Dollywood: A Smokey Mountain Christmas

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Christmas in the Smokey’s About 5am on Thursday December the 20th, Janis, Sarah and I left Richmond and headed to Pigeon Forge and Dollywood. We went to Dollywood last year for Christmas and fell in love with the place. It’s now an annual Christmas tradition that we go. I went there as a young child, maybe 5 or 6 years old when it was Silver Dollar City, about the only memory I have is riding the train. We got in the area around 1pm and the park opened at 2pm. We had time to go and check in to our hotel and unload our gear. Then we were off to the park. There was overcast that day and eventually at night a light mist started falling. This weather kept the crowds away. We went to Thunderhead first and rode about 5 times, there were no crowds, and they allowed us to stay on the train, but had to switch seats. Thunderhead was running very well, better than my past two trips to Dollywood. That first night when the mist was falling, the coaster was simply flying faster than I ever remember it, yet still very smooth. Thunderhead is still my # 2 coaster. I think we must have gotten about 50 rides on Thunderhead during our three day stay. After Thunderhead on the first day we moved on back to Mystery Mine Ride. When we went back in May, we only had the chance to ride MMR twice due to the crowd. But this trip we rode it as many times as we wanted. It’s a neat ride with some decent special affects. I liked the combo of coaster and dark ride. I don’t think the ride was be half as good if it was “just there” with no theming or buildings around it. We never had more than a 5 min wait, once it was even walk on. From Mystery Mine ride and even more so from the Dollywood Express train ride you could see where the new water ride is being build. You can also see the Tennessee Tornado, and you would be very shocked at how close Thunderhead, Mystery Mine Ride and the TN Tornado actually are. Just a couple of acres, if that… The new walkway that will connect Mystery Mine Ride to Craftsman’s Valley will go around the new water ride; they more or less just simply cut a huge hole in the mountain that was there. After MMR, we moved on to Blazing Fury, I know a recent poster wasn’t too impressed with this ride, but I am. I like it a lot and I wish we had more old style dark rides around like this, they are a dieing breed. It’s a fun combo of dark ride, water ride and coaster. It also contains that old “odor” that old dark rides all seem to have, I love it! After a couple of spins we moved back to the TN Tornado, I agree with another poster on here that it’s a shame that Arrow had to call it quits after this ride, they did finally seem to start figuring it out. If you have been on this coaster you will know it’s not a typical Arrow and the inversions are very different, such as larger inversions and slight tilts to them. It’s actually one of my favorite Arrows out there. I wish I could have seen the old Mine Train coaster in this area before it left. I know it was one of the ones from St. Louis, but I never saw it there either… We rode the train multiple times over the three days. I simply love the train and can’t get enough of it. I love the fact it’s a genuine coal train and it has some power. The smell, the cinders and smoke make this a real train experience that you don’t get at other parks. Over the days we rode a few flat rides also, the swings, the disk ride (I forget what the call them) and the tea cups, my goodness, they have to be the BEST tea cups anywhere, we got that spinning so fast we were VERY dizzy when getting off. I have never experienced that on that kind of ride before! We also rode the simulator once; I am not too impressed with that. The story is cute and looking at Dolly is always fun, but the seats go way overboard on the movement and it ends up being uncomfortable. We watched the three “big” shows they have for Christmas, we watched one a day. On the first day we watched “T’was the Night Before Christmas”. This is a very good play and has a little music to it. The next day we watched “Babes in Toyland”. This is a rather long play with a little music as well. Some parts seem to drag, but overall its fun and done really well. On the last day we saw “Christmas in the Smokey’s”, this one is a flat out musical and it’s just great, if this one doesn’t put you in the Christmas spirit I don’t know what will. The shows are so good at Dollywood; it’s hard to believe they are put on by an amusement park. We also watched the movie, I think its called “Heartsong”, how Dolly grew up. I thought that was cute, but didn’t expect the water and it was cold! As always, Dollywood is also known for its great food. The first day we ate at the 50s style diner, we just got burgers and fries. A quarter pound burger and a mountain of fries were about 6.50ish, and I had a gold pass, so that gets us 20% off. The burger was good and the fries were “ok”, but neither was worth writing home about. The next day we ate at Ms. Lillian’s Chicken, for Christmas they only offer a buffet. I wish that wasn’t the case as they have a great deal during the other parts of the season, but the buffet was very good, just didn’t want to eat that much I guess hahaha. It was 12.99 and included your beverage and refills. It had fried chicken, pulled ham, mashed potatoes, biscuits, turkey stuffing and a few other things and veggies. They had almost any kind of pie and cake and pudding you could imagine. Was VERY good and it was the only time we ate the entire day… On the last day, Janis and Sarah ate at the Pizza place near the train, Sarah got pizza and Janis got chili in a bread bowl. I decided to try the ribbon fries (no chili) and get a country sausage sandwich from the Market Place. The sandwich was VERY good, but the fries looked better than what they were. They were not bad, just not as exciting as it looks. The employees at Dollywood are always top notch and rival Disney for friendliness and service. It’s a true “southern” park, which as a southerner I appreciate. Dollywood is also not afraid to be Christian. You can very much tell by the overall crowd and employees there that the area is very spiritual. I wish more places in the world were like that as I feel as a world we are getting farther and farther from God, but that’s a whole other topic I don’t think its right for this board. But I just wanted to say I appreciate that fact about Dollywood. Since the park didn’t open until 2 on Friday, we went into Gatlinburg and went up into Great Smokey National Park. That was a lot of fun, again, I did that as a young kid, but was neat to see it all again. If you are going to Dollywood, take the 10 mile drive into Gatlinburg and check it out, it’s a nice mountain town, a tourist trap, but very nice. It was a wonderful way to start out Christmas vacation, Dollywood is probably my overall favorite park. Many other parks out there could really learn a few things from them.

Danny Biggerstaff CoAsTeRDaN
joe.'s avatar
Paragraphs would make this much easier to read, dude.

Sounds like good times though.

joe. said:
Paragraphs would make this much easier to read, dude.

Sounds like good times though.

I have explained this many times... I write my reports on microsoft word. It has paragraphs, when I copy paste them, it has paragraphs. When I hit post, it does the above. Sorry, but not my fault.

Danny Biggerstaff CoAsTeRDaN
I agree about Tennessee Tornado. A very underrated ride, and one of the best (if not *the* best) steelies in its use of topography and foliage. Only got to ride it once this summer, but I was very impressed.

Dolly does very well with her large tracts of land. ;)

My author website:

eightdotthree's avatar
Paste it into Notepad before pasting it in, or use the plain text Coasterbuzz editor.

Or just edit the post and put in the paragraph breaks.

Anyway, sounds like you had a great time. I could use that kind of Christmas break!

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