© The TN collection / Alamy
Erika Owen
August 10, 2015

Dollywood has announced that the amusement park will soon be home to the world's fastest wooden roller coaster. The attraction—which will reach a speed of 73 miles per hour, earning its name "Lightning Rod"—will open at the park in March 2016. Not only will this take the record for the world's fastest if it lives up to the hype, but it's also the world's first launching wood coaster. (That means the ride kicks off quick and steep—this specific coaster pushing passengers 20-stories with 1,500 horse power.) The 12-car ride—each bucket with seats for two passengers—takes thrill-seekers through a two airtime hills (airtime describing the feeling riders get when they are pulled up and out of their seats), a 165-foot drop, and a 90-degree outside banked turn. All of that being said, the feat comes with record-breaking costs for the brand: Dollywood has spent $22 million to bring this dream into reality. 

Dolly Parton's coaster was inspired by a nostalgia for 1950's hot rods the performer admired in her younger years. She shared the sentiment with a crowd when announcing the new attraction: “Lighting Rod reminds me so much of those color cars crusin’ up and down Main Street in Sevierville back when I was in high school. I’m truly excited about this ride because it will let our guests experience something just as fast as those hot rods I remember.”

Erika Owen is the Audience Engagement Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @erikaraeowen.

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