 2014. Dollywood mainstays Thunderhead, consistently among the world’s top five wood coasters, Mystery Mine, Blazing Fury and Tennessee Tornado round out the park’s list of innovative coasters.

A highly awarded and widely recognized leader in the amusement industry, The Dollywood Company consists of the 150-acre Dollywood theme park; the 35-acre Dollywood’s Splash Country; Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins; and Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort. As unique as its namesake and owner Dolly Parton, Dollywood is the 2010 Applause Award winner, the theme park industry’s highest accolade; winner of nearly 30 Golden Ticket Awards; and recipient of 24 Brass Ring Awards for Live Entertainment (more than any other theme park in the world). In 2014, Dollywood was named a top three theme park by USA Today.

Dollywood, celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2015, is open nine months a year (late March through early January) and offers rides and attractions, shows, and a dozen crafters authentic to the East Tennessee region. Dollywood’s Splash Country, recognized by the Travel Channel as one of the country’s most beautiful waterparks and named 2009’s Must-See Waterpark by the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions, operates from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins offers luxurious cabin accommodations overlooking Dollywood. The 300-room Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort provides guests spectacular mountain views and family-friendly amenities next door to Dollywood theme park and Dollywood’s Splash Country. For more information, call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD or visit dollywood.com. Operating days and hours vary.

For more information about Dollywood’s attractions, visit www.Dollywood.com or call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD.
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3rd Annual ‘Celebration of Harry Potter’ Fan Event Comes to Universal Orlando Resort Jan 29-31; Vacation Packages Go On Sale Aug 19

August 12, 2015
Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. will host its third annual "A Celebration of Harry Potter," a special gathering of Harry Potter fans from around the globe, Jan. 29-31, 2016 © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. will host its third annual “A Celebration of Harry Potter,” a special gathering of Harry Potter fans from around the globe, Jan. 29-31, 2016 © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. will host its third annual “A Celebration of Harry Potter,” a special gathering of Harry Potter fans from around the globe, Jan. 29-31, 2016. The three-day weekend event will feature an array of experiences.

All general admission park guests will have the opportunity to:

  • Attend Q&A sessions with Harry Potter film talent (complete talent lineup will be announced at a later date)
  • Experience and participate in the interactive exhibits at the “A Celebration of Harry Potter Expo, featuring Harry Potter brand partners such as Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Pottermore, Scholastic, MinaLima, and Harry Potter: The Exhibition
  • Enjoy special panels and demonstrations regarding various aspects of the Harry Potter stories

Additionally, guests will be able to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida, and ride the Hogwarts Express between the two lands with a park-to-park ticket.

Special vacation packages, including annual passholder packages, will go on sale at noon EST on August 19. On-site hotel packages start at $235 per adult per night and include exclusive benefits such as special guest access to “A Celebration of Harry Potter ” Expo, admission to a private evening reception in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and special guest access to panels and demonstrations. Packages also include three-night hotel accommodations, three-day park-to-park tickets to both Universal Studios Florida & Universal’s Islands of Adventure, a special welcome parcel and more. For complete package details, visit www.universalorlando.com/celebration.

Universal Orlando’s two theme parks, Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, are home to some of the world’s most exciting and innovative attractions. Its on-site resort hotels, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, and Universals Cabana Bay Beach Resort are destinations unto themselves. Its entertainment complex, Universal CityWalk, offers dining and entertainment for every member of the family. And just minutes away is Wet n Wild, a family water park.

Universal Orlando Resort has unveiled 18 new guest experiences in the past five years including new attractions, dining opportunities and a dramatically themed hotel.  And more is on the way.  Coming in 2016 is Universal Orlando’s fifth on-site hotel, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort; and Skull Island: Reign of Kong, a groundbreaking attraction in Islands of Adventure.  And in 2017, Universal Orlando Resort will open Universal’s Volcano Bay, an entirely new water theme park experience.

Universal Orlando Resort is part of NBCUniversal, a Comcast company.  Follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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