PIGEON FORGE — Dolly Parton doesn’t keep her feet on the ground just because it’s good for business.
“I don’t like being any higher up than pullin’ corn and any lower than diggin’ for taters,” she deadpanned Friday.
She’s always had an aversion to heights and to the high seas. She won’t climb onto any of the rides at Dollywood — including its new swing ride the Barnstormer — because of motion sickness.
And, of course, that leads Parton to another zinger about why she dislikes fast rides. “I’m afraid I’ll lose my hair and my boobs and anything else that isn’t mine,” she said with a laugh.
Regardless, Parton will be scaling new heights this year.
She just completed her first feature film in nearly 20 years. “Joyful Noise” is a musical comedy co-starring Queen Latifah and casts Parton as a widow trying to control her late husband’s show choir. The movie should be our early next year.
Dolly Parton news
Parton’s next CD, “Better Day,” is “inspirational” country tunes and will be out by summer.
And on July 17, Parton will kick off her Better Day tour in Knoxville, her first time playing Thompson-Boling Arena. Net proceeds will go to the Dollywood Foundation and its Imagination Library project, which just handed out its 30 millionth book. The show could raise as much as $300,000 in one night.
The program encourages pre-schoolers to read by delivering them a book once a month until they begin kindergarten.
Foremost on her mind Friday was Dollywood’s grand opening. If numbers hold, the theme park should have 3.4 million guests pass through its turnstiles by the time the season ends in early January 2012.
With gas prices projected to go as high as $5 a gallon this summer, Dollywood might face a challenge. Parton, though, said she has faith in her theme park, which weathered the recession with modest dips of 5 percent in attendance.
“You always worry about those things, especially with a (theme) park,” she said of recessionary woes. “We did OK last time (during the middle of the recession). People still want to be entertained.
“They don’t get really far, where they normally might. In a 500-mile radius, people go to where it’s the most fun for them. So we’re hoping for the best.”
Colder-than-normal temperatures on Friday didn’t hinder thousands of season ticket holders from turning out for a seasonal sneak peek. Rain and more coolness predicted for Saturday might alter Parton's plans to pop up around Dollywood throughout the day.
Knoxville residents Jesse and Danna Bush brought their 19-month-old daughter, Alana, out for the sneak peek. They say the cost of a season pass — about $81 per person ages 12 and up — was a value for their family.
"When I did the math on it, it worked for us," Jesse said. "If we use it twice, it will pay for itself, and I am sure we'll come out here twice."
What do the Bushes like best about Dollywood?
"The location," he said.
© 2011, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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