Conquering Big Bear Mountain Conquering Big Bear Mountain

Conquering Big Bear Mountain


May 27, 2023

I could see it all over their faces. The closer we got to being there, the more tense they were getting. “I’m nervous,” one told me quietly.

My 12-year-old twins had been excited for weeks. We had planned a trip to Dollywood for the weekend of May 13 to celebrate their birthday. As we got closer to the day, Dollywood announced that Big Bear Mountain would be opening that weekend. In case you are newer to Dollywood, Big Bear Mountain is Dollywood’s newest roller coaster located in the Wildwood Grove area of the park. It is Dollywood’s longest coaster, covering 3,990 feet of track on an almost two-minute ride. My kids and I were all ecstatic that the coaster that we had been watching be built for several months was almost a reality. As a bonus, we would get to ride it on opening weekend!

For the grand opening, Dollywood announced that Diamond and Gold Passholders who had renewed their passes early would be allowed to make a reservation to ride Big Bear Mountain that day. As soon as it became available, I immediately made reservations for us, excited that they were being offered as a Passholder Perk!

Insider Tip

There are lots of perks to being a Gold or Diamond Passholder, including Golden Hours. Use the Golden Hour time frame to take advantage of the TimeSaver line for your favorite Dollywood coasters! Note that Diamond Passes are no longer available for purchase for the 2023 season.

We arrived at Big Bear Mountain right at our reservation time and got checked in by the Dollywood staff; the Dollywood hosts did a great job of moving people through the line.

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During the day, I was able to ride Big Bear Mountain with each twin, and here is what we figured out about it:

  1. A lot of thought went into designing the area leading up to the coaster! The theming is quite cool; if you should have to wait in line, there is plenty to see to learn about Ned Oakley and the searches for Big Bear!
  2. It does not have loops or big drops, but it certainly feels fast! My children are not quite ready to try a coaster that goes upside down, so they were a bit relieved to see that this one did not do that. However, it surprised all of us with how fast it felt, particularly in some of the twists of the track.
  3. Lap bars are used to secure the riders, but it also is easy for a nervous rider to be able to hold on to an adult's hand or arm. This was definitely a good thing for my nervous first-time riders.
  4. There are three launches of the coaster where you pick up speed, and those definitely add to the thrill factor of the ride. It also is very exciting to go behind a waterfall and into a short underground tunnel!
  5. The on-board audio definitely elevates the experience. When I asked my own children what they loved most about the ride, the on-board audio was at the top of the list. We loved hearing the theme music as we rode, and hearing Ned Oakley’s voice (the leader of the search for Big Bear) added to the excitement of our ride.
  6. It’s ok to be a little nervous; many of the children getting on the ride felt that way. However, the wonderful hosts encouraged my boys to give it a try and said that they would enjoy it. They were right!

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“Oh wow!” one boy exclaimed as the ride ended. “I did it! That was amazing!” the other one said. They both took a few minutes to recover from the adrenaline rush but were so proud of themselves for giving this new coaster a try.

“Would you recommend it to other kids?” I asked them. “Yes!” they said enthusiastically. “They should definitely give it a try!” As a mom, I totally agree with them. It was such a fun experience for all of us, mom and tweens alike!


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All Insiders Attractions Family Visits

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