Dollywood or Bust: A Theme Park and Its Community
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Dollywood has certainly made an impact on the area of East Tennessee by which it is surrounded. Some might argue that this increasingly popular tourist “trap” has turned an area, rich in Appalachian heritage, into an area of extreme commercialism based on a misrepresentation of that heritage. However, it is this same tourism that employs many of the community’s locals. This project explores not only the place of Dollywood, but the people who live and work near the park, both in research and through a photo essay. Dollywood has taken great strides to protect the heritage of the community through its many museums and shows in the park. Dolly Parton has often said of herself, “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap” (N.p.), while Pigeon Forge might give the impression of “cheap” looking commercialization, it takes a great deal of funding to sustain the livelihoods of its inhabitants and to preserve their cultural heritage. This is provided by the rural tourism found in attractions such as Dollywood.