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Re: Photo TR: From Dollywood to Holiwood

PostPosted: Thu Jun 08, 2017 3:14 pm
by Nrthwnd
Yes. If I was staying at or near Dollywood, THIS is the hotel I would want to stay at!
DreamMore looks wonderful. And YAY for red pandas! :smile:

Looking forward to more of your trip.

Re: Photo TR: From Dollywood to Holiwood

PostPosted: Thu Jun 08, 2017 3:37 pm
by ytterbiumanalyst
boldikus wrote:I'm assuming we'll get to this with the next update, but they do have trams over to the park, right? Like we wouldn't have to move our car from the resort if we wanted to do the park/waterpark?

Shuttle buses, not trams, but yes. You don't have to move your car at all, and the resort has free parking!

boldikus wrote:Can you get trams into Pigeon Forge for touristy stuff there?

No, the shuttle only goes to Dollywood and Splash Country. If you want to go into Pigeon Forge, you'll need your car.

boldikus wrote:And since I know there is no booze in the park should I assume no hotel bar either? LOL!

You should not assume that! They have a full bar, and even their own signature drinks! The Front Porch Swing (a rum-based fruity concoction with pineapple juice as the primary mixer) was my favourite. Reasonably priced especially considering it's a resort, with beers about $4-5 and specialty drinks about $8-9.

boldikus wrote:There is drinking in Pigeon Forge, yes? :lol: :lol:

I think so, but (spoilers!) we never went into town. The resort had so much to offer, and it was so relaxing just leaving the car there and taking the shuttle. We went for the true resort experience and just spent that part of the vacation completely on Dollywood properties.

Re: Photo TR: From Dollywood to Holiwood

PostPosted: Thu Jun 08, 2017 3:43 pm
by bert425
I've been so focused working on my TR from Coastermania! that I missed you had started this one.

it's great so far, and loving the pics!

this is exactly the type of trip we love, with "culture" stops mixed in with the Amusement/Theme parks.

can't wait to read the rest!

Re: Photo TR: From Dollywood to Holiwood

PostPosted: Thu Jun 08, 2017 6:34 pm
by ytterbiumanalyst
Day 2: Song and Hearth for Breakfast, Song and Dance for Tickets, and Songs from the Heart for Family

Sunday morning the first item on the agenda was to get Dollywood tickets. I had been told when I checked in that tickets would be available at 8AM, so I went down to the concierge desk at that time. No one was there. I waited just a minute or so, then one bewildered concierge asked what I needed, and I replied that I wanted to buy tickets. She said they wouldn’t open until 9, and that they don’t have any computers up yet. Turns out what I was told the night before was ticket misinformation #1 (ominous foreshadowing…).

Okay, so we’ll head to breakfast instead, then buy tickets afterward. Song and Hearth was incredibly awesome! It’s a buffet breakfast with an omelet chef and a pancake chef. Yes, you tell these men what you want them to make, and they do, and it’s delicious! I got a Denver omelet variant with extra veggies and my daughter got a birthday cake pancake! They also have the best bacon ever, lots of pastries, it’s great.

After breakfast, I went to get the tickets. We have Silver Dollar City season passes, so we get a 50% discount on undiscounted tickets. The way I read the policy online, that wouldn’t apply to the three-day tickets we wanted, but just to be sure, I asked the concierge. In hindsight, it would have been better to have just kept my mouth shut and gotten the resort discount, which was more than the advance purchase online discount.

What actually happened is that she told me, “Don’t you get free tickets?” Misinformation #2, but I knew we didn’t; I was just asking if the discount applied to the three-day tickets. To be clear, those are considered to be already discounted, so they aren’t undiscounted tickets and you don’t get an SDC passholder discount. To be super, super clear, I wasn’t trying to get a discount I didn’t deserve; I was only asking because I wasn’t certain if the three-day tickets qualified as undiscounted, which I now know they do not. So she called over to Dollywood guest services to ask them, and after she got off the phone, told me, yes you get 50% off those tickets. Misinformation #3.

Fantastic, I thought, 50% off! I picked up our TimeSaver passes from the concierge, and we boarded the shuttle bus to Dollywood. I then went to the ticket booth there and showed my SDC season passes we had brought with us just in case, and asked for my 50% off three-day passes (which, I remind you, I was under the impression was a discount we were entitled to, having just been told that by the DreamMore concierge). The ticket agent looked puzzled, which was not at all a good sign. She called over to guest services, and they said no such thing exists. Awesome. I could get three-day tickets at full price, or three one-day tickets at 50% off for SDC season passholders. After running the math, we figured out it would be more even with our discount to get three individual day tickets than it would for the three-day tickets—and to get the resort discount, I would have to go back to DreamMore. We were already at Dollywood, and I really was tired of this run-around, but on the plus side, I finally had accurate information! Fine, whatever, we’ll just buy the tickets here and finally start our day.

That snafu aside, Dollywood was a fantastic place, and that ended up being the only snag in our entire trip. Could have been much worse. I probably could have called ahead and gotten the right information straight from Dollywood, but I really did expect DreamMore’s concierge to know, and she just didn’t. I get that they probably don’t get a whole lot of SDC passholders at DreamMore, but it really should be a thing that they at least have a QRG for. Water under the bridge, and it didn’t ruin my trip or even my day, but it was a genuine frustration, and I think that is worthy of criticism.

We started off our day with the water rides, since everyone can ride those together. We went on Smoky Mountain River Rampage first, then Daredevil Falls, then Mountain Slidewinder. The last was my oldest’s favourite ride. She never got to ride SDC’s Wilderness Waterboggan, since it closed in 2008, and she was born in 2007. For me, it was a nice blast of nostalgia, and probably my second favourite ride after Mystery Mine (spoilers!).

I tried Barnstormer after that, but no one else wanted to ride. I looked in the queue, and it was *gasp* 10 minutes! F*ck that—I have TimeSaver Pass! Got on immediately, back hanging out with family after that. I love these things. Granted, we never really needed it, and never saw a line longer than 20 minutes the whole time. But we have it, and we’re going to use it!

We headed down Craftsman’s Valley next. This is the very SDC area of the park. There were storms in the forecast, so we skipped Blazing Fury, planning to come back to it later once the rain started. Spoilers (wow, I’m just ruining everything for you)—it never rained, but I totally forgot to come back to this area later, so we missed Blazing Fury that first day. All right, I’ve spoiled so much for you now, I might as well say I did get to ride it on Tuesday, but I swear that’s the last spoiler until the next one. Honest.

Tennessee Tornado was the first coaster of the day, and it was highly anticipated. Though to be honest, I was highly anticipating all the coasters here (well, except Whistle Punk Chaser, but my daughter was anticipating that one for me). No Time Saver needed on this one; it was a walkon in the regular queue. This thing is great! It’s super smooth, and I didn’t expect the third inversion. I had seen POVs, but I guess it didn’t register that what I thought was a second loop was in fact a batwing.

Next up was Firechaser Express, and one of two coasters that really benefited from Time Saver. You go straight up to the station and get to pick your row if you ask nicely. Brilliant little ride; not big or fast, but great fun. The show element really added a lot.

Wild Eagle was my son’s first wing coaster. He is just over 50 inches now, and he loved this ride.

We continued up the loop to River Battle, which was fun, but I think SDC’s River Blast has better interaction between boats, due to being a bit more compact. This was the only ride that is duplicated at both SDC and Dollywood, that I thought SDC’s version was better. Dollywood really is the “2.0” and has major improvements over SDC in almost every area.

Mystery Mine time! OMG, this is the best coaster here (except maybe Lightning Rod, but with it being down during my entire visit, couldn’t say). I loved just how f*cked up this thing is. It banks right and turns left. It drops beyond 90 degrees. It actually gets more intense as the ride goes on. It tells a story. There is so much to love about Mystery Mine. Time Saver Pass made it very easy to ride over and over. It was the only one other than Firechaser that really benefitted from the pass, as the line was consistently around 20 minutes.

Drop Line is a great tower. The rotation on the way up gives some great views of the Smokies, and the drop is fantastic! Whistle Punk Chaser is elongated just a bit compared to Grand Expo Coaster, so the final turn isn’t as tight, and it doesn’t slam into the brakes as hard. Thunderhead was really fun, maybe a bit rough but nothing too uncomfortable. My son loves wooden coasters, and had a good time on Dollywood’s only operating one.

Across the front of the park now for dinner at Red’s, then the Dollywood Express and the Heartsong show. Red’s was not great; I do not recommend, but it did make kids less hungry at least. The train was awesome; they told the story of the locomotive, but also stayed quiet a good deal as well so you could enjoy the scenery. SDC’s train used to be just like this, but lately it’s just a long advertisement with puns. Dollywood’s was much, much better.

The Heartsong show was really cheesy, but the kids liked it. We didn’t realize there would be weather effects, and I had my phone on the seat next to me. I scrambled to cover it when the rain started. We finished off the day with fireworks, even though it really wasn’t quite dark enough to see them properly, and headed back to the resort. It was a great first day!

Re: Photo TR: From Dollywood to Holiwood

PostPosted: Thu Jun 08, 2017 7:33 pm
by boldikus
Awesome update!

ytterbiumanalyst wrote:You should not assume that! They have a full bar, and even their own signature drinks! The Front Porch Swing (a rum-based fruity concoction with pineapple juice as the primary mixer) was my favourite.


:lover:

Image

Re: Photo TR: From Dollywood to Holiwood

PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2017 8:40 am
by bert425
the Memphis zoo is beautiful.

and it looks like you had a great day to go. . you said it was a Saturday?
and the crowds were that light?

sheesh... adding Memphis Zoo to my list of places we need to visit. (not sure I understand why the lego exhibits. . .(seems not permanent?), or the music playgrounds, but i love that kind of stuff, and we would have easily spent the whole day there).

do you remember admission cost?

Re: Photo TR: From Dollywood to Holiwood

PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2017 8:52 am
by ytterbiumanalyst
Oh, it was very busy, to the point that traffic was backed up on the road to get into the parking lot. One, we went very early, at opening. Two, the zoo is huge and the entrance is right in the middle, with easy access in all directions, so the crowds spread out well. It's just designed to handle the crowds. Admission is $15 adults/$10 children, and if you're a member of any AZA accredited zoo (which we are), then you get a 50% discount on admission. $5 parking.

And yes, the LEGO exhibit is not permanent; it's just there for about another month.

Re: Photo TR: From Dollywood to Holiwood

PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2017 8:56 am
by bert425
Dollywood is beautiful, and remains on my (now shorter) bucket list.

it's going to be a struggle to get Nick to go, as he's not a Dolly fan, or a Country Music fan, so that would really cut down on the number of shows we'd even consider going to (tho to be fair, at Cedar Point a week ago, I only watched one show, and that was because they were allowing us to watch the preview, so we sat and watched).

but what a beautiful park.. it's like a giant version of Frontierland (or Western Junction). . with that odd "hollywood streets - Six Flags Themed" section near Lightning Rod.

but wow it looks great.

not a lot of standard flats tho?

Re: Photo TR: From Dollywood to Holiwood

PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2017 9:05 am
by ytterbiumanalyst
Not outside the children's section. They have an S&S Screamin' Swing, Barnstormer, which is the best flat, and they have Lumberjack Lifts (a rider-powered drop tower of sorts) and Drop Line (Mack drop tower) over on the other side of the park. That's it, other than the Country Fair section, which has about a dozen flats for kids. I'll have more photos on my Day 4 update, as we didn't go to the Country Fair section until then.

And yeah, with the park's focus on Dolly Parton, pretty much all the shows are country, bluegrass, or gospel--which makes perfect sense, given that Dolly herself plays that kind of music. The park is still beautiful even if you never see any shows, and there's not a single bad ride.

Re: Photo TR: From Dollywood to Holiwood

PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2017 12:46 pm
by EliHorton
ytterbiumanalyst wrote:Not outside the children's section. They have an S&S Screamin' Swing, Barnstormer, which is the best flat, and they have Lumberjack Lifts (a rider-powered drop tower of sorts) and Drop Line (Mack drop tower) over on the other side of the park. That's it, other than the Country Fair section, which has about a dozen flats for kids. I'll have more photos on my Day 4 update, as we didn't go to the Country Fair section until then.

And yeah, with the park's focus on Dolly Parton, pretty much all the shows are country, bluegrass, or gospel--which makes perfect sense, given that Dolly herself plays that kind of music. The park is still beautiful even if you never see any shows, and there's not a single bad ride.

I thought the drop tower was a Funtime Skyfall? http://www.funtime.com.au/data/index9.htm Either way, I wish the two sister parks had more standard flat rides like Wild Adventures and Celebration City. Maybe if both parks at least got a vertical swing of sorts?