Dollywood’s new water coaster: A real RiverRush!
by WILLIAM WRIGHT
May 15, 2013 | 2870 views | 0 0 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print
One wild and wet ride!
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Tennessee’s first and only water roller coaster, RiverRush, opened at Dollywood’s Splash Country in Pigeon Forge over the weekend. Dolly Parton was on hand to introduce the landmark ride and interview the first family to feel the thrill of her newest ride at Splash Country. Above, Parton interviews Buddy and Brooke Keyes of Sevier County as the couple and their two children prepare for an exciting water rush. Banner photos, WILLIAM WRIGHT


The only thing better than riding a roller coaster on a hot summer day is riding Tennessee’s first and only water coaster, aptly named RiverRush, at Dollywood’s Splash Country in Pigeon Forge.

Get ready for the next generation of water coasters as RiverRush races through the trees four stories in the air, sending you on a breathtaking experience that is four drops along a track of thrills and chills with multiple hairpin turns and dark tunnels — all combined with rushing water!

It’s everything you love about a traditional land coaster — powerful climbs, twists, turns — with more than a splash of water! The $6 million water coaster is the largest investment made to Splash Country since it opened in 2001.

“At Dollywood, we made history with Wild Eagle, the country's first wing coaster, so I thought, ‘Why not do it again at Dollywood's Splash Country with my new RiverRush water coaster?” founder Dolly Parton said. “You know me. I love making a big splash, and RiverRush is all that and a whole lot more!”

“It’s a thrilling experience,” Dollywood spokesman Pete Owens said. “This is a high adventure ride, but a ride that families will want to do together.”

The 1,175-foot long linear tube track covers more than an acre in a newly developed area between the park’s Big Bear Plunge whitewater-rafting-inspired slide and Bear Mountain Fire Tower.

Unlike traditional water rides, RiverRush will lift riders up on a conveyor belt. Using what officials called “a unique technology” for the water park industry, four-person toboggan-style boats are propelled up hills and around curves by linear induction motors that use an alternating magnetic field beneath the slide surface.

Riders climb 237 feet before making a 25-foot, 45-degree drop and launch through tunnels, rapids and three more drops. Netting covers parts of the ride to keep leaves and debris out. The ride lasts about 1 minute, 20 seconds, but feels much longer and is expected to run 720 passengers an hour. Riders, who must be at least 42 inches tall, get on and off at the same spot.

With Splash Country’s latest water attraction and Dollywood’s Wild Eagle addition last year, Splash Country is ready to increase its attendance by about 10 percent to more than 400,000 visitors, according to general manager Mike Brown.

“Our goal would be to eventually be a 500,000 a year park,” he said.

Parton said, “There’s a lot of fun in store at my Dollywood’s Splash country in 2013. Growing up, playing in the creeks and streams here in the Smoky Mountains, I could only dream of something like a water coaster. But look at us now ... not only does Dollywood’s Splash Country have Tennessee’s first and only water coaster, we’re making water run uphill in it!”

Combining the thrills of a land coaster with the sensation of rushing rapids, RiverRush at Splash Country is now open to the public and ready to make a huge splash in summer fun for everyone. When it comes to riding roller coasters, don’t be surprised if people shouts, “Ride the dry, but wet is best!”

Named America’s Must-See Waterpark by the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions, Dollywood’s Splash Country features 23 water slides, a wave pool, lazy river, leisure pool and two interactive children’s play areas. For more information, visit www.Dollywood.com.