WAKING up in Dolly Parton’s bed is something many have dreamt of but only a lucky few have achieved – until recently.
That’s set to change with the unveiling of a new superstar sleepover experience on board Dolly’s treasured “home on wheels”, located in the stunning Great Smoky Mountains of Eastern Tennessee.
Checking into Dolly’s customised 45-foot motorhome, parked at the entrance to her luxurious, family-friendly DreamMore Resort, I find the bed practically still warm, as the Smoky Mountain Songbird only flew the nest a matter of weeks ago.
The singer used the bus constantly from 2010 right up until March 2022, wearing a groove into America’s highways and byways as her driver clocked up 360,000 miles on the dashboard.
Dolly, also known as the Iron Butterfly, dubbed the coach her “gypsy wagon” and commissioned artists to hand-paint beautiful, folksy murals across every available surface, finished with intricate beadwork and gems.
Very little has changed since the engines stopped revving, aside from the name switching to the Dolly Suite 1986, in homage to the year Dollywood opened its thrill-seeking gates.
Read More on Dolly Parton
Get to know Dolly Parton’s husband Carl Thomas Dean
She was one of 12 kids but does Dolly Parton have any children of her own?
Stepping on board as the country legend’s greatest hits serenade you over the speakers, it’s pure, unadulterated showbiz.
Tantalisingly displayed behind glass cabinets, a selection of her razzle-dazzle sequinned stagewear and skyscraper Louboutin heels twinkle under spotlights, alongside a selection of cloud-grazing wigs because, as the Dollyism goes, “the higher the hair, the closer to God”.
But to discover the real Dolly Parton, I head to the back of the bus where, away from the public gaze, the spiritual star created a private sanctuary for contemplation and creativity.
Separated by a sliding door, Dolly’s self-sufficient den has a fridge, freezer and microwave within arm’s reach of her sumptuous fuchsia velvet bed, for easy snacking while writing albums such as Backwoods Barbie on the road.
Most read in Travel
Egypt holiday warning as travel advice is updated for Brits
I'm a flight attendant – here is how you can get freebies on board
I tried out Bear Grylls' adventure park – the rush was incredible
Frustrated man tries to beat easyJet bag rules – and people are in stitches
A little prayer table at the foot of the bed flips down to hold her beloved Bible, while a threadbare patch on the carpet is the spot where, night after night, the singer would swivel before the mirror, checking her appearance before facing the flashbulbs.
There’s even a dinky, Dolly-sized bathtub where the Queen of Country unwound with a post-show soak. It is these personal touches that make this a once-in-a-lifetime sleepover for fans.
And while guests can now book in for a two-night extravaganza it does come at an eye-watering cost.
The £8,500 package includes a private dining experience, tickets to Dolly’s Pigeon Forge dinner shows, the Dollywood theme park and an additional four-person hotel room at the DreamMore resort — should you feel generous enough to invite your friends and family along — plus Dolly-approved merchandise and a tour of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in a bubblegum-pink jeep.
That evening, Mark Galvin, Dolly’s personal chef, sets up a hefty BBQ and delivers a seemingly endless carousel of southern comfort food.
There’s stone soup, made just as Dolly’s mama once cooked it, lip-smacking ribs in a secret sauce, shrimp and grits, and fried chicken with a side of creamy mac ’n’ cheese.
Just when I feel I can eat no more, the grand finale arrives — banana pudding made to Dolly’s own recipe, eaten before the roaring fire pit as fireworks from nearby Dollywood explode in the sky — a fitting climax to a culinary showstopper of an evening.
The next morning, I drive along the winding mountain roads to neighbouring Sevierville, where Dolly grew up.
At her newly opened Shine Girl moonshine (whiskey) distillery, Dolly’s niece Danielle Parton — who bears a striking resemblance to her famous relative — invites me to pull up a barstool.
Surrounded by hot pink moonshine cocktails, Danielle leans back in her chair as she fondly reminisces about time spent on her aunt’s legendary tour wagons.
“I guess I had my bus legs from a young age”, reflects the pilot and master distiller.
“Aunt Granny” — Dolly’s nickname within her family — “would take us all over the place”, including far-flung corners of the US. “When I was in the third grade, she packed up all the nieces and nephews and took us on a bus tour of Hawaii. She must’ve lost her mind!” Danielle laughs warmly.
Bidding Danielle farewell, I head off to Dollywood.
The theme park attracts three million visitors each year and was recently voted the best amusement park in the US by Tripadvisor.
It’s easy to see why, as there’s something for everyone at this vast park nestled in the picturesque mountains, from rollercoasters and live music, to displays of local Appalachian crafts and warm loaves of cinnamon bread dripping in buttery sugar that are worth the transatlantic flight alone.
And while you may not be able to afford a night in Dolly’s bus, there’s modern, plush accommodation at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort from £55pp per night, based on two sharing.
Read More on The Sun
Full list of key dates when cost of living payments will hit bank accounts
My son, 8, is too big for school uniform – shopping for adult kit is traumatising
As evening falls, I return to the tour bus to sink into the mountain of tasselled scatter cushions on Dolly’s bed, drifting into a deep slumber under a sky of twinkling rhinestones, just as America’s sweetheart must have done countless times before me.
It’s the perfect conclusion to this most rock and roll of sleepovers.
GETTING THERE: Dollywood and the DreamMore Resort are 40minutes from Knoxville airport and three hours from Nashville, which has direct flights from the UK with Virgin and BA.
STAYING THERE: The Dolly Suite 1986 experience costs $10,000 (£8,500) for a two-night stay with all profits going to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library charity, which sends free books to children in the US, UK, Australia and Ireland.
Source: Read Full Article