Monday, October 13, 2014

Family Fun At Dollywood!

 Our family loves theme parks. Some of us enjoy the roller coasters, while others prefer just strolling around, taking in the sights, and maybe hopping on a few of the slower-paced rides. I have never before been to an amusement park that caters to both types of people as well or as much as Dollywood!

We were able to visit Dollywood on the last day of our vacation in Pigeon Forge. It was great to find out that we would be there during the Southern Gospel and Harvest Celebration, specifically on a day that our good friends, the Triumphant Quartet, would be singing there! 
Q-Bot held my place in line at the theatre while we were out riding the rides!
Upon arrival at the park we decided to try a few of the family rides before heading off to the coasters. These rides included the Rockin' Roadway, Smoky Mountain River Rampage, Sky Rider, and the Scrambler. The Rampage was a hit with everyone, but especially M-she begged to stay on for a second ride, which we did. Of course, that time we ended up getting soaked, so we blamed her the rest of the day! :)

Next up was a visit to the Pines Theatre for a 40-minute concert with Triumphant. We love hearing these guys sing, and it was so neat to be able to take in a concert while spending a day at a theme park-I don't know of any other park that holds Gospel concerts, except for Silver Dollar City, Dollywood's sister park in Branson. 

By the time the concert ended everyone was hungry, so we opted for Red's Drive-In, right across the way. Dining options are literally limitless at Dollywood; everything from southern cooking buffets to bbq, pizza, and "fast food". We didn't want to waste much time on the eating, so we chose something quick. Cheeseburgers, milkshakes, and chili cheese fries, and they were great! 

Love the decor in Red's!
We wanted to take a few minutes for lunch to digest, so we wandered through some of the shops. Dollywood has a wonderful assortment of stores, including an old-fashioned General Store, personalized crafts, a leather shop, and much more. We ended up purchasing souvenir matching leather bracelets, which include free personalization.

After giving lunch some time to settle, it was off to the roller coasters. We wanted to ride each one at least once, and we were successful in this mission! Our first stop was the Tennessee Tornado, and this was M's first ride on an upside down coaster! A couple of us actually rode it twice; M asked me to make sure she wouldn't be too scared if she rode it. She loved it; between the 128-foot drop, and the 70 mph speed, it's a thrill ride you're sure to enjoy!

I was excited about riding the Wild Eagle; I've heard a lot about this one, and it certainly lived up to the hype! A wing coaster that feels like you are actually flying! The seats are on either side of the track, so there is literally nothing below your feet except air! I wanted to ride Wild Eagle a couple more times, but unfortunately they shut it down due to hornets on the track. :( Oh well, next year I'll make sure to get to this one early! Watch the video below to see just how great this coaster is.

The FireChaser Express was up next; America's first dual-launch coaster! That's right, you start out being launched forwards, and then you come to the end of the line...or so you think, just before you're launched backwards!

The Mystery Mine is one that thrill-riders will love. The first part of the ride seems fairly mild, but there are a few wild surprises, including a 95-degree, 85-foot vertical drop-into pitch black darkness!

Thunderhead was my second favorite of the roller coasters, right after Wild Eagle. This is a wood coaster with a hundred foot drop, as well as many nice, tight turns. I love wood coasters, and Thunderhead is a good example of why!

On our way out of Dollywood that evening, we stopped by The Grist Mill, on a friend's recommendation. This is one of the many unique shops you'll find at Dollywood, but their specialty is cinnamon bread. You can smell the bread before you even step inside the door, and it tastes every bit as wonderful as it smells! If you're ever at Dollywood, make sure to stop by The Grist Mill for some incredible bread!

The last stop we were hoping to make on our visit was to the SGMA Hall of Fame and Museum, which sits near the entrance of the park. Unfortunately, by the time we made it up there the museum had already closed. But, we'll be back next year, and we'll make it a priority to stop by.

All in all, we had a wonderful day at Dollywood. Thrilling roller coasters, fun family rides, good food, and a couple of concerts with Triumphant Quartet-you can't beat a day like that!

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