As a gal who grew up going to Disney on her grandfather’s golden pass, it takes a whole lot to impress me in the whole theme park arena. I get bored easily so I need something new, fresh, and exciting to keep my interest.
I wasn’t sure what to think when I heard that we were going to Dollywood. As I was driving to our three-story cabin on the tip-top of a mountain, I saw one of the Dollywood roller coasters rising out of the forest and I felt my first surge of elatement in a very, very long time.
Who loves roller coasters? THIS GIRL!
I went to Brandcation not knowing a single soul so I stood back and listened intently to find out who was going to brave the coasters first thing. I found a group and asked if I could tag along for some coaster rides. Everyone at Brandcation was extremely open-armed and I received a warm welcome – thankfully, because it was quite chilly that morning.
We headed off to find the roller coasters and had absolutely no trouble because Dollywood is FULL of roller coasters.
What really struck me about Dollywood was the sheer volume of trees in the park. It is probably the most beautiful theme park I’ve been to because its backdrop is the Smoky Mountains. The scenery has been so greatly preserved for a theme park that you feel like you’re strolling through an enchanted forest dotted with sweet artisanal shoppes and merry rides. The roller coasters are giant metal and wooden beasts that rise out of the tree tops, roaring their way through the stillness of the Smokies. It’s just breathtaking.
I’ve never ridden a roller coaster and had something stunning to look at as I made my ascent to the top of the initial drop. At Dollywood, it was easy to get lost in the view and find yourself plummeting over a metal hill on a train that won’t stop.
We had the pleasure of riding Dollywood’s newest roller coaster, Wild Eagle. It is a “wing coaster” where you ride on the outside of the track as opposed to under or over it. I’m somewhat of a roller coaster aficionado and I’m not making any brown-nosing comments when I tell you that this is the smoothest roller coaster I have ever in my life had the pleasure of riding. You really feel like you are gliding through the air when you’re on this coaster, even during the loops. It also has the steepest ascent of any similar coaster I’ve ridden. I felt like it was close to a 90* angle. SCARY.
We rode the coaster with a couple roller coaster designers who say that the back of the coaster (my fave) is the best place to get whipped around on any coaster because it is where you feel the most extreme forces. They said that on this coaster, the front is the best, though. The most force can be felt going up into a loop or turn, and the fact that you are dangling on the outside of the track makes it a much more frightening ride. Perhaps, but I stuck to the back because, well, quite frankly, I’m terrified of heights and the thought of dangling over the first drop waiting for the tail of the train to catch up makes me want to have a coronary.
We moved on from Wild Eagle and braved the Mystery Mine coaster. I won’t tell you anything about it other than it is THE scariest roller coaster I have EVER ridden. EVER EVER EVER. Seriously. I left the coaster with an extremely raw throat from screaming my brains out. Then I rode it again. It was a blast.
Dollywood also boasts the 4th best wooden roller coaster in the world. It is called “Thunderhead” and it was, by far, my favorite coaster there. The twists were phenomenal and you get SO much air time on this coaster.
But the real secret in Dollywood is their shows. The shows are vibrant, inspired, and fun. Theme park shows have a tendency to become monotonous to me, with B-rated acting and decent music. The shows at Dollywood are wonderful. When I left “Dreamland Drive-In” I felt like I was leaving a Broadway performance. I was genuinely blown away and enjoyed every minute of it.
Dollwood hosts a plethora of other shows so don’t waste your day just waiting in line for the rides. I waited until the end of the day to catch shows and if I had it to do over again, I’d plan my route and day around show times and locations. Go for the coasters, stay for the shows. You won’t be disappointed.
I also want to touch on the fact that Dollywood is no stranger to people with food allergies. They take extreme precautionary measures to make sure that people with food allergies are well accommodated during their visit. They have sealed packages of ketchup, salt, pepper, and utensils that are given to people with food allergies, and they color code their entire kitchen so that no cross-contamination takes place. They also offer gluten free meals and desserts which is SOOOO exciting to this G-Free family!
Like I said earlier, it takes a lot to impress me in the Theme Park arena and Dollywood really blew my expectations out of the water. I was so sad to leave, but I really cannot wait to go back. I was there from 8:30am until 6pm and I didn’t get to see everything. I look forward to taking my family back and experiencing the slower pace of shows and shopping. Nobody else in my family likes ‘coasters.
Dolly also has the Dixie Stampede dinner show which has some phenomenal horse tricks and beautiful southern-inspired clothing. Our first night in Pigeon Forge was spent at Dixie Stampede. I was peppered with goose bumps on more than one occasion. We ate the most rich and delicious soup my taste buds have danced with, and had little chickens too. There’s no silverware here so come prepared to eat with your hands. Your kids will LOVE being able to play with their food and eat with their hands while you enjoy a little North/South history. You could easily come to Pigeon Forge and only see Dolly’s attractions.
Bless your heart, I’ll bet she’d love ya’ for it.
***I have to extend an ENORMOUS thank you to Dollywood for hosting us and for the DELICIOUS lunch at Ham & Beans. Also to Dixie Stampede for the Funtastic show and mouthwatering dinner. All opinions and experiences are, as always, my very own and have not been influenced in any way.***