Dolly Parton likes to call herself “the girl next door…if you’re next door is an amusement park.” Singer, successful businesswoman, activist, writer, patron, philanthropist, pop icon, and animal rights advocate, Dolly Parton has always shown with working-class pride that behind her vast empire—and a fortune estimated at 375 million dollars, according to Forbes magazine—hide humble origins to which he constantly returns through significant donations to help depressed communities.
Dolly Parton was born in a wooden cabin in Servierville (Tennessee), one of those small rural towns in the United States where it is difficult to leave. By birth, Parton could belong to what the country’s class elites commonly call part of the white trash, “white trash”, which, however, ends up becoming the queen of country and the voice of the American working class, thanks to songs as emblematic as 9 to 5 or the well-known I will always love you, the main theme of the film The Bodyguard (1992), performed and popularized by Whitney Houston. Her figure is so iconic that she has her own Muppet on Sesame Street (Polly Darton) and gave her name to the most famous sheep in the world (named Dolly, by the way, for being born from a mammary gland cell in reference to the enormous breasts of the artist).
Not bad for that girl who was teased at school for wearing a patchwork coat. It is normal to be nicknamed The Iron Butterfly, due to her delicate appearance and her iron hand for business. Parton owns an empire that ranges from film and television production companies (hers are the Buffy series, the vampire slayer or the film The father of the bride) to philanthropic foundations such as the Imagination Library, which has already distributed more than 100 million free books among children without resources from around the world. “Above everything I’ve done, I’ve always said that I’ve had more guts than talent,” said the artist in one of her interviews, displaying her always believable humility. But what not everyone knows is the extraordinary income that Dollywood,
Welcome to Dollywood
The FireChaser Express roller coaster, one of many family-friendly attractions to be found in Dollywood. Courtesy of Dollywood
Dollywood is a gigantic tourist complex made up of a theme park, another water park, golf courses and hotels, located in the heart of Appalachia, very close to the beautiful Smoky Mountains, where Dolly Parton lived her childhood and which she herself has revived by giving work and welfare to the vast majority of its little more than 5,000 inhabitants: “I always thought that, if one day I managed to do something great or be successful, I wanted to donate a part of those profits to the land where I was born and create something great. Something that would help create many jobs. We inaugurated the park more than 35 years ago and we are still here”, commented the artist.
How did you see Dolly Parton? In Dollywood you will find the answer.
The data supports it: more than 40 million visitors since its opening and an expansion plan of more than 500 million dollars for the coming years. As if this were not enough, Dollywood has been chosen by TripAdvisor as the best amusement park in North America, above Disneyland or Universal. It has achieved this thanks to its spectacular attractions, but walking around shows that it is also due to the location, the cleanliness and maintenance of its facilities, the warmth and friendliness of its employees, its traditional food stalls, the perfect theming and its live performances. with the best of country music, bluegrass and gospel. Even Dolly herself appears there once a month to be seen on the parade before some stunned visitors.
For the romantics or the most fanatical of the singer, in Dollywood there is a chapel to get married.
Tradition and modernity come together in more than 60 hectares, combining the fastest wooden roller coaster in the world, with blacksmith workshops, eagle sanctuaries, a reconstruction of the home in which the singer grew up or a replica of the first wheat mill from Tennessee. Dollywood even has its own museum: Chasing Rainbows, in memory of the performer and her career, where the costumes from many of her films such as 9 to 5, outfits from her concerts and all her awards are exhibited. . For romantics, there is also the possibility of getting married in the Dolly Chapel, in the heart of the amusement park.
The American spirit of the 1950s and 1960s is a fundamental part of Dollywood’s appeal.
Dollywood employees love it: Dolly pays 100% of tuition, fees and books if they want to pursue degrees or other educational opportunities, not for nothing has Dollywood been named this year by Forbes magazine as one of the best places to to work. Dolly’s charm and southern friendliness turned into a unique tourist destination.