Skip to main content

Amusement Parks: Dolly Parton Wins First-Ever International Heartbeat Award


Entertainment legend honored by the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions annual Big E Awards.  
Dolly Parton added yet another award to her trophy case in November—her first-ever Heartbeat Award for Sha-Kon-O-Hey! Land of Blue Smoke, a $1.3 million production which opened at her Dollywood theme park on May 9, 2009.  
Dollywood has won 15 Big E Awards in the past four years, more than any other theme park in the world.  
The Heartbeat Award was presented on Nov. 18 during the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions (IAAPA) Expo’s annual Big E Entertainment Awards ceremony in Las Vegas.  Dollywood Entertainment Director Paul T. Couch accepted the award, on behalf of Parton and Dollywood.  The Big E Awards recognize the best theme park shows in the world.  
“Sha-Kon-O-Hey! tells the story of folks like me who grew up in the Smoky Mountains, ” Parton said.  “I was truly honored to tell our story through my heartfelt words and music, and I’m just tickled that IAAPA chose to honor us with its prestigious Heartbeat Award.  My heart sure beat a little faster when I heard the good news!”  
“No one can touch the hearts of an audience better than Dolly, ” Couch said.  “Her words and music allowed the spirit of our story to soar as high as the Great Smoky Mountains.”   
Sha-Kon-O-Hey! features eight original songs written by Parton and tells the story of the last family leaving the area that would become Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Couch developed the concept and storyline along with Chicago-based writer David Bell who wrote the musical’s script. 
Sha-Kon-O-Hey! returns in May 2010 for Dollywood’s 25th anniversary season.    
Dollywood won three additional Big E Awards this year.  Creature Adventures starring the Kratt Brothers, which premiered in 2008 and headlined the park’s annual KidsFest event for two consecutive years, won Best Live Edutainment Show.  Park performer Gabriel Myers from Dreamland Drive-In won Best Male Performer.  Dollywood’s Gem Tones, an a capella group that performs ’50s and ‘60s music, won honorable mention as Best Atmosphere/Street Performer.   
This year’s win marks Dollywood’s fourth consecutive Heartbeat Award.  Dollywood’s previous Heartbeat Award winners are Dreamland Drive-In (2008 & 2006) and The Great American Country Show (2007).  
IAAPA is the largest international trade association for permanently situated amusement facilities worldwide. The organization represents more than 4, 500 facility, supplier, and individual members from more than 90 countries.  
About Dollywood

Dollywood is a 150-acre family adventure park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.  Open nine months a year, Dollywood offers more than 40 rides and attractions including the award-winning coasters Thunderhead® and Mystery Mine®, live entertainment and crafters.  For more information, call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD or visit

See also:
Amusement Parks: Dollywood Wins Fourth Consecutive International Heartbeat Award
Amusement Parks: Dollywood Claims FIRST-EVER Best entertainment TROPHY at 2009 Golden Ticket Awards

Waterparks: Dollywood’s Splash Country announces Slick Rock racer multi-Lane Slide Adition 2010

More from this author

Your web browser is out of date. Update your browser for more security, speed and the best experience on this site.

Find out how to update