after hitting the bank to cash the bluegreen check, we headed to dollywood with $100 free dollars in our hot little hands. our level of excitement rapidly escalated as we drove down the pigeon forge strip and took a left onto dollywood lane. promised landour pilgrimage was nearly complete, our mecca was at hand. the windy little road leading to dollywood betrayed no hint of the "one-of-a-kind entertainment park of superstar dolly parton"... dollywood is cleverly nestled into the mountains in a surprisingly unobtrusive way. which meant we couldn't see it laid out like a rare jewel before us - instead, they gouged us at the gate for $6 to park what seemed like miles away from the action. slightly daunted but still in high spirits, we boarded the trolly for the park (which we magically never had to wait around for... so dollywood loses points on the pay-parking and expensive tickets, but gained back some ground on the efficient trolly to/from the parking lot).

and then there we were at the front gates with a little plaque informing us that the dollywood 20th anniversary sign was a "kodak picture place." kodak picture spotthese helpful little signs were placed all over the park in order to avoid any confusion. later i learned that this year is not actually dollywood's 20th year - it's only the 19th year, they just wanted to start getting ready early. do-whuh?!?

we approached the ticket window and purchased our tickets (thanks, paul and bluegreen!) for a grand total of $87. when the cashier gave kate her change, she gave her back 12 real dollars and one "dolly dollar." kate inquired about the dolly dollar and the woman told her that it could be used anywhere in dollywood, just like real money! kate refused the dolly dollar, saying she'd prefer the real money instead. yeah, that's right - pigeon forge tried to scam us again. oh dolly...! if only you knew what sort of atrocities were being committed in your name!

dollywood is actually a really neat place. like any amusement park, the people-watching is awesome, but it had some things that really set it apart:
  • the nifty way it melds in with its environment (at no time could we see all of dollywood, even inside of it. which is a pretty cool trick for a huge amusement park)
  • the whole thing is ridiculously handicap accessible
  • a lot more than just rides - there were people working iron and blowing glass and a wicked cool refuge for injured bald eagles

chapelperhaps the thing that makes dollywood the weirdest amusement park ever is how *wholesome* it is. hell, there is even a chapel where they hold sunday services.

this sure is god's country.

gods country

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