Gatlinburg, TENNESSEE Day # 1

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North America » United States » Tennessee » Gatlinburg
June 24th 2018
Published: June 29th 2018
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Today started with a check of the weather to see what was likely to happen. Actually that’s not true I started the day by checking the score of State Of Origin # 2 and was pleased to see the mighty NSW Blues had won the game and the series (shame I missed watching it after putting up with the last decade of getting beaten up by those pesky Queenslanders !).

We have two full days here in Gatlinburg and there is so many options of what to do. We had played a game of Putt Putt last night after dinner which was heaps of fun. The course was set up with lots of historical facts about how Gatlinburg was formed and was pretty new. The highlight was on hole number 3 where you putted into a bowl and the hole was in the centre of the bowl. Elise went first and it’s a hole in one. Kerry goes next and with a totally different technique she also scores a hole in one. Feeling confident I tried for a trick shot to make it go round and round the bowl and be far more impressive and it stops an inch from the hole. What ! A Par 2 and feeling embarrassed at being beaten by my family who don’t play golf ! Luckily I managed to regain some credibility by fluking a hole in one on the final hole.

Back to the weather and the forecast today was for occasional thunderstorms but for the most part clear. So we decided we would go to Dollywood which is Dolly Parton’s own theme park here in the Smoky Mountains. We had breakfast in the Hotel. We got the elevator down from our 4th level city balcony view room to ground level only to be told it was on Level 3 and back in the elevator we go ! When we got there it was very small room, with about 8 tables to sit at with maybe 120 rooms so very much inadequate for the size of the property. The variety was quite limited as well compared with what we had seen so far. It’s a shame really because every other aspect of this hotel is really impressive.

We hit the road to Dollywood which is about 20 minutes drive back towards Pigeon Forge. Traffic was pretty light which was good. We got there about 10.45am (the park opens at 10.00am). The Car Par was huge. We ended up parking in Lot C and you take the shuttle ride to the entry gates. We waited about 15 minutes queueing up for tickets and realised we should have bought them online to save some time. Once we were inside Elise studied the map and we planned on hitting some of the major rides as we had read that they are more towards the back of the park and they get really busy later in the day. Entry price was $69.95 and we had also considered getting the time saver pass for an extra $35.00 which gave you 10 chances to jump the ride queues. We decided not to get the timesaver passes as Kerry won’t go on many rides anyway.

First ride was a roller coaster called Thunderhead. This was the old fashioned one on timber structure and was wild, rough and very fast. I was now certainly awake. Next was the Whistle Punk Chaser which Kerry went on with both of us. I did not realise this was for the kiddies and I could barely fit into the seat and it was pretty uncomfortable to ride on. Next was the Drop Line where I was the only one game to try it. It took you up on a vertical pole about 20 storeys high and then dropped you straight back down. Ass it went up it slowly turned around allowing you a 360 degree view of the park, and the views of the smoky mountains were unbelievable. The drop was pretty scary you just have that moment for what is probably only 2 seconds where you think you are going to die.

Elise & I then went on the Mystery Mine ride and this was the highlight, it went through twists and turns and absolute 180 degree vertical rises and drops but was quite smooth at the same time. A really different and fun ride. The Wild Eagle was a really cool ride that did several somersaults and real fast as well. We rounded out rollercoasters with Tennessee Tornado which I think was the fastest, but Elise was bit disappointed that they aborted the Fire Chaser Express when she was second in line due to threat of lightning nearby (this happened several times through the day). Elise and Kerry would also ride the Sky Rider as well.

We all did the Smoky Mountain River Rampage and yes we got wet, but in the tube behind us a guy in a red shirt got soaked. Right at the end of the ride the tubes approached this waterfall but it is a trick. As soon you got real close the tube activated a trigger which shut off the waterfall. But as we finished the tubes got backed up and this guy was unfortunate enough that waterfall dumped on him big time. Not once, not twice but three times and he was soaked ! We missed a few of the thrill rides like Lightning Rod (aptly named for this day) and Dizzy Disk.

We saw some bald eagles in the bird exposure and saw a couple of shows as well. The first show was an excellent speed painting session by Ricardo Barraza called Paintjam. He did two paintings of and American Bald Eagle and the Beatles in no time and was amazing to watch. There was a heavy rain storm so we went to see a show inside one of the theatres but it was pretty lame. We finished up by seeing the main show of DrumLIne Live which was different with guys playing instruments like they do in a College Football game. We finished up around 5pm as the weather was deteriorating and most rides were closed due to threat of lightning. It was good idea not to get the time saver pass as the longest we waited for was 20 minutes but most rides we got straight on.

One of the good features of Dollywood is that you can get free cold water at the food outlets to refill water bottles and stay hydrated. Shuttle back to the Car Park and I noticed there are sections, D,E and F all empty so it was a very quiet day for us to be there. The park was fun but it’s one big loop to walk around so if you wanted to go back across the park it’s a long walk to get there.

Driving back to Gatlinburg I put on the radio another little ditty from my Spotify playlist called Gatlinburg by Lexi Sims. A song with such descriptive lyrics about what we are experiencing here in the smoky mountains and a catchy tune. We got back to the hotel around 6.30pm and went straight to dinner at The Park Grill which was a really neat place not far from our hotel with nice timber log style setting with god atmosphere. A bit of shopping along the main street after dinner and Elise found this magical dressing gown she bought. The weather had been up and down all day but we got the most out of it.

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