August 11, 2008

Relatives and rollercoasters

Yesterday was our first full day at Dollywood. And we had a special treat. Kim called one of her best friends growing up (also her cousin), Wendy, and we made plans for Wendy to come out to Dollywood with her three kids. And that's what happened yesterday.

We didn't think to get a photo of the group before we became all bedraggled (like you see in this photo), so here is everyone (except me) standing in front of a waterfall and looking wet and tired.

David has always had a very special connection with relatives. He deeply loves his grandparents and his uncles and aunts and cousins. And this visit was no different. Even though Wendy is not truly an aunt (because she's Kim's cousin) and even though the kids are David's second-cousins, David was reveling in the idea of being able to enjoy the park and the day with his cousins. And he kept announcing that with great enjoyment.

White Water Rafting

David directed everyone to the cars that run around the track again. But once we got that out of his system, we got on to the things that the whole group wanted to do. One of the first things was the white water rafting ride. Kim got soaked on this ride when we rode it on Saturday, so we knew there was danger of major wetness in the ride. I wanted to get a photo of the group on the ride so I stayed behind and waited for their raft to come down the section next to the walkway. (It had nothing to do with trying to stay dry!)

When we visited Dollywood 11 years ago, it was fun and had beautiful landscaping, but there were not nearly as many rides as there are now. It's amazing what can happen in a decade.

Kim and David on the Sky Rider

With so many other big-name parks out there (the Disney parks, Six Flags parks, Busch Gardens parks, and others), Dollywood has to try to distinguish itself from the rest. We noticed 11 years ago that Dollywood is beautifully landscaped and that has stayed the same. Another thing that Dollywood has always been known for is that it is very well-suited to families and that characteristic is apparent from the high number of grandparent/grandchildren groups that you see there.

David riding the Scrambler with Haley

But it appears that Dollywood is also trying to distinguish itself through its roller coasters. The coasters at Dollywood are amazing. There's a mix of wooden roller coasters (for the purists) and steel coasters (for those who want more excitement and intensity such as what is provided by loops, inversions, and other things that are not possible on the wooden coasters.

Upside-down on the Mystery Mine coaster

The steel coaster pictured here is the Mystery Mine ride. Kim and David rode this together and Kim (who loves scary roller coasters) said that this was the most intense ride she's ever ridden. It completely freaked David out and he didn't want to ride intense rides for the rest of the day, even though he really enjoyed the Mystery Mine.

So in an effort to avoid intense rides, we went to the River Battle ride. This is a great twist on water rides. Many parks have water rides with water cannons lining the paths so folks on the paths can squirt the people on the rides. It's fun, but just doesn't seem quite fair.

Evidence of River Battle wetness

In Dollywood's River Battle the riders get to fight back. Each seat is equipped with a hand operated water cannon and the riders can fire the water at folks on the walkways as well as people riding in the other boats. There are also many targets along the ride that activate animatronics and larger water cannons and other special effects in the ride scenery.

It's great fun, but you end up very, very wet as you can see from this photo.

We're planning on going to the water park today. I'll update you with more photos tomorrow.


  1. Sounds like a blast, and the stuff happy memories are made of!

  2. Yes - We're having a great time. And it was delightful seeing Wendy and her kids again. We're going to visit them on Saturday as we travel back to Lynchburg. David is very excited about seeing them again. He just loves family.


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