Dollywood is an odd combination of things: a celebration of “Appalachian culture”, a collection of kitschy gift shops, an amusement park with some pretty good rides, a bald eagle sanctuary and a sort of shrine to Dolly Parton…who is apparently a mythic personality in Eastern Tennessee.
We started the day after our wedding (July 15th) by driving to Tim and Kendra’s place in Sevierville, TN—which is just spittin’ distance from Dollywood. They are Hilary’s cousins and were kind enough to buy us two tickets to the famous amusement park as a wedding present! We dropped off some stuff at their place, met their awesome cat Boss and made plans to meet later for dinner.
Both Hilary and I are fans of rollercoasters and we weren’t disappointed.
“Thunderhead” is one of those old-fashioned wooden rollercoasters. Those are the best! The rumbling and rattling and clanking sounds—as you get banged back and forth—give you the feeling that you MIGHT just run off the track…which, for reasons I can’t explain, is very fun.
“Tennessee Tornado” is a more modern type with several swirling loops. The signs said it goes 70 miles per hour and that seemed about right!
Here is video of us on both of these rollercoasters:
We also decided to pay extra to do the “Sky Zip”. The official description says it’s “an hour-long adventure soaring through the treetops over Wilderness Pass and catch a never-before-seen view of the Park!”
It included five long steel cable lines (the longest was 800 feet) that you would zip along, suspended by a metal pulley. They strap you into a nylon harness and send you swinging along, station to station. It was pretty great.
The rest of our visit consisted mainly of wandering through the dizzying array of gift shops, each with a different theme: patriotic, Christian, Irish (?), etc…I was tempted to buy an American flag/bald eagle/Dolly t-shirt…but it was so strange and sincere it transcended irony…almost scary…
In fact, a lot of Dollywood was, well, almost scary.
The day ended with an unexpected warm drizzle, sending the tired hordes scrambling for the exit—which was accessible only by going through one last MEGA gift shop—stacks of Dolly cups, Dolly spoons, Dolly snow globes…
A tram brought us back to our car and we returned to Tim and Kendra and Boss’s place for the night. Read about it here!