Dollywood celebrated being awarded the highest honor an amusement park can receive, the Applause Award, determined by the Liseberg amusement park of Gothenburg, Sweden. It's only given out every other year for the best park considering operations, creativity, and theming.
Dolly herself received the award in Orlando last fall at IAAPA, and she brought back a video of her excitement. She wanted to thank everyone in Pigeon Forge and beyond so she hosted a party at Dollywood.
She was presented a proclamation signed by Bill Haslam, Governor of Tennessee, proclaiming May 6, 2011 as Dollywood Applause Award Day by Susan Whitaker, Commissioner of Tourism, who coincidentally used to work at Dollywood.
You can read all the whereases for yourself, but this is a really big deal because Dollywood sells more paid admissions than anything else in Tennessee.
Of course Dolly never goes a without a song in her heart and this day she sang "Shine Like the Sun" from her new CD. She is shortly kicking off her European Tour promoting this album.
She also sang "I Will Always Love You" to retiring General Manager, Barbara Joines. As a retirement present, Barbara and her husband will be guests of Dolly for her London concert.
Barbara mentioned that the award and her fulfilling career would not have been possible without all of the great associates she has met along the way. "I found that new associates usually either left before 6 months were up, or stayed for life," she said after the festivities. Before you even enter the gate, Dollywood celebrates the cream of their staff.
Another consideration for the award is originality. The creative people transformed this standard Screaming Swing into something unique. Looking all the world like it smashed through the barn, the hay bales are even torn up inside.
Taking you to a trip of yesteryear, historically accurate signs show the dedication of the creative department and the depth of their research. Plus, there are just "plane" fun.
All members of the family are entertained at Barnstormer. The kid's area includes spouting water and lots of shade. Who doesn't want to climb on Pigford? Another area not pictured includes a slide and other interactive activities.
Dollywood doesn't just paint signs. This plaque was cast in one piece on the opening day of Christmas in the Smokies last year.
Master Caster John Fuller got it perfect on the first try. He also does personal signs for guests who visit him in Craftsman Valley.
You could feel the heat far away as they melted lots of bars for this big sign.
Dolly surprised the crowd of the 1:00 performance of the Dreamland Drive-In Musical Revue at the Pines theatre with a walk on, reprising her song from earlier.
Mats Wedin, Chairman of the Liseberg Applause Award Board of Governors, specifically mentioned the friendliness of the staff and extraordinary cleanliness of the park in his presentation speech. This path is one example of the beauty of Dollywood.
The excellence in operations was also a criteria. Here the team on Thunderhead was barely letting the train pause on the ready stop before rolling it into the station with 2 train operation.
The Seiver County High School marching band serenaded Dolly with a medley of her hits as she rode through the park greeting her fans.
Congratulations to Dolly and all of her partners on receiving this honor. What a fitting finish to a great 25th season. What do you plan for the 50th?