Dolly Parton
Mountain Press
April 15, 2007
Dolly suits up to open the park
By: J.J. Kindred

PIGEON FORGE - Dolly Parton was up to her old self entertaining a crowd, and she looked like she was ready to dig for gold in Dollywood's latest attraction, the Mystery Mine.

Dressed in a black leather suit with a rhinestone belt and necklace and wearing a headband with a miner's flashlight, Parton made one of her annual appearances at Dollywood Friday to promote the park's 22nd season and the new indoor roller coaster.

"How do you all like my miner's outfit?" she said, escorted by her team of "miners."

Fresh off a European tour, Parton talked about this year's Dollywood Festival of Nations, which continues through May.

Taking questions from the crowd, she was asked her favorite part of Dollywood.

"My favorite part of Dollywood is Dollywood," Parton said with a laugh. "Every year we have something different."

Will she ride the Mystery Mine?

"No!" Parton said, prompting laughter. "I want to say yes and pretend that I do, but that's about as close as I'll get. I have too much to lose - my hair, my eyelashes, my fingernails - but they tell me it's a great (ride). I get a little scared and motion sickness and a little claustrophobic, but I know everyone will enjoy it."

Parton said her childhood was quite a ride itself.

"My whole life has been a roller coaster. This is very exciting - I wish I had things like this when I was growing up. This area used to be several different things. It's great to be able to see your dream come true to have a great thing like this. I'm still a big ol' kid. I'm in my second childhood now," she said.

Parton will release a new CD in the fall called "Backwoods Barbie." She's writing most of the songs herself, and a tour is tentatively scheduled. She also promoted her May 20 concert at Smokies Park, benefiting the planned new campus of Fort Sanders Sevier Medical Center.

Parton greeted those who successfully bid on eBay for the first rides on the new coaster. Some 56 people donated in excess of $625 each to go toward Parton's Imagination Library, raising $35,000. She took photographs with each donor and personally escorted them to their seats on the coaster.

Parton later made an appearance at the end of a performance of the new "Rhythm of the Dance" show at the park's Celebrity Theater, singing two songs with the cast.