Lightning Rod Soft Opens at Dollywood

Could the long wait for Dollywood’s record-breaking Lightning Rod coaster be over?

After a lengthy delay due to “extended ride commissioning,” the coaster entered the technical rehearsal (or soft opening) phase today, according to Dollywood’s website and multiple guest reports.

Lightning Rod soft opens

The wooden coaster’s commissioning concluded in the wee hours of the morning, according to a photo posted on the Irvine Ondrey Engineering page. The coaster was expected to open in March but encountered problems related to the magnetic launch system.

Throughout the day, a select number of park guests were given passes to preview Lightning Rod, the world’s first launched wooden coaster, which features a 165-foot drop and a top speed of 73 mph.

Below are a selection of initial Lightning Rod reactions, photos and video posted to Twitter and Instagram:

The coaster’s 24-seat trains launch from 0-45 mph as they climb toward the teaser drop and the subsequent 165-foot plunge.

In true Dollywood fashion, the ride’s station is beautifully themed:

While most of the coaster’s layout is hidden from onlookers’ view, the “non-inverting half loop” finale is front and center:

Be mindful that Lightning Rod is still in preview mode when making plans to visit the park (especially from a long distance) solely to ride the coaster. The park has not said how long will be in this phase before its formal grand opening, and it could close for any length at time until then. Check the park’s website (and social media) for the latest updates.

Have you ridden Lightning Rod yet? Share your thoughts about the coaster in the comments section below.

Update: The ride is now open. Read our review of Lightning Rod here.