So for a long time I really didn’t think Dollywood was going to be my kind of park. If you asked me to name five Dolly Parton songs, I’d be able to eke out three, then I’d start guessing based on the names of attractions and restaurants inside the park (and I’d pull it off, since she really did record a song for the queue for “Wild Eagle”). As it turns out, you don’t have to be a fan of country music to have a great time here.
The park started out in the early 60s as “Rebel Railroad,” later becoming “Goldrush Junction.” For one year, it just went by the name “Goldrush.” It was then rebranded as a sister park to Branson’s “Silver Dollar City.” In 1986, Dolly Parton bought an interest in the park and it’s been going strong ever since as Dollywood.
Despite having a great collection of coasters and lots of family-friendly flat rides, the park’s bread-and-butter is their entertainment offerings. As a result, thrill-seekers might be shocked by the number of older folks in the park. The picture above was taken from the front of the parking lot, and all those spaces are handicapped. Can you even see where the non-handicapped folks are parked?
Now, if you’re going for a one-day visit you’ll find that the ticket price is a little higher than the other parks in the region. But honestly that’s appropriate. The rides are world-class and all those handicapped folks can’t be wrong about the shows. I’m sure if you poke around, you’ll be able to find some discounted tickets out there, and some of them probably don’t involve having to go look at a mountain cabin timeshare.
Karen and I have been season passholders off and on for last ten years, and even when we only go once in the season it’s still a pretty good deal (one of us gets the Gold pass so we get free parking and a discount on merch and food).
As soon as you enter the park, you’re thrust up into the Showstreet area. Right up front is the Palace Theater, one of many in-park venues for shows. Like I said before, shows are big at Dollywood. Despite that, I think we’ve only seen three or four shows in the park, and never in this theater. . Honestly, it looks like this theater is almost always occupied by a gospel group called KingdomHeirs, so um, yeah. That’s not really my genre.
We were totally going to check out the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, but as you can see the line was just WAY too long.
We’ve seen several shows in the nearby Celebrity Theater.
I think I shot this one during the show “Sha-Kon-O-Hey! Land of Blue Smoke.” I have no clue what the dude in the coat of many colors is on about. The shows we’ve seen have had their fair share of hokiness, but for the most part they’ve been pretty solid.
Okay, I literally have no clue what’s happening here. But it reminds me way too much of an “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” episode. This isn’t even the strangest thing I’ve seen in a Dollywood show. You should have seen the one that had the Asian acrobats and the giant spider. I am not making that shit up.
Alright, let’s go ahead and put this out there. A lot of us call this place “Dollyfood” for a reason. Unless you have particularly amazing willpower, you’re not walking out of here without eating something absolutely delicious (and bad for you). Maybe you just hit the ice cream place?
Or maybe you find yourself in the sweet shoppe, with dozens of different confectionaries to choose from?
Or maybe the bakery is more to your liking? Perhaps there’s something nice and small there you can nibble on? Hey, do you like apples?
How you like them apples? This is a 25 pound apple pie. Yes, I said 25 freaking pounds. It’s made from 35 apples. You can buy the whole thing for $190, and it even comes with the cast iron pie pan it was baked in. Or you can spend $19 and get a single slice.
That sounds like a lot of money for a single slice of pie, but you have to accept that one slice weighs about three pounds
And it’s actually a really good pie. None of that apple filling garbage you tend to get in a store bought apple pie. But if you’re going to order it, you’d better bring a friend.
Or maybe you’ll need a few friends. We ended up eating off this piece for three more days (though it must be noted that the quality had gone downhill by the last day).
Some of the dividing lines between areas of the park are nebulous at best, so we’re going to call this crick here the dividing line out of the Showstreet area…
…and we’ll move into the “Adventures in Imagination” section of the park. The largest attraction here is Chasing Rainbows. This is a massive museum dedicated to the lady with her name on the sign.
When you first enter the museum, you’ll be rightfully underwhelmed. We were. In fact, we were so underwhelmed we didn’t even bother taking a picture. The first room is literally just black and white 8×10 pictures of Dolly mounted on a cinder block wall…