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Eighth Annual Water Safety Day At Dollywood’s Splash Country

Published June 21, 2017 / Last Updated June 23, 2017

Dollywood’s Splash Country hosted Water Safety Day and participated in an international attempt to set a new Guinness World Record™

June is a particularly important month for water safety especially as it relates to children. That’s just one reason why Dollywood’s Splash Country is committed to water safety education and awareness. It’s also why the water park hosted Water Safety Day in conjunction with the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson (WLSL). This eighth annual event was held on Thursday, June 22. Area partners LeConte Medical Center, The Dr. Robert F. Thomas Foundation, WVLT Local 8 News and Star 102.1 joined with Dollywood’s Splash Country to host the event.

Water park guests visited vendor booths to learn about staying safe in the water and sun. They also joined the attempt to set a new record for the world’s largest swimming lesson!


This worldwide swim lesson happens at pools and water parks around the globe on June 22. Dollywood’s Splash Country is one location where swimmers of all ages and abilities come to take part in the lesson in hopes of breaking the world record. Last year, more than 40,000 kids and adults from 24 countries participated in setting the Guinness World Record for largest swim lesson.

“LeConte Medical Center is proud to partner once again with our friends at Dollywood’s Splash Country and the Dr. Robert F. Thomas Foundation for Water Safety Day,” said LeConte Medical Center President/CAO Gaye Jolly. “Opportunities to provide health education to the families in our community are very important to us. We want to do all we can to promote a healthy and safe summer for the children of our region.”

Water Safety Awareness

Time in the water can be dangerous for children because drowning remains the leading cause of unintended injury-related death for kids ages 1-4, and the second leading cause of accidental death for children younger than 14. Research shows participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent among children ages 1 to 4.

“We love our community and we want everyone to be safe in the water this summer,” explained Dollywood’s Splash Country General Manager Janet Dawson. “This event is an opportunity for us to lead the way in awareness and education about water safety, so we’re proud to host it.”

Visit Dollywood’s Splash Country In 2017

Team DollyEighth Annual Water Safety Day At Dollywood’s Splash Country

North Carolina Approves Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Statewide

Published June 20, 2017 / Last Updated June 22, 2017

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library will soon be available across North Carolina!

In the 2017-2019 final state budget, the North Carolina General Assembly approved $3.5 million (first year) and $7 million (second year) for Smart Start to administer Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library across North Carolina. Dolly said,

“I’m so excited to join Smart Start to expand my Imagination Library across the state. Welcome aboard North Carolina – let’s give these dreams some wings!”

Cindy Watkins is the President of the North Carolina Partnership for Children/Smart Start. Cindy said,

“This budget clearly reflects a commitment to investing in our youngest children and their families. Our state leaders have expanded funding for child care subsidy, NC PreK, and early literacy through Smart Start. These investments are significant steps forward in building strong foundations for our state’s future.”

In addition to statewide coverage for the Imagination Library, the approved budget includes a $27.3 million increase in funding for NC PreK. Also, an increase in the market rate for child care subsidies for infants to two-year-olds in tier three counties. Finally, it includes an increase of $2 million for Nurse Family Partnership.

Smart Start

Smart Start is a network of 75 nonprofit local partnerships that serve all 100 North Carolina counties. This network is led by The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. (NCPC) that ensures fiscal and programmatic accountability, and coordinates the statewide network to create better outcomes for children and families.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

The Imagination Library is a book gifting program for children from birth to age five. The mission of the program is to foster a love of reading in preschool children. And ensure that every child born has books, regardless of their family’s income.

Team DollyNorth Carolina Approves Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Statewide

Dollywood’s “Year Of The Family” Continues With More Family Fun

Published June 15, 2017 / Last Updated June 15, 2017

New rides and shows, plus fireworks and extended park hours highlight annual summer tradition for families at Dollywood’s “Year of the Family”

To celebrate summer during Dollywood’s “Year of the Family,” the park offers families even more of what they already love—time together at the world’s friendliest theme park. Summer at Dollywood (June 17- Aug. 6) provides the ideal atmosphere for families to create lifelong memories sure to put a smile on every face. Dolly Parton said,

“Summer in the Great Smoky Mountains truly is something special. When I was growing up, our entertainment was catching lightnin’ bugs and looking up at the stars. We could only dream about what it would be like to take a family vacation together.”

New Attractions & Shows

Dollywood celebrates the season with two new attractions, Drop Line and Whistle Punk Chaser. Also, The Little Engine Playhouse will feature two new stories. Guests can look forward to spectacular nightly fireworks. And a Dollywood favorite, The Gazillion Bubbles Show, returns this summer during “Year of the Family.”

Dolly’s Nights of Many Colors, a spectacular synchronized fireworks show, paints a colorful canvas across the Smoky Mountain sky each evening. The fireworks extravaganza lights up the night at 9:30 p.m.

The Gazillion Bubbles Show is in D.P.’s Celebrity Theater, offering an amazing facility to fill with the “unbubbleievable” tricks and fun of the bubble-making spectacle. Extended park operating hours—10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily— give guests more time to create the perfect summer getaway. Additionally, Dollywood’s hours are extended to midnight for the first time ever on July 1 and 8. Dolly said,

“We had heard about big rides and shows and festivals at places like the World’s Fair, but we never dreamed that it could all be right here in the Smokies! Places like Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Dollywood are now everything we could imagine for a family vacation together.”

The Little Engine Playhouse

It’s story time again as The Little Engine Playhouse showcases two new children’s stories. Coat of Many Colors is based on Dolly’s newest children’s book of the same name. Pretend, based on Jennifer Plecas’ book, features sing-along songs that kids of all ages will enjoy. And, of course, everyone’s favorite, The Little Engine That Could, returns to the stage. It’s a delightful reminder of what can happen with just a little bit of determination.

Thrilling Rides

Dollywood guests have an amazing amount of entertainment options to enjoy during their visit. They also can experience the park’s award-winning rides in a completely different environment once the sun sets. After dark, Dollywood’s trademark attractions, like Wild Eagle and Thunderhead, provide a unique experience for those who climb aboard. These rides thrill guests who race through the summer night with no idea which way the track will turn next!

Learn more about Dollywood’s Year of the Family, or call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD.

Team DollyDollywood’s “Year Of The Family” Continues With More Family Fun

Smoky Mountain Adventures Cast – Avie Lee Owens & Lee Parton

Published June 14, 2017 / Last Updated June 14, 2017

Introducing Diana and Andre, who play Avie Lee Owens and Lee Parton in Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures.

Each night, Diana and Andre wow audiences as Avie Lee Owens and Lee Parton at Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures. Together, they perform unbelievable aerial acts alongside an incredibly talented cast.
Here, they talk about how they met and developed their craft. They also chat about their different homes and share what they love most about living here in the Smoky Mountains.

Diana – Avie Lee Owens

Where are you from?
“I was born in Venezuela, and my family moved to Miami when I was nine years old.”

How is life in the Smokies different from Miami?
“It’s very different. I traded palm trees for mountains. We don’t have mountains in Miami.”

The Owens and Partons love to play family games. What types of games did you play as a child?
“I loved to draw and watched gymnastics and I danced a lot.”

So how does a girl from Miami end up starring in Smoky Mountain Adventures here in Pigeon Forge?
“I attended a special school for gymnasts. There, I was introduced to acrobatics and that’s where I started aerial training. Those things prepared me for the acts that are such a big part of the show.”

What is your favorite part of Smoky Mountain Adventures?
“I love performing the “Mountain Boy Holler Girl” scene with Andre and I really like the show opening too.”


Diana met Andre during her training in Miami, FL. The two hit it off and have been working together for about three years before joining the Smoky Mountain Adventures cast.

Andre – Lee Parton

Where are you from?
“I was born in Siberia and yes it is way colder there than here!”

Siberia! Wow, besides the temperature, what are some of the other differences between your home and your new life here in Tennessee?
“It is really beautiful here and the climate here is nice. The forest is beautiful. In Siberia, it is mostly hills and pine trees, so there are some similarities that remind me of home.”

What kinds of games were you interested in as a kid?
“We played army and sword fighting, you know, typical boy stuff.”

How did you find your way from Siberia to Pigeon Forge?
“Sure, when I was 14 years old, I started lifting weights and really got into gymnastics more and more. I did high bar and I loved to breakdance. Later, I came to the US for more training. Then, about three years ago, I met Diana and we started working together. Our three years of experience together really helped prepare us for our performances here.”

What is your favorite thing about performing at Smoky Mountain Adventures?
“Honestly, I love that I get to do so many things. We have a really talented cast and I love that I can learn so much from the people I get to work with every day.”

Do you have a favorite part of the show?
“Yes! I love the Hootenanny. It’s so fun and lively and involves everyone.”


Food, Songs & Dolly

Diana and Andre also sat down together to answer a few questions about the show, the dinner and, of course, Dolly Parton.

What’s your favorite part of Avie Lee’s Sunday Dinner?
Diana – “The fried chicken!”
Andre – “Yes, I like the chicken, too, and the corn on the cob.”

Do you have a favorite song from the show?
Diana – “I love ‘Something More’ I always sing it in my head during the show.”
Andre – “‘Clear Blue Morning’ that’s my favorite one.”

Outside of the show, do you have a favorite Dolly Parton song?
Diana – “Yes, ‘Jolene’ is my favorite, I love that song! I love singing it.”
Andre – “For me, it would have to be ‘9 to 5.’”

See Diana and Andre perform at Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures this summer in Pigeon Forge, TN!

Team DollySmoky Mountain Adventures Cast – Avie Lee Owens & Lee Parton

WATCH: Gold Derby Interview With Dolly Parton About NBC Films

Published June 14, 2017 / Last Updated June 14, 2017

Dolly Parton recalls her emotions when watching herself portrayed on screen by Alyvia Alyn Lind in an interview with Gold Derby!

In an interview with Gold Derby’s Chris Beachum, Dolly Parton talks about how she was moved to tears by “Christmas of Many Colors.” She shares her emotional reaction to both NBC movies based on her life.

Shortly before the premiere of the first film, Dolly joined her sister Stella Parton for a private screening. Dolly recalled the overwhelming feelings of nostalgia. She remembers saying,

“How amazing is this to be here holding hands as sisters like when we were little kids, and somebody in the movies playing us… It was very, very moving. Very touching.”

“Coat of Many Colors” (2015) and “Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love” (2016) were both ratings smashes for NBC. The cast of stars including Ricky Schroder (Lee Parton), Jennifer Nettles (Avie Lee Parton), Gerald McRaney (Rev. Jake Owens) and Alyvia Alyn Lind (Little Dolly) all delivered moving performances in both films.

Gold Derby reports the network plans repeat airings for many years to come. In addition, the first two films were part of a four movie deal between Dolly and NBC. “Jolene” is said to be the subject of the next release. Unlike the first two, the next film will be based on Dolly’s song rather than her life and will veer from the faith-based, family focused genre. Dolly said,

“Jolene, of course, in the song was a flamboyant girl that was out to steal somebody’s man but she has redeeming qualities.”

Dolly continues the interview by reflecting on receiving awards such as the Kennedy Center Honors, dear friends including Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda and much more.

About Gold Derby

Gold Derby famously presents four sets of Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and other predictions for comparison and analysis. Visit Gold Derby to make Emmy predictions. Nominees will be announced on July 13.

Video produced by David Janove and Andrew Merrill

Team DollyWATCH: Gold Derby Interview With Dolly Parton About NBC Films