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DOLLYWOOD trip report! Lots and lots of photos

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  • Trip Report DOLLYWOOD trip report! Lots and lots of photos

    June was quite a month. Not only did Phil and I finally hit The Enchanted Forest in Oregon, we also made the trek to Tennessee to visit Dollywood. Our trip was two days long and we stayed in Knoxville, about 30 miles away. We considered the hotels in nearby Pigeon Forge and, once we drove through it, were thrilled to have stayed far, far away from that 1980s tourist trap. Knoxville suited us much better.

    Downtown Knoxville and the Tennessee Theater


    We happened to hit Dog Day at Market Square!




    Knoxville was a beautiful town with loads of heart and character.


    Phil and I had so much beer and barbeque at Patrick Sullivan’s restaurant and bar. Of course we didn’t forget the deep-fried pickles either. Yum!


    The next day, we hit the road and headed toward Dollywood! I can’t really describe Pigeon Forge, the city right next door to Dollywood. I’d definitely wind up insulting somebody in my description of the place, so I’ll likely just avoid the topic. Instead I’ll say we were glad to be out of Pigeon Forge and at the gates of Dollywood.


    We got in line to have our photos taken for our pre-purchased Annual Passes!






    Stepping up to the turnstiles at Dollywood, we were surprised to practically have the place to ourselves. It was a Sunday morning and the crowds were nonexistent.


    First things first, Phil and I headed toward Thunderhead, the park’s new and incredible wooden roller coaster. It was not a brief trip, but was quite surprising for its speed and tight banks. It’s a mighty fine roller coaster and we rode it over and over again during our two days at Dollywood.






    The Beaver Creek Boat Float. It’s the simplest thing ever! Float a little floatie thing in a trough of rushing water. It was brilliant! The kids loved it and I wanted to play in it too. Watching things float in a stream is cool and this simple idea won me over instantly.


    Along Timber Canyon are other rides and eateries. That’s the Mystery Mine roller coaster in the distance.


    Hooray, Dollywood serves Coke products! Yeah for Diet Coke!


    The Mystery Mine roller coaster is a dark ride and roller coaster combo. It’s got a Scooby Doo flair to it and humorous vignettes.






    That’s the Mystery Mine track on the left and Thunderhead in the distance.


    The River Battle attraction came out of nowhere yet was really cute. To go from the eerie thrills of Mystery Mine to the cartoon world of River Battle left me in a thematic stupor. Yet I’ll still heap high praise on River Battle for the engaging, action-oriented amusement of it. Instead of passively sitting in your barge, riders have to actively turn their crank to shoot their onboard water canons. Yes, I’ve seen it in other parks, but I’m really happy to have seen it here in Dollywood where the rides aren’t for couch potatoes.

    That’s River Battle in the foreground and Mystery Mine in the background.




    Hole For Rent




    Perhaps the highlight of our trip to Dollywood was Adventure Mountain. It was unlike anything we’ve encountered at other theme parks and we were shocked to get harnessed into the climbing and balancing act. We had to walk through a multi-point inspection to check every strap and grip in our harness. Phil and I were bound into our uniform and, with our overhead tether, we were tied to the mountain itself. No need for railings on those upper floors as there’s no way one can possibly fall or untie oneself from the rigging.




    We conquered all levels of the range and tried our skill at tightrope walking among other things. Some paths were quite difficult and we did see several folks having a helluva time getting coordinated. Regardless, we didn’t suffer from a fear of heights or of falling so there was no issue whatsoever — we barreled ahead and had a fantastic, sweaty time conquering Adventure Mountain.



    From below:


    The tightrope:






    After that sweaty and exhilarating trek over Adventure Mountain, and we spent over an hour there climbing and spelunking over its many paths, Phil and I hit the Tennessee Tornado roller coaster and then the Blazing Fury dark ride and roller coaster. The Tornado was a thrill and nearly caused me to black out. That rarely happens on roller coasters so I knew it would soon be time to eat and recharge.





    Poor Lucky got caught in the Tennesee Tornado!


    The Blazing Fury was quite the kiddie coaster. Since it’s tied into a dark ride, the best seats are in front to view the storyline and character action. Don’t get your hopes up to high though, as Blazing Fury is at its heart a kiddie coaster with minor storytelling action. In fact, I’ll say it’s rather quaint and leave it at that.





    The exit to Blazing Fury and its circa-1986 rockwork.


    The Wings of America Theater showcases the nation’s native and noble birds. We didn’t catch the full show but liked what we did see.



    Enclosures next to the theater allowed guests to view the birds even when the show was not in progress. The birds’ biographies were at times quite touching.




    Food! We hit the first restaurant we found and it happened to be a wok-fried eatery. We didn’t have high hopes for the dining at Dollywood — boy were we wrong. The food everywhere in the park was fantastic. The dining turned out to be a highlight of the Dollywood experience. We didn’t expect to find great, unique and tasty food so when we hit the fried bologna sandwiches stand, we laughed and thought, why not!


    My triple-decker, fried bologna sandwich is pictured below. Phil had the triple-decker BLT. They were both excellent. I’ll rave for days about the good food at Dollywood — fresh, filling, and delicious:


    In Craftsman’s Valley, there are numerous artisans practicing their trade. Blacksmiths and glassblowers, candle makers and leather toolers can be found here with reasonable and well-made wares. You can even buy furniture and carriages if you wish.














    A replica of Dolly Parton’s family church was worth a visit:


    The gift shops here were really incredible. The variety of goods was inspiring. Really, there was something for everyone and the souvenir stores went well beyond the typical plush, logo mugs, and T-shirts.










    The glass shop offered Dollywood-styled rainbow butterflies and red, white, and blue elephant earrings. I didn’t ask if they had any donkey earrings in stock.




    Yes, we did stop at the Grist Mill and buy snacks. We (I, actually) couldn’t resist the baked goods.






    Bellies full, Phil and I headed for a new adventure, the Mountain Slidewinder. It’s a big trek to the top of this mountain, and once at the peak, your group is weighed and paired with an appropriate selection of riders. These free-sliding rubber bobsleds could easily flip the flume if they’re not weighted properly. It took a few minutes for the two of us to find out bobsledding partners, but we made it onto the ride and totally loved the experience. The Mountain Slidewinder is a wet one. Thankfully we had left all our goods and the camera in a nearby locker. After riding it once, we had to go back and ride it again. Then after that, we had to climb those stairs once more just to take photos of what we had accomplished.








    The view from the top of the Slidewinder mountain is blocked by the surrounding forest, but once in a while, you can get a vista worth appreciating. The Barnstormer swings is in the distance.


    Looks like Dollywood is also taking steps to improve their coaster standing. Just a guess, but these foundations look like the beginnings of something coaster-ish to me.




    The Barnstormer is new to Dollywood as of 2011. It was very well designed with a thrillride attached to a small kiddie playground. I appreciate that whatever Dollywood does, they keep the whole family in mind.




    I truly enjoyed Dollywood — much more than I expected to. The rides, food and themeing worked for me on many levels. However, I wasn’t too pleased by the Jukebox Junction and Adventures in Imagination lands. They ran together and felt, sorry Dolly, rather flat and cheap. Instead of an immersive experience, everything in those lands felt temporary like a backlot set and, again, cheap.
















    The Dolly Parton museum was worth the visit. Sorry, no pictures allowed, but she did have costumes from her films, including nearly everything she wore in “9 to 5,” and “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”



    Quey Bot is Dollywood’s own front-of-line ticket system. It’s not a bad idea if the park is crowded, but the Sunday we visited, there was practically no one in sight. Frankly, if I could make a change to the Quey Bot system, it would be to change the name. Shouldn’t it be more like Queue Bot? Or if that’s not easily understood, what about the even simpler Q-Bot?




    Dollywood’s Showstreet could be considered a full-scale version of Main Street U.S.A., but there are differences, namely the scale. Dollywood’s structures are full-sized and non-linear along their forested streetscape, but they do have that familiar candy-colored appeal.










    The bakery along Showstreet is home to the famous 25-pound apple pie.




    The Be Attitudes gift shop is a combo store of Christian and patriotic goods:


    That rainbow butterfly is quite iconic:


    Dreadful... I'm sorry Dolly, but that Sha-Kon-O-Hey show made me avert my eyes several times. It's not the music, or the dancing, or the gung-ho gymnasts backing up this bad show. No, I blame the script and the direction. Not only was the book too wordy, long, and confusing, but the actor's directions to read those lines was terrible. How many times must the audience look at Granny's backside while she recites something to stage scenery? How many different ways can a child ask, what will the future bring Grandma? And how many times must we consult the Magic Tree for the mysterious answers to life's queries? Frankly, I don't care. I just wanted to tear up the horrid script and start over with a few acting classes for the main cast. Hooray for the backup dancers who didn't have any lines! The rest of the beast has got to go.






    Those cuddly Religetables received their own attraction in Dollywood’s County Fair. The Sideshow Spin is for kids as are most of the rides in the County Fair.




    The themeing throughout the park kept catching me off guard. Once in a while there were aberrations, but altogether, Dollywood was beautiful. Check out this simple County Fair lemonade stand. It’s more than just a box. Instead it’s really cute and inviting. I even like the chip display beside the cast member.


    A mystery! Anybody out there know what this building is / was? It caught my eye and looks like it used to be something important. What is it?


    At the end of the day (sadly Dollywood closed at 7pm both days we visited), we wandered back around the park hitting our favorite rides one more time. There was no line whatsoever for the Tennessee Tornado.


    Adventure Mountain closes one hour before the park.


    The setting sun hit the Timber Canyon valley just right. It became so photogenic in those last few minutes before we left.






    The only way out of Dollywood is through the Emporium gift shop. Yes, that’s right. The only way one can leave Dollywood is by walking through the Emporium.






    Big thumbs up for Dollywood! What a wonderful place.

    If the MiceChatters enjoyed this collection of photos, I'll work on setting up the Dollywood Day 2 series for you guys. And maybe, just maybe, I'll share my pictures of the dreaded Pigeon Forge tourist traps. I'm still speechless over the attractions and gimmicks I saw in Pigeon Forge.
    Last edited by lynxwiler; 07-10-2011, 11:03 PM.

  • #2
    Re: DOLLYWOOD trip report! Lots and lots of photos

    We considered the hotels in nearby Pigeon Forge and, once we drove through it, were thrilled to have stayed far, far away from that 1980s tourist trap.
    HA! I've been to Pigeon Forge and the neighboring Gatlinburg several times back in the 80's and early 90's and tourist trap is a pretty accurate description. Both towns are also very high on the kitsch factor, but I'm a sucker for kitsch, so I love it in it's own tackily awesome way. I haven't been since 1991, but I really want to go back one day as I know a lot has changed in the last 20 years. I also really want to visit Dollywood as the times I visited the area in the past, it wasn't open for the season yet. One of these days.

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    • #3
      Re: DOLLYWOOD trip report! Lots and lots of photos

      Great TR, I'd love to see more. And I'd love to see what Pigeon Forge is all about. One of these I plan to take the family to Dollywood when the kids are able to ride the roller coasters. Thanks!

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: DOLLYWOOD trip report! Lots and lots of photos

        Well, that was the best trip report I can recall in a long, long time. Very well done and extremely enjoyable.

        I believe Dollywood was formerly a Silver Dollar City park before Dolly came on board. The crafts, bakeries and theming of the original park reminds me greatly of SDC in Branson, Mo.

        Thanks for sharing.
        Permanecer sentado por favor...

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        • #5
          Re: DOLLYWOOD trip report! Lots and lots of photos

          Originally posted by mickeyandme67 View Post
          Well, that was the best trip report I can recall in a long, long time. Very well done and extremely enjoyable.

          I believe Dollywood was formerly a Silver Dollar City park before Dolly came on board. The crafts, bakeries and theming of the original park reminds me greatly of SDC in Branson, Mo.

          Thanks for sharing.
          What a FABULOUS trip report!!! Makes me want to visit Dollywood right now.

          Mickeyandme67, the park reminded me of Silver Dollar City as well. That is also a great park (at least it was when I was growing up).
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          • #6
            Re: DOLLYWOOD trip report! Lots and lots of photos

            I love Dollywood and this report was great! The CInnamon Bread at the Mill is to die for!

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            • #7
              Re: DOLLYWOOD trip report! Lots and lots of photos

              I haven't been to Dollywood, or the south in general, in 3 years and its amazing how much that park has changed in just that time. I had no idea the River Battle, The Barnstormer, or Adventure Mountain even existed. Anyways, I love Dollywood and this was a great trip report.

              I'd recommend the Sweet Fanny Adams theatre in Gatlinburg for anyone going to the area. Its a small theater but it has very, very funny original plays.(And I'm not even a big theater guy.)

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              • #8
                Re: DOLLYWOOD trip report! Lots and lots of photos

                Ok, you got it! I'll work on Dollywood, Day II and add a little section on Pigeon Forge.

                I have to admit that while we were in Pigeon Forge, the experience was kind of "Eeew! Really? Please get me out of here!" Yet in reviewing my photos of the place (taken from the car window while driving by the madness of it all), Pigeon Forge does have some interesting nooks that I probably should have visited. I do like mini-golf courses after all. Perhaps it was the shock of seeing twenty of them all along one roadway that freaked me out.

                The mystery of the city's preponderance of Old-Time Photo shops will always confuse me though.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: DOLLYWOOD trip report! Lots and lots of photos

                  LOVE the Trip Report! Can't wait for Day 2! Dollywood is one of those places I am always intrigued by and glad to see it lives up to its reputation!
                  It's a Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah...Tip for Today!









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                  • #10
                    Re: DOLLYWOOD trip report! Lots and lots of photos

                    Please post more! We are considering going to Dollywood based on your report. What were the prices of the food?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: DOLLYWOOD trip report! Lots and lots of photos

                      Originally posted by craig View Post
                      Please post more! We are considering going to Dollywood based on your report. What were the prices of the food?
                      The food prices were quite fair and reasonable to me. Here are a few for you:





                      Aunt Granny's Buffet:


                      Miss Lillian's Buffet:
                      Last edited by lynxwiler; 07-10-2011, 10:33 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Re: DOLLYWOOD trip report! Lots and lots of photos

                        Pigeon Forge. It drove me crazy. I look at these photos now and actually find the city interesting, but to think that this is all there is has left me dumbfounded. Pigeon Forge is mile after mile of tourist traps; experiences and tchotchkes to waste time and money on. It’s comprised of $19.99 jewelry stores, As Seen On TV shops, off-the-shelf mini-golf courses, Zorb balls, airbrushed T-shirts, Build-a-Bear rip-offs, and more Old Time Photo shops that any one street should admit to having. As a fan of urbana, one would expect me to adore this cacophonous place, but I merely found it to be monotonous and uninviting.

                        As a photo project, MiceChatters may like these views. Take a look and let me know what you think of the city at the doorstep of Dollywood.









                        All of these photos, with minor exception, were taken out the passenger window of our moving rental car. I really didn’t want to stop and experience it for myself, as a drive-by was almost too much to take.

                        The closed down Movie Rider:


                        The Comedy Barn, a family variety show:


                        A defining mini-mall of the Pigeon Forge streetscape is the Three Bears General Store. It consists of a Christmas store, a Build-A-Bear knockoff, an Old-Time photo store, a Nascar sportshop, an ice cream store, and a fudge shop. The only thing it's missing is an "As Seen On TV" shop.






                        "We print photos from your wallet cellphone or camera on shirts"


                        Pigeon Forge Book Warehouse. Basement Sale $3.99 or Less.


                        Exotic Petting Zoo & Pony Rides:


                        Zipline and Zorb:




                        Looking for adventure? Fun for the whole family!










                        There is one serene spot in town, the Old Mill. It’s lovely and very commercialized at the same time. Just for the sake of its contrast to the crass world around it, Phil and I had to stop and see it for ourselves.


                        The most intriguing, get-outa-the-car architecture in Pigeon Forge was the Wonderworks Magic Theater beside the Hatfields and McCoys Dinner Show. Of course, Titanic! The World’s Largest Museum Attraction takes the cake.

                        This building


                        Sits next door to this building


                        Which sits next door to Titanic! The World’s Largest Museum Attraction


                        Titanic is a half recreation of the famous ship. No, it’s not a whole recreation, just the front half of the ship. There’s no explanation for it, but I believe that since the real Titanic broke in half as it sank to the bottom of the Atlantic, the designers of Titanic! are simply paying homage to that death-filled tragedy with their half a ship design.




                        Yes, that’s an iceberg.






                        The world’s largest museum attraction is not complete without a gift shop. What does this T-shirt say about the woman wearing it? That she goes down like the Titanic?


                        Yeah! Coloring and activity books! Coloring the third class passengers is fun! Yeah! What color should I make the frozen corpse floating in the water? Yeah!


                        Each penny is pressed with a great amount of force — just like the tremendous water pressure that crushed all those who went down with the ship to its icy grave. Yeah! A souvenir!


                        Before we depart Pigeon Forge, and I really do want to leave Pigeon Forge, let’s talk about Old Time Photos. I do not see the allure and never have, but here in Pigeon Forge, one can’t spit his chew without hitting an Old Time Photo shop. Couples and families can dress up and be who ever they wish to be, from cowboys to gangsters, or perhaps a cowboy or a gangster. If not a cowboy, then maybe a gangster. Are you a cat person or dog person? A Christmas fan or Halloween fan? A cowboy or a gangster? And why are there always guns involved? The only sample photo in which we didn’t see a gun was a baby pictured with a Union Jack. Please, please, please explain the allure of Old Time photos.





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                        • #13
                          Re: DOLLYWOOD trip report! Lots and lots of photos

                          LOL. It reminds me of Buena Park, Orlando, and Branson on steroids.
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                          • #14
                            Re: DOLLYWOOD trip report! Lots and lots of photos

                            she goes down like the titanic? Brilliant, I would love to drove through the town and stop at dollywood but I definitely don't see myself stopping anywhere in town.
                            Originally posted by skybluefusion
                            drphibes is high on technicolor all the time and refuses to keep his colors in the pants.

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                            • #15
                              Re: DOLLYWOOD trip report! Lots and lots of photos

                              Thanks for sharing, I have always wanted to go to Dollywood!


                              :love:Bringing the Love since January 10, 2011:love:
                              We were sent over there with the message that only we would defend Disney quality.. We learnt quickly that the Japanese culture speaks to a level of quality that is hard to comprehend. They were all unbelievably skilled and willing to do the right thing.
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