A double launch family coaster added to Dollywood’s lineup in 2014, FireChaser Express is beautifully themed and constructed. The theme is a volunteer fire station in the Smoky Mountains. Operating with three trains containing 7 cars seating two across for a total capacity of 14 riders per train, the ride begins with a siren going off. The train is then launched, negotiating a couple of twisty turns, before reaching the lift hill. After ascending the lift hill it navigates a couple more turns, goes over a camelback, swings right into another camelback and proceeds through more twisting turns, travelling through a tower. Additional turns follow and the train enters a make-believe storage warehouse containing fireworks. This is an enclosed area in which riders are treated to flames and the menace of “Big Bertha,” a firecracker pointing at the train and throwing out sparks. This results in a spray of mist resembling smoke. From the “Gasoline and Fireworks Emporium” the train is launched backwards through more turns and another fire tower before returning to the station.
This is a really fun ride with some nice elements although I must say that the fireworks storage area felt somewhat claustrophobic. It also felt very hot and I would imagine that on a hot day the heat would be intense enough to feel suffocating. The launches are tire-propelled, something of a rarity, as there are less than half a dozen at the time of writing this that use that type of launch. FireChaser Express gets 3 ½ out of 5 stars. For more information about rides at Dollywood, visit www.dollywood.com/