Pigeon Forge, TN, USA (October 9, 2013) — Dollywood theme park adds another innovative coaster to its lineup with FireChaser Express, the nation’s first dual-launch family coaster that travels forward and backward, set to open in March 2014.
FireChaser Express launches twice, traveling forward and backward on a winding 2,427-foot track. The coaster launches from the loading station traveling from zero to 16 mph in just 1.1 second. As the journey ends, a backward launch from zero to 20 mph in two seconds sends FireChaser Express back to the station traveling in the opposite direction. Perched 12 stories above the park’s Wilderness Pass area, the coaster’s 39-inch minimum height requirement invites families to ride together.
“FireChaser Express is truly special to me because families can ride this coaster together,” Dolly Parton said. “Most four-year-olds are tall enough to ride FireChaser Express so I’m excited that lots of families will take their first coaster ride together at Dollywood. I’m thrilled to offer folks a memory like this to cherish forever. That’s a blast!”
FireChaser Express is the first capital investment in a 10-year plan that includes more than $300 million in future developments, including attractions and resorts, all to be at or adjacent to Parton’s Dollywood theme park, located just miles from the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
A 79-foot lift propels FireChaser Express through a “trick track” section where the passenger trains twist from side to side. Riders also encounter two helices and six zero-gravity moments on a journey that lasts two minutes and 19 seconds. FireChaser Express features three 14-passenger trains with an hourly capacity of 750 riders.
FireChaser Express celebrates the volunteer-based fire departments of the 1940s who protected the neighboring Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Coaster passengers are volunteer recruits needed to help Chief Pete Embers spot any potential fire hazards in the area. They are especially mindful of recent lightning in the area and Crazy Charlie Cherriebaum’s Gas & Fireworks Emporium. Recruits never know when they might be called to save the day.
Once the five-bell alarm sounds in Station 7, it’s go time in Dollywood’s Wilderness Pass as FireChaser Express launches from the station and careens through fire towers and the mountainside amid crashed rockets, a destroyed fireworks storage shed, fallen telephone poles with “rocket darts” and other charred remnants that litter the coaster’s path. FireChaser Express takes its volunteer recruits through the fireworks testing area where they encounter the mythical “Big Bertha” skyrocket and a lightning hit at Crazy Charlie’s Gas & Fireworks Emporium. As FireChaser Express races to extinguish the blaze, the coaster encounters a fireworks explosion, catapulting FireChaser Express into a backward launch sending the coaster on a reverse ride back into the station!
FireChaser Express is the latest addition to The Dollywood Company’s list of unique new rides. In March 2012, Dollywood opened the $20 million Wild Eagle, the country’s first wing coaster. In 2013, Dollywood’s Splash Country followed with the addition of RiverRush, Tennessee’s first and only water coaster.