Want to impress your friends the next time you’re at Dollywood? We have you covered! With these 5 interesting facts, you’ll blow some peoples minds as they realize that Dollywood isn’t just a theme park, it’s a piece of history!
1. Dollywood Wasn’t Always Dollywood
The theme park first opened in 1961 but it wasn’t called Dollywood then. The park’s first name was Rebel Railroad and built by the Robbins brothers who already had a railroad-related tourism business in the area. Eventually they sold the park to the Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell who changed the name of the park to Goldrush Junction in 1970. The park operated for 6 years under the name when it was then sold again and rebranded as Silver Dollar City. If you recognize that name, it’s because the new owners also owned the Silver Dollar City theme park in Branson Missouri. Finally in 1986, Dolly Parton came into the picture and became a part owner in the park alongside the Herschend Family.
2. Dollywood Contains One Of The Largest Eagle Sanctuaries In The United States
There is a 400,000 cubic foot eagle sanctuary inside the park. It’s fully enclosed and houses eagles that would normally not be able to survive on their own in the wild. These include eagles that were hit by vehicles, abandoned in the wild as young, or have another form of disability. Each eagle is given a yearly physical exam. There are around 70 eagles in the habitat. There is even a live web cam you can view of the eagle enclosure with 3 different views!
3. The Church Operates As A Church
Have you ever wanted to go to church inside of a theme park? Well, you can! The Robert F. Thomas chapel(named after the doctor that delivered Dolly Parton as a baby) hosts regular services on Sundays. If you want to go, be sure to get there early as the services do fill up quite fast! Even though the church looks really old, it was in fact opened in 1973! Back then, the construction of the chapel cost less than $35,000 to build. One reason why the chapel looks so old is that the contents of it were formerly used throughout the region. Some of the chapel bell, pews, windows, and more were all repurposed from other buildings in the area like schools and other churches.
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4. Dolly Parton Has Never Ridden The Rides
Dolly has famously said “I don’t ride the rides. I never have.” She then goes on to explain she can easily get motion sickness and she can be a little bit of a chicken as she wouldn’t want to mess up her wig or shoes. The last part of the quote said “I’m gonna have some handsome man mess it up, I don’t want some ride doing it.” So even though she is part owner in one of the best theme parks in the world, she actually hasn’t been on the rides!
5. The Trains Were Used In World War II
The two trains at Dollywood are old but did you know there were used back in World War II? That’s right! Klondike Katie(built in 1943) and Cinderella(built in 1938) were used in Alaska with the war efforts going on in the state. This included transporting troops as well as lumber. Klondike Katie was first acquired by the park when it was called Rebel Railroad. It wasn’t until 1977, that Cinderella was purchased by the then Silver Dollar City park.