Gone Green

After many different directions, I have decided to take this blog green. In addition to the occasional other news I may pop off on, I will be offering green tips and tricks from myself and the web. I hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Dollywood: The Experience

I covered the coasters of Dollywood in my previous post, found here. Dollywood is more then thrill rides, although it has its fair share. Dollywood is also home to talented crafters, cooks, and even some bald eagles.

A normal day at Dollywood can take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours, depending on your groups desires and wishes. To ride all the rides, will pretty much take all day, even if you use their new Q2Q device. This is a new addition at the park and pretty much allows you to go to the head of the line by scheduling your ride times.

There are three water rides in the park, Daredevil Falls, Mountain Slidewinder, and Smoky Mountain River Rampage. Lines for these are typically over a 45 minute wait, based on the outside temperature, and of course amount of people in the park.

The carnival section of Dollywood features carnival rides, games, and carnival food. This is the main location if you want to try your luck at winning a large stuffed animal. It has a swing, scrambler, ferris wheel, and some smaller rides for the little tykes as well.

Craftmans Valley is home to blacksmiths, glass blowers, a variety of shops, and food. This is pretty much the largest section of the park, and is almost in the middle. Here you can also find the endangered Bald Eagle reserve. The Eagles are almost always visible, and there is a couple of shows as well.

During the Fall, Dollywood host a fall festival. During this time, the rides take second fiddle to the music, shows and crafts.

Dollywood is a wonderful park, fun for all ages. If in the area, plan a day around it, maybe even take in a dinner show afterwards, of which there is an abundance of in the area.

Dollywood: The coasters

Located in scenic Pigeon Forge, Tennessee Dollywood has a unique flair, theme, and appearance. When walking through the gate, the sights and sounds assail your senses. The park is beautiful landscaped, the buildings take you back to a time long ago, and the sounds relax you.

Dollywood has something for people for all ages and desires, 4 roller coasters, 3 water rides, a kids area, a craftsmans valley, shows, home cooked food, and a carnival ride area. Admission is reasonable, and there are some discounts and perks as well. If visiting the park more then once, a season pass is highly recommended.

Dollywood is home to 3 coasters of unique design, and 1 that is classified a coaster I think mainly because it is on tracks.

Thunderhead was added to the park in 2004, a long wooden coaster reaching speads of 55 mph, a 100ft drop, and approaching 3.5g's. Being wooden, there is no inversions. As far as wooden coasters go, it is relatively smooth, the line moves reasonably fast, and it is about 1 minute of thrills. It was rated best new coaster of 2004 by Theme park magazines reader choice awards, and was named “the number one wooden coaster on the planet” in 2004 by www.thrillride.com. Thunderhead was named Coaster of The Year and Best New Wood Coaster at the 2005 Coasters’ Choice Awards, the first wooden coaster to take the top honor in the awards’ five-year history.

I have ridden most coasters on the east coast, and this comes in right behind The Beast at kings island for me in terms of fun, thrills, and excitement. A must ride at the park.

Tennessee Tornado
The Tennessee Tornado is a metal coaster with 128 ft drop, and 3 inversions, with places pushing 4g's. A very short ride, but very intense. As far as steel coasters go, this one is okay and you should ride it if in the park, but don't make the trip just for it. It is a very smooth coaster, hardly any rider discomfort. If you are sensitive to g's, you may want to skip this one though. Coming into the third inversion, we have on occasion had our eyesight narrow and go dark, it does push the limits at that point. Top speed on this coaster is only around 64 mph, which is kinda slow for a steel coaster, but all in all, it is a fun ride. The line is normally very short.

Mystery Mine
Dollywood's newest attraction and roller coaster is the Mystery Mine. This is a very uniqe coaster, one I totally enjoyed, doing somethings I haven't experienced before in a coaster. It reaches 74 mph, 4g's and has 3 inversions. What makes this unique, is the cart. It has two rows, 4 person to a row. This design allows for some unique parts to the ride. The most interesting is 2 climbs, at 95degrees. Almost completely perpendicular, you climb up on your back. The first climb takes you outside the "mine" and through a few twist and turns, the second takes you up, as you are "escaping the mine" and then just, drops you. You literally go from on your back to on your stomach. A absolutely wonderful ride, and a must ride attraction.

The Blazing Fury
Yes, I count this as a coaster. No thrills, no big drops, no high speed, but it is nostalgic. The Blazing Fury is an underground coaster, that takes you through a community on fire, an almost collision with a trains, and a bit of water at the end. I remember this ride from when Dollywood was still known as Silver Dollar City, many years ago. I recommend it once, pretty fun and safe introduction to roller coasters for kids, and nice sit down and cool ride for adults.

In my next Dollywood entry, I will cover the other parts of the park, including the crafts festival, and of course the water rides.

World of Warcraft: The Game play

World of Warcraft has been previously explained in this post located here. I gave a quick overview of the game and the genre. Now, a little about the game. Most of this discussion will revolve around game play since the Burning Crusaded Expansion.

Leveling means increasing your characters level, which allows you access to more powerful skills, abilities, and sometimes forms. Your character begins at level 1, in what is known as a starting zone. Each race has their own, sometimes shared with others( trolls and orcs, and gnomes and dwarfs share one, while the other races have their own). Your first quest giver is standing right in front of you, with a big yellow exclamation mark over their head. Quest in warcraft can usually be completed solo, and once a quest is completer, the quest giver has a yellow question mark over their head, and will reward you with experience, money, and sometimes items.

The max level in Warcraft is currently set at 70, and it can take anywhere from 5 days playing time and up to reach that level. Those that have leveled to 70 before, usually can do it faster by knowing where to go, which quest to take when, and where and when to just grind to gain experience.

You gain experience from killing mobs around your level, completing quest, and discovering new zones. The experience you gain increases as your level increases, but also the amount of experience needed to level increases. At level 1 I believe it is 1000xp to level, compared to level 70, which requires you to gain over 700,000 exp at level 69 to reach.

Talents and Specs
All classes, have three "talent trees" that further defines their class. Beginning at level 10, you receive 1 talent point per level gained. You then spend these talent points in your specific trees. For example, a warrior has an Arms, Fury, and Protection Tree. Arms has useful talents to augment the other two trees, but also is commonly recognized as the warrior PVP( player vs player) tree. Fury is for Pve DPS, and Protection is where warrior tanking skills are. It is not recommended to level as a protection spec, because there is little to no dps talents in this tree.

Based on your talent choices( and there are plently of options listed on the official WoW class forums) you can specialize in other skills. A mage can focus on frost, fire, or arcane magic, or a combination. A druid can become caster dps, a healer, or a tank/dps class. Even priest, who are usually just known as pure healers, have a dps tree, which at end game is very, very formidable.

End Game
This is where Warcraft, in my opinion, flounders a bit. A player can level all the way to 70, doing quest alone, never entering an instance. At level 70, you have two choices, raid or PvP. Blizzard recently added some repeatable daily quest, which you can do 10 of a day, which nets you about 120g for around 1.5 hours worth of time. Raiding requires time and dedication, money for repairs, consumables, etc. PvP requires time, dedication, but not the money sinks that PvE has. Blizzard has made PvP reward gear very comparable to Raiding gear, which allows those that love PvP the ability to have gear equal, or in some cases, greater then current raid gear.

In conclusion, warcraft is a solid game, highly addictive, but also a huge time sink. You will spend your time farming for money, materials, reputation items, and gear. Just so you can get more gear from harder instances. Currently, the best MMORPG on the market, and the one with the largest fan base. It will be interesting to see how it holds up against the upcoming Conan and World of Warhammer games.