Posted April 2, 2008

Just mention the name "Dolly," and most folks think of that infectious giggle, stilettos, blonde bouffant and upbeat down-home attitude of celebrated entertainer Dolly Parton. With her roots firmly planted in East Tennessee's Sevier County, it comes as no surprise that her theme park, Dollywood, pays homage to the history and traditions of the Smoky Mountains.

More than two decades ago, Dolly joined forces with Herschend Family Enterprises to expand and reinvent the former Silver Dollar City. Dolly's stamp of approval can be found throughout Dollywood, which has doubled in size to 130 acres. Every year adds a new attraction ... The latest Dollywood attraction is the $5 million River Battle raft ride, which will soak bystanders and riders, who will ride down a 500-foot waterway.

The 2007 season marked the debut of Mystery Mine, the park's $17.5 million steel roller coaster, the only ride of its kind in the country. Set in an abandoned 1900's coal mine, Mystery Mine's eight-passenger mine carts plunge adventurous riders into darkness. The exhilarating ride travels a 1,811-foot track on a 2.5 minute journey that includes a 95-degree, 85-foot vertical drop.

Whether you're a first-time visitor or not, do take the Dollywood Express Train. Rain or shine, the train takes you on a five-mile trek through the park, "the friendliest town in the Smokies." You'll catch a glimpse of Dollywood's different areas’ÄîRivertown Junction, Craftsmen's Valley, Dreamland Forest, Country Fair, The Village, jukebox Junction, Showstreet and Adventures in Imagination.

What's fun to note is that the two Baldwin steam locomotive engines - Cinderella and Klondike Katie’ - were built in 1938 and 1943, respectively. Both were used in Alaska on the White Pass Railroad during World War II to haul troops and lumber.


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