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Dollywood Rides: Past and Present

This past year marked Dollywood’s 35th anniversary season. I have been visiting since the park’s opening, and have seen it grow and change so much! Much of Dollywood’s growth has been adding award-winning rides. Check out THIS recent list of accolades Dollywood has accumulated. But let me tell you: when this sweet park opened in 1986, it was a little short on attractions!

Did you know when Dollywood opened it only had four rides? Three of those are still in the park today! Can you name them? It’s Blazing Fury, Dollywood Express and Smoky Mountain River Rampage! (There was a log flume ride as well.) At that time, Dollywood was focused more on its mountain heritage and less on rides.

The next ride that was added was Mountain Slidewinder. Do you remember it? It probably had the longest and hardest walk to the start! Talk about a thrilling (or in my opinion, SCARY) ride! Mountain Slidewinder was part of Dollywood for 32 years!

The 1990s brought a ton of rides to Dollywood! One of them includes the original carousel in 1990. It was then replaced in 1997 with a newer model.

The Country Fair area of the park opened in 1993 with a Ferris wheel, the Twist and Shout and the Scrambler (pictured with my guys riding it).


In 1995, Jukebox Junction opened and included Rockin’ Roadway.

Daredevil Falls was introduced to the park in 1997.  When it opened, it was the tallest and fastest waterfall ride in America.

The late 90’s also brought in Tennessee Tornado, the first looping roller coaster in the park.

Thunderhead ushered in the next century with what coaster enthusiasts dub one of the best wooden coasters in the world. It crosses over and under itself 32 times!

From 2004 on, Dollywood started building more rides for the thrill-seeking crowd with additions such as Mystery Mine, Barnstormer, Wild Eagle, FireChaser Express and my personal favorite-Lightning Rod!

Did you notice above that I said Mountain Slidewinder was SCARY and my favorite ride is Lightning Rod??  I know, weird huh!

And then 2019 brought us a new area of the park, with a beautiful new land and five new rides in Wildwood Grove!

I have highlighted the chronology of a lot of the big rides you can enjoy at Dollywood. You can read the full history of the park HERE.

Along with these great attractions, Dollywood guests are also treated to show-stopping entertainment and incredible food. Dollywood has truly become a top park! Our team of Insiders would love to know—which ride had been your favorite addition?

By | 2021-01-13T14:40:12+00:00 January 13th, 2021|Attractions|0 Comments

About the Author:

Heather Wright (Dollywood Insider 2018-Now) was born in Florida but raised in the mountains of East Tennessee. She is a wife and new homeschool mom. Heather’s family is always up for an adventure and exploring the Great Smoky Mountains is their favorite place to go! Heather and her family live on a farm just outside of the Smokies. When she isn’t busy homeschooling, doing boy mom things, serving her community or exploring the area she calls home, she is busy working on her business The Smoky Mountain Mom (www.thesmokymountainmom). Heather feels most at home when visiting Dollywood and is passionate about sharing this amazing place with you!
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