Dollywood!

Today was the day of fun – Dollywood all day!  Weather was supposed to be nice and after the half day yesterday I only had a few coasters left to ride.  We chose to relax in the morning, just shop and mosey about the bottom of the mountain.  IMG_3760

In our meanderings I was able to check a box for my nerd-cred, watching the singers at the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame.  Lets just say they wont give Garner Holt a run for his money anytime soon.  The museums was interesting, but I would have liked more music playing as you wandered around.

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Next was on to the Chasing Rainbows museum.  This was a neat museum full of Dolly’s costumes and publicity from over the years.  Another area I wanted more music playing.  There also was very little explanation of anything on display or her career.  My favorite part was the tribute room for Porter Wagoner with a video and one of his wonderful suits.  You don’t really notice it when looking at her gowns, but when I saw this pant suit it was clear she was quite small for having such a wonderful big voice!

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We watched several shows, including the Gazillion Bubbles show.  It was my first time at one of these and really had no expectation of what was to come.  I was quite impressed at the showmanship, I mean it isn’t an easy feat to entertain hundreds of people by just blowing bubbles!  He did a great job with huge bubbles over people, intricate bubbles within bubbles and, of course, a gazillion bubbles!  IMG_3810

This was a very fun,  fairly rare ride called Sky Rider.  You are lifted 70 feet up in the air and circle around in your ride vehicles, but the neat part is you have control of your flight path.  You can swing in and out by changing the wing setting.  I don’t see this ride very often, the last time was at Holiday Land.  IMG_3854

Enough stalling – on to the coasters.  This was by far my favorite, the Wild Eagle.  Fast, smooth, and taking great advantage of the terrain.  I finished all the coasters in the park, and overall rated them above average.  The wooden coaster Lightning Rod was amazing, I think it is one of, if not the, fastest in the country.  Oh, and the water rides were quite fun as well.  The Mountain Sidewinder was the most oddball – you have to hike a half mile uphill, get weighed and divided into specific seats on the boogie-board looking ride vehicle, then it is like a bobsled-type ride, but in water.  IMG_3815

At the end of the day we had a wonderful time at Dollywood.  It has a nice, laid-back atmosphere where you don’t feel rushed and the theming is top-notch.  One of my few quibbles is the uneven park layout.  By that I mean all of the air-conditioning, restaurants and shows are all at the base of the hill.  Almost all of the coasters are at the top of the hill.  This means when you are hitting one coaster after the other, after a pretty intense hike uphill, there is no respite area.  There aren’t near enough benches or shade up there.  I wouldn’t hesitate to come back again, there were shows we missed and I just enjoyed wandering around looking through shops, talking to the artists at work and looking for the little details which sometimes, like the tableaux above, I believe were just there to make people smile.  And isn’t that what vacation is all about?

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