So I had thought that the last park for the season for Melissa and I was going to be Kings Dominion back in October for the Haunt, but that wasn't the case. As many of you who regularly visit Screamscape may know, there was a contest that was going on for about 2 months where Lance was giving away pairs of Dollywood tickets and a free Q2Q pass with each pair. Turns out that I was the lucky winner of the final week's drawing, so it was only a matter of finding out when Melissa had a free weekend, and making the reservations.
The first thing I want to say about our weekend trip was that Melissa and I expirienced a lot of surprise throughout the weekend. I personally had expected that Pigeon Forge was going to be a town with one major attraction, a couple hotels and a few resturants. Neither Melissa or I expected to drive into the family friendly version of Las Vegas, with all the lights and such along the road. There were a lot of things that looked like it would have been fun do try out, we just didn't have the time to for this trip. When we arrived to the Holiday Inn right off of the Pigeon Forge Parkway on Firday night, the Front Desk clerk was very friendly. Not that fake friendly like when you go to some fast food resturaunts and everyone has "lines" for when customers come in to seem like they are friendly, but honestly friendly.
Because of a few errands I have to take care of this afternoon, I am going to post our "pre-Dollywood" pictures. When I finish the errands, I will post the Dollywood pictures and give my review of the park as well.
So Melissa was in an accident that was the fault of the other guy, but because our Hyundai is still being checked out at this point, we had this Grand Prix to take to Tennessee.
Melissa is ready for this trip, it's been a while since we got out of Greenville for more than a day.
Sunset ahead of us as we are about to pass Asheville on I-40
Pink Clouds! Makes we wonder if some soul-singing crows are going to tell us that we are in a tree.
The Smokie Mountains are just ahead. My grandma always told me how much she loved them before she passed away a few years ago. Now I understand why.
Yay! We have arrived to the Tourist Trap of Awesomeness!!!!!!
The next morning, I decided to do some exploring of the hotel. This was the pool area.....
....and this is the pool (ooooo, ahhhhh)
Outside we have a Smoky Mountain sunrise.
A little chapel right beside the hotel. Kind of fitting since Melissa and I have been married for five months as of the day that we arrived
Christmas Decorations right on the Parkway
Across the street from us was one of many go-kart places. This one had a screamin' swing!
Neat little shops that are being renovated alongside the hotel
First thing you walk into when you arrive at the hotel. Very nice!
Trees inside of the lobby
Higher view of the lobby.
And to wrap up this first update, a preview of what is to come! I will have more for you all this evening.
"Imagine the Crystal Beach Cyclone with a Gerstlauer train!"
Now that I have the errands done, it is time for the Dollywood portion of this photo trip report.
Before I give you the pictures, let me just say that the theme of surprise also went along with out day at Dollywood. Now I have to admit that I originally expected to a small extent that this place was going to be one of those places where the key character/person of the park would be plastered all over the place, or in other words, we would see some reference to Dolly everywhere we turned. I also kind of thought of this place as a possible country/bluegrass version of Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. As soon as Melissa and I walked into the gate, all of my initial thoughts disappeared, and did not come back once.
What we found was a beautiful park with a great, authentic feel to it. The buildings in Craftsmen Valley seemed like they were picked up and moved into place. Don't get me wrong, I love the look and theming of Busch Gardens Euroburg, but I would argue that this place is just as nice in looks, and also feels more authentic. For those of you who may have read Guy's Dollywood TR from last month, he is right-on when it comes to the friendliness of the people who work here. I have never seen such a friendly theme park staff.
Another thing that stuck out here were the shows. Melissa and I were able to see Babes in Toyland and Christmas in the Smokies, which were both top notch. Another thing people talk about at Dollywood is the food. Oh man! You can hardly walk 50 yards without the smell of something good passing your nose. Melissa and I had lunch at a place called Apple Jack's near the County Fair area, which provided a fine meal. Melissa had the Chili Bowl and I had an Apple Jack's Favorite Sandwhich.
And now my thoughts on some of the rides. The tempuature was probably around the 50's, so the rides were all open except for the water rides. here are my reviews in the order that we rode them. Rides with a number are coasters, and the number represents where it sits in my count since they are all new to me.
Dizzy Disk - This was the first Disk-o either of us had been on. I must say that we had a blast with this, it was like a funky version of a frisbee, but never the less a lot of fun. I am definatly going to ride more of these in the future.
Blazing Fury (#136) - The animatronics are as cheesey as you can get, but this was a ride that was fun with the drops being with a little more to it than I would have expected. Definatly a fun ride
Tennessee Tornado (#137) - This was the real shocker for Melissa and I. TT turned out to be a great coaster! I was definatly caught by surprise how this thing flew through the whole course even when it was cooler out. We rode 5 times with 3 of them the first time we were here and the other two at night when it was dark out. The back seat is definatly the place to sit for it provides very nice airtime on the first big drop through the tunnel, and the rest of the layout was really cool how it followed the terrain. It is a real shame how arrow went out of business, because if they could have started making their loopers like this one, they would have possibly made some great coasters! By far my favorite Arrow coaster, and possible top 10 worthy on my list.
Thunderhead (#138) - This was the coaster I was looking forward to the most. My first ride on it when it was still light out, I loved it. It doesn't have great ejector air, but it seemed to have some nice floater air here and there, and the layout was a lot of fun for the directional changes. I think I was dissapointed when I took one last ride before we left the park because I wanted to like it more than TT for some reason, but I just didn't. It may have also just been that the first ride was better than the second, but who knows. I definatly liked it a lot, and would have no problem riding many times over.
Timber Tower - I thought that this may be a fun ride, but I got off thinking it was rather pointless. It just kind of leisurly tilts to one side than the other, but never gets to the point where I felt like I was going to fall off. I don't know that I would make a point to ride it with a significant line.
Mystery Mine (#139) - Mystery Mine by far has the best theming of any coaster in the park. I loved this ride for it's theme, and the layout was a lot of fun. The only down side with this one for me was the some of the transitions were a little bit jerky to me. Loved the 90+ degree drops and the final two inversions. Definatly going to ride again on another visit since I only did it once.
VeggieTales Sideshow Spin (#140) - I rode it for the credit. This was one of the dinkiest kiddie coasters I have ever ridden. I felt like i was in a moving-mini penalty box.
Overall, my ride count was like this:
Tennessee Tornado - 5
Thunderhead - 2
Mystery Mine, VeggieTales, Blazing Fury, Dizzy Disk, Timber Tower - 1
In all, Dollywood has eaisily become one of my favorite parks. I felt that this place would be simmilar to Busch Gardens, and I feel that is accurate, but I would say that this place was better. My only complaints about our trip were things that really could not be controled, such as a little rainy weather and a case of laringitis that I had, which restricted my ability to yell on rides. Even still, Melissa and I had a wonderful time.
I would like to give a huge thanks the Lance over at Screamscape, for if it wasn't for his contest, it may have been a while before Melissa and I discovered this fine park. Now for the Dollywood pictures.
The tickets and Q2Q pass, courtesy of Screamscape!
Pulling into the parking lot.
And here we have the parking booth!
off of the tram, you can get a signature through-the-trees view of Thunderhead
once you pass through this gate, you will discover a wonderful park.
I love the look of this place
5 months and 1 day of marriage, and we couldn't be happier togeather.
Now that we can't distract you with our mushiness, here is the tree itself
Signature Dollywood food picture.......aww, come on now, you know you would take a picture of it too.
The tree out in the pond where the lightshow takes place.
again, I just love the look of this place
A look at the carousel area, also very nice.
Pickle hugging, as inspired by USRoadTripper, have you hugged your pickle today?
If pickles arn't your thing, you can also hug a tomato or potato
Disk-o time!!! (que some Bee Gees music)
I am crushed by my inability to be a credit whore on VeggieTales because of the rain that came for about a half hour.
Melissa decides to do the smart thing and take cover in this harmless looking cave.
Another signature Dollywood food picture
One of the many cool craftman shops located throughout craftsman valley, this one has wagons.
They even made a sleigh fit to be in Tim Burton's version of "The Santa Clause"
Melissa really gets intense when it comes to checkers, but should it really take that much strategy for the first move?
At first, I thought I was back in a North Carolina public school, but then I realized that this was too modern
If these rules were modern, I would think twice about getting my middle grade education degree.
One word comes to mind with this mejestic bird......TRUTHINESS!!!
First Credit of the day, Blazing Fury. A fun little coaster that the family can enjoy, unless you hate fun.
I don't think a female entertainer could stay on a pole THAT long!
Credit Numero Dos, Tennessee Tornado. The big surprise of the day coaster wise.
Signature Loop Picture.
Twisted Track Goodess from the station and through the fog. This ride is freakin' awesome at night in the back of the train!
I don't think the Allstate Accident Forgivness Plan covers this
Again, this place just looks awesome! Very authentic feel in my opinion. More pictures to be posted in a bit.
One thing about Dollywood is that it serves Melissa's love of Shopping and my love of Coasters!
See, Melissa LOVES shopping!
We all know what happens when someone comes out of the closet, but what happens when someone comes out of Dolly's Closet??????
One of the cool things about the contest was that a free Q2Q pas was included in the prize package. Since lines were non-existant on everything except Mystery Mine, we used it for the shows. You make a reservation at the rental center with your Q-Bot....
Find this little guy to get to the special entrance for Q2Q at the theater.
...and vwa la! You are given priority seats for the show... the first of which we saw was Babes in Toyland.
The flying contraption that the family rides to get back home from Toyland.
The cast of Babes in Toyland, they did a wonderful job!
We also saw Christmas in the Smokies which was here in the Celebrity Theater. Also a great show.
But now it's time for some more rides!
Third credit of the day, Thunderhead. The first time I rode it I thought it was an awesome ride, but the second time it seemed like a different ride. maybe the cooler weather did it, either way it was still a solid ride!
Signature Lift Hill Picture
Dollywood endorses the Robb Alvey Diet, which features daily servings of VAULT ICEE!!!!!!
Credit Four, Mystery Mine. Best themed ride in the park, a lot of fun, just a tad jerky. Still a must ride.
One of the best parts of the ride, which gives some nice hangtime!
When it gets dark out during Christmas, all the pretty christmas lights go twinkle!
Down the walkway from Timber Canyon down to the front of the park.
One of the houses all decorated nice and such
another house lit up at night
Many colored trees.
And a Big Blue Tree
Don't forget the multi-colored tree
The Dollywood Express is also lit up on the holidays
Yay!! VeggieTales opened back up!!!!! Gary can be a Credit Ho again!
Sweet TR! You're so lucky to be in the park when it got that dark. When I went, the sun was only setting when the park closed. Oh well, I've got to head back now, Dollywood is one of my favorite parks aside from Hershey, and Mystery Mine is my favorite coaster as of now.
Proud Coney Island Ride-op for 6 years! Kings Island MSD/Racer crew of 2011 Kings Island Vortex/Windseeker crew of 2012-2013 Best Coaster Ever: Phoenix Top Steel: Intimidator 305 (Maverick in CLOSE 2nd)
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