Why Dolly Parton Won't Ride Any Of The Rides At Dollywood

Very few entertainers have reached the stratospheric heights of stardom as country singer-songwriter Dolly Parton has. Other musicians across all genres have managed to achieve success not just in music, but in movies, TV, merchandise, and other ways of being a brand, but no country musician's brand is as big as Dolly Parton's. And certainly, no musician in any genre, country or otherwise, has their own theme park. 

As The Smokies notes, back in 1986, Parton purchased Gold Rush Junction, a low-rent theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, renamed it after herself, and the rest is history. To this day Dollywood is anything but a small-time roadside attraction; with over 50 coasters and other rides, Planetware reported it was the biggest ticketed tourist attraction in Tennessee.

Despite the fact that it was her signature on the check that paid for those attractions, Parton herself has ridden few, if any, of them. She has said she won't ever ride them. 

Motion sickness, age, and being Dolly Parton keep Dolly Parton off her own rides

When she was a little girl, Parton told The New York Times, she used to get sick riding the bus to school on the twisting, mountain roads of East Tennessee. That motion sickness persists to this day, which is the principal reason she's never ridden any of the rides at her park, and never will. 

There is also the fear factor: "I'm a little bit chicken," she notes. Further, simply being Dolly Parton is a full-time job, a job that requires a certain look that she's cultivated over the decades -– and being flung about on a theme park attraction will certainly damage that look. Indeed, Parton herself, true to form, noted that if her 'do is going to be mussed, she'd rather it be done organically rather than through a theme park attraction. "I don't like to get messed up. I'm gonna have some handsome man mess it up, I don't want some ride doing it," she said.

Lastly, there's the matter of her age. She's 75, and most theme park attractions, particularly the more violent ones such as big-ticket roller coasters, have warnings against the elderly, or people with health conditions, from riding.