Earlier this month, Dollywood debuted its latest and greatest new attraction- Drop Line!
Now open for all Guests, Drop Line is located next to Thunderhead – one of my favorite wooden roller coasters of all time – and in the area of the Dollywood Theme Park known as “Timber Canyon.”
As you climb the trail up Timber Canyon, just look up and you’ll see the magnificent sky-scraping tower of steel looming above. If you keep gazing toward the heavens, you’ll eventually see a gigantic spinning big orange gondola full of guests – whom Dolly herself said, “either have to be kids or crazy,” to ride such an attraction – spiraling slowly up 230 feet (20 stories) in the air. And guess what. There’s only one way to get back down to Earth, my friends!
I had the great privilege of being among some of the first to ride Drop Line one day before its Grand Opening, along with some members of the media, theme park enthusiasts, and journalists, so I’m happy to tell you all about it.
But before I describe it, you might be wondering, as I was, just what exactly IS a drop line? I’m glad you asked! The logging industry was a big deal in The Smokies around the turn of the 20th Century, and a device such as the one in the drawing below, known as a “skidder”, was often used for transporting the logs. In logging terms, a logger called the “choker setter” puts a short noose of wire rope (a “choker”) around the logs. The chokers are then set to the “Drop Line,” which is suspended from the “carriage,” which is the load-carrying device that brings the logs back and forth along the skyline on sheaves for yarding (conveying them to a landing).
And, “Drop Line” just happened to be the perfect lumberjack/logging name for the perfect Timber Canyon tower attraction that soars high above the tree-tops in Dollywood before dropping you straight down the line in a thrilling whoosh!
In its attractions and shows, Dollywood often pays homage to the logging industry that began in the Great Smoky Mountains in the early 1900s. At that time Colonel Wilson B. Townsend founded the Little River Railroad and the Little River Lumber Company and bought over 80,000 acres of virgin forest in the wilderness that is now known as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The logging industry is responsible for bringing development into the mountain communities which had formerly sustained themselves mainly by farming the land. The history of logging and the railroad industry, and the roles they played in the development of this region of Appalachia and the eventual formation of the National Park is extremely interesting. I encourage you to do some research and learn more about it before you visit. You’ll appreciate your experience at Dollywood all the more!
So, what’s the verdict on Drop Line? From my perspective, which was 20 stories high up in the air, it was THRILLING!
I admit, I was a little nervous about being among the first to try out such a brand new and really intimidating-looking attraction! However, safety is at the TIP-TOP of Dollywood’s list, always, and that helped me to know I could relax and just enjoy the experience.
After we got situated safely in our seats and started ascending, the gondola began slowly spinning in order to afford us a view from every angle. My favorite part was just a few moments in when a collective gasp was heard from almost all of us who were riding as we rose just high enough to really see above the trees to the mountain top horizons beyond. It was, quite simply, breathtaking. There is no beauty that quite compares to the “Land of the Blue Smoke,” and the view you get of these mountains from Drop Line is, in a word, incredible.
As we reached the top and I looked down, I realized just how high I truly was. WOW! If you’re scared of heights, this may not be your thing. But if you’re not sure, and you think you can handle it, the views make it all worth it. At the top, we began our final revolution around the tower, taking in the spectacular 360-degree view of Dollywood and the Great Smoky Mountains. I remember thinking that I wished I could have stayed up there enjoying that scenery all day. Okay, maybe not all day, but at least for a while…
But you know that’s not going to happen. You KNOW what’s coming next! The only problem is that you don’t know exactly WHEN it’s coming – until IT HAPPENS!!! You suddenly DROP – swift and sure, back down to Earth, in one exhilarating swoosh of excitement, landing with your heart in your throat and a smile as big as Dolly’s!
Do yourself a favor – go a little “crazy,” as Dolly described it, and experience Drop Line for yourself – to capture the thrill of it all and an unforgettable glimpse of the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains. It’s guaranteed to bring out the “kid” in you!