Dollywood. Mythical theme park of all things Smoky Mountains and Dolly Parton. Land of five miles of parking lot. Thank goodness we came in the off-season.
Here I am at the beginning of the day. All shiny and excited about the world. We just waited in line for about 30 minutes to get a massive military discount thanks to Dan's status as a veteran and the South's hyper-vigilance for providing military discounts to all veterans and their families. We each got $15 dollars off our tickets thanks to that discount because we were a "family" yay! That plus the $50.00 gift card from Jeremy's law firm – Dollywood equaled the least expensive attraction we visited in all of Pigeon Forge with a couple minor exceptions.
This was our first roller coaster. We went right from this
to jumping on a 55 mph wooden coaster attraction. My neck was not so happy with me but it was exhilarating.
With our center of gravity unsettled from the get go I started to look around the park as we walked to the next roller coaster. We found this odd tree photo shoot area that we ignored and
these owls which we did not. Meanwhile, we went on the Mystery Mine coaster that had two straight up and down slopes among other fun surprises.
We saw this place that advertised 12 lb pizzas.
Although insanely curious – it seemed like a 12 lb pizza was out of control and problematic when riding roller coasters.
Our next coaster was fire person themed and went backwards for the last part of it. Going backwards on a roller coaster is officially a trip. Your stomach or that internal motion sensing agent that lives in your stomach, that feels funny sometimes when over looking heights or going down a big hill fast, well it feels different when you are doing all of those things backwards.
We proceeded to go on two more coasters before taking a lunch break. One with an eagle theme where your feet hang off, but you feel insanely secure all super strapped into the bucket seats and experience the smoothest ride ever. The other one, also mine themed, not as smooth but goes at 77 miles per hour so the g-force keeps you completely glued to your seat.
Here is the shot of the eagle themed coaster going up the hill for its magnificent jump into super fun. I took no pictures of the 77 mph roller coaster – you will just have to believe me that it was fun and worth damage to my spinal cord alignment.
After the last coaster it was time for a break. We had officially made it through one round of coasters with barely a line in sight. No human being was meant to go through so many roller coasters so fast – you are supposed to wait in a line at least an hour between each one. We just had to walk from one to the next and get on. It was a bit jarring on our no longer teenage bodies.
I requested a pause for the cause and luckily we found the old center of Dollywood with all of the cultural interpretation exhibits including the old schoolhouse you see here. We also found lunch at Grandma Ogle's Ham n' Greens Cafe.
Just before lunch we found the birds of prey exhibit and saw these interesting guys.
Immediately above is Friar Tuck, an African Pied Crow who was know to tuck dollar bills and other forms of money into his front on behalf of the park.
Lunch at Grandma Ogle's was one of the healthiest and tastiest experiences we had in all of Pigeon Forge. The irony, that we ate a healthy, tasty, and extremely affordable lunch at a theme park was not lost on us. Good job Dollywood. Way to offer options and traditional Smokey Mountain food to your patrons.
As we walked off lunch and waited for proper digestion we took in the non-thrill ride portions of the park. We took in glass blowing, metal working, small children wrangling, old people on motorized carts (so many motorized carts! what happens when it is not off-season?) and people waiting in line for the "Festival of Nations" exhibits. It was a bit more like a Festival of Stereotypes, but I think "good job" for trying to expose folks to different cultures?
I joked about there needing to be a Dolly Parton museum on the property. Well Jeremy and Dan informed me that, in fact, there was one. So we made our way there. I took a huge spill in front of the place when I was looking up at a giant picture of Dolly who was watching over the square. Luckily, I just rolled with it and came up completely uninjured – but got the attention of the first aid people who all came running to ask if I was OK. I didn't have a scrape on my hands or a blemish on my light colored jeans. Dollywood is an extremely clean theme park, I might add, barely any dirt on the polished walkways. Assuring that I was really truly in fact OK to the first aid people, we left one of them with more evidence that the big hole in the ground did really need to be fixed (I was apparently the 3rd person to fall oogling Dolly on the very spot today), and entered the museum entitled "Chasing Rainbows."
Hologram Dolly greeted us. She encouraged us to dream big and never listen to anyone if they say we can't do it. We can achieve anything, just look at her and her life.
Here is little Dolly growing up in Sevierville area.
The original lyrics she wrote for "Coat of Many Colors." They sat next to a very nice looking corduroy jacket for a little girl. We wondered if this was the actual coat she sang about – but it seemed too nice.
Here are all of Dolly's outfits from one of the best movies of all time "Nine-to-Five." The museum went on to show all of her awards, all of her special outfits and a tributes to all of her special friends. It was well done but I stopped taking pictures for some reason. We eventually exited and decided it was time to do another loop of roller coasters. So we did. It took less than 45 minutes to ride all of them again. We then rode them again, and I started to feel a little old. My body was resisting so much motion and up and down. We took another art break.
We watched a blacksmith make a knife,
and a piano cry water. Then I got the bright idea to convince everyone to go on the Barnstormer. A giant swing. Because swings are fun, and I thought it would be relaxing in relation to all of the roller coasters. Well all was well and good until I swung right into a Red Wasp who stung me on the lip when it hit me mid-air. Actually not sure who hit who since I was on a giant swing.
It could have been worse. It could have went all the way into my mouth and stung me in the throat. It could have landed in my eye and blinded me. Instead I just got to go to Dollywood's First Aid and show them my fat lip. The very nice paramedic had me sit for the next 30 minutes to make sure I didn't go into anaphylactic shock. With some help I got two Benadryls out of the archaic dispenser and called my mom to make sure the dosage was correct (the paramedic said he could not give me any medication advise or else he would be prescribing, my mom is a nurse so I figured she could confirm). She did and we chatted a little bit about the nice Christian people of Tennessee until my swollen lip made it awkward to talk on the phone. Thirty minutes passed, I was all clear, so we went on another round of roller coasters. Well, Jeremy and Dan did. After one coaster the Benadryl made me feel whoozy so I sat out the rest.
I could pose under the eagle however, for one more Dollywood photo opp. We exited theme park through the gift shop and made our way back to the car via the shuttle. I was starting to feel more and more out of it. By the time we got back to the condo I curled up on the couch with a blankie and asked for soup. Jeremy went to the local grocery store and brought me back some chicken noodle. He and Dan went to the brewery down the street. I took more Benadryl and Advil and passed out until the next morning when I woke up with an evil sore throat and a normal looking lip not very ready for the long drive back to Nashville.