Hooray for Dollywood! Okay, I got that out of the way. Just had to say it. I did it, went to the Mecca of Tennessee tourism, the redneck Disney World, Dollywood, number two tourist attraction in the state in be-u-ti-ful Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Why Dollywood? Cause this is Tennessee, folks, and Ms. Dolly herself owns it – Dolly Parton. Yes, THAT Dolly
My partner, bless his heart, never quite grew up and he still just LOVES these adolescent havens of hedonist thrills. We were in the area anyhow for other reasons, and being so close to a theme park was more than he could stand. Actually, I’ve gotten to where I rather like roller coasters too, so I went along, just in case they had one.
Now, to the park’s credit, there are plenty of things that mature adults might enjoy there. They focus a great deal on musical shows and entertainment. Tennessee is well known for its talented musical folks and they were there in abundance, singing, dancing, toe tapping and guitar plunking – normal entertainment fare in these parts. Even Dolly’s family had a show.
Unfortunately, not being normal mature adults, we hit only a couple of the shows. Yes, we rode the rides – like teenagers, like idiots! Problem is that most of the rides were water rides. I don’t mind getting splashed. That’s part of the fun. DRENCHED is another matter. SOAKED is another matter. HALF DROWNED is the reality of the matter.
The water racing coaster, the Slidewinder, I think they called it, was fun. Whoopee! Like a bobsled. But, stay out of that Blazing Fury fire and water ride thing. It seems harmless enough. But I was sitting in the front seat when we hit the water. A tidal way hit me right in the face. I didn’t even see it coming. As I went down for the third time, I wondered how I’d missed the diving board. Floating out the door, I waved goodbye to the friendly attendants. As I emptied a small lake out of my tennis shoes and blew my nose, I wondered if Dolly ever really rode this thing.
Only one thing to do at this point, get on the roller coaster and blow dry. They had one, a metal triple upside down loop type, called the Tennessee Tornado. Funny, if I shut my eyes tight enough, I can’t even tell that I’m upside down. Kinda like being in Australia, I guess.
The souvenirs are slightly above average. The Smoky Mountain area is famous for crafts and craftsmen. Problem with buying stuff at a theme park is carrying it around all day, or getting it wet. I looked, but saved my bucks for elsewhere. Well, I guess you could count the caricature I bought from the street artist. I looked so stunning all soaking wet with my big hair plastered down that he had to use a LOT of imagination.
Personally, I like to go out to the nearby craft community and try to cut a deal with the craftsmen. Heck, I found a place in Cosby with fantastic quilts, all homemade, not the imported kind. They saw me coming with tourist written all over me, of course. Probably the camera around my neck. I did manage to escape after buying only one country quilt.
While, I’m on the subject of Dolly’s East Tennessee enterprises, I might as well admit that we also hit her “Dixie Stampede,” a music show with horses. Something about trying to eat and watch a glitz and glitter horse musical didn’t work for me. The food was good enough, though it was all eaten with our hands, hillbilly style. I think it was just the horse smell and food together. Actually, I spent most of the evening trying to figure out how the horses did all that running around in the dirt without making any dust. I’ve still not figured it out. Frankly, I enjoyed the pre-show better than the main attraction. The bluegrass banjo picker and fiddler were just plain talented. The county is “dry,” i.e. serves no liquor. You know, family oriented. Ever had a virgin frozen margarita?
So, that’s the scoop on Dollywood. I’d rather spend the day hiking. Smoky Mountain National Park is just right over the hill, but if you’ve got kids or a honey like mine, they are gonna make you go. Hey, at least I didn’t do the discount mall. If ya go, stay away from that fire and water ride or take wetsuit and a snorkel.