Dragonflier is a family roller coaster that serves as the signature attraction at Dollywood’s new Wildwood Grove area. Wildwood Grove’s focus on family attractions means that the area has something for the entire family from toddlers to adults. Dragonflier is a suspended Vekoma roller coaster, where you ride below the track rather than on top of the track.
Located in the far end of Wildwood Grove next to the Mad Mockingbirds, chances are you’ll usually find a healthy line for the coaster. Due to its one train operation, ride capacity is pretty low which on a busy day could mean a long, slow-moving line. We visited on a weekday in October and waited about 15 minutes. I rode with my 12 year-old daughter while my wife and 9 year-old daughter rode the Mad Mockingbirds.
Dragonflier Delivers an Impressive Opening
Ride ops directed us to our seats in the very last row. Generally, people like to choose where they sit, but parks do this to help cut down on wait times. After a pretty short and uneventful trip to the top of the modest lift hill, we were caught off guard by a rather forceful drop into the quick underground tunnel. After then lights were turned out for a split second we rose up into a cool and equally forceful over-banked turn. As we did I felt that I could almost kick the geyser-like water fountains below. The turn not only looks cool, but it’s also pretty darn memorable. Not what you’d expect from a compact family coaster.
Me and my experienced riding partner were expressing, “Whats!?” and “Wows!” throughout the first few elements as there was definitely more than meets the eye with Dragonflier. Next, the train pulled out of the turn, crossed over a pathway before dropping into a fun downward helix. Pictured above.
The intensity didn’t let up, but it didn’t get any more intense either as the coaster entered another helix behind the station, before dipping into a little ditch, taking one last swooping turn and entering the station. And just like that Dragonflier’s short, but eventful 1,486-foot ride is over.
Much Better Rideability Than Expected
I was expecting it to be a newer and larger version of family inverted coasters like Flying Ace Aerial Chase and Kitty Hawk coasters at Kings Island and Carowinds, but it was much smoother and more comfortable than those rides. I don’t know for sure, but I wonder if the suspended, rather than inverted, design is responsible for that. Also, there’s no over-the-shoulder restraint so you won’t bang your head like you do on those.
Surprising Amount of Force, But Still Family-Friendly
Dragonflier’s small footprint and height give the impression that it’s less intense coaster than it is. It also looks deceivingly slower than it actually feels. I’m sure that our ride in the last row of the train added to the intensity. Coaster Studios’ review he mentioned exceeded more than 4 G’s in the last seat of the train.
If you’re visiting Dollywood your with kids or as an entire family, Wildwood Grove is a must visit and Dragonflier serves as a great coaster for roller coaster novices and kids. Just don’t expect a little ho-hum kiddie ride and be ready for a long wait if the park is busy.
I really enjoyed the short drop into the tunnel. While not a terrain coaster like Dollywood’s other rides, that underground tunnel gives it a terrain-ish vibe. As I mentioned, “kicking the fountains” is memorable and for a family coaster I would say that it’s short, but is definitely worth a re-ride or two whether you’re with the kids or not.
What’s Your Take?
Have you ridden the Dragonflier coaster at Dollywood? What’d you think? Leave a comment below.
While I received complimentary admission, the thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are my own.
Experience Factors & Final Rating
Dragon Flier is a pint-sized serving of controlled chaos that rides the line of how a family coaster can be thrilling and still rideable.