Thunderhead (roller coaster)

article - Thunderhead (roller coaster)

Thunderhead is a wooden roller coaster located at Dollywood amusement park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Manufactured by Great Coasters International, the ride opened on April 3, 2004, as the anchor attraction of a new section added to the park that season called Thunderhead Gap. Thunderhead features 22 turns and 32 crossovers,[1] and utilizes GCI’s Millennium Flyer trains, which have been used on all GCI coasters since 1999.

Wooden roller coaster at Dollywood

Thunderhead’s logo and two Golden Tickets for the Best Wooden Roller Coaster
Location Dollywood
Park section Timber Canyon


Status Operating
Opening date April 3, 2004 (2004-04-03)
Cost $7 million
General statistics
Type Wood
Manufacturer Great Coasters International
Designer Mike Boodley
Track layout Twister roller coaster
Lift/launch system Chain lift hill
Height 100.4 ft (30.6 m)
Drop 100 ft (30 m)
Length 3,230 ft (980 m)
Speed 53.7 mph (86.4 km/h)
Inversions 0
Duration 2:30
Max vertical angle 60°
Height restriction 48–76 in (122–193 cm)
Trains 12 cars. Riders are arranged 2 across in a single row for a total of 24 riders per train.
TimeSaver Pass available
Must transfer from wheelchair
Thunderhead at RCDB
Pictures of Thunderhead at RCDB

. . . Thunderhead (roller coaster) . . .

On June 26, 2003, Dollywood unveiled plans for a third coaster addition to the park called Thunderhead for the 2004 season, following Tennessee Tornado, which opened in 1999.[2] Thunderhead officially opened to the public on April 3, 2004.[3]

The ride was named after Thunderhead Mountain, a peak within the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park that was heavily logged during the early 19th century.[citation needed] Thunderhead is a slang term in the American South for Cumulonimbus clouds.[citation needed]

The train exits the station and turns right. From there, it makes its way through a left turn and climbs the 100.4-foot (30.6 m)chain lift hill. Upon reaching the top, the train drops 100 feet (30 m) to the right at 53.7 miles per hour (86.4 km/h). Riders go through a right-handed banked turn after the drop. This is followed by a left-handed curve. Next, the train approaches a right turn, heading towards an on-ride camera, which takes photos of the riders. After a 180-degree right turn, riders go through a fly-through station element while traveling 40 miles per hour (64 km/h). The train makes a loud noise as it travels 8 feet (2.4 m) above the station. It then goes through a left-handed curve. A smaller airtime hill leads to a 270-degree helix. Riders then go through a right turn and a left turn before hitting the brakes. The train slowly turns 90 degrees to the right, passing by the transfer track. This is followed by a 180-degree left turn that leads back to the station, where riders exit the train.

  • 700,000 board feet of Southern Yellow Pine
  • 3600 yards of concrete
  • 250,000 bolts
  • 2,000,000 screws
  • 185,000 feet of steel rebar[4]

Golden Ticket Awards: Top wood Roller Coasters
Year 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Ranking 6[5] 1[6] 1[7] 2[8] 2[9] 5[10] 5[11] 5[12] 4[13] 5[14] 5[15] 5[16] 7[17] 8[18] 10[19] 11[20]
NAPHA Survey: Favorite Wood Roller Coaster[21]
Year 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009

. . . Thunderhead (roller coaster) . . .

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. . . Thunderhead (roller coaster) . . .