Dollywood continues to remind the theme park universe of her firmly established place as a dominant, innovative player with this recent announcement of Lightning Rod, the world’s fastest and first launching wooden coaster. I love everything about it.

The creative element at Dollywood has been hitting home runs for years now as it pertains to capturing the essence of a Great Smoky Mountains theme park that desires to stay relevant. Those two things are not an easy balance to strike. I’m not sure if atmosphere plays a more important role at any theme park in the country than it does at Dollywood, so getting the “feel” right of a new attraction is incredibly important. And yet, Dollywood has long ago set the record straight – this park will not sacrifice ingenuity to be a window of yesteryear. Somehow, Dollywood has managed to keep her guests planted in “down home charm” (taken straight from the Dollywood website) while also competing with, and at times outmatching, other world class thrill parks. It’s as if the guest is seeing the nostalgia of yesteryear through a contemporary window. And they are eating it up.

Enter Lightning Rod. The trailer is an absolutely perfect blend of the aforementioned elements. Where else can you seamlessly combine black and white footage of a “1950s era hot rod” and “elbow grease” with the worlds first and fastest wooden launch coaster? Unlike the Thunderbird winged coaster announced about this time last year at Holiday World, Lightning Rod fits absolutely perfect with Dollywood’s purpose.

The design also looks phenomenal. Launched from zero to 45 mph up more than 20 stories into a twin summit before heading back down the 165 drop is all I need to hear. WOW! Plus, the 90 degree overbanked turns look absolutely sick.

Lightning Rod will serve as a terrific partner with Thunderhead, one of the best wooden coasters on the planet. With Mystery Mine, Wild Eagle, and Tennessee Tornado providing the steel thrill element, Thunderhead now has a wooden brother that should compliment it nicely – different but similar.

I suppose it may be getting tiring to hear, but RexandtheBeast.com had already placed Dollywood very, very high on our top theme park destinations. With Dream More Resort and this forthcoming attraction, it just might be possible that Dollywood will continue to climb in our estimation – perhaps up 20 stories of fun.