Sunday, May 14, 2017
Is there anyone in the USA who doesn’t know who Dolly Parton is? I seriously doubt it, but maybe there are a few people left that haven’t heard of the petite blonde country singer and humanitarian. Even as a fan I had some questions about her life, and family.
Dollywood, is just that, all about Dolly. From a museum that holds memorabilia of her life including wigs, dresses, movie clips, awards, records and much, much more to a show saluting her songs put on by her friends and family it is all there. Rather than show you hundreds of photos of the park Gary put this video together of some of the goings on all over Dollywood
There is a live stage production that has nothing to do with Dolly there as well that was very good and moving.
Then there is her Bald Eagle Sanctuary. If I hadn’t already been a Dolly Parton fan the sanctuary would have made me one. Roughly 90 bald eagles who have been harmed in one way or another to the point they may never be able to safely live free again have found a home in this large beautiful natural enclosure. We were mesmerized just watching and listening to these beautiful creatures for the longest time. All appeared to be in the best possible health despite the injuries that had originally brought them here. The main group is together, but a few are separated out because they are crippled too severely to be in the general population.
Again it makes more sense to show the video then to let you imagine their sound and movements.
Weeks later we heard of the fires surrounding Dollywood and our first thought was the eagles. Not just because of the flames, but because of the dense smoke that filled the area and the harm it could do to the birds. There were news stories everywhere about evacuating the people, but the media said nothing about all of our nation’s symbols that were in the enclosure.
A quick web search turned up the eagle nest cam at Dollywood that was shut off, but had a wonderful notice on it that all of the eagles had been evacuated safely. I immediately became an even bigger fan of Dolly.
After the fires Dolly not only came through on getting the eagles safely rehoused, she came through for “her people” of Sevierville and helped them get rehoused as well. She is a true humanitarian.
These are not the only humanitarian things Dolly has done, including free books for children, helping with education and much more. Many of her kind works are shown throughout the park.
Of course there is the usual assortment of fast food stands, thrill rides, street shows and live entertainment. All in all it was a nice theme park with a few drawbacks, like the fact you have to pay $16 per day parking, unless you want to park a few miles away for free and take a fifty cent per person each way trolley over to the park.
The free parking is rather limited, in fact between some sort of show going on in a tent at one free parking location and an event going on at the other at the convention center we had zero chance of finding a parking spot for our one ton dually. Therefore we ended up paying for parking both days.
While we only purchased one day passes, using our senior citizen discount, we arrived after 3pm on that first day and begrudgingly paid the parking fee, hoping that the second day free would apply to that as well. No such luck, only the re-entry to the park itself was free the next day. This made this shoestring traveler a wee bit unhappy, but as soon as we actually got in the park my mood lightened.
The park was all decked out for fall, and anyone who knows me knows fall is my favorite season. The hills were just starting to turn color and the air was crisp. In fact crisp enough that my “brag rag” for Dollywood was a sweatshirt instead of a t-shirt. (Are you starting to see a theme here about my wardrobe?)
Notice the last photo is a little different? That's because he was a living statue that was a lot of fun.
While Gary and I are not fans of thrill rides Dollywood does have them.
It also has rides for the less adventuresome as well. A peaceful train ride through the country gave us a cool respite mid-afternoon on our second day, although because it is a coal fueled train (think old time melodrama train) you will get soot in your eyes if not careful. In fact we happened to be walking near the train tracks at one point when the train came through and we both sprouted instant dark spots on our face and hair. It gave both of us a laugh.
One other thing that caused our shoestring travelers to twitch a bit was the price of food at the park. It was high, higher than food at Silver Dollar City in Branson, higher than the same type of quick service meals at Walt Disney World and you are not allowed to bring food or drink in, something that is allowed at the other parks. So if you don’t want to pay high prices for fast food that lacked variety from stand to stand pack an ice chest in your car, leave the park and eat in the parking lot. Or eat a big meal before you go and after you leave.
Of course they do have some annual pass discounts, but unlike the other two parks I mentioned we didn’t feel we would be in the area enough to justify the cost of an annual pass.
Depending on how big a Dolly fan you are you could spend an afternoon to a week or longer just seeing and doing everything in this former Silver Dollar City theme park.