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2010 Best Theme Park Attraction nominee: Dollywood's Sha-Kon-O-Hey

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Published: February 15, 2010 at 10:02 AM

I mentioned earlier that the seedings for the 2010 Best Theme Park Attraction Tournament were determined by the average of reader ratings submitted by Theme Park Insider readers over the past year... with one exception.

Today, we get to that exception.

Not many Theme Park Insider readers have rated Dollywood's Sha-Kon-O-Hey, but having seen the show myself last summer, I can't justify not including this musical among our list of the top live shows at U.S. theme parks. So I'm exercising my editor's privilege here and entering Sha-Kon-O-Hey into the tournament as the sixth seed in the Best Live Show bracket.

The cast of Dollywood's Sha-Kon-O-Hey

A phonetic transcription of the Cherokee word shaconage, the title means "Land of Blue Smoke," which we know today as the Great Smoky Mountains. The 45-minute musical, which premiered for the 2009 season, pays tribute to the history and people of the local area with eight original songs composed by Dolly Parton herself, not to mention a live bluegrass band accompaniment, as well as outstanding singing, dancing... and even acrobatics.

Dancing and acrobatics in Dollywood's Sha-Kon-O-Hey

The show tells the story of a Depression-era Smoky Mountain family packing up to move west, in pursuit of work. But the family's young boy doesn't want to go, and runs away to an old tree, where he wishes to stay.

The boy's wish reveals an enchanted valley, where the spirits of generations past dwell. (And sing and dance, of course.) Eventually, he's joined there by his sister and grandmother, who'd come looking for him. The grandmother is the kids' bridge to the past, teaching them the "old ways" and the stories of her youth, but one of those old ways is that a child can't run away from his father.

So the boy returns to the tree to change his wish. He and his sister will reunite with their father for the trip west, while grandmother will remain home, with the people and spirits of the Smokies.

The finale of Dollywood's Sha-Kon-O-Hey

I know that most of you haven't seen this show, but I'd like to encourage those of you who have to share your thoughts. Should other Theme Park Insider readers vote Sha-Kon-O-Hey into the next round of the tournament? Here's your chance to make a case, one way or the other.

Update: I found this clip from the show's premiere performance. It includes about four minutes of clips from the show, as well as Dolly Parton greeting the audience and talking with the show's director after the show. Then she joins the cast to sing one of the songs from the show:

Readers' Opinions

From Joshua Counsil on February 15, 2010 at 11:08 AM
Interesting choice, Robert. I'm sure there will be some complaints, and chances are it won't even make it past round 1, but I think your discretion in this case is warranted.

WOrd 2 yO MoThEr!@#$%^&*()

From James Rao on February 15, 2010 at 11:26 AM
I have not seen the show yet, but I know in general that Herschend does a great job with its marquee theatrical productions. At Silver Dollar City for example, both "Headin' West" (Fall show) and "A Dickens' Christmas Carol" (Winter show) were exemplary performances, a couple of the best shows I have ever seen at a theme park. If "Sha-Kon-O-Hey" is at that level of quality, then it deserves as much attention as TPI can give it.

FWIW, Amusement Today gave Dollywood the Golden Ticket for Best Theme Park shows in 2009.

And Josh, seriously, keep my mom outa this debate! ;)

From Betty Rohrer on February 15, 2010 at 11:39 AM
i went to see this show not sure what i thought of it. Dollywood pulled off another great show. there were a couple of my favorite singers in show but the fliers also got my reaction.i love the shows at Dollywood. there is a lot more to Doolywood than great coasters
From 206.69.212.102 on February 15, 2010 at 1:08 PM
Is that Fiddler on the Roof? Look like Fiddler on the Roof to me.
From luis gonzalez on February 15, 2010 at 1:25 PM
word to your mother is my catch phrase so i implore you to cease your use of it or face appropriate legal action

Luis E. Gonzalez esq.

word to your mother!

From Joshua Counsil on February 15, 2010 at 7:14 PM
Catchphrase ceased.

Holla at cha boi!

From Bill Lohr on February 19, 2010 at 8:42 AM
I so agree with this show being added. Dollywood does such a great job when it comes to shows. They are a park that sees this as a key of what they are. Sha Kon O Hey gives you a small taste of what they provide for their guests. The park offers 4 festivals each year and each one changes much of the entertainment so to see what the park has to offer you would have to visit 4 time in a year. Truly they have more shows in a year than any park has ever done I would guess. Way more!! The park should get top in entertainment in my view!! By the way I posted the video shown above. I am KDFanPre91. Also I post under Dollywoodshows on youtube. At that sight you can see the full show of Sha Kon O Hey. Here is a link to part one of that show. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pjaBsUEBeo
From 71.90.225.41 on February 20, 2010 at 9:05 PM
Thought is was pretty good since I filmed this video!

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