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PTR: Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas! 12/8/07


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Hello everybody!

 

So I had thought that the last park for the season for Melissa and I was going to be Kings Dominion back in October for the Haunt, but that wasn't the case. As many of you who regularly visit Screamscape may know, there was a contest that was going on for about 2 months where Lance was giving away pairs of Dollywood tickets and a free Q2Q pass with each pair. Turns out that I was the lucky winner of the final week's drawing, so it was only a matter of finding out when Melissa had a free weekend, and making the reservations.

 

The first thing I want to say about our weekend trip was that Melissa and I expirienced a lot of surprise throughout the weekend. I personally had expected that Pigeon Forge was going to be a town with one major attraction, a couple hotels and a few resturants. Neither Melissa or I expected to drive into the family friendly version of Las Vegas, with all the lights and such along the road. There were a lot of things that looked like it would have been fun do try out, we just didn't have the time to for this trip. When we arrived to the Holiday Inn right off of the Pigeon Forge Parkway on Firday night, the Front Desk clerk was very friendly. Not that fake friendly like when you go to some fast food resturaunts and everyone has "lines" for when customers come in to seem like they are friendly, but honestly friendly.

 

Because of a few errands I have to take care of this afternoon, I am going to post our "pre-Dollywood" pictures. When I finish the errands, I will post the Dollywood pictures and give my review of the park as well.

 

Gary

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And to wrap up this first update, a preview of what is to come! I will have more for you all this evening.

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Higher view of the lobby.

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Trees inside of the lobby

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First thing you walk into when you arrive at the hotel. Very nice!

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Neat little shops that are being renovated alongside the hotel

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Across the street from us was one of many go-kart places. This one had a screamin' swing!

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Christmas Decorations right on the Parkway

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A little chapel right beside the hotel. Kind of fitting since Melissa and I have been married for five months as of the day that we arrived

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Our hotel

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Outside we have a Smoky Mountain sunrise.

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....and this is the pool (ooooo, ahhhhh)

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The next morning, I decided to do some exploring of the hotel. This was the pool area.....

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Yay! We have arrived to the Tourist Trap of Awesomeness!!!!!!

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The Smokie Mountains are just ahead. My grandma always told me how much she loved them before she passed away a few years ago. Now I understand why.

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Pink Clouds! Makes we wonder if some soul-singing crows are going to tell us that we are in a tree.

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Sunset ahead of us as we are about to pass Asheville on I-40

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Melissa is ready for this trip, it's been a while since we got out of Greenville for more than a day.

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So Melissa was in an accident that was the fault of the other guy, but because our Hyundai is still being checked out at this point, we had this Grand Prix to take to Tennessee.

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Update part 2:

 

Now that I have the errands done, it is time for the Dollywood portion of this photo trip report.

 

Before I give you the pictures, let me just say that the theme of surprise also went along with out day at Dollywood. Now I have to admit that I originally expected to a small extent that this place was going to be one of those places where the key character/person of the park would be plastered all over the place, or in other words, we would see some reference to Dolly everywhere we turned. I also kind of thought of this place as a possible country/bluegrass version of Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. As soon as Melissa and I walked into the gate, all of my initial thoughts disappeared, and did not come back once.

 

What we found was a beautiful park with a great, authentic feel to it. The buildings in Craftsmen Valley seemed like they were picked up and moved into place. Don't get me wrong, I love the look and theming of Busch Gardens Euroburg, but I would argue that this place is just as nice in looks, and also feels more authentic. For those of you who may have read Guy's Dollywood TR from last month, he is right-on when it comes to the friendliness of the people who work here. I have never seen such a friendly theme park staff.

 

Another thing that stuck out here were the shows. Melissa and I were able to see Babes in Toyland and Christmas in the Smokies, which were both top notch. Another thing people talk about at Dollywood is the food. Oh man! You can hardly walk 50 yards without the smell of something good passing your nose. Melissa and I had lunch at a place called Apple Jack's near the County Fair area, which provided a fine meal. Melissa had the Chili Bowl and I had an Apple Jack's Favorite Sandwhich.

 

And now my thoughts on some of the rides. The tempuature was probably around the 50's, so the rides were all open except for the water rides. here are my reviews in the order that we rode them. Rides with a number are coasters, and the number represents where it sits in my count since they are all new to me.

 

Dizzy Disk - This was the first Disk-o either of us had been on. I must say that we had a blast with this, it was like a funky version of a frisbee, but never the less a lot of fun. I am definatly going to ride more of these in the future.

 

Blazing Fury (#136) - The animatronics are as cheesey as you can get, but this was a ride that was fun with the drops being with a little more to it than I would have expected. Definatly a fun ride

 

Tennessee Tornado (#137) - This was the real shocker for Melissa and I. TT turned out to be a great coaster! I was definatly caught by surprise how this thing flew through the whole course even when it was cooler out. We rode 5 times with 3 of them the first time we were here and the other two at night when it was dark out. The back seat is definatly the place to sit for it provides very nice airtime on the first big drop through the tunnel, and the rest of the layout was really cool how it followed the terrain. It is a real shame how arrow went out of business, because if they could have started making their loopers like this one, they would have possibly made some great coasters! By far my favorite Arrow coaster, and possible top 10 worthy on my list.

 

Thunderhead (#138) - This was the coaster I was looking forward to the most. My first ride on it when it was still light out, I loved it. It doesn't have great ejector air, but it seemed to have some nice floater air here and there, and the layout was a lot of fun for the directional changes. I think I was dissapointed when I took one last ride before we left the park because I wanted to like it more than TT for some reason, but I just didn't. It may have also just been that the first ride was better than the second, but who knows. I definatly liked it a lot, and would have no problem riding many times over.

 

Timber Tower - I thought that this may be a fun ride, but I got off thinking it was rather pointless. It just kind of leisurly tilts to one side than the other, but never gets to the point where I felt like I was going to fall off. I don't know that I would make a point to ride it with a significant line.

 

Mystery Mine (#139) - Mystery Mine by far has the best theming of any coaster in the park. I loved this ride for it's theme, and the layout was a lot of fun. The only down side with this one for me was the some of the transitions were a little bit jerky to me. Loved the 90+ degree drops and the final two inversions. Definatly going to ride again on another visit since I only did it once.

 

VeggieTales Sideshow Spin (#140) - I rode it for the credit. This was one of the dinkiest kiddie coasters I have ever ridden. I felt like i was in a moving-mini penalty box.

 

Overall, my ride count was like this:

Tennessee Tornado - 5

Thunderhead - 2

Mystery Mine, VeggieTales, Blazing Fury, Dizzy Disk, Timber Tower - 1

 

In all, Dollywood has eaisily become one of my favorite parks. I felt that this place would be simmilar to Busch Gardens, and I feel that is accurate, but I would say that this place was better. My only complaints about our trip were things that really could not be controled, such as a little rainy weather and a case of laringitis that I had, which restricted my ability to yell on rides. Even still, Melissa and I had a wonderful time.

 

I would like to give a huge thanks the Lance over at Screamscape, for if it wasn't for his contest, it may have been a while before Melissa and I discovered this fine park. Now for the Dollywood pictures.

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Again, this place just looks awesome! Very authentic feel in my opinion. More pictures to be posted in a bit.

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I don't think the Allstate Accident Forgivness Plan covers this

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Twisted Track Goodess from the station and through the fog. This ride is freakin' awesome at night in the back of the train!

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Signature Loop Picture.

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Credit Numero Dos, Tennessee Tornado. The big surprise of the day coaster wise.

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I don't think a female entertainer could stay on a pole THAT long!

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First Credit of the day, Blazing Fury. A fun little coaster that the family can enjoy, unless you hate fun.

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One word comes to mind with this mejestic bird......TRUTHINESS!!!

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If these rules were modern, I would think twice about getting my middle grade education degree.

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At first, I thought I was back in a North Carolina public school, but then I realized that this was too modern

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Melissa really gets intense when it comes to checkers, but should it really take that much strategy for the first move?

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They even made a sleigh fit to be in Tim Burton's version of "The Santa Clause"

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One of the many cool craftman shops located throughout craftsman valley, this one has wagons.

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Another signature Dollywood food picture

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Melissa decides to do the smart thing and take cover in this harmless looking cave.

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I am crushed by my inability to be a credit whore on VeggieTales because of the rain that came for about a half hour.

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Disk-o time!!! (que some Bee Gees music)

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If pickles arn't your thing, you can also hug a tomato or potato

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Pickle hugging, as inspired by USRoadTripper, have you hugged your pickle today?

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A look at the carousel area, also very nice.

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again, I just love the look of this place

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The tree out in the pond where the lightshow takes place.

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Signature Dollywood food picture.......aww, come on now, you know you would take a picture of it too.

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Now that we can't distract you with our mushiness, here is the tree itself

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5 months and 1 day of marriage, and we couldn't be happier togeather.

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I love the look of this place

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once you pass through this gate, you will discover a wonderful park.

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We're here!

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off of the tram, you can get a signature through-the-trees view of Thunderhead

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And here we have the parking booth!

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Pulling into the parking lot.

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The tickets and Q2Q pass, courtesy of Screamscape!

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Update 3: Dollywood Continued.

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And I end this report with a picture taken during the lightshow. Thank you everyone for checking out this report, I hope you all enjoyed it!

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Tennessee Tornado's sign even gets in the holiday spirit, but the ride itself is very, very dark at night, WHICH RULES!!!!!!!

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While there, Melissa tamed a ferocious guard kitty!!!! Nah, it was very friendly like everyone who worked at the park, and it was also well fed!!!

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The well-known chapel, which looks very nice with its lights

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Craftsman Valley at Night

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And to celebrate getting all the credits, it is time to eat a plywood cherry pie

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Credit 5, VeggieTales Sideshow Spin, AKA Moving-Miniture Penalty Box.

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Yay!! VeggieTales opened back up!!!!! Gary can be a Credit Ho again!

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The Dollywood Express is also lit up on the holidays

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Don't forget the multi-colored tree

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And a Big Blue Tree

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Many colored trees.

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another house lit up at night

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One of the houses all decorated nice and such

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Down the walkway from Timber Canyon down to the front of the park.

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When it gets dark out during Christmas, all the pretty christmas lights go twinkle!

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One of the best parts of the ride, which gives some nice hangtime!

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Credit Four, Mystery Mine. Best themed ride in the park, a lot of fun, just a tad jerky. Still a must ride.

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Dollywood endorses the Robb Alvey Diet, which features daily servings of VAULT ICEE!!!!!!

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Signature Lift Hill Picture

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Third credit of the day, Thunderhead. The first time I rode it I thought it was an awesome ride, but the second time it seemed like a different ride. maybe the cooler weather did it, either way it was still a solid ride!

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But now it's time for some more rides!

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We also saw Christmas in the Smokies which was here in the Celebrity Theater. Also a great show.

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The cast of Babes in Toyland, they did a wonderful job!

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The flying contraption that the family rides to get back home from Toyland.

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...and vwa la! You are given priority seats for the show... the first of which we saw was Babes in Toyland.

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Find this little guy to get to the special entrance for Q2Q at the theater.

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One of the cool things about the contest was that a free Q2Q pas was included in the prize package. Since lines were non-existant on everything except Mystery Mine, we used it for the shows. You make a reservation at the rental center with your Q-Bot....

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We all know what happens when someone comes out of the closet, but what happens when someone comes out of Dolly's Closet??????

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See, Melissa LOVES shopping!

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One thing about Dollywood is that it serves Melissa's love of Shopping and my love of Coasters!

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Sweet TR! You're so lucky to be in the park when it got that dark. When I went, the sun was only setting when the park closed. Oh well, I've got to head back now, Dollywood is one of my favorite parks aside from Hershey, and Mystery Mine is my favorite coaster as of now.

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Awesome TR you two. I am so jealous, we were supposed to be down there just after Christmas...had to cancel out! Making that decison was one of the harder things I've had to do. I absolutely love Dollywood and the Smokies.

 

Congrats on your marriage too!

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I think I stayed at that exact same hotel when I went to Dollywood 17 years ago! The pool looks familiar, anyway, and I know it was a Holiday Inn.

 

Is Haunted Golf still open in Pigeon Forge? That place, cheesy though it may have been, cemented my life-long love of miniature golfing.

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I love Dollyfood! Alana & I stopped by there again last Sunday after a weekend at her friends cabin. It realy is one of the nicest parks in the country. We had a heapin' healpin' of their spiral cut potatoes cuvered in chilli and cheese!

 

OMFG!

 

The food there is the best! I can't wait to get back next week.

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Yeah, the food looked awesome everywhere you went. I think the next time I go I am going to just go ahead and not eat the day before so that I can have little regret

 

We arrived in Pigeon Forge Friday Night and went back home Sunday morning. As I said before, my one regret about the trip was that we didn't have more time or a bigger budget for this trip, because the whole town looked like a blast!

 

- Gary.

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Nice TR guys !!

 

I'm glad it isn't just me who noticed many MANY go kart tracks in pigeon forge !!

 

I love this park. Did my first visit there this year in October. I managed so many rides on MM and TH that I lost count at 30... Sounds like a mass exageration but it really wasn't ! No lines at all and super friendly staff ! the park is simply stunning, I can't wait to go back although no idea when as it's I the middle of nowhere !!

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Is Haunted Golf still open in Pigeon Forge? That place, cheesy though it may have been, cemented my life-long love of miniature golfing.

 

LOL, can't believe someone else remembers Haunted Golf! Anyway, unfortunately it closed a few years back...in fact, a lot of the mini-golf places have closed around Pigeon Forge. Years ago that was pretty much the only thing that was along "the strip".

 

Now there's only like three or so.

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I was there at Dollywood last summer and that place was awesome. My only regret was not getting a season pass cos one visit to that park just isn't enough.

 

I'm envious: you got to ride those coasters at night? When I was there, the park opened from 10:30 to 6:00 and had to ride everything in daylight. I'm sure the Tennessee Tornado is even more daring to ride at night as it is during daytime.

 

I'm sure the water rides weren't running, but what about the other flat rides? Did you get to ride the Train? And was the Tumble Tower running (it was down when I visited)?

 

I bet that would be interesting: riding a coaster in December. I may want to consider a trip to the Smokey Mountains in December.

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