After our brief trip through the Smoky Mountains sans carseats (I probably should've mentioned in my last post that we topped out around 10 MPH on the driving tour loop, just in case you have plans to report me to CPS), we headed to Pigeon Forge, TN. Dollywood is located about 7 minutes from Pigeon Forge, which turned out to be a lot like a low-rent Vegas for kids. The main street seemed to go on for miles with dozens of go-cart places sandwiched between Medieval Times, laser tag businesses and bungee trampoline set-ups. Also, there were an inordinate number of pancake houses and many Family Inns of America, a chain I'd never heard of before.
Anyway, we did not stay in one of the there-must-have-been-twenty Family Inns of America and stayed, instead, in what was probably the nicest hotel in Pigeon Forge (thanks for making those plans, Grammie!). Once we arrived, Grammie, Emmylou and Miller went swimming while I ordered pizza for dinner and went in search of some much-needed wine, which, unfortunately was unsuccessful, since as it turns out, most of Tennessee is composed of dry counties. What?! Surely Dolly likes her cocktail every once in a while, right? We managed.
The next day we left the sophistication of Pigeon Forge for the mecca of all things bright and beautiful...
One of the first stops in the park? A tour of Dolly's "Home on Wheels:"
A closer look at that sign:
At Dollywood you can also buy a new wardrobe for yourself at Dolly's Closet. Slogan: Her Style. Your Size. Thank goodness.
The other thing we made a beeline for on our way in was a ride on the coal-burning steam train. I thought Miller would burst with excitement over getting to ride it, but in reality he just looked kind of nervous and worried the whole time. The train whistle was really loud so I guess it was kind of understandable. He did ask to go on it again a couple hours later so it must not have been too bad.
After the train we hit most of the rides for the kids, and they loved them.
We also got soaking wet...
When it was time for lunch we happened into Miss Lillian's Fried Chicken House and ended up spending a lot of time with this lady:
She's the "Chicken Lady" who walks around the restaurant with a ukulele making up songs about whatever's going on at that exact moment. Since Miller fell asleep for about an hour in there, she came over to our table a few times and had us cracking up. I really can't explain it, but if you find yourself at Dollywood, please go see her. You won't be disappointed.
Once Miller woke up we headed over to one of the many shows Dollywood puts on which made zero sense (like most amusement park productions) and had me distracted the entire time feeling sorry for the actors and wondering whether they thought they'd "made it" by being a Dollywood performer. Does anyone else do that? Emmylou napped during the entire thing.
Then we bought Miller a drink that came in a train shaped bottle. If you look closely you can see that he's wearing his Willie Nelson shirt. It just seemed appropriate for the occasion.
After a visit to one of the many candy stores in the park, our last stop was in Jukebox Junction where we found these great vintage cars the kids loved driving. As was true for the rest of the park, there were no crowds and no lines so we got to ride them as much as we wanted.
On the way out Emmylou and Miller chose to buy their dad a shot glass with Dolly's picture on it as a souvenir. It even said "I (heart) Dad" on it. Kind of reminded me of the last time Emmylou wanted to buy a shot glass. He loved it!
Dollywood was so much fun! Thanks for a great day, Dolly! We love you!