2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd.
Pigeon Forge, TN
My main focus when I decided on Tennessee for the summer of 2013 was the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I was ready for a serious dose of nature therapy, and I admit that Dollywood was not on my list of must-sees at the time. I knew it was Tennessee’s single most popular and visited ticketed attraction, but not being one that feels I need to follow the crowds, that didn’t convince me. But friends who had been in this area insisted I should not miss it, and boy am I ever glad I listened to that advice!
Not only was it a totally fun experience, but getting to know a little more about Dolly through the museums and movies featured, I found I could relate to her personally more than I had previously imagined. I had to laugh when I read that in 1986, all of her business people, lawyers and accountants told her that such a huge financial project was a foolish move. Her response, “Well, I’m going to do it anyway because I know it’s the right thing to do in my gut.” You go, Dolly! That reminded me so much of the reactions to my announcement in 2001 that I was going to start solo fulltime RVing. It may not have made practical sense, but I’m also so glad I listened to my gut anyway!
Speaking of RVing, of course one of my first stops in the “Adventures in Imagination” section was to check out Dolly’s 1994 former home-on-wheels, a 45′ Prevost that was driven over 600,000 miles.
Dolly’s appreciation of gifts of the road was evident by her quote, “All the miles we’ve traveled on this bus sure have inspired a lot of my songs. I love looking out the window, watching as we pass through all the beautiful countryside. I’ll grab my guitar… and the lyrics just pour out while those wheels are turnin.”
I enjoyed getting a tour of the inside and picturing Dolly on the road, pickin’ and a’grinnin!
But Dolly’s deep appreciation for her roots and her love of nature are also plain to see from her two room childhood Locust Ridge Smoky Mountain Home, recreated here.
I also really enjoyed the taste of life in the 50s at Jukebox Junction and reliving my own childhood memories from this time period.
And I’m still so much a kid at heart, I couldn’t resist going on some rides, even though it had been longer than I’d care to admit since I’d done this sort of thing. I had an absolute blast! It was just the right combination of thrill and adrenaline rush, but not so much that I was sick or weak-kneed when I got off. These were my two favorites.
There are lots of options from mild to wild, and it was also fun to go into the kiddie section to watch and hear their squeals of delight. There are various full service restaurants and fast food options, many demonstrations, movies and music throughout the day and fireworks to send you home at night. Plan on a whole day at least, and be ready for aching feet by the time you leave – there’s just so much to see and do!
I spent a lot of time in her museum and “attic” looking over the costumes from her movies, pictures of her with famous friends and her different looks and hairstyles as the years went by. I really got a kick out of her handwritten notes that are posted on the wall, one in particular (about her hair in the photo of her, Rod Stewart and Cher): “Remind me to never do my own wigs.” I saw we definitely have losing things in common from her note, “Has anybody seen my glasses??”
Reading about her dreams and feelings about them as they started coming true were particularly heartwarming: “I will never forget how excited I was when I heard I was going to make a real record… I was barely able to contain myself – that other world I had dreamed about was out there waiting…and had finally sent me an invitation.”
And lest anyone think she’s a fluffy pushover and got where she is today on anyone else’s terms, “Many an old boy has found out too late that I look like a woman but think like a man. It is a great mistake to assume that because I look soft, I do business that way.” I am encouraged to see a woman do things her way despite trying to be persuaded otherwise.
But my all-time favorite quote of hers is this one: “I refuse to settle for something less than great. And if it takes a lifetime, then that’s how long I’ll wait. ‘Cause all I want is everything… is that too much to ask?” Apparently not, if you’re willing to dream big and actually put forth the effort to follow those dreams! What an inspiration!
See my blog post about attending the press conference outlining her newest big dream, the DreamMore Resort. I was able to ask her a question about RV facilities at the new resort, and I’m looking forward to seeing yet another dream come true for Dolly that we all get to share in!