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Published Time: 25.05.2024 - 05:06:31 Modified Time: 25.05.2024 - 05:06:31

The Experience is in the former Adventures in Imagination area, which hadn’t been renovated since 2002. The entire interactive and digital museum project is three times larger than the former Chasing Rainbows Museum and is a living exhibit. (“I’m still living!” Parton joked.) Dolly Parton


“They started showing all the footage, especially when my mom and dad and my family started talking, I just broke down,” she said at the attraction's opening May 24. “So, hopefully, you will be moved by it. There’s a lot of great stories and things the family.”

The Experience is in the former Adventures in Imagination area, which hadn’t been renovated since 2002. The entire interactive and digital museum project is three times larger than the former Chasing Rainbows Museum and is a living exhibit. (“I’m still living!” Parton joked.)

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But that means artifacts, costumes and digital elements will be updated regularly, continuing to tell Parton's stories of the past and also adding in her future endeavors and achievements.

“A little more Dolly in the world is a really good thing,” Dollywood Parks & Resorts President Eugene Naughton said.

There are three exhibits that make up the Dolly Parton Experience, each housed in its own building.

Songteller is dedicated to Parton’s illustrious life and career. Starting from her home in Locust Ridge in the Great Smoky Mountains and then getting on the bus to Nashville, you learn Parton’s journey to superstardom and the moments behind her biggest hits and accomplishments.

Behind the Seams gives a behind-the-scenes look at the creative process of Parton’s signature style. She is known just as much for her shimmering outfits, bold nails and blonde wigs as she is for her music. Items displayed in this curated selection will be changed seasonally, according to archivist Rebecca Seaver.

Precious Memories at the DreamSong theater is all the importance of faith, family and friends. This is also where you can enjoy the new show “Heidi Parton’s Kin & Friends,” which Dolly wrote specially for the Dolly Parton Experience. It stars her niece, Heidi.

It runs in the family

“I was born to be a songwriter,” Parton says during the six-minute immersive movie that plays as a 360-degree projection in Songteller. And she really was. Dolly was crafting songs before she could even write and she wrote her first song at just 5 years old.

She got her musical talents from her mother Avie Lee Owens Parton’s side of the family. Avie Lee filled their East Tennessee home with music by singing hymns, folk songs and traditional mountain music. And by 6, Dolly was singing in the church of her grandfather, the Rev. Jake Owens.

No overnight success

Parton found the love of her life, husband Carl Dean, on the first day she moved to Nashville in 1964, but what she didn’t find quickly was success in country music. She spent her first two years in Nashville working part-time as a receptionist and a waitress. And although she made appearances on early morning radio, she was turned down by every major record label on Music Row.

She was signed to Monument Records as a staff writer by producer Fred Foster, who thought her voice was better suited for rockabilly or pop music. But when her first hit, “Something Fishy” (1967), was released, she was cemented as a country singer.

A mighty songwriting pen

You know the songs “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You"? Famously, Parton (likely) wrote them both on the same day. While in the process of digitizing her music, Parton discovered the first recordings for both songs were on the same cassette, meaning they were recorded during the same session or during the same time frame.

She has written nearly 3,000 songs, and more than 200 of them have been recorded by other artists.

Stage fright

Dolly Parton is a natural on stage. The glow of her personality and the glimmer of her rhinestones shine on every audience and crew member. But before her big break on “The Porter Wagoner Show,” she was nervous to be on TV.

Parton was confident in her singing but didn’t know how to behave in front of her camera. Being on “The Porter Wagoner Show” improved her performance and showman skills. And when it was time to make her film debut in “9 to 5,” she memorized the entire script so that she’d be prepared.

A peek behind the seams

I gasped when I walked into Behind the Seams, which is filled with Dolly’s iconic costumes, shoes and hair. The exhibit shows every detail and inspiration behind crafting her looks, the main motto being: “If it’s too tight, take it in a little more.”

And what’s really special is that it celebrates some of the designers she’s worked with throughout her career, including Robért Behar, Tony Chase, Konnie Kittrell, Steve Summers and Patric Taylor-Reeves.

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