Hooray for Dollywood……

Okay.  Its confession time.  I’m not big on buying souvenirs!  There, I’ve said it!  I know there are those who love nothing more than to buy the shot glasses, the tee shirts, the bottle openers with swinging boobs, the stuffed cane toads holding tiny bottles of Bundy Rum (its a Queensland thing), the trucker caps, the fridge magnets, the kitschy and very often unattractive knick-knacks, the thong underwear that says ‘I love the Pope’ and the key rings etc. but frankly it is just not me.  Don’t get me wrong though, because I actually love to see the tackiest, most tasteless and the seriously hideous of mementos this country has to offer.  That I love!  I just don’t want to own any of it……until now!!  One word.  DOLLYWOOD!!!

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Dollywood is an amazing theme park set on 150 acres and is owned by the legendary country entertainer Dolly Parton.  It is as American as apple pie and the stars and stripes and in true Dolly style the park is brash and brassy yet wonderfully sweet and cheerful.

Dollywood easily made it onto my list of top 5 fabo places I had to visit while in America.  And did I mention it is my new favorite place.  Well it is!  Dollywood is family friendly and one of the happiest places on earth to be. It is clean, easy to navigate, the food is great, there is something for everyone, it caters for all ages, there are rides and attractions galore, the staff are very friendly and helpful and best of all…….there are rollercoasters!!

And as a rollercoaster pundit, I will happily state the rollercoasters at Dollywood are brilliant.  One of my favorites, The Thunderhead, is a wooden rollercoaster constructed of over 700,000 board feet of Southern Yellow Pine.  It has 22 turns and 32 cross overs and has heights and drops of 100 feet.  It was my first ride on a wooden rollercoaster and for the experience alone I am rating The Thunderhead 5 out of 5.

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My other favorite rollercoaster of the day was the Wild Eagle.  This is a piece of engineering brilliance.  The Wild Eagle is Americas first steel ‘wing’ rollercoaster with its highest peak at 21 stories.  There is nothing but air above you and air below you.  Another 5 out of 5 rating for the sheer thrill of this amazing ride.

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There is also something quite wonderful about Dolly Parton (apart from the obvious).  She is a campaigner for children’s literacy.  Her love of books has inspired her to set up a charity which provides books to disadvantaged children, free of charge, to over 700 communities throughout the world.  How could the gift of a book not be the most loving and thoughtful of acts.

Random photographs from Dollywood:

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One of Dolly’s wigs on board Dolly’s tour bus and yes, I was on Dolly’s tour bus

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Quirks of Dollywood:

*  Dolly’s Closet:  Do go to Dolly’s closet.  This amazing store is dedicated to Dolly clothing.  As you can imagine I didn’t buy anything!  I’m not really a rhinestone and sequin kind of girl.

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*  Popeye:  Keep a look out for Popeye, Dolly’s much loved little dog.  There are wonderful photos of him around the park and he always seems to have been photographed with the same expression.  Priceless!!

DO: Keep your eyes open for pictures of Dolly's dog, Popeye.

*  Souvenirs:  There is an amazing array of souvenirs to choose from at Dollywood.  One I found particularly odd however, were the hunting knives which are handcrafted on site.  The craftsmanship is beautiful but I could not help but wonder that you probably should not be purchasing a hunting knife at an amusement park.  Especially from such a cheerful and jolly amusement park at that.

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*  Eagle Mountain Sanctuary:  a safe haven for permanently disabled bald eagles not able to be released back into the wild.

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The beautiful and majestic bald eagle.  The national symbol of the United States.

 *  Lovely little birdhouses – I love birdhouses and there are plenty to be found which are dotted randomly throughout the park.

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*  Hot Cinnamon Bread:  The fully operational Grist Mill serves up to 1,200 loaves of this famous freshly baked bread daily.  The aroma of this sweet baking bread is unbelievable.

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Not the prettiest looking of breads but the taste….WOW!

Dollywood was wonderful and it was everything I expected and more.  I was so happy to be there my face hurt from smiling so much and I guess if I had to describe Dollywood in one word it would definitely be …..GO!!

And Dolly, I will always love you xx

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