I found myself drawn to Missouri for this year’s long-distance theme park trip. While there were two amusement parks there for me to check out, Silver Dollar City’s Outlaw Run really ignited my interest and was pretty much the deciding factor in why I chose this trip over the others I was considering.
Awe, No They Didn’t!
I still remember sitting there, awe-struck staring at the first image of the double barrel roll as it was under construction. I remember bugging my wife as I tried to explain the gravity of what I was looking at. The unique wooden looper, Son of Beast had its loop removed and (at that point) its days were numbered. Could it be done better? And who were Rocky Mountain and Silver Dollar City to think that they could pull it off? I’d ridden and loved Rocky Mountain’s New Texas Giant, but it had no loops and its track was entirely steel where Outlaw Run’s wouldn’t be. I had to get down to Branson to find out.
Right out of the gate, Outlaw Run was well-received. A reader even sent in a great review. Read: Early Reviews of Outlaw Run. So, I was as excited as ever when I arrived at Silver Dollar City on a Sunday in late April. I met readers Daryl and Kendra at the park and we quickly made our way to the ride. It was about twenty minutes after the park had opened and there was already a decent line. Not much of the ride is visible from the park’s paths or station, but the double-looping finale is. It was surreal seeing, first-hand now, a wooden coaster doing something so uncharacteristic and odd as back-to-back tight, twisting inversions.
Outlaw Run’s Theme
I was pleasantly surprised by how sister park Dollywood gave Wild Eagle, a kind of inspirational uplifting theme. In a somewhat similar fashion, Outlaw Run was given a theme where: “The Good Guys Always Win”. Building on Silver Dollar City’s 1880’s mining town theme, the ride’s story is centered around a stage coach that’s being chased by outlaws. A wild ride ensues, but in the end the fine, upstanding citizens get away to safety. As Herschend CEO Joel Manby shared (Must-See Outlaw Run Documentary) they wanted to make sure that the good guys were the focus, not the villains. There were certain choices made about the logo and even a monument to law enforcement near the ride. I know that many may not notice these theming touches, but being a parent I can really appreciate the effort. There were also special Outlaw Run-themed treats like chocolates and slushies custom-made for the ride. Lastly, the station includes an authentic Stagecoach Depot with a real stagecoach, luggage and period furnishings.
Boarding the Stage Coaches
Excitement was really building, until it was muted. After a few minutes in line, the ride was down. It was the typical scene when a ride goes down: the maintenance crew was on-hand right away, some people left the queue, and trains were run empty for a while. We decided to stay and got a few laughs from the ride op that was keeping the crowd amused with old-fashioned, family-friendly jokes. After about twenty minutes or so a ride op successfully rode and returned to the station and the ride was running again. Considering this is the debut of Rocky Mountain’s trains and restraint systems, I wasn’t too surprised that they were still working out the kinks. While they’re an inconvenience, these kinds of things don’t worry me as they’re usually caused by the ride’s safety system. So the park is erring on the side of caution.
Rocky Mountain’s trains had a unique look to them. They’re open and more akin to wooden coaster trains. There’s no handle bars or really anything to hold on to. Similar to the cars on some Intamin hyper coasters like Bizarro at Six Flags New England, there’s a lap bar and another bar that goes across your lower-legs/shins. The ride ops make sure that you are fully secured and snug. This doesn’t take away from the ride experience at all. Just keep in mind that they’re doing some one-of-a-kind elements on Outlaw Run and it makes sense that they’d again, be extra cautious.
The Ride Begins
With everyone fully-secured and ready to go, we were off. The train exited the station, passed under the exit ramp and we immediately started our climb. As with a lot of the Silver Dollar City’s rides you get an excellent view of the park’s wooded terrain. Spring had just sprung so there was a sea of light green foliage all around us, but no clear view of the layout or exactly what was ahead. As we crested the top, the train took a short dip fooling some who that we’d roll right over into the big drop. This is likely done so that the train’s completely off of the lift hill. Then, we began the first drop and Outlaw Run’s controlled insanity began.
The Insanely Fun Outside-Turn
The first drop, at a record setting 81-degrees, was exhilarating. Using the park’s terrain, Outlaw Run dove down 162-feet after climbing only 102-feet. The steepness was very apparent and some good airtime was offered. Now down close to the ground, Outlaw Run returns to the sky for a very memorable element. The 153-degree Outside-Turn caused a bunch of “Is it an inversion?” buzz last year when it was being built. I’d argue the fact that it doesn’t completely invert, actually makes it more fun and disorienting. The train rose up flipped upside-down for a moment as it passed through a support structure and then flipped out the other direction. There’s both the head chopper effect with the supports and a bit of orientation confusion as it feels much stranger than it looks on video. I loved this element!
Twisting & Turning + The Wave Turn
Next, close to the ground again, we experienced some good airtime hills via the double-down and double-up. The airtime is definitely on the stronger end of the scale as I was pulled upward rather than just floating out of my seat a little. The next element, known as the Twist & Turn, is another stand out. The train climbed up and turned side-ways as it passed through the lift hill before dumping us into a short steep drop. Again, like the Outside Turn, it was another element that really took me by surprise.
The Wave Turn not only put the train completely on its side, almost like we were riding along side a wall, but was also performed during a terrain-based hill. It was a pretty cool sensation and you feel pretty vulnerable riding at that angle for so long. In rapid-fire succession Outlaw Run has kept the thrills going to this point. For the moment, the World is turned right-side-up again and the layout sneaks in a good little airtime hill, before the showstopping finale.
Double Barrel Roll Goodness
Immediately after the pop of airtime produced by a short hill, the train charged right into the first barrel roll. Outlaw Run completely inverted us in a smooth and quick motion. The second barrel roll was taken a bit slower. As a result, I experienced more hang time and really felt that I was upside-down. After exiting the last loop the train flipped out into a turn that put it straight into the station brakes. The riders applauded as we returned to the station having successfully outran the outlaws.
Does it Work as a Looping Woodie?
It was interesting when Robb Alvey stated that the loops seemed like they were “supposed to be there”. I can see what he meant now. Rather than being some intense element added to an otherwise different kind of ride (Son of Beast), the barrel rolls really do fit. They work and feel right because of the incredibly fun and wild elements that preclude them.
The press releases touted 9 moments of those sought after joyous moments we call “airtime” and that’s not just marketing buzz, they’re all there. On Outlaw Run, every element delivers and there’s not a wasted foot of track on the entire ride. I have to give Silver Dollar City credit for going out on a limb to bring us a new, one-of-a-kind roller coaster. Sure, the ride’s related to Rocky Mountain’s other projects, but it still takes some guts to not stick to the tried and true, completely proven formula of a more traditional ride. The gamble paid off as the park can now boast a world-class, record-setting, and extremely enjoyable new roller coaster. For me, Outlaw Run is a Top 10 Roller Coaster and a Top 5 Wooden Roller Coaster.
Here’s a complete POV video for Outlaw Run at Silver Dollar City:
One More Thing – Wood, Steel, or Hybrid? Who Cares?
I feel the need to address the controversy among some in the enthusiast community. Some consider Outlaw Run a wooden roller coaster and others prefer to call it a steel coaster. Its track is unusual in that it has a mostly wooden structure, but instead of a relatively small strip of steel on top of the stacks of wood that make the track, there’s a considerably large wide portion of steel that the trains ride on.
Even for a long-time roller coaster enthusiast, and someone who likes to categorize things in general, I’m not going to join the battle on either side. I’ll put it in the wooden category, but it’s something so new and different that I can see why people who say steel as well. If you’re curious, I consider New Texas Giant steel because the rail is entirely made of steel. Again, I’m not going to correct anyone or challenge anyone to a duel at high noon over it. I have been and will be referring to this genre-bending ride as a wooden coaster.
What’s Your Take?
Have you ridden Outlaw Run? What’d you think? Leave a comment and rate it below. Images courtesy of Silver Dollar City.
While I received a complimentary media pass when I visited this park, the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.