Mystery Mine at Dollywood | Roller Coaster Reviews

Roller Coaster Reviews

Dollywood - Mystery Mine - Station + Dive LoopMystery Mine opened in 2007, the year after my first trip to Dollywood. So, I was eager to get back to the park and check it out. I’d either forgotten or never really knew exactly what happened on this partially indoor roller coaster and I’m glad that I did. When it opened, it was the first Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter roller coaster in the ‘States. Basically, these are steel looping roller coasters with separate cars instead of trains (with several cars). They’re typically compact and not as tall as the larger B&M looping coasters. Another notable hallmark of these coasters are their unusual 90-degree lifts hills that are often followed by beyond 90-degree drops. My first of this kind was Six Flags Over Georgia’s Dare Devil Dive.

Mystery Mine’s Theming

I was very impressed with Mystery Mine’s theming. The look of this attraction from the outside and in, really demonstrates that Dollywood is a step above your average regional park in terms of coaster quality and theming. After seeing the dilipated-looking building, its queue, and even the fake cracks in the support structure I’d have to say this park is approaching (maybe even on) the level of say a Busch Gardens in terms of the look of their rides.

Into the Mine

The line wasn’t very long, but it certainly seemed like the ride was operating at a great pace. After boarding the cars that are two rows with four seats across. The over-the-shoulder restraints come down and you’re off. The car immediately dives out of the station and then it’s slowed so that you can take in the dark ride aspect of the first quarter.

The car winds its way through the mine at a fairly slow pace. The walls are covered with creepy ravens with red eyes that watch the car go by. At one point, the car dives right under a massive spinning rock crusher. The track flattens out once again and while it appears the path continues straight ahead, you’re only looking at a screen on the wall. The car’s yanked to the left via a hairpin turn right as you realize that you’re looking at a wall.

Then the car slows as it approaches a 90-degree lift hill. Getting pulled straight upward is a little unnerving as you can kind of feel it gently jerking the car up. It had a sort of “I think I can, I think I can” movement that added to thrill a bit. The car crests the top takes a small dip and few small turns as you pass over the walkway below.

Surprise of the Year – Beyond 90-Degree Goodness!

Dollywood - Mystery Mine - Biggest Little Drop

Brakes slow the ride, before the car is sent down a small, but ultra-steep drop. It can’t be more than 40 or so feet tall, but it blew me away! It looks very short and harmless from off of the ride. You are literally thrown against the restraints as this little drop would like to toss you off of the ride. Thankfully, the restraints have other plans.

I was a bit underwhelmed by Dare Devil Dive’s beyond 90-degree drop and I was starting to wonder if similar drops on other coasters weren’t as exciting as they looked. I have to say that Mystery Mine made be a believer. This small, unassuming drop was amazingly intense and fun!

Then, the car navigates a playful little section that includes a flat 90-degree banked, u-turn element, another section of brakes and a downward helix. There is some roughness here and defensive riding is needing so that your head doesn’t get too banged up, but I’ve definitely experienced worse.

The Big Climb

After this section, the car speeds back over the walkway and once again into the mine. This time, the theatrics are increased as you meet another vertical lift hill. Dramatic music is playing, lightning is flashing, and those creepy ravens are back and this time they’re crowing away. The second hill is much larger. And the long slow climb is used to ramp up the drama. There’s a video screen on the ceiling with that shows a structure collapsing on you.

Theatrics & Aerial Stunts

Dollywood - Mystery Mine - Heartline RollThe mine cart finally reaches the top and this time its held in place. Riders in the front seat get to watch what looks to be trouble as fuses are lit. Once the explosion is triggered, the heat is for real. Right after the explosion, the car drops down a much larger 85 foot drop at 95-degrees. It doesn’t quite have the same intense feeling as the smaller drop, but it’s still one of the best drops I’ve experienced.

The car rises up into an awesome heartline roll. It’s followed by the first half of a dive loop where the car seems to stay upside-down for an eternity. Finally, the car finishes the inversion and puts you on a course back towards the station. Mystery Mine finishes with a small hill and then the final brakes.

My Final Thoughts – You Can’t Judge a Coaster by Its Stats

45 mph and 1,800 feet aren’t the most impressive coaster stats, but Mystery Mine is a world-class roller coaster all the way around. Its adventurous layout makes it feel much longer than it is. The ride’s stats and even the video below just don’t translate the full experience and how good this ride is. There’s really something to be said for surprises. While I really liked Wild Eagle, I had a good idea of what to expect because I spent so much time covering it. Mystery Mine, on the other hand, was almost a complete surprise.

Mystery Mine is more of a dark ride-roller coaster hybrid so it’s a really tough ride to rate. I usually put rides next to others and see what group (6’s, 7’s, 8’s, etc) they fit in. Comparing a ride like this Excellent Roller Coaster Reviewto say Intimidator or Alpengeist doesn’t really work. There’s a lot to like here and the only negative was a little roughness that I neutralized easily. I’ve thought about it quite a bit and Mystery Mine’s uniqueness and the fact that it’s got two memorable roller coaster moments (in the first drop and that crazy inversion combo) mean that I’m going to have to go pretty high. Final Rating – 9.5 Excellent (Excellent Approaching Superior)

Again, while it doesn’t come even close to doing it justice, here’s an POV video of Mystery Mine at Dollywood:

Note – This video was filmed with permission from the park. For safety reasons, please DO NOT take a camera on a roller coaster without permission.

Have you ridden Mystery Mine at Dollywood? What’d you think? Leave a comment below.

Founder of CoasterCritic.com. My favorite coasters are B&M hypers and gigas. I'm also a huge fan of terrain roller coasters.

11 Comments

  1. Your description of the air on the first drop reminds me a bit of Maverick. Like you said… you can't judge a coaster by it's stats. I can't wait to check out Dollywood next season.

    Reply
    • When I read that quote about stats, I immediately thought of Maverick too!

      Reply
  2. My experience on a Eurofighter was indoors on the Spongebob Squarepants Rock Bottom Plunge at Mall of America in Minnesota. It has a 90-degree lift hill followed by a 97 degree drop, a loop, and then a heartline roll. This was a pretty intense ride for an indoor coaster with a ride time of less than one minute. The cars are similar to those on Mystery Mine. I remember it being a smooth ride, but I was a little dizzy after a ride on the outside seats. With the theming and wild inversions towards the end, Mystery Mine looks like a great ride!

    Reply
  3. After this visit, I almost see Dollywood on like a Busch Gardens level. Not as many coasters, but what's there is top-notch. The staff is amazing, the park is beautiful, and apparently the food is a huge draw too. I got all of these tweets about their food when I announced I was going there. I'll have a trip report up soon.

    Reply
  4. One of the things I look for in a coaster is re-rideability. While I enjoy Mystery Mine for 1 or 2 rides, mainly because I have forgotten the little details, I don't find myself riding it over and over again as I do with Thunderhead (max: 71 times in 2 days). I have to agree with you about Wild Eagle … I had shot so many photos of it while it was under construction that there just didn't seem to be any surprise elements. Good ride, but out of the batch of coasters at Dollywood, Thunderhead wins, hands-down.

    As for the food …….. someone may have to start a blogsite for that!

    Reply
  5. I'm a regular at D-Wood. I like Mystery Mine as a change-of-pace coaster. It has a very different feel from the other coasters. And this is what makes D-Wood a great park – what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality and variety. While I don't enjoy Mystery Mine as much as Thunderhead or Wild Eagle (mainly because of my head banging against the restraints), I can appreciate it for what it is. And the theme work is excellent. Looking forward to your trip report, and hopefully a review of Thunderhead too.

    Reply
  6. Mystery Mine seemed like an oversized Wild Mouse. I can see why the manufacturer is now making cars with lap bars instead of over the shoulder restraints … the turns in the first part of the ride (between the two lifts) definitely require defensive riding.

    The one change (other than lap bars) I'd recommend is to get rid of the fire at the top of the second lift. The day I rode it there was a smog warning for Knoxville (which should be spelled NOx-ville) and breathing a big lung full of exhaust at the top of the lift was irritating in many ways (psychologically and to my lungs). The ride doesn't need a fireball, especially in an enclosed space where you cannot avoid breathing it. The exhaust makes the "no smoking" signs all over that park seem silly.

    I liked Wild Eagle much more than Mystery Mine although my three top favorite coasters are all Intamins.

    Reply
  7. I've been curious about Mystery Mine ever since I first learned they were building a Euro-Fighter at my home park, and poked around for POV videos of Euro-Fighters. But this one looks really special because of the theming.

    Reply
  8. I've ridden this ride and trust me – it packs a punch. The drops are quick but intense. Like others have said, it bangs you around some but that kind of goes along with the "old mine" theme. The last time I rode it a girl in the row behind me would not shut up talking and when we went down the last hill (at 95 degrees) it SHUT HER UP COLD.

    With the addition of Wild Eagle, Dollywood is becoming a ride park as well as a show park. It's true Tennessee hospitality that's completely worth the trip.

    Reply
  9. This was a welcome surprise. I went into it blind except for a comment from a kid sitting next to me on Wild Eagle who said that he didn't like Mystery Mine because there was a fire in it, so now I had to worry about being immolated. Well, that didn't happen; what did happen was a good and very interesting, different ride. I especially liked the special effects inside the mine, the nearly vertical climb out of it and the inversions although I must admit that they were a bit on the rough side.

    Reply
  10. Just visited Dollywood with my wife this past weekend. Mystery Mine was definitely one of the best rides I’ve ridden. The theming was amazing with the rickety old mine, singing canary motif, evil ravens, thunderstorm, fire, etc. Even the queue was well themed with mine-themed folk rhymes scattered over the walls, a wage chart, and even older ride operators who LOOKED like they could be miners vs. the typical bunch of teens you usually see at theme parks. Well done Dollywood.

    Also, I completely forgot about the second vertical drop, as I told my wife she only had to worry about the first short drop. We were both pleasantly surprised by the second drop with the explosion and subsequent plunge into the last finale of inversions. Thinking back, this was my favorite ride at the park, even moreso then Wild Eagle, which I heavily anticipated riding.

    Reply

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