Great Pumpkin Luminights: A More Family-Friendly Halloween-Themed Event
Great Pumpkin Luminights is Dollywood’s Halloween-themed event. As parents, we really appreciated Dollywood’s approach to their theming. Instead of the gory and macabre, the park has glowing pumpkin creations, lights, and a bit of fog. It was nice to be able to visit a theme park in the fall without having to maneuver my kids away from decorations like evil clowns, zombies, and other dark set pieces that are present even when visiting parks like Carowinds during the day.
As it got dark, the pumpkins lit up and guests were directed towards the Luminights entrance near Timber Canyon. At most, the glowing pumpkins added a bit of spookiness, but were a far cry from the intensity of the Halloween theming at most parks these days.
Check out Dollywood’s official Luminights page for some great photos of the glowing creations.
Tennessee Tornado: Still the Best Arrow Looper Around
Most of the surviving old looping roller coasters were made by Arrow in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. Sadly, a lot of them are pretty rough and are not really enjoyable anymore. Carolina Cyclone at my home park, Carowinds, is one example. However, Tennessee Tornado is a noteworthy exception. Designed and built towards the end of Arrow’s run, it is a relatively smooth and quite rideable coaster. It also benefits (once again) from Dollywood’s mountainous terrain, opening with a climb up a mountain, followed by a dive down a tunnel and into the rides three massive, but pain-free loops.
Here’s a quick tip, we rode and in the very last seat and were treated with a neat moment of airtime as the train whipped us down the first drop. Being lifted while dropping into a dark tunnel was a thrilling little surprise. Read my review of Tennessee Tornado.
Craftsman’s Valley & Glass Blowing in Rivertown Junction
Dollywood, and sister park Silver Dollar City, are known for their craftsman areas that transport guests back to a time before factories and manufacturing robots. You can get an up close encounter and see how all kinds of things used to be made. We decided to make a custom glass blown ornament.
The process was really interesting. First, we took turns choosing the colors we wanted. Each of the four of us chose a color. Then Matthew, the glass blower used the 1,100+ degree oven and a set of special tools to blow and shape the glass. We were able to stand close, but still at a safe distance, to watch the process and participate in creating it. Per his instructions, we each took turns blowing the right amount of air to help Matthew shape and form the ornament.
So not only did we get to choose the colors and the design, but we can actually say we helped make it. I would recommend it for anyone looking for a more memorable memento than the typical t-shirt or magnet. Glass blowing was just one of the crafts on display at the park, for more check out this tour of Craftman’s Valley.
The Country Fair: Dizzy Disc and Other Flat Rides
As the name suggests, the Country Fair section has a variety of flat rides and games that you might find at a fair or carnival. On a previous visit, when the girls were younger, they rode many of the rides in this area. You’ll find rides from the most mild kiddie rides for the youngest riders up to more challenging rides.
On this visit, we focused our time on Dizzy Disc, a ride all four of us enjoy. This spinning, coaster-like ride never disappoints. After three consecutive rides, the girls were still asking for more. I’m hoping we’ll see one of these at Carowinds someday.
Jukebox Junction: Lightning Rod & Rockin’ Roadway
This 1950’s-themed area is home to the record-setting (fastest wooden coaster) and critically acclaimed Lightning Rod. After it had been temporarily down earlier in the day, we were in luck this time. Lightning Rod was as impressive as I’d heard. It’s speed, power, and surprising elements truly make it a world-class roller coaster. For me, it’s a 10 out of 10 and currently in my top 5 roller coasters overall. For more, read my full Lightning Rod review.
Rockin’ Roadway is a car ride next to Lightning Rod where kids can drive the parents for a change. It’s well-placed as it’s a good option if you have family members who will need to wait on others to ride Lightning Rod. My wife and younger daughter rode Rockin’ Roadway while my oldest and I tackled Lightning Rod.
Final Take: At Dollywood There’s Plenty to Do and See
While for many Dollywood is off the beaten path, it’s worth the trip. We definitely didn’t experience the entire park. If you have the time to spend two days at Dollywood, I’d say there’s just enough to do that, especially considering many of the rides are so good they demand re-rides. For more, check out Part 1 and Part 2 of our Dollywood trip in 2015 including a quick take on the park’s famous Grist Mill cinnamon bread, The Dolly Parton Chasing Rainbows Museum, and unique mine train coaster Firechaser Express.
In addition, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg have many tourist attractions to offer, including a growing number of alpine coasters for the coaster fans out there.
What’s Your Take?
Have you been to Dollywood? What do you think of the park? Have any questions about visiting? Leave a comment below.
While I received complimentary admission, the thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are my own.