The Mountain Press has reported that after all the recent contract disputes with HUSS over its ill-fated and downtime plagued Timber Tower installation at the park, Dollywood is now suing the German-based ride company. The rides various malfunctions began just months after the ride’s 2006 opening and continued through the rides indefinite closing late last year, during which time Dollywood and HUSS have had multiple contract renegotiations to get the ride fixed.
The “Topple Tower” attraction from HUSS Maschinefabrik, the original HUSS company that built the ride in 2006, brings riders seated on a round gondola 65 feet up into the air, before the tower then tilts the spinning gondola towards the ground as it sways back and forth. Dollywood spiced up the ride with its heavy themeing, tilting guests over water, and even a mock bear encounter. Costing the park $2.2 million for the ride plus an additional $2.4 million for site preparations, the ride has been down far more than it has been up.
After the rides completion in March 2006, it only took a few months before the ride started experience problems and malfunctions. In October 2006, however, HUSS Maschinefabrik filed for insolvency and was taken over by HUSS Park Attractions and HUSS Parts and Services, according to The Mountain Press. Maintenance was performed by HUSS in January 2007 after negotiating a new contract with Dollywood. Again, within just a few months, by April, the ride was experiencing new problems, which led to the June 17 incident that year which left 38 riders stranded at the top of the tower. Dollywood then had to replace the ride’s main hydraulic pump and the circulation pump, in September and November 2007 respectively. Later, in June 2008, after just over two years of operation, Dollywood had to replace the gondola motor drive.
The problems continued over the next couple of years, with the ride operating only sporadically, and with HUSS requiring more payments and contract negotiations to get the ride fixed. Finally in late 2010, Dollywood closed the ride indefinitely until the contract disputes with HUSS could be resolved, and the ride has been Standing But Not Operating (SBNO) ever since.
According to The Mountain Press, Dollywood is now suing HUSS Park and Attractions and HUSS Parts and Services, the companies that are responsible for building and maintaining the ride, for a sum of $500,000 for breach of contract, breach of warranty, and negligence. Dollywood attorney Daneil Gass told The Mountain Press that after HUSS reformed in 2007, they claimed that Dollywood owed them money, but that “as a condition for that payment HUSS agreed to correct the ride performance problem. Based on those assertions Dollywood paid the sum HUSS claims it was owed.” But because the company has not yet fulfilled its agreement to properly maintain the ride, the park is now moving forward with the lawsuit to resolve the issue.