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Outpost Dollywood

Amusement Parks

Dollywood is the amusement park project of country music icon Dolly Parton and her family. While Dolly was building her music career, the park began as a tourist railroad at the entrance to Smoky Mountain National Park. Visitors paid $5 to ride an old narrow gauge timber railroad five miles up a forested valley.
By the time Dolly bought the operation and a thousand acres surrounding it, the village of Pigeon Forge had begun its explosion into a tacky three mile long tourist trap of neon signs and go kart tracks.
But the park she renamed for herself has evolved into a very classy attraction. Roller coaster enthusiasts have generally dismissed the park. It has never offered coasters to rival Cedar Point, Kings Island, Kennywood, Holiday World or Indiana Beach. But while they weren’t looking, Dollywood assembled a fine collection of classic flat rides and wrapped them in superb landscaping, theming, food outlets, arts and crafts, shows and boutiques. Without much fanfare, they built a great steeler, the Tennessee Tornado, at the head of the valley.

In 2005, Dollywood unveiled its masterpiece : Thunderhead. A magnificent woodie, brand new but echoing the classic elements of all the best wooden coasters of the last century, Thunderhead leaped overnight into wood’s top 10. All of a sudden Dollywood was hot. Coaster buffs from everywhere head to the Smokies to ride Thunderhead, and while they’re there, they’re discovering the rest of the park, the various attractions of nearby Gatlinburg, and the natural splendors of the vast Smoky Mountains. But Dolly wasn't done. In 2006 she unwrapped another dozen rides, more than any park has debuted in one season in a century. Dollywood is now in The Big Time. It is the largest pure amusement park in the South. No other park can match the live musical entertainment, the down home country food, the arts and crafts, or the Southern Appalachian theming, with farmhouses, old mills, barns and gurgling streams. Dolly herself keeps an apartment in the park.

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