What Is the Scariest Ride at Dollywood? 13 Rides, Ranked

mystery mine ride entrance at dollywood

Your definition of scary may involve theming or ride intensity. Mystery Mine has both (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

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I absolutely love roller coasters. Other members of my family? Not so much.

So sometimes, when I take them or other friends to a theme park like Dollywood, I have to navigate which ones they might be able to tolerate and which ones they can’t.

Luckily, the Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge has rides for just about anyone in the family.


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What is the least scary ride at Dollywood?

I’d say it depends on who’s asking. If you have a nervous little one, the best area to start out with is Wildwood Grove. Here, you’ll find kiddie rides that are very tame.

These include rides like The Mad Mockingbird, Black Bear Trail and Frogs & Fireflies.

If you’re an adult who is looking for something fun that has some light thrills, you can always try something like the Smoky Mountain River Rampage. This raft ride is fun yet tame –unless you’re afraid of getting a little wet.

What is the scariest ride at Dollywood?

Let me offer a list, starting out with the less scary rides. Of course, keep in mind what “scary” means to you. Is it fast coasters? Large drops? Dark theming? I’ll address those concerns below.

So here’s my personal pick of the scariest rides at Dollywood, from least scary to most scary:

Whistle Punk Chaser
The Whistle Punk Chaser is a great coaster for beginners (photo by Morgan Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

13. Whistle Punk Chaser

This is a small junior coaster with a small lift at the front and a few minor twists and turns. It’s very short and makes a few loops around its small track, making it the perfect intro ride for little ones or timid riders.

The minimum height requirement is 36 inches with no maximum. Although, those under 42 inches need to be accompanied by someone 14 years of age or older.

dragonflier ride at dollywood
Dragonflier is a smooth junior coaster (photo by Morgan Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

12. Dragonflier

If you’ve successfully managed the Whistle Punk Chaser, it may be time to ride the Dragonflier.

With your legs dangling in the air, this ride mimics the flight of a dragonfly as it speeds through twists and unpredictable turns.

It begins with a much bigger lift and drop compared to Whistle Punk, but the drop is pretty tame and the coaster is very smooth. It does not fully go upside down, but it does go a little “sideways” at times.

It’s genuinely a fun little coaster for all ages, and quite a bit longer than our previously ranked ride, but still shorter than some of the bigger coasters in the park.

There’s a minimum height of 39 inches and a maximum height of 81 inches. Riders under 48 inches need to be accompanied by someone 14 years of age or older.

firechaser at dollywood roller coaster
Firechaser Express is an easy coaster, but it does launch riders backward (photo by Morgan Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

11. Firechaser Express

This ride celebrates our heroes who answer the call for smoke and fire.

It’s a dual-launch family coaster, and it has some bigger lifts than the previously mentioned coasters, but the drops still aren’t too steep overall. It also does not go upside down.

It’s fast though, and it will launch you backward after a few “explosions” on the ride.

The ride is a lot of fun, but if going backward isn’t your jam, you may want to skip this one.

It has a minimum height requirement of 39 inches.

big bear mountain coaster over water feature
Big Bear Mountain is a family-friendly coaster opening soon at Dollywood (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

10. Big Bear Mountain

I’m speculating here. Big Bear Mountain opens this May.

But as a family coaster with a top speed of 48 mph, this is expected to be a family-friendly roller coaster in the Wildwood Grove section of the park. It will not go upside down.

You still probably want to warm up with the previously mentioned rides on the list, since this will be the longest coaster in the park.

Dolly Parton herself will return to the park to mark its opening this spring.

It will have a minimum height requirement of 39 inches tall.

Read Also: Dollywood Roller Coasters: A Complete List, Ranked [2023]

barnstormer at dollywood in tn
The Barnstormer reaches heights of 81 feet in the air (media photo courtesy of Dollywood)

9. Barnstormer

This one isn’t a roller coaster, but it can still take your breath away. If “scary” means heights for you, this one may be up there.

The ride is meant to simulate the “daring stunts of pilots” from the 1920s as they zoomed over nearby farms.

Riders swing back and forth on this pendulum ride, progressively reaching taller heights and eventually flying up to 81 feet in the air.

This ride may not be scary for some riders, but it definitely gives me that “drop” feeling in my stomach.

It has a minimum height requirement of 48 inches.

Thunderhead is a classic wooden coaster (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

8. Thunderhead

A wooden coaster can often feel a bit more bumpy than more modern steel coasters.

And Thunderhead, although somewhat smooth for a wooden roller coaster, is not a complete exception.

It features a 100-foot drop and is one of the longest coasters in the park.

Thunderhead still doesn’t go upside down, so if you can handle the bumpiness, it’s not too scary. It has a minimum height requirement of 48 inches.

daredevil falls
Daredevil Falls is a water ride with a 60-foot drop (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

7. Daredevil Falls

There aren’t too many water rides on the list, since they are typically a way for most people to cool off in the summer heat.

But once again, if drops aren’t your thing, this ride may not be either.

The ride begins in a dark cave-like area, which could be somewhat scary for little ones. Still, the vast majority of the ride is a relaxing boat ride until you get to the main drop.

If you’re afraid of heights, that lift to the top can feel like it takes forever, and the drop itself is a 60-foot fall at a top speed of 50 mph.

The minimum height requirement is 42 inches.

dropline at dollywood
The Drop Line drops riders from 20 stories up (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

6. Drop Line

Again, we have a drop. I’m personally not the biggest fan of rides that take you up and then drop you down, but obviously, some people like them because just about every theme park has a ride like this.

Drop Line lifts you 20 stories up, slowly spins and then plummets you back to the ground.

If drops are scary for you, this might be one to skip. It has a minimum height requirement of 55 inches.

wild eagle coaster at dollywood
The Wild Eagle is a smooth coaster that simulates flight (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

5. Wild Eagle

Wild Eagle is our first coaster on the list that does go upside down. It’s a wing coaster where your legs will hang in the air, simulating the flight of an eagle.

As America’s first wing coaster, it’s perched 21 stories above Dollywood so you can soar above the mountains.

This is genuinely one of my favorite roller coasters in the park.

It has a 135-foot drop and a top speed of 61 mph. It’s a little over 3,000 feet long. Still, it’s one of the absolute smoothest roller coasters I’ve ever ridden.

Another scary element? This ride attracts bees and wasps due to its height in the spring and fall. If you have allergies, it’s something to be aware of.

It has a minimum height requirement of 50 inches and a maximum height of 78 inches.

Tennessee Tornado roller coaster at Dollywood
Tennessee Tornado has multiple loops and reaches nearly 70 mph (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

4. Tennessee Tornado

The intense coaster has a 128-foot drop and speeds that reach 70 mph.

With several back-to-back loops, this is the only ride in the park that honestly makes me a bit dizzy.

In my younger days, I could ride this ride several times in a row on days when there was no line in the park. Today? Once is enough.

I still quite enjoy it, but it’s not for riders who are timid about riding coasters.

It has a minimum height requirement of 48 inches.

blazing fury drop ahead
Blazing Fury features a big multi-drop steel coaster finish (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

3. Blazing Fury

Blazing Fury is an iconic indoor roller coaster in the park. The majority of the ride is a slow-moving track through a burning town.

So why is it listed third on the list? Well, I remember being young and a little afraid of this ride. The props are homemade, something the “adult me” loves and appreciates while the “young me” found a bit scary.

For example, some of the mannequins were purchased from an old haunted house in Gatlinburg. And if you pay attention, some of them look a little creepy.

The drops are pretty mild, estimated to be only about 20-30 feet.

But, with the theming and the fact that most of the ride is dark, it might be scary for some people, especially young kids who are nervous about new coasters.

The minimum height requirement is 42 inches.

Read Also: Blazing Fury: A Lights on Look at the Dollywood Coaster

Mystery Mine coaster at Dollywood during the fall festival
Mystery Mine looks even spookier in the fall (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

2. Mystery Mine

This ride is ranked here due to its theming and ride intensity.

On Mystery Mine, riders travel through an abandoned coal mine. The ride starts out with a slight drop into a dark coal mine where you’ll see some “bats” and eventually come out at a very steep incline.

It’s famous for its 95-degree, 85-foot vertical drop into darkness and full 1,811-foot track with speeds up to 43 mph.

Still, the ride is pretty smooth. I could actually ride this one multiple times no problem. It has some steep drops and does go upside down, but likely won’t make you as dizzy as the Tornado.

The ride has a minimum height requirement of 48 inches.

lightning rod coaster in dollywood
Lightning Rod is the most intense ride at Dollywood (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

1. Lightning Rod

Finally, we have the most intense and arguably, the scariest ride at Dollywood.

Themed after a tricked-out 1950s-era hot rod, this coaster launches riders from zero to 45 mph, more than 20 stories up.

It features a launch (similar to the steel Hulk at Universal Studios) speed of up to 73 mph. And it also boasts nearly 20 seconds of “air time”.

In case you’re wondering what “air time” means – it means your butt is off the seat.

Lightning Rod is the fastest wooden coaster in the world and it’s the only wooden launch coaster in the world.

One of the scariest things of all? It’s frequently down for maintenance.

In 2021, Lightning Rod has had a significant portion of the ride re-tracked to become an I-box track. That upgrade made the coaster smoother and more reliable.

And even though I’ve commonly seen it close for maintenance since those upgrades, it’s easily the best and most thrilling coaster in the park. It’s not always easy being the best.

In fact, it’s consistently ranked as one of the top ten coasters in the country by USA Today.

So thrill-seekers, this one is for you. Lightning Rod is located in Dollywood’s Jukebox Junction area. It has a minimum height requirement of 48 inches.

Do you agree with the ranking? Which rides do you think are the scariest rides in the Great Smoky Mountains? Let us know in the comments below.

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Alaina O'Neal

Alaina is the owner and founder of Alaina Media LLC, a freelance graphic design agency, the owner and founder of BoardGameChick.com, and the co-founder of TheSmokies.com LLC – a media company that specializes in regional travel sites.

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