Country music is filled with artists with hearts of gold, but Dolly Parton’s heart is one of the brightest. Throughout her career, she has shown multiple times how that heart helps her make decisions in her life, in her music and in her slew of businesses.
So when word came down that the country legend was going to be changing the name of one of the most well known attractions tied to her East Tennessee theme park, Dollywood, her fans knew that the decision was likely made after much thought and concern.
Dolly’s namesake park is connected to a number of dinner show attractions throughout the south, including places such as Pigeon Forge, Tennessee; Branson, Missouri; and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. One of those attractions is Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede, which will now go by the name of Dolly Parton’s Stampede. The dinner show has locations in both Branson and Pigeon Forge.
The change came as a result of cultural sensitivity surrounding the word “dixie.” According to the Austin American-Statesman, there was a “public criticism that the long-running Civil War-themed show romanticized the slavery-era south.” The show’s website described the show as “pitting North against South in a friendly and fun rivalry.” That “public criticism” began last August when Slate published a review of the show.
“Our shows currently are identified by where they are located,” Dolly said in a recent statement. “Some examples are Smoky Mountain Adventures or Dixie Stampede. We also recognize that attitudes change and feel that by streamlining the names of our shows, it will remove any confusion or concerns about our shows and will help our efforts to expand into new cities.”
“There is interest in several parts of the United States and internationally to host one of our unique dinner attraction shows,” added Jim Rule, CEO of World Choice Investments (WCI), the company that runs Dolly’s dinner shows. “We provide spectacular family entertainment at a great value. We continually listen to our guests and our desire to expand coupled with our desire to stay relevant in today’s changing world led us to simplify our shows’ names.”
News of the name change sparked a number of strong reactions from fans, some of whom seem to be confused and upset about it. In fact, television station WBIR, which saw a dramatic reaction to the story, went back to a spokesperson at WCI to not only read the angry comments, but also see what his reaction was.
“It’s really about that misunderstanding by the developers and others as to what the show is, and that affects our opportunities to expand the business elsewhere,” WCI spokesperson Pete Owens said. “”It caused us some issues because it created a mischaracterization as to what our show is about. Dolly Parton’s Stampede is about America. It’s about all of America. We certainly welcome all of our guest opinions and what their input is, and we have for 30 years, and part of these changes that we are making are all because we listen to our guests. We try to create family entertainment that welcomes everyone, and when we create those shows we want to make sure that when your family comes to our show that you feel comfortable.”
Knowing Dolly, she is probably hoping that all of this is put behind her, as there are so many more important things she has her heart on, including the continued success of her latest album “I Believe In You,” her first-ever collection of children’s songs.