Last week we took a family trip to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The main attraction for our trip was Dollywood, a top-rated theme park that offers classic country charm mixed with modern rides and award-winning food and shows. The park’s mountainous terrain offers a beautiful backdrop and the employees are known for being the friendliest around.
Jukebox Junction is an area that’s a throwback to the 1950’s; reminiscent of Hill Valley from Back to the Future. On the guided car ride, Rockin’ Roadway, the kids had fun driving us for a change.
Once the classic 50’s-themed cars leave the station, they’re automatically powered around the ride’s course. All the little drivers need to do is steer. Even if they don’t, the guides beneath the car will keep it on the track. The ride operators gave smaller kids boosters so they could reach the wheel and the fuzzy dice on the cars were a nice touch.
A helpful employee shared the park’s many dining options. There were two buffet options, but since we wanted something lighter for lunch, the kids had burgers at Red’s Diner. Jenn and I had sandwiches (a cheese steak and a kielbasa) from a neat sandwich takeout place with the largest skillets I’ve ever seen. Dollywood has won the Golden Ticket Award for Best Food and we can’t say anything to dispute that. I’d imagine they really shine in the park’s many sweets and treats options. The park’s known for its famous cinnamon bread. More on that later.
The Chasing Rainbows Museum
My daughters, especially my youngest who’s an aspiring fashion designer, wanted to visit The Chasing Rainbows Museum. It details Dolly Parton’s journey from childhood in Pigeon Forge to one of America’s best-known celebrities.
The tour kicked off with an introduction by Dolly herself; well in hologram form. It was a cool way for her to explain what we were about to see. I enjoyed learning about Dolly’s humble beginnings and her path to music career and TV and movie roles. The Chasing Rainbows Museum is self-guided and can be visited pretty quickly, or you can take your time as we did.
Parked next to the museum is Dolly’s Home on Wheels; a retired tour bus. The kids liked it, but if there was more of a wait for it, I would have skipped it. You do get the chance to ask a knowledgeable guide anything you want to know about Dolly. You can also buy a picture of your group in bus. So, if you’re a huge fan, you might want to check it out.
Lightning Rod’s Coming in 2016
In 2016, this sleepy 1950’s area could become the center of the roller coaster universe, as all eyes will be on the park’s recently announced Lightning Rod. It will be the World’s first launched wooden roller coaster.
Even though they just started working on it, I was excited to see the construction site. There’s a massive hill behind Jukebox Junction that the coaster will use for a signature feature; the Quadruple Down. This has the potential to be one of the best elements in all of coasterdom. And Lightning Rod’s hot rod theme and launched start, will fit in well in this area of the park. More on Lightning Rod.
The Country Fair is a carnival-themed area near Jukebox Junction. It’s home to numerous games and rides and serves as the park’s kids area. There are gentler flat rides including a carousel, ferris wheel, swings, tea cups, bumper cars and more. We all had a blast in this section and spent the majority of our visit here.
My 5-year-old rode her first roller coaster in Slideshow Spin (formerly Veggie Tales Coaster). It’s a small roller coaster, but they ran us through three times. She also enjoyed the Amazing Flying Elephants (that she could raise and lower), the Lemon Twist tea cup ride, and the Busy Bees.
My 8-year old loved the Dizzy Disk (Zamperla Disk-O ride). It was her first time riding one of these roller coaster-like flat rides, but she liked it so much that she wanted to ride again. In my opinion, Disk-Os should be a staple at all amusement parks.
While we skipped larger thrill rides so we could focus on the Country Fair rides and other attractions that we could all do together, I did want to mention Dollywood’s world-class roller coasters. You’ll find two in Timber Canyon.
Mystery Mine is a spooky mine-themed steel roller coaster with two loops and two beyond 90-degree drops. Thunderhead is a top-rated wooden twister, that’s much smoother and more enjoyable than most wooden coasters.