A similar question came up when we went to South Dakota and that turned out to be a great vacation. So I am hopeful that this will be the same. Sandy has been to the Great Smokey Mountains and the first thing she said when I told her I’d decided on Tennessee was to be sure to visit Dollywood.
I admit, Dollywood wasn’t on the top of my “to do” list and I reluctantly said ok, if it’s close enough. Well it sure is close enough. Located in Pigeon Forge it’s less than 10 miles from Gatlinburg.
Dollywood isn’t open year round so I was still thinking I might get a reprieve if it wasn’t open for the season but that didn’t work out either. According to the website it’s opening on March 22 so even if they were to delay the opening for some reason it’s still sure to be up and running by May.
But here’s where it gets interesting. I was dragging my feet because I don’t like amusement parks. 6 Flags is a waste of money for me and I only go to Canobie Lake Park in New Hampshire on occasion to take pictures. But Dolly stresses that her park is a “family adventure” (don’t call it an amusement park”).
My sister says this is the cleanest park she has even seen! Although there are more than 30 rides there are also musical shows, restaurants and arts and crafts shops where wood carving, glassblowing and quilting are demonstrated.
Although Dollywood had to bear the brunt of a number of jokes when it first opened it now hosts 2.5 million guests in a typical season. No longer a laughing matter, Dollywood is a major employer for the region. As of 2010, the park was the biggest “ticketed” tourist attraction in Tennessee each year for more than a decade.
So I have had a change of heart and moved Dollywood from a reluctant location on my itinerary to one of the “must see” stops. They say the Ferris wheel is 60 ft. high. Imagine the pictures I can get from up there!