By JESSICA VAUGHT HUDSON
My Dad recently invited my family and I to Pigeon Forge to see the Dolly Parton’s Celebration Dinner Show at Smoky Mountain Adventures. I have to be honest, at first I wasn’t super excited about the idea of listening to country music, watching line dancing and hearing banjo music for two hours, because that was totally what I was expecting for a show about Dolly Parton. I’m happy to say, possibly for the first time ever, I was dead wrong!
I never pass up the opportunity for my children, Savana, 8 and Wynston,7, to be able to make memories with their grandparents but I wasn’t totally sure if the Celebration Dinner Show was something that they would enjoy. I guess this will mark the second time I’m about to say it, I was wrong again!! The fun started for them the minute they entered the door.
Dolly Parton designed her theater entrance to resemble an old time outpost/general store. The idea is to get guests into the old-timey spirit by playing games, trivia and other interactive activities. My children and my husband, Berry, made themselves right at home playing checkers and tic tac toe. They also found a corn hole game and a ring toss game to play while waiting for the show to start. My son enjoyed a Smoky Mountain Sunrise in an old time beer mug after all his game playing. The full service bar is made to look like a old western saloon to keep with the theme.
Once it was time to enter the show, we were shown to our seats and almost immediately creamy vegetable soup appeared before me! Much like Dolly’s Stampede, the Celebration show comes complete with a four-course meal. Creamy vegetable soup was followed by a biscuit, fried chicken, sugar cured ham, macaroni and cheese, and sweet potato delight. Unlike most dinner show, dinner is served before the show really starts. There are some “cowboy clowns,” as my son called them, that provided entertainment while food is being served.
I don’t know if it was because I hadn’t eaten since breakfast or if the food was just that good, by I for one cleaned my plate. It was a good thing, too, because once the show started there was no way anyone in the place was looking down at their plates! I noticed my kids had full plates still and then realized they were so enthralled in the action of the show, there was no time for them to eat! I could see my daughter “oooing and aaahing” from three seats away.
The show itself is a story about how in the old days, people celebrated everything, big and small because every day was a victory. They performers put on a a hootenanny Cirque du Soleil style.
There are 22 performers in the show and they come from all over the world. They perform all kinds of stunts, from a human hula hoop, my daughter’s favorite, to tumbling to juggling, to tricks on trampolines.
My favorite part had to be hearing Dolly sing “I Will Always Love You,” as two aerial performers did a “dance” high above Celebration Ridge. It truly amazes how they can do such awesome tricks with basically a piece of rope or ribbon! I’m pretty sure my daughter wants to be just an aerial silk acrobat when she grows up!
There is also plenty of audience participation. You never know when you might get picked for a friendly game of pole skunk golf, or be asked to play a part in the orchestra. Oh, and watch out for those “cowboy clowns” — they love to get unsuspecting audience members involved in their schemes!
My children were lucky enough to be selected for a dog relay race! They each got to throw ducks to their dogs and the dog that could retrieve three the fastest won. For their excellent duck throwing skills they were each reward with a book from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library!
It was an amazing show with non-stop action and thrills from beginning to end. There was never a dull moment and everyone from my 7-year-old son to my 66-year-old Dad loved it.
It doesn’t matter if you want to celebrate something big or small, if you want to celebrate everything or nothing, Dolly Parton’s Celebration Dinner Show is a great place to let go of all your worries and just enjoy life as it is like our family was able to do on a night my kids will remember for a long, long time.