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Dollywood’s Lighting Rod Earns “Wooden Coaster of the Decade Award”

Published December 20, 2019 / Last Updated December 21, 2019

Dollywood’s Lightning Rod Earns Coaster101.com’s “Wooden Coaster of The Decade Award”

Roller coaster enthusiasts around the world have come to appreciate the impressive portfolio of world-class rides and attractions available to experience during a trip to Dollywood. Now, a top website for enthusiasts has named Lightning Rod number one in its Top-10 Wooden Coasters of the 2010s.

To wrap up the decade, Coaster101.com is naming the top attractions in the theme park industry in a number of categories. Readers were asked during the month of November to nominate their favorite attractions in five different categories. According to the website, “The Coaster101 team gathered the nominations, narrowed them down and ranked them in a list of 10 for each category.” Coaster101.com writer John Stevenson added,

“Lightning Rod was undoubtedly one of the most defining moments of the past decade for wooden roller coasters. From having the first launch on a wooden coaster to the world record-breaking speed, Lightning Rod has amassed widespread acclaim from the coaster enthusiast community.”

Stevenson went on to say, “After reviewing our readers’ nominations, Lightning Rod was the clear frontrunner for the top spot on this list. From its innovative launch to its world record-breaking speed, Lightning Rod has become a favorite among coaster enthusiasts who have ridden it and a must-ride for those who haven’t. The competition was fierce, but our readers overwhelmingly named Lightning Rod as the best wooden coaster of the last decade. It redefined the limits of a wooden coaster and provided thrill-seekers a ride like no other.”

Lightning Rod

Lightning Rod currently is the only wooden launch coaster in the world, meaning riders hit the gas on the hot rod-themed ride as soon as they reach the lift hill. Once at the top of the hill, riders encounter the ride’s innovative twin summit airtime hills before racing down the 165-ft. first drop.

The ride reaches a top speed of 73 mph at the base of the drop. From there, the coaster races along its 3,800-ft. track through the hills and valleys surrounding Dollywood. Thanks to the rolling topography, much of the track is hidden from view inside the park, serving only to heighten anticipation for those waiting to step aboard the thrilling ride.

The article says Lightning Rod is “…short and sweet, but not a single foot of track is wasted following the 40 mph launch. The coaster’s quadruple-down—four consecutive drops down a hillside—provides sustained airtime that must be experienced firsthand to fully appreciate. Lightning Rod represents another redefining moment for the coaster industry we experienced in the 2010s.”

The ride, which is located in Dollywood’s Jukebox Junction, provides guests with nearly 20 seconds of airtime. The coaster train is comprised of 12 cars, carrying two passengers each, for a total of 24 people per train.

Dollywood’s Award-Winning Entertainment

The honor is just one of many Dollywood and its attractions have earned in 2019. The park earned Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards for Best Christmas Event, Best Guest Experience and Best Kids’ Area (Wildwood Grove) this season, while also winning the USA Today 10Best award for Best Theme Park Halloween Event for Great Pumpkin LumiNights.

All of these honors further underscore the quality experience guests have during a visit to Dollywood. The park celebrates its 35th anniversary season in 2020 with the new Flower & Food Festival, returning favorites like the Gazillion Bubbles Show and Great Pumpkin LumiNights, and heartwarming traditions like Smoky Mountain Christmas. The park’s new Pre-K Imagination Season Pass allows children born in 2015 or 2016 to experience the milestone season for absolutely free! Kids must be registered online by Jan. 5 to claim the pass for 2020.

Read Coaster101.com’s full article at “Top 10 Wooden Coasters of the 2010s Decade – Attraction Awards

For more information about Dollywood, please visit Dollywood.com, call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD, or download the Dollywood App.

Team DollyDollywood’s Lighting Rod Earns “Wooden Coaster of the Decade Award”

Dolly Statue artist Jim Gray passes away

Published December 19, 2019 / Last Updated December 19, 2019

Jim Gray, creator of the Dolly Parton statue in Sevierville, TN, passed away at the age of 87

Jim Gray, creator of the Dolly Parton statue in Sevierville, TN, passed away at the age of 87 at Brown County Health & Living Community in Nashville.

In his 50+ year career, Gray sold well over 2,000 original paintings and 125,000 prints to collectors in the United States and abroad. Among his successful career, Gray also created the Dolly Parton statue seated in front of the Sevier County Courthouse. After more than 2,000 working hours, Dolly’s iconic statue debuted May 3, 1987, and remains a must-see landmark in the heart of Sevier County.

Dolly said,

“Jim Gray will always hold a special place in my heart and I’m so thankful that his legacy as a talented artist will live on in the statue he created.”

Thank You Jim!

Jim Gray was a husband, father and beloved artist whose work has and will continue to touch so many lives. To Fran, his wife, thank you for lending your light to the world. We send you our love and affection.

According to the Jim Gray Gallery, his final years were lived with challenges of dementia. As a result, the family asks that donations be made to the Dementia Action Alliance 501c3 organization.

Team DollyDolly Statue artist Jim Gray passes away

Opening Night At Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol

Published December 11, 2019 / Last Updated December 11, 2019

Dolly Parton makes a special appearance at the opening night of the all-new musical, Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol.

Held at Boston’s Emerson Colonial Theatre from December 3 – 29, 2019, the new musical features new music from Dolly Parton. The eight-time GRAMMY winner made a special appearance during opening night.

Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol is proudly presented by Red Tail Productions and Paul T. Couch, directed by Curt Wollan and book by David H. Bell.

Set during the 1930s in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, this incredibly heartwarming and truly unforgettable production imagines Ebenezer Scrooge as the owner of a mining company town, where his callous greed blinds him to the joys and gifts of the season. As a Christmas Eve snowstorm approaches, Scrooge is visited by his deceased business partner and three ghosts who compel him to see life anew and discover that love is the greatest and most precious gift we have. Dickens’s classic characters and Parton’s one-of-a-kind songwriting expertise make this a holiday event you’ll want to share with those you love.

Boston’s Emerson Colonial Theatre is holding the limited engagement of the musical from December 3 – 29, 2019.

For tickets or more information visit smokymountainchristmascarol.com

Team DollyOpening Night At Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol

“Christmas at Dollywood” Premieres December 8 On Hallmark Channel

Published December 3, 2019 / Last Updated December 3, 2019

Dolly Parton and Danica McKellar in Hallmark Channel’s “Christmas at Dollywood”

On December 8, 2019, “Christmas at Dollywood” premieres on the Hallmark Channel starring Danica McKellar, Niall Matter, and Dolly! “Christmas at Dollywood,” filmed at Dollywood, is the story of a New York City event planner (Danica McKellar) who returns to Tennessee to plan her Christmas celebration at Dollywood. Danica is paired with the head of operations (Niall Matter as Luke) who thinks he can handle the party just fine on his own. Watch as these two find a way to put on the biggest event of the season!

Watch “Christmas at Dollywood” on Sunday, December 8, at 8 PM EST/7 PM CST.

Preview – Hallmark’s “Christmas at Dollywood”

Dolly and Danica

Prior to this film, Dolly and Danica have built and maintained a wonderful relationship stemming from their previous work together. Danica’s book, “Goodnight, Numbers,” is currently included in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. She also read her “Goodnight, Numbers” at the Library of Congress (LOC) as part of a special event hosted by the LOC and Dolly Parton Imagination Library.

Danica also narrated “The Library that Dolly Built.” This documentary explores the journey of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library from a local program to an international partnership that has now gifted over 124 million books.

You can watch these two extremely talented ladies in “Christmas at Dollywood” this December only on Hallmark.

Learn more about “Christmas at Dollywood” and Hallmark Channel’s full holiday movie line up.

Team Dolly“Christmas at Dollywood” Premieres December 8 On Hallmark Channel

Tune-In Alert: Don’t Miss Dolly’s Upcoming Television and Streaming Specials

Published November 26, 2019 / Last Updated December 3, 2019

Catch Dolly’s November Television and Streaming specials including Netflixs’ premier of Heartstrings on Nov. 22 and NBC’s 50 Years at the Grand Ole Opry on Nov. 26.

Leading up to Thanksgiving, Dolly fans will have plenty to chat about around the family table this Turkey Day with the debut of “Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings” on Netflix (Nov. 22) and the two-hour NBC special “Dolly Parton: 50 Years at the Grand Ole Opry” (Nov. 26).

“Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings” Premiers November 22

Netflix subscribers have been eagerly awaiting the debut of “Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings” for several months. Eight stories focused on faith, love and forgiveness, all inspired by Dolly’s iconic songs, will be available on Nov. 22.

“Dolly Parton: 50 Years at the Grand Ole Opry” Airs November 26

Dolly is also gracing the small screen on network television with the two-hour special “Dolly Parton: 50 Years at the Grand Ole Opry” airing on NBC on Nov. 26 at 9 PM EST. The special was filmed back in October during Dolly Week at the Opry. It features new interviews and Opry performances from Dolly and her “Trio” pal Emmylou Harris. A host of other artists are featured including Dierks Bentley, Chris Janson, Toby Keith, Lady Antebellum, Margo Price, Hank Williams Jr. and more.

© Grand Ole Opry | Photo by Curtis Hilbun

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

As both events are set to premiere, Dolly makes her rounds promoting, most recently appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon where she shared the origin of her two biggest assets.

CMA Awards & Good Morning America

Heartstrings and Opry special come on the heals of Dolly’s monumental night of co-hosting the CMA Awards with Reba McEntire and Carrie Underwood. And, in case you missed it, the night before the CMA Awards, Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts hosted Dolly during the ABC special “Dolly Parton: Here She Comes Again!

Team DollyTune-In Alert: Don’t Miss Dolly’s Upcoming Television and Streaming Specials