2010 Best Theme Park Attraction nominee: Dollywood's Sha-Kon-O-Hey
Published: February 15, 2010 at 10:02 AM
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.
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.
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.
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: