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Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Dollywood is Open From 9 to 5
Dolly Parton is more than just a multi-talented living legend. She is also a genius with her own highly successful theme park.
In 1961, a small tourist attraction called Rebel Railroad opened in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The property changed hands and names a few times, and was known for years as Silver Dollar City. In 1986, Dolly Parton became a co-owner of the attraction, and the park was renamed Dollywood.
The charming map you see here depicts Dollywood in 1989. A visit to the park's website today shows that little remains the same. Originally focused on arts and crafts, someone at Dollywood must have started playing the Rollercoaster Tycoon computer game. The park is now a force to be reckoned with, and as Dolly once joked, they "shut down Opryland." The newest ride for 1989 was the Thunder Express mine train coaster, which is no longer at Dollywood.
In 1990, Dollywood was in negotiations to open a theme park in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. It's too bad that deal fell through, as it would have been surreal!
My first and only visit to Dollywood was in 1991, when the new attraction was an Eagle Sanctuary. I had a great time there with my Mom. We enjoyed the Mountain Slidewinder (now closed), the Flooded Mine dark ride (gone) and the Log Flume (also gone, but the park introduced a new log ride called Daredevil Falls in the old location of the Flooded Mine ride).
Dollywood continues to expand, and to the delight of theme park enthusiasts, frequently presents attraction concept pitch surveys online. Many of the new attractions (like the 2008 interactive water ride addition, River Battle) are very creative in their design.
If you find yourself in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, be sure to check out the "Homespun Fun" of Dollywood!