DOLLYWOOD, PIGEON FORGE, TENN. (Saturday, Dec. 14, 2002) -- First of all, this is Patric's Birthday present also. Our day started at 9 o'clock with the documentary film crew knocking on the door and wanting to film us getting ready for the big day. Packing all the changes of clothes and getting the dolls ready and making sure everything was perfect. Of course no one was nervous. (Yea right).
We arrived at Dollywood at 10 a.m. and met Barbara Joines, Vice-President/Assistant General Manager of Dollywood. She talked to us for a little while at guest services and then she escorted us into the park. We went straight to the Backstage Restaurant, where we were going to meet and talk to Miss Dolly herself. We were escorted into one of the dining areas where the film crew was going to set up to film the entire session with Miss Dolly for the documentary, For The Love of Dolly. We got to meet Pete Owens and Ted Miller, who explained how the meeting was going to happen.
Well, at 11 a.m., Miss Dolly swayed in singing "Happy Birthday" to Patric. The look on his face when she walked in was priceless. She ended the birthday song with "Happy Birthday, dear Patric. I am here to please you." She came over and gave us a big hug. She then started talking about what we have done for the charities that she supports and thanked us for the money that we donate to them.
Since we own about eight of her outfits, she said that all we need now are her bras and drawers. Harrell presented Miss Dolly with a porcelain doll of her likeness in the outfit she wore in the music video for the song "Headlock On My Heart" with Hulk Hogan. She was just amazed at the remarkable likeness of the doll. She also said that this doll was the best one that she has seen, that it really looks like her and was amazed at the detail the doll has, down even to the striped nails. Then we showed her the "Color Me America" doll and she really liked this one. She autographed the leg of this doll for us, and also left a lipstick smudge on the leg.
By the way, Patric was on the phone with Sharon Canady, who is a close friend in Texas, when Miss Dolly came in, so instead of hanging up, he sat the phone on the table so Sharon could hear everything. Well, guess what, Patric picked up the phone to check and see if Sharon was still there and Miss Dolly took the phone from Patric and started talking to Sharon. You could hear Sharon just a screaming. Dolly asked Sharon how she was doing and then Dolly told Sharon that we are having a grand time with our big wigs on. She thanked Dolly for singing "Happy Birthday" to James, and Dolly thought she sang "Happy Birthday" to the wrong person, because we call him "James" in Texas and "Patric" everywhere else. Then Dolly told Sharon bye and it was a pleasure talking to her.
All the while, Miss Dolly was autographing a few things for us. She signed her first book of poems, Just the Way I Am, and a promo picture from Slow Dancing with the Moon, which she signed "Love, Dolly Parton, I am glad you have my dress." Harrell asked about all of her clothes and the recent dress that we just acquired that had a Lillie Ruben label in it. By the way, Miss Dolly does buy off the rack and has them altered afterwards. She loves shopping in Las Vegas. She looked through our book entitled Dolly's House and she was amazed at what 1,400-square-feet of Dolly looks like. We finished up with a group picture with her.
Right before Dolly left, I also asked if Judy Ogle could autograph a picture for us and of course Judy wasn't with Miss Dolly, so on the way out, she went and got Judy, who was in the hallway and brought her into the room to sign our picture. On the way out, Miss Dolly told Judy to take the doll to the bus and place it on the bed. All of this took about 15 to 20 minutes.
After meeting Dolly, we have a real feeling of respect and admiration. She is an unselfish human being who believes in helping people and the community. Anyone can say they support their community, but after meeting Dolly, you know that she means everything that she says.
We were then escorted to the apartment after this. Of course, the documentary crew was right behind us. The apartment is over Applejack Restaurant. When we walked into the door, we were just amazed. The room was simple but elegant. The walls are a rose pink with two white sectionals in the living room.
There was a Christmas tree decorated so nicely in the corner next to a sleigh with a kneeling reindeer. The tree had 12 presents under it, one for each month of the year. We got to keep the tree with all of the presents around it.
There is a permanent fish aquarium on the bar filled with flower arrangements. The kitchen is small, but adequate. You make a left and go into the bedroom, which is unbelievable. The butterfly rug and a flower rug grace the entrance to the room. Of course the carpet in the apartment is a rose pink. On the right side is an old time pedestal bathtub on a raised floor with gold faucets. Next to the tub was a nice sized mirrored closet, which also has a vanity that faces the bed. There is a white settee on the left side of the room across from the closet.
Of course at the end of the room on a raised floor was the wrought iron bed. It has a white frame headboard and footboard with gold accents all through it. The mattress and pillow were made of feathers. So we went back into the living room and opened a couple of the presents for the cameras. We were given the key to the apartment and then escorted to the museum to see the new additions to the museum, which were some of Dolly's Christmas outfits. After that, we were free to go do whatever we wanted to do.
We had VIP seats to the 2 o'clock concert and invitations to the VIP reception afterwards. Dolly's concert was the show that she did during the Halo & Horns tour. The concert was being filmed for a live performance and soundtrack, and possibly a TV special. The show started with the Blueniques coming on stage and starting to jam. Randy Kors started the show with a song from his latest release Little by Little.
Then the band kicked is with the "Orange Blossom Special." Then of course, out pops Miss Dolly with a whole lot of energy. She is wearing a gold studded jacket with rhinestones and Capri pants to match, and a flawless wig. Here is the play list:
My Tennessee Mountain Home
Coat of Many Colors
Smoky Mountain Memories
Halos and Horns
Dagger Through The Heart
After The Gold Rush
9 to 5
Medley (Islands In The Stream, Here You Come Again,
Two Doors Down. Then they did Two Doors Down on fast
We Irish (which she wrote for the Irish for her stop in Ireland. It was also a sing a long for the audience during the chorus. Dolly also sang it with an Irish accent and played a penny whistle.)
Stairway to Heaven
And to finish the show, she did and encore of I Will Always Love You.
The show was so energized and full of life. In between songs, Dolly would tell stories and jokes. Of course, true to Dolly form, she ""screwed" up a couple of songs and then joked about it that all of the screw-ups could be edited out and made to look perfect. The show lasted about 2½ hours.
We got to attend some of the tour shows, but this show was by far the best one that we have seen her do. At 56, she has more energy than ever, and doesn't look like she is slowing down.
The reception afterwards is where Dolly meets all the corporate sponsors and has a photo opportunity. She wore the same outfit that she wore for the Today show in New York. The outfit was a white off-the-shoulder dress with red roses all over it and of course sparkled from all the beads. We were the last ones to get our picture with her. It was supposed to be a group picture but Dolly had other plans. When she saw us again she told David that she had a thing going on with these guys and was going to do separate pictures. Harrell was first and then when Patric started walking towards her as she started singing "Happy Birthday" to him again. Then we got another group picture with her, after we stayed on stage and talked to her for a couple of minutes.
We dashed back to the apartment, where our dinner was waiting to be served. We actually sat in the floor and used the top of the coffee tables to eat on. Started with a big green salad, then came the French onion soup.
The main course was skewered shrimp and steak, with a baked potato and spinach marina. Topped off with a piece of German chocolate cake that would send anyone into a sugar coma. Dollywood really knows how to feed someone. Needless to say we didn't eat the full meal. Saved most of it for a midnight snack.
Got to watch the new Parade of Lights from the balcony, with the film crew still filming us and the parade as it passed right by Dolly's apartment. It was a kid's dream to see all the lights and watch the faces also light up as the parade walked by. It was led by the Little Engine That Could, followed by a train car that looked like a doll house, followed by a car with lighted building blocks, followed by a duck driving a wind up boat pulling two ducks behind it. Then a car with lighted toys including a jack in a box, pulling up the rear was the car with all a child's play toys, including a drum, a doggie pull toy, with tin soldiers walking around it, shaking the kids hands as they walked by.
Off to the 7 o'clock show. It was the same format but Miss Dolly was more energetic and as usual since it was the last show, it was a free for all. She wasn't worried about screwing up and she told more jokes about Carl and a story about her Mama. The show ended about 9:30 or so and we were tired by that time. We finished walking the park, filming for Christmas. It was so peaceful at night in the park. The park closed at 10 p.m. and so we had to head for the apartment for the evening.
We felt like Miss Dolly all day. Rushing around from place to place with the film crew behind us. It was an exhausting day. Time to hit the hay and get some well-deserved rest. All in all, it was an exciting day and one that I will never forget and of course, a birthday that Patric will always treasure. This is a dream come true for any Dolly fan.
In closing, for anyone that has not had the opportunity to meet Dolly, she had the biggest heart and is the friendliest person that you could ever meet. She makes you feel really special and focuses on you as an individual and is not concerned about what is going on around her. She is one in a million. Words can't really describe what Dolly Parton is or what she means to her fans and her community.