FireChaser coaster set to blast off at Dollywood

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The dual-launch FireChaser Express debuting at Dollywood on March 22 will blast riders backward out of an exploding fireworks factory on a themed family coaster that combines pyrotechnic special effects with a terrain-hugging ride.

Photos: FireChaser Express family coaster at Dollywood

While waiting in the queue, FireChaser riders will be called into service as volunteer firefighters in a tribute to the crews that battled wildfires in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that borders the Tennessee theme park. The coasters will be themed to look like the firefighting trains used to traverse the rugged landscape of the Smokies in the 1940s.


The chief concern of the firefighting recruits: Crazy Charlie’s Gas and Fireworks Emporium, a fireworks store and gas station run by a pyromaniac who calls in false alarms to the local fire station on a daily basis.

After a bell signaling a five-alarm blaze, FireChaser launches out of a fire house-themed station at a modest 16 mph.

Following a figure-eight helix, the train ascends a 79-foot lift hill before dropping into a side-to-side “trick track” section and over six zero-gravity airtime hills reaching a top speed of 35 mph.

During the half-mile journey, the coaster races under fire towers and through a fireworks testing area littered with crashed rockets and the charred remains of a storage shed.

After slowing to a halt inside Crazy Charlie’s, the building fills with fog and flame effects before a blast sends FireChaser hurtling backward at 20 mph as fireworks explode overhead. An ingenious rotating section of track allows the backward-traveling train built by German-based Gerstlauer to return to the station just after another train launches.

FireChaser replaces the recently added Adventure Mountain attraction, which was billed as the world’s largest ropes course when it opened in 2010 in the Wilderness Pass area of Dollywood.


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