It's hard to understate the influence that Dolly Parton brought to the East Tennessee Smoky Mountains. For 4 decades, she has been the undisputed queen of Country music and is the most honored female Country performer of all time. No silver spoon born in this girl's mouth, she came from very modest (to say the least) beginnings in the same hills that visitors now drive on to see the mountains and get to where they need to get to, rose up through the ranks of unknown local girl who could sing to American phenomenon, and kept up that energy and incredible work ethic up to today where she also cemented her legacy with one of the country's most popular and well-liked amusement parks - Dollywood.
And like the sweetheart herself, it's hard to understate what Dollywood means to us and what it provides guests and locals with its 30+ years in operation. What used to be sort of a joke to those who heard we had an amusement park named and somewhat modeled after Dolly Parton has ranked alongside Disneyland, Six Flags and Universal Studios for more than a decade and a half in terms of prominence. Part of the reason Dollywood continues to draw such popularity is its commitment to offering new additions and changes with each opening season. These additions and changes run the full gamut at Dollywood from rides, shows, and special events to foods offered at the restaurants, atmospheric elements and more.
If you haven't been to Dollywood at all this year, here's a quick look at what's been different for 2017.
New ride "Drop Line" opened. You ride a circular platform as it rises 20 stories in the air and then suddenly drops you and your fellow passengers like a rock from the side of a cliff. You're probably experiencing some chills just reading that summary - imagine how thrilling it will be once you experience it.
New ride "Whistle Punk Junior" opened up in Timber Canyon. This is the junior roller coaster from the County Fair section of Dollywood moved up next to the big roller coasters so the young'uns can have their fill of coastin' too!
Various new atmospherics all around the park. Signs, decorations, amusements and more.
Japanese dance troupe "Enra" performed at Dollywood in April 2017, showcasing an innovative fusion of dance, martial arts, and screen technology. Nothing like it that we've seen here in the Smokies, I'll tell you that.
New interactive "music" station near Timber Canyon where young'uns and grown-ups and can percussive music banging on huge pots, pans, and chromatically tuned plates.
The fountain at Market Square has been removed, presumably to help provide better accommodations for foot traffic.
Foliage obscuring the railroad around River Town Junction has been improved to allow better visibility.
Front Porch Cafe has a new full-service menu that features many food items which are reportedly Miss Dolly's personal favorites. Worth a look and a taste for that alone.
And I'm not sure if this is primarily a new thing or not, but in the times I've got to Dollywood this year, I've seen this HUGE tortoise, bigger than any turtle I've ever seen in the Smokies that wasn't at the Ripley's Aquarium, swimming for food and around the nearby creeks with a family of other turtles. Never seen turtles at Dollywood before 2017!
And some Dollywood things to coming up?
"Rock The Smokies" returns on September 2nd with a new lineup that includes Casting Crowns, Mac Powell, Jordan Feliz, Ryan Stevenson and more.
"Great Pumpkin LumiNights", a brand new part of Harvest Festival brings Halloween back to Dollywood after more than 20 years of absence! As Dollywood's website writes, "Dollywood's Harvest Festival presented by Humana is even more spectacular this season, with thousands of carved and illuminated jack-o-lanterns immersing families in fabulous fall fun. The largest addition ever made to Dollywood’s fall festival, Great Pumpkin LumiNights features artistic sculptures, whimsical scenes and delightful, family-friendly fun throughout Timber Canyon. Great Pumpkin LumiNights also features new pumpkin-themed food options, entertainment and interactive opportunities for park guests to experience an exciting nightly finale during the best fall festival in the Smokies."
If anyone needed a new reason to come to Smokies for Autumn, that would be it!
Now find the perfect cabin to go with your Dollywood trip with Bear Camp Cabins. Remember that Dollywood didn't get to live up to the wondrous reputation of its star namesake without keeping some of its best new additions a secret, so you'll definitely want to stay tuned to www.dollywood.com for any updates and keep a watchful eye on the availability of the cabin(s) that best suit your Dollywood trip at