Dolly, Tornado, and a Barnstormer

This past weekend, after a long, cold winter, Dollywood opened up for it’s 26th season. With much fanfare and aviator sunglasses, Dolly pulled a lever on the newest addition to the park, the Barnstormer. The Barnstormer is located in the new Owens Farm section of the park. You may know the section by it’s former names of Daydream Ridge and Dreamland Forest. The Barnstormer is an S & S Power Screamin’ Swing.

Other information from Dollywood’s website about the Barnstormer and Owens Farm:

Enjoy the same breathtaking moments that daring stunt pilots of the1920s might have experienced as they zoomed over the fields of nearby farms.  The $5.5 millionBarnstormer features two pendulum arms with seating for 32 riders.

Seated back to back, riders travel progressively higher on each swing of the Barnstormer’s massive arms, reaching a maximum speed of 45 miles per hour and 230 degrees of rotation. At its peak, the Barnstormer reaches a staggering 81 feet in the air!

Located adjacent to the Mountain Slidewinder, the Barnstormer rests amid a big, red barn, creating a huge, barnyard-themed area which includes a 22-foot by 16-foot bi-plane play area as well as a pig pen water play area for children.

That section is beautiful! The old “Critter Creek Toys”/”Tree Trunk Treasures” store is now “Granny Owen’s Toys, Gadgets and Tools.” They’ve done some remodeling in the store and they sell some cute new merchandise relating to the Barnstormer. The old “Daydream Diner”/”Mountain Dan’s Burgers”/”Ranger’s Cook House” is no more (although the restaurant has been gone for the previous two seasons. Instead, the old queue and seating areas for the restaurant have been converted to “Granny’s Garden” and the “Pig Pen.” “Granny’s Garden” utilizes the old “Tiny Tots Playground” crawling structures and the “Pig Pen” relocates the former “Bullfrog Creek” squirting fountains from the old Dreamland Forest. It’s a very cute section and kids really seemed to enjoy it. The Barnstormer itself takes up a huge space, but a new crawling structure/play area has been built next to it. It’s a crashed bi-plane with a slide and other features. With all the changes to Daydream Ridge/Dreamland Forest/Owens Farm over the years, one constant attraction in that section is the Mountain Slidewinder. It’s still there, with a little bit of a new entrance/sign. It’s a fantastic section and Dollywood really outdid themselves.

The weekend also saw the opening of Festival of Nations. Three new shows include: Samaia: Legend of the Caucasus, a show from Georgia, Oisre, a show with the music of Ireland, and Los Pampas Gauchos, from Argentina. It also brings the return of Drum! from Nova Scotia, Canada. It’s a personal favorite of mine, and a must-see! Festival of Nations will be featured now until May 2nd.

Here are some other changes to the park this year:

  • “Red’s Drive-In” has had a complete renovation. They’ve enclosed the carport area of the restaurant (where the classic cars used to be) and also part of the outdoor seating area to make additional indoor seating. The counter has changed in the fact there are several more registers with an improved flow to the speed of service. The food has also changed! The installation of a charbroiler brings charbroiled burgers and chicken sandwiches. The burger bar with just lettuce, onions, tomatoes, and pickles has been changed to include sauteed mushrooms and onions, as well as relish and salsa. A big improvement!
  • “A Touch of Ireland” and “Old Flames Candles” have swapped stores. “Uncle Bill’s Music in the Valley” is now located in part of the “Valley Carriage Works” building.
  • The “Sweet Shoppe” has changed some of it’s building, too. The Taffy Kitchen, that used to house Mr. Percy (the talking stove), has been repainted to a bland (in my opinion) white walls with colorful trim. Also, they have built a “lollipop tree” in the middle. It’s neat, but I think it looks boring.
  • The “Tater Patch” now serves Petro’s Chili and Chips (complete with Hint of Orange tea!).

Of course, my trip to the park wouldn’t have been worth it without a ride on the Tennessee Tornado! I also bought the butterfly jump drive they sell to acquire the ride photos, entrance photos, etc. for only 6 bucks! 🙂 Here are my family’s pictures.

My mom, my sister, and my brother and me:

My brother, and his friend:

Well, there you have it. My take on the opening and the changes for Dollywood 2011. It’s looking to be a fantastic season and I’ll try to post more pictures and whatnot later. 🙂

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