Monday, July 6, 2020
We spent today in Dollywood! We debated long and hard on if we wanted to go to Dollywood. We had multiple reasons to not go: 1) Covid-19 (stupid Coronavirus), 2) Expensive, 3) Covid-19 (who wants to wear a mask ALL DAY in the heat), 4) Crowded, 5) We are not big theme-park fans. Well, after debating this for weeks before we left and then even more so when we got here, we decided, yes, we need to go. Our reasons for going: 1) Macy is a big Dolly Parton fan, 2) We don’t plan on being back in this area anytime soon so we felt we needed to see it, 3) We researched all the precautions Dollywood was taking for Covid-19 and felt comfortable, 4) Our kids might have revolted if we told them we were hiking again today (more of that is coming tomorrow..shhhhh).
We gave the kids a break from waking up early today and let them sleep in until 9am. We then headed out for a big breakfast at The Old Mill in Pigeon Forge. I will have to go give them a good review. We were seated within 20 minutes and we all left very full and satisfied and the cost was the most reasonably priced meal we have eaten all week. It must be good for lunch too because by the time we left around 11am the line was wrapped around the building.
Next stop, Dollywood!!! I was impressed with the way the park is handling this virus. To start with, when we purchased our tickets online, we had to click through multiple disclaimers about our health and that masks were mandatory. When we arrived at the park all screening was done in the parking lot, before you were allowed to step foot on a tram. The park had tents set up where someone was asking the typical Covid-19 questions (fever, cough, etc), then they were taking your temperature and giving you a wrist band that indicated you had been screened. I forgot to mention that there was also a hand-sanitizer at the beginning of that line (not much of a line) and again at the end. Once you were screened you were allowed to get on a tram to be taken to the park BUT the tram would not move if there was anyone without a mask or if anyone’s mask was on improperly. When we arrived at the park entrance everyone was again required to use hand-sanitizer again as bags were checked and then again when we showed our tickets. Keep in mind that the park was also only operating at about half capacity and all rides were only operating at half-capacity. Honestly, there were times it felt like you had the whole park to yourself. Good job Dollywood!
We were not sure what to expect from Dollywood and I can’t say that we got the full experience of it due to the way the park is forced to operate right now. I would say more than half the shops and eating joints were closed and most of the shows were shut down. Also, none of the craftsmen were conducting shows. We quickly figured out that this would be a trip of letting the kids ride the attractions and just getting a feel for what Dollywood is.
We started off our day at Lightning Rod. I won’t tell you about every roller-coaster at the park but I will mention this one because it was the first and last one that Noah rode. He started off the day saying he was ready to ride them all but after this one he was DONE! My boy is active and adventurous but thrill rides do not fall into his category of adventure. I rode this one with him and I honestly thought he passed out as soon as the ride started. He put his head down, closed his eyes and did not move! I spent the whole ride worried that he had blacked out.
We finished Lightning Rod and started making our way around the park. Johnny and Noah kept both feet on the ground while Logan, Macy and I rode all the roller-coasters we could. Logan and Macy are my thrill-seekers. They rode everything they could get on. I hung with them until the last 2 coasters, by that time my stomach was telling me it would not make it through another one, LOL!!
We closed the park down at 8pm, again another change the park has made due to Covid-19. We attempted to pick up some pizza on our way home but apparently pizza at 8:30 pm in Pigeon Forge is popular. I couldn’t get anyone to answer the phone and the online order I tried told me it would take 90 minutes!! We ended up back at the camper eating microwaved hot dogs and chips. You know what though, my kids were just as happy with that as with anything else we could have gotten.
Overall, I’d say I’m glad we visited Dollywood. The kids had a blast and now we can say we’ve been there. However, if I had to rank the theme parks I’ve been to in the last five years it would be Disney, Silver Dollar City, Dollywood, Magic Springs & Crystal Falls (our hometown park).