Yes, here we are in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and yes, we have succumbed to the charms of Dolly Parton and the overwhelming sweetness of Dollywood. It prides itself on being “friendly” and we began to realize what a serious statement that was. (And how important that is to the people who come to Dollywood.) Here, they really go out of their way to make sure you have everything you need to have a good time. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. And yes, we have been to the happiest place on earth. Guess this is the friendliest.
The park itself is beautifully landscaped, tucked right into the Smokey Mountain foothills. The rides are clever and the attractions are many – all with a country feel that is intimate and not forced or corny. And you know I wouldn’t say that without having a serious attitude adjustment.
We saw a few shows, looked at the eagle sanctuary, did some rides, and took a trip on the Dollywood Express, listening to Simmie, a WWII vet and a real character in the row in front, tell us what was coming up and entertaining us with his harmonica. I say “us,” but he was really flirting with Shirley, the widow lady sitting next to me.
We happened to come on the day of the Southern Gospel Music Awards, including the induction of six new members into the SGMA Hall of Fame. There was a wild rumor that Dolly might show up, as she drops into things like this a couple of times a month, so we had to go. I’m not sure I have had my attitude adjusted about gospel music, though a couple from California kept telling us who all the biggies were and giving us their backstory. It’s an acquired taste.
But the show did come with a red carpet walk for the nominees. One lady fainted next to us. Guess the nearness to fame did her in.
In reviewing these photos, I suspect that you may not experience the charm factor we felt. So all I can say is, you have to see it for yourself. Maybe Dolly will be there that day.