Dollywood: The Dolly Parton themed theme park owned by the Queen of Country Music herself. Located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains. And the location for the annual girls weekend away in October 2010.
We had been loyal Dolly Parton fans for a while now – 9 to 5 had become a karaoke classic and seeing her at Radio City Music Hall in New York on her 2008 Backwoods Barbie tour had sealed the adoration. Blonde wigs accounted for and Ipods at the ready we were set. We flew into Nashville hired a car and headed South – Pigeon Forge is about a four hour drive from Nashville.
As the lights got brighter, the billboards bigger and the crazy golf courses wackier we suspected we had arrived. We chose to stay a bit out of town and rented a cabin in the Smoky Mountains itself, which I would recommend to anyone. It was a rustic mountain cabin hidden in the hills and allowed us to retreat into our own hideaway We had our own kitchen, 3 bedrooms, and a outdoor hot-tub which after unpacking we piled right into. Cold coronas in hand with the mountains and Dolly belting out Jolene setting the scene, we could hardly believe we had made it. Dollywood here we come.
We had an early start the next day to make sure we arrived when the park opened – we did not plan on missing a thing. We bought our tickets, picked up our maps and as we passed the threshold our excitement levels were soaring. Once we got our bearings and coffee in hand our first stop was the Dolly’s family show. Many members of Dolly’s extended family played Dolly classics together – and they sounded awful like her. A great start. Next we made our way to the Dolly Parton express – yes Dolly has her own steam train. This is a great way to cover the whole park and great vistas of the surrounding mountains too. That was all a bit too gentile for many members of our party – the rollercoasters could be put off no more. I managed the first one.
We whiled away the rest of the afternoon meandering around the grounds. With all the little inns and shops – it had a very village fete feel with glass blowing, a bakery and lots of places to stop for snacks – pork scratchings! Accompanied by the aroma of hot apple cider wafting by. We had time for one more afternoon show of country classics and then before we knew it it was time to head out. Just enough time for a stop in the souvenir shop, for our lucky loved ones. We wouldnt be forgetting this place in a hurry.
Still on a Dolly induced high from the day we headed into town for a slap up barbecue supper of baby back ribs and cold beer before retiring to our mountain home. Dollywood had been a trip to remember – and makes for a hilarious Girls weekend away. Calling all Dolly fans… Here You Come Again…