My uncle Gordon worked for Dollywood in the 1990s as a member of the rides’ maintenance crew. For many years, the reason my family was able to visit the park was because of the complimentary tickets my uncle gave us. It was on those trips that I fell in love with Dollywood. The sights, sounds and smells that take me right back to my childhood still exist in the park today.
I recently had the opportunity to go behind the scenes of Mystery Mine with Caleb (a rides’ maintenance host) for an up-close look at how the attraction is inspected and tested each morning.
The maintenance team ensures everything is operating as it should every day: they walk and inspect the track, meticulously comb through each ride vehicle and test operation software and mechanics. Needless to say, ride mechanics arrive several hours before the park opens. Dollywood’s rides’ maintenance hosts have the authority to keep attractions closed until they are comfortable that it meets all standards set by the manufacturer.
I went into this experience expecting to get a glimpse at what few have seen, but I left with confidence in the safety of each ride at Dollywood. These unsung heroes of the theme park world are often overlooked, and I just want to say thanks. My life has been greatly influenced by one a Dollywood rides’ maintenance host, and he would be proud of the team that continues the great work today.