Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas 2019

Alexander: Following a bitterly cold December 2018 visit and an outrageously crowded Labor Day Weekend visit, we finally got a *complete* Dollywood day, full of LOTS of rides on some of our favorite coasters!

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Coasters aside, there’s lots of holiday festivities to enjoy! 

We spent some quality time in Dollywood’s newest environ, Wildwood Grove.

But nothing did we frequent more on our visit than our beloved Tennessee Tornado. Here we see Santa Claus going for a spin.

While we feel that Lightning Rod is, objectively, the best coaster in Tennessee (and probably the entire Western Hemisphere), the satisfaction we get from our little “Miracle Arrow” is unparalleled.

And photographing this classic Alan Schilke original never gets old.

It may not be the longest coaster out there, but 100% of Tennessee Tornado SLAPS – no wasted track or weak moments. 

And the setting is hard to beat. 

If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of TT in action during some of its more obscured moments.

New this year: Tennessee Tornado received shiny-new magnetic brakes! Always amazing to see parks continuously reinvest in their classics.

The ride’s return to the station is now uncharacteristically quiet thanks to the magnets, but it’s great for the longterm health of the superstructure!


Here we have Lightning Rod traveling at  v e r y  f a s t   s   p   e   e   d   .

It was so quiet in the park that Lightning Rod‘s crew took a train off half way through the day. We got lots of front seat and back seat rides!

We also enjoyed several rides on Wild EagleMystery Mine, and Firechaser Express (the latter two we hadn’t ridden since 3 visits ago)!

Wildwood Grove looks great from every angle, including the station for Mystery Mine.

One of the earliest Gerstlauer Eurofighters, Mystery Mine is starting to show its age – however, we like that in steel coaster! Here’s to many more years for this charmingly bizarre ride (and hopefully some lapbar trains  in the near future).

Wildwood Grove at night is dazzling all year long – not just during Smoky Mountain Christmas!

The big tree is really special. I just love the rainbow of butterflies.

Their individual patterns are an amazing detail!

The the other big tree – the Christmas Tree in Wilderness Pass – does an amazing light show! The lights make the tree into a cone-shaped screen of sorts, showing off some surprisingly crisp animations!

One of our favorite areas is Glacier Ridge’s Northern Lights, which is between Tennessee Tornado and Blazing Fury.

Every few minutes, the willow-like streamers of lights create a spectacular wave of colors and textures!

It wouldn’t be Glacier Ridge without polar bears!

Fans of Blazing Fury should always incorporate a wintertime ride on this Dollywood classic – there’s lots of seasonal surprises inside!

After some amazing night rides on various coasters, we took a few more nighttime shots before calling it a night. 

Goodnight Dollywood! Thanks for the amazing day of coasters and lights!

Check out our other most – recent holiday updates here:

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