Coaster Addict was at Dollywood the other weekend to enjoy the new firework show and catch a few laps on Lightning Rod. We were fortunate enough to have wonderfully warm weather and a great time at Dollywood – it truly is a fantastic park. One of the major reasons for this visit up was to ride Lightning Rod, and it certainly did not disappoint. While we are working on a more extensive review of this first-of-its-kind wooden roller coaster, it should be well-noted that the wait was worth it, and the ride is phenomenal. It is both very intense and yet very rerideable. With that said, two major questions have been brought to our attention in recent days following our trip – (1) how amazing is Lightning Rod, and (do you have any tips for the larger riders? Since we briefly answered the first question above and will provide that in-depth review very soon, I want to focus on the latter question.
Help Out a Larger Rider!
I have been fortunate enough to fit on the roller coasters that I’ve attempted to ride, so I do not speak of the tips that follow from personal experience, but I kept an eye out and watched the crowd while enjoying the time at Dollywood, and I’m here to provide the best knowledge I have – that from observations and from larger riders who have been able to avoid the “Walk of Shame!”
Test Out the Seat!
It is never fun to wait in a long line for an hour or more just to find out that you do not fit the standard seat on the ride. Every coaster train is a bit different, especially between differing manufacturers. For most new rides, there will be a test seat in front of the attraction’s queue line entrance; Lightning Rod is no different! Take an extra minute or two and see if you are able to get the green light to turn on in the test seat!
Seat Belts First!
As with any RMC, the seat belts are what riders will buckle first, but before you consider that, I’d recommend that you take it one step further. Some people have found that the seat belts are shorter in the first few rows on Lightning Rod. While we have not confirmed this with a ruler, it is something to consider. When you approach the queue house attendant who will guide you to the row you will sit in, you should ask them if they have any rows that have longer seat belts. Some people indicate that they are a bit longer from the middle to the back. Again, this is not confirmed, but we recommend that you ask.
Larger Person in First!
While it really does not matter who walks in to load into the Lightning Rod train first, there is some strategy behind having the larger guest get in the seat closest to the unload side of the train. For starters, if there is no way to secure the restraint at that time, the rider will be closer to the holding area and stairwell. This would be more convenient just in case. More importantly, this gives the larger guest more time to get secured.
Employees Can’t Push
If he or she sits down first and attempts to get secured and doesn’t quite get it, he or she will have the ride buddy still standing and available if he or she needs a little extra push. It should be noted that Dollywood’s employees are NOT allowed to assist in the securing of the restraint by pushing down, but they permit the person sitting next to him or her to help with the restraint. So, if there is any question whatsoever, I’d recommend that the ride buddy does not sit down until they can confirm that the green light is lit on the white box behind the even numbered seats. Note that each white box that is located behind rows 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 have four indicator lights that allow the ride attendants to know if those seats are secure and ready for dispatch. So, if there is any question, tell the ride attendant that you are standing just to be sure that your friend is not needing help securing. Of course, if you do this, be ready to buckle up quickly when you sit down; you don’t want to be that person holding up the train.
While the standard operating procedures for Lightning Rod and/or the park rules could evolve over time, it is always best to seek the advice of the ride attendants. With a little knowledge, patience, and assistance, the chances of riding Lightning Rod and enjoying the thrills that scream machine has to offer is greatly enhanced. Let me know if these fours tips helped you out!