A Smoky Mountain native shares signs that you, like she, might be addicted to Dolly Parton’s namesake park
Dollywood is known as the friendliest theme park in the world, and for those of us who grew up with the park practically in our backyard as I did, visiting Dollywood feels like coming home for the holidays. Of course, there are other theme parks in the world. But they’ll never have the charm that Dolly Parton has been able to bring to Dollywood. If you frequently visit, you might just share a few things in common with some fellow fans of the attraction. Here are seven signs you might be a Dollywood addict:
1. You feel sad when it’s closed for the season
It’s not uncommon for folks to get a little sad in the colder months, especially when the holidays are over. But it seems like as soon as Dollywood wraps up the Smoky Mountain Christmas event, there’s an emptiness that fills the air like an old friend is out of town for a while. The only consolation? Everything else in the area is typically less crowded since it’s the slow season in Pigeon Forge.
2. You have a souvenir mug collection at home
If you frequent Dollywood, you already know that one of the best buys in the park is the refillable mugs. After you buy the mug, refills are only $1.99 for any sodas or $2.99 for any hot or frozen beverages. Years pass, and before you know it, your cabinets are filled with oversized mugs with bendy straws and miscellaneous images of Dolly Parton and roller coasters. Eventually, it becomes a point of pride to collect each one. Like collecting Pokémon, you gotta “catch” them all.
3. You know the train leaves with a big jerk
It never matters how many times I hear the same cheesy joke on the Dollywood train. I will laugh every time. Whenever I’m on Klondike Katie or Cinderella, I eagerly wave at guests throughout the park and fondly remember the show that once played out halfway through the ride.
4. You have at least one Dolly-spotting story
Ok, if I’m being honest here, I do not personally have any Dolly-spotting stories. I did see her in concert a few years back. But Dollywood is very much an homage to our Appalachian queen, and some people will swear that she walks around her own park in disguise. Some even claim to have seen her. I sometimes enjoy playing into this little thought experiment, keeping my eyes peeled for incognito Dolly. She is never seen in public without her makeup, wigs and high heels. So a “played-down” Dolly exists as a mythical creature that some claim to have seen, but none have been able to prove.
5. You got your moonshine education from Thunder Road
While Thunder Road is now gone (but not forgotten), most of us who grew up with the park remember this ride fondly. This action-adventure ride was not only thrilling, but it was also surprisingly educational. Based on the 1958 movie “Thunder Road”, the ride took guests on a journey of running moonshine through mountainous Tennessee roads. The tale is loosely based on real-life events. The ride was later replaced by Chasing Rainbows which will be replaced once again by the Dolly Parton Experience slated to open in 2024, which we expect to be just as fabulous as the queen herself.
6. Cinnamon bread is life
Dollywood has surprisingly good theme park food, and it’s something I always took for granted as a kid. Once I became an adult and experienced other theme park fare, and how expensive it is, I became even fonder of Dollywood’s treats. There are a lot of great options to grab food in the park. You can never go wrong with Aunt Granny’s or the Front Porch Café. But for me, there’s just something about the corndogs and signature tater twirls that always hits the spot. And lately, I’ve also been enjoying their food trucks. Most importantly, fans of the Dollywood theme park know it’s just about impossible to walk past the Grist Mill without indulging in Dollywood’s famous cinnamon bread. After all, it’s easy to justify the calories after all that walking around the park.
7. You know all the lines to Blazing Fury
The first time I took my Texan husband on Blazing Fury and quoted all the lines, he looked at me like I was insane. Six years later, I’ll still look at him every now and then while fully embracing my Southern accent and say, “I wanna kiss on you some!” Sometimes, he’ll play along and say, “Kiss? You look like you’ve been kissin’ that steam train!” I’ve trained him well.
Any out-of-towner may look at Blazing Fury and think it’s cheesy and outdated … especially when compared to the rest of the park. But some of us relive our childhoods on that ride. It’s the oldest coaster in the park and still has handmade props and scenes. The world may be a crazy place, but we know some truths are constant: Molly’s about to jump, Luther has a weak back and the stables are on fire. We know where all the Easter eggs are and fondly remember the once-splash down at the end of the ride – but appreciate the fact that Dollywood is doing what it can do to preserve this relic in time. If you ever complain to a local about Blazing Fury, just be warned, them’s fightin’ words. Fire in the hole!
Dollywood is located at 2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd, Pigeon Forge TN 37863. For more information, visit their website at dollywood.com. Remember if you’re planning a trip to Dollywood, check Tripster for discounts.
Can you relate to any of these items? Do you have any to add? Let us know in the comments.