Recently we headed to Dollywood for Smoky Mountain Coasterfest, an event held by our coaster enthusiast club.
We were one of the first to arrive and saw a sight that you seldom see at Dollywood, an empty parking lot. We had our pick of spaces at the RV parking lot. We have been to the park a few times and have never seen the RV parking full so you should feel pretty certain that there will be a spot there if you want to park your rig there while you enjoy the park. As with most places like this, there are no hookups so you will need to be completely self-reliant. There is also no overnight parking.
By 8:30 more people were arriving and check-in had started so we headed to the park entrance. Check-in went smoothly and after a short wait we were escorted to the back of the park. Our day started with an hour of exclusive ride time (ERT) on Blazing Fury before the park opened. It is a classic indoor coaster and we got to ride it the way most people experience it. Then we got an opportunity to ride it with all the lights and maintenance lights on so we could see everything, and also an exciting ride with all of the lights off. Dollywood was also kind to provide us with lunch pails containing a muffin and a bottle of water. They also had coffee available which was greatly welcomed on this chilly morning.
After that, the park opened to the public and we headed back to Adventure Mountain for head of the line time. The scavenger hunt also began and most of the day was left for us to experience the beauty of the park on our own. For anybody interested, we were given the opportunity to tour behind the scenes of the new Barnstormer that is under construction for 2011.
We took the opportunity to walk around the park a few times experiencing some of the rides, shows, and Christmas atmosphere as well as working on our scavenger hunt questions and tasks. We got our questions turned in by the 7:00 deadline and headed out of the park to relax for a little bit in the RV. We returned at 8:30 to enjoy the awesome smooth and creamy hot cocoa and cake provided to us and got our prizes from the scavenger hunt. We also took part in some auctions to benefit the local soup kitchen on behalf of Dollywood.
By that time the park was closed to the public and we spent the next hour for ERT on Dollywood's two most popular coasters, Mystery Mine and Thunderhead. As usual, the head restraints on Mystery Mind bash your head so I could only handle it a couple of times but the speed and quick transitions on Thunderhead continue to thrill, especially in the crisp fall air and complete darkness.
As usual, the staff at Dollywood went out of their way to make sure everybody was well taken care of. It's no wonder that the park is busy no matter when you go. We will continue to support the park for many years to come.
Since it was so late, we headed to the Pigeon Forge KOA to rest for the night. We weren't real happy with it the first time, not because of the facilities or location, but the staff. However, we tried it one more time to see if it was a better experience and like the previous time, the staff was less than helpful and the whole experience of our 10 hour stay was not great. There is another park right down the road that we'll try next time we're in the area. Check them out - Riveredge RV Park.
We have a hard time passing up a great breakfast at the Old Mill which is a nice easy walk across Patriot Park from the KOA. After that we broke down camp and headed to the Apple Barn and Cider Mill for some fried apple pies for the road as well as a gallon of their fresh cider to have with our Thanksgiving Feast.
All in all it was a great weekend! We made some new friends and look forward to the next event!