It actually started awhile back with smaller references to my favorite theme park when I least expected it. There was the shout out from Kurt Russell’s character in the 1992 film Captain Ron. I was just watching the movie some lazy day at home on a cable channel and hear the title character say he’s going to Dollywood. Then there was the mention of it in a VISA commercial in the late ‘90s and a variety of inferences here and there.
The big mention for Dollywood becoming a steady stream of references in pop culture was on ABC’s The Middle. At the end of the 2015 season, one of the show’s main characters, Sue Heck, had gone to Dollywood for a summer job working as an entertainer in one of the park’s shows. There were multiple references to key locations in the theme park, including Aunt Granny’s Restaurant, the park favorite named for Dolly; Aunt Granny is what her nieces and nephews call her!
But lately, mentions of Dollywood surround my consumption of all forms of entertainment, and I find myself looking for and listening to the references constantly.
In the fall of 2018, I tuned into the SEC Network to check out what was happening in college football and I heard one of the announcers say “if they had a ride like this at Dollywood, it would be a thriller.” What?!
And not long afterward, during a much-needed Friends marathon, I heard it again. In the episode right after Chandler and Monica get engaged, Chandler is complaining about his father spending all the money he saves for yearly trips to Dollywood. Sorry Chandler, but that one made perfect sense to me!
I’ve even heard Dollywood shout-outs on a couple CBS sitcoms: Two Broke Girls a few years ago and then in November Dollywood was mentioned on the new B Positive series.
Also, Dollywood has been “spotted” in bestselling novels. In the great read Evvie Drake Starts Over by author Linda Holmes, I’m reading along and on page 79, one of the main characters mentions the Thunderhead wooden coaster at Dollywood. I personally think I’ve helped boost sales of the book by telling everyone I know to read it, just to make sure they see that cool Dollywood reference.
A co-worker recently told me author, podcaster and speaker, Annie F. Down, has a non-fiction book ready to release in a few weeks that has a chapter all about Dollywood! The book title is very fitting of our world-class park: That Sounds Fun.
The Hallmark Channel took Dollywood affinity to all new level by filming one of their holiday movies on site, named oh so appropriately Christmas at Dollywood. Not only was it a huge hit when it debuted in December 2019, but it’s become a staple on the channel ever since.
The mentions just keep coming!
Seems like you can’t get away from hearing about Dollywood these days, no matter where you tune in for entertainment options. Couldn’t happen to a nicer place!