Mountain coasters (also known as alpine coasters) feature sled-like cars that fit up to two people (snugly) and allow for the riders to adjust their speed. In recent years, there’s been a bit of a boom as they’ve been popping up more and more in the United States at ski resorts and in mountainous tourist areas.
On a past trip to the Smoky Mountains in Eastern Tennessee, I rode my first mountain coaster. See my (Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster review). Now, just four years later, this area is home to six mountain coasters. This time we decided to try out The Coaster at Goats on the Roof. I’d read a glowing review from Lance at Screamscape a while back so I thought it’d be a good one to try.
The Coaster at Goats on the Roof: Location & Setting
Just minutes from the main road through Pigeon Forge, Goats on the Roof is an eclectic gift shop with treats, gem mining, and a large store with a variety of souvenirs. It’s a bit like the Cracker Barrel shops, only much larger and with some items you probably won’t easily find anywhere else. And, yes as the name suggests, there are also live goats grazing on the roof.
As you drive into the parking lot, you pass under the mountain coaster track, that wraps around the parking lot. Pricing is currently $15 per ride for adults, $12 for ages 7 to 12, and $5 for for ages 3 to 6. Check the site to confirm pricing.
Loading & Ride Instructions
You can ride the sleds alone or with another rider. In order to ride alone, you must be 54″ tall. The ride ops were really nice and let my youngest daughter try out the sled to see if she was comfortable and could reach the brakes before she decided to go it alone on our second ride.
Unfortunately, they weren’t very clear about operating the brakes. We all knew we needed to pull back on the brake to slow the sled down, but a few of us didn’t catch that we didn’t need to hold the brake forward on the way up the lift hill. Some of us did this, tiring out our arms during the long lift, while others did catch the instructions and didn’t. Overall, it didn’t’ ruin the experience, but it was definitely a better trip up when I realized that I didn’t need to press the brake forward. This is why theme parks have those rote, repetitive messages playing on a loop or ride ops repeating the same exact instructions over and over. It’s effective and you get consistent results.
Sit Back and Enjoy The Climb
Once you’re dispatched from the station, you start the long climb up the mountain. To your left you can see The Coaster’s circuitous path down the mountain. To your right, there’s just wilderness. It was neat to really be fully in nature while riding a roller coaster. For the terrain coasters that do take you out into nature, you’re usually flying through the woods. But on this climb you can really take it all in.
As we learned afterward, you don’t need to hold the brake forward. You can just sit back and take in the view or observe the fun ride ahead as riders whiz down the mountain. The lift hill take about 3 minutes.
And Down We Go…
Finally, you crest the top and the sled takes a slow left turn by the lookout station. As you start your descent you get your first and best mountaintop view of the surrounding area. In case you might have forgotten, a quick glimpse to your right will remind you, just how high you are. The sled almost immediately starts picking up speed, so unless you brake, you won’t be able to enjoy the view for long.
The track continues to snake its way down the mountain by swinging riders out towards the edge of the mountain and then back in towards the lift hill. Along the way, there are a few little humps and some fun banking thrown in to mix things up. I was happy to find that The Coaster at Goats on the Roof is smooth especially since you’re essentially sitting right on the track.
Near the bottom of the mountain, with the Goats on the Roof building now in view, you enter a large downward helix. Your picture is snapped via a camera inside a chicken coop. This represents some of the ride’s only real theming along with the actual goats on the roof. Then, you enter another helix. These elements were a fun finale with the most g-forces pressing on your body, but definitely not too intense. Then, you cross over the parking lot, take one last turn and pull your brakes as you enter the unloading area.
After climbing off the sled, you enter a building displaying your on-ride photo. Thanks to the placement of the camera and the backdrop of the surrounding mountains, you may get one of the best on-ride coaster photos ever.
To Brake or Not to Brake
During my first ride I rode with my 9 year old daughter. On that ride, I used the brakes a good bit because I wasn’t sure how she’d handle The Coaster at full speed. On my second ride, I didn’t use the brake at all and it was great! The g-forces in the banked turns were fun and definitely not too intense to enjoy.
On my 9 year-old’s second solo ride, she said she didn’t use the brake at all and neither did my 12 year old. All kids are different, but just a note for parents out there wondering about the intensity of the ride. Lastly, my wife was braking a good bit and preferred to ride down the mountain at a more leisurely pace. That’s the neat thing about mountain coasters like The Coaster at Goats on the Roof, you get to determine how intense you’d like the ride to be.
Final Thoughts on The Coaster at Goats on the Roof
If you’re planning a trip to the Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg area, The Coaster at Goats on the Roof is a fun attraction to include. Even though we had just visited Dollywood (see my Trip Report:Part 1 & Part 2), mountain coasters are pretty unique experiences due to the woodsy atmosphere, great views, and the ability to control your sled.
Of the alpine coasters I’ve ridden and researched in Eastern Tennessee, The Coaster at Goats on the Roof is definitely among the best of them.
What’s Your Take?
Have you ridden The Coaster at Goats on the Roof? What did you think? Leave a comment below.
While I received complimentary admission, the thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are my own.