Monday, June 15, 2015

Dollywood - A Different Kind of Amusement?

We are a little past the age of enjoying amusement parks per se, and with no grandchildren to spoil, you wouldn't think this would be a bucket list item.  But, I I've always heard that Dollywood was different, so on the list it has been for many years.

We lucked out in many ways for our visit to the biggest tourist attraction in Tennessee.  Tickets are less expensive than Disneyworld, but still pricey.  However, we were able to take advantage of an unheard of military discount of 30% - it is, apparently, a very patriotic place!  And, if you purchase your ticket after 2:35 in the afternoon, you can come back the next day for free.  So we were off to a great start!

We went to the theme park primarily for the music and the arts and crafts.  Lady Luck graced us again as our visit coincided with the annual BBQ and Bluegrass week.  There was incredible music around every corner and in every performance venue.

My People
A multi-media show featuring Dolly on video and members of her family in person.  It told the story of her life and the importance of "my people" in her rise to stardom.

The youngest member of this family band was six years old and she could step dance, play the fiddle and sing with the best of them.

This band was sponsored by a local radio station and I forgot to get their name or the radio station.
Completely acoustic and amazing!

We also enjoyed performances by:

Most performances were about 40 minutes long and each group performed multiple, different shows through out the day.  The venues included a back porch, the street corner, a gazebo and full concert halls.

In between performances, we tried to see some of the parks sights.

Brick walled flower beds were everywhere.  They were just the right height to use as a seat when listening to music.

Memorial Garden
Each rose bush had a plaque with the name of a deceased country music legend.

A painted pony
The Dixie Stampede is a dinner theater that has a live horse show of some kind.  This was next to the booth where you buy tickets for the show (not in Dollywood)

Not sure what the significance of the pig is, unless it related to the BBQ and Bluegrass week, but these metal pigs were in almost all the flower beds.

Sculptural art work in several places in the park

One of the theaters

Dolly's bedroom in her tour bus.  
She no longer uses the 1998 40' motorhome (no slides!) and it is on display at Dollywood.

The barbecue was delicious, even though I generally don't eat food that has eyes!

The only ride we took was on a coal-powered train that went 5 miles up the mountain side.  By the time we got to this, we were ready to sit for a spell!

The train whistling, soot and steam going everywhere.

A reproduction of Dolly's childhood home, a museum full of costumes and a bald eagle sanctuary were some of the other things we saw.  We somehow missed the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the petting zoo.

We only glimpsed into the areas dedicated to the thrill rides and there was a section of rides for the younger set as well.  I can't speak to the lines for the rides, but the park wasn't as crowded as I expected for the most part and it was relatively easy to get seats at all the shows.

The Craftsman's Valley was a disappointment.  I thought we'd see live demonstrations of all manners of mountain crafts and I guess they were probably there, but tucked into retail shops.  I was expecting them to be more out in the open where you could stroll around and observe more freely.

Shopping, shopping everywhere and too many food venues to count.

All in all, the day and a half we spent at Dollywood was enjoyable.  The weather had not turned hot yet and the rain held off.  We walked what seemed to be miles, ate great barbecue and hear amazing music.  I'm glad that we learned about the late entry bonus, because   we'd would not have gotten to see all the show we did in just one day.  As it was, we didn't get to see them all.  I think I'd have to buy a season pass if I lived here!

And as for being a different kind of amusement park?  It wasn't all that different than a Six Flags or a Disneyworld, just on a smaller scale.  The location, tucked into the mountains, was unique and the focus on God was certainly unusual,  but the rides, overpriced food and expensive souvenirs are pretty universal.  But, if you're ever nearby, the entertainment was certainly worth the price of admission. I recommend that you go.

Until next time...

No comments: