Tucked up in the Great Smoky Mountains, Dollywood is hidden beneath old-growth trees and behind a sprawling, nonsensical parking lot. Maybe I'm spoiled by Disney - okay, I'm definitely spoiled by Disney - but the tram system here is lacking, for sure. While we waited to board to return to our cars, I saw a couple of people nearly get hit. We ended up parking much farther away because there was no one directing traffic into the sparsely populated, closer lots.
The lines were nonexistent, which was super fun. The Wild Eagle was one that the majority of our 22 people walked onto - twice. The ride straps you into a wide span made to mimic an eagle's wingspan...a gigantic eagle, mind you, that can fit eight across in both directions. You dangle from the wing, hurling through the air as if you are flying yourself. I'm told it's amazing. (Let's be serious. There's no way I'd get on it. I'd be the one hurling...)
Most of the patrons disappeared when a sudden rainstorm hit (which coincided with several of our party being on a looping roller coaster when it went full-force. We have pictures of them upside down, mouths full of water - and loving it!) There a few accommodations for rain other than waiting it out in a restaurant or store.
The setting is what really makes Dollywood different. It's welcoming and homey, but beware; it Is overtly Christian. Gospel events and God-based exhibits abound. For someone who does no practice this faith, it might be distracting.
Overall, we all liked it - even our pickiest attendees (and we have the pickiest, for sure.) However, none of us bought the discounted season passes. Maybe that says more.
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