ot knowing where we’d be on my birthday, we waited until the last minute to decide how we’d celebrate. It turns out we were an easy drive from Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, home of Dolly Parton’s theme park Dollywood. What a perfect way to spend a birthday. We had a great time, too, in spite of the 9000 degree heat and 9 million percent humidity.
The best part of the day was Thunderhead, the life-threatening wooden rollercoaster. I screamed so loud and for so long that my throat hurt for two days, it was well worth it though and I’d do it again tomorrow if I had the chance. There a few other rollercoasters at the park, but they involved too much time upside down, so I sat in the shade while Max took his chances. His pale complexion and shaky legs after the rides were proof that I’d made the right choice.
Even though we had a lot of fun, Dollywood was not what I expected. What I expected, and what I was looking forward to, was a park full of loud, tacky, hillbilly fun and lots of bosom jokes. But no! Dollywood has no bosom jokes! Dollywood has no bosom at all! Can you imagine that? The only slightly bosomy reference came from another park visitor who, upon seeing a big display of two baby owls said sadly to his friend, “I think those are the only hooters we’re going to see here!”
That made me laugh, of course, but it also made me take notice of how little “Dolly” there actually was in Dollywood. No Dolly songs piped in, no theater showing Dolly concerts, no Dolly timeline tracking her rise to stardom. I’m not what you’d call a hardcore Dolly Parton fan, but I do like her. Despite all the plastic surgery, she seems like a real person, and there’s a joyfulness about her that’s infectious. I imagine a lot of people going to Dollywood are hardcore Dolly Parton fans, so it was surprising, and disappointing, that more of her big personality didn’t show up in the park.
Before Dolly became a partner and it was renamed Dollywood in 1986, the park had the “mining town” theme that still remains. Other than putting up the Dollywood signs and adding lots of Dolly-to-go in the gift shops, it doesn’t look like much was changed, and that seems like a bit of a cop-out. Okay, it seems like a big cop-out, but it was still a fun place to spend my birthday and the wooden rollercoaster was fantastic!
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