CoastersRZ Posted April 1, 2009 Share Posted April 1, 2009 The final weekend of my spring break just happened to be the same weekend that both Dollywood and Carowinds opened for the 2009 season. Myself and Cory made plans to head down to Pigeon Forge on Friday, March 27th and hit up the tracks at NASCAR Speed Park followed by Dollywood on Saturday, and Carowinds on Sunday. Prior to leaving, the weather forecast for Friday and Saturday was ominous. 70% and 80% chances of rain on Friday and Saturday. Nevertheless, the trip was a go especially since we both had passes to get into each park. We departed my house shortly after 7am on Friday morning. We arrived down in Pigeon Forge shortly after 1 and checked into our hotel, the Quality Inn at Dollywood Lane. Unfortunately, it was raining so the NASCAR Speed park was not open. We sat in the hotel room for a couple hours, looking at the weather forecast and radar hoping that Saturday would be a better day and that it wouldn`t be a wash out. Finally the rain cleared around 3:30 and we decided to head south and go exploring in the Smoky Mountains National Park. The mountains were beautiful, even though there was a light rain again. The low clouds made for some stunning visuals. Again, the low clouds made for some impressive visuals, and the trees were just starting to show their green leaves for spring. The numerous overlooks along the side of the road inside the national park provide some absolutely breathtaking views. After exploring the overlooks for a while, we decided to go hiking for a little bit by the visitors center. We actually encountered several wild turkeys on the hike, as well as several deer. (I have actually seen wild turkey on the side of the road on a couple of occasions driving home from working at Coney Island!) The trails followed this small stream, and it was a very pleasant hike along the paths. After exploring the national park for a couple of hours, we went to Ripley`s Davy Crockett Mini Golf in Gatlinburg. For 36 holes of mini-golf, it was $13.99. Not a bad price and the two 18 hole courses were very well done. I ended up winning both games by a few strokes. Saturday was the day for Dollywood. Before checking out of the hotel, we checked the weather forecast, and it wasn`t good. Radar showed we would have some heavy rain, but we could possibly see a break in the afternoon. Due to the forecast, I opted not to bring my camera along to Dollywood. Both Cory and I had bought passes back in December when we went to Dollywood for a Smoky Mountain Christmas (you can view my PTR of that here). The pass does not include parking, so we paid $8 at the newly renovated entrance to the parking lot. And you can`t really complain about the parking fee, since Dollywood does offer tram service right to the front gate. Dollywood is all about the live shows, and they had a LOT of shows for the Festival of Nations. The first show was "Kinfolks" featuring several of Dolly Parton`s relatives. From there, we saw the Kingdom Heirs in the Pines Theatre. While not exactly my type of music, the show was very good and they have been performing at the park for more than twenty years!! After the conclusion of that show, we saw the Czech Pilsen Band (a brass band) that was very good. We then moved on to the signature new show Imagine. This show by Le Grande Cirque was very well produced and featured some great audience participation by the ringmaster. We then watched the 1pm show of Wings of America featuring birds that can be found in America. We then watched Mexico Calpulli featuring a live band and authentic Mexican dancing. Next, we saw the Jennifer Roland band representing Canada. By this time it was 3:30pm and we had seen seven shows and not yet ridden any rides! It is simply amazing that from 9:30 when we saw the first show until 3:30, we were walking around the park with only fifteen or twenty minutes in between different shows! We also saw the show Keona show featuring unique percussion instruments. The rain actually stopped by around 1pm, and the skies lightened up a little bit. At 3:30 we headed off to grab our first coaster ride of the 2009 season: Tennessee Tornado. A simply amazing ride, although way too brief. Lines for the rides were non existent. We also rode Daredevil Falls, which is a fun log flume ride. Mystery Mine has some great theming, and a great ending to the ride, but the first half of the ride is a little lackluster. Thunderhead is still an amazing ride, and we ended the day with three rides on it, with only a couple of trains wait, even for the front row. We also grabbed a ride on the Dizzy Disk, Blazing Fury, Waltzing Swinger and of course, the classic Heartsong: The movie. All in all, despite the rainy start to the day, we had a great time on opening day for Dollywood. Crowds were light, and the shows excellent. I highly recommend you visit Dollywood if you have not already. Even though the park was open until 8pm, we left at 7:15 because we still had to grab some dinner, and drive four hours to Carowinds in Charlotte, NC. Which will be part two of this PTR. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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