February 04, 2023
Jukebox Junction is one of Dollywood's 11 skillfully-themed areas. It takes guests back in time to the iconic decade of the 1950s, where they stroll down the small-town Main Street of colorful storefronts and attractions. Recently, I came to the discovery that its elements are a recreation of Dolly Parton's hometown of Sevierville, Tennessee. On a recent trip to Dollywood, I really took the time to appreciate the theming of Jukebox Junction. Here, I present to you a behind-the-scenes look at this area's theming, with the interesting tidbits coming from the signage in two iconic attractions in the area: Red's Drive-in and The Pines Theater.
The Pines Theater
The Pines Theater in Dollywood is one of the many venues in the park that features great theater performances and concerts. It's best known for the production shows "Dreamland Drive-In" and "Twas the Night Before Christmas" during the holiday season. Did you know the Pines Theater in Dollywood is modeled after the Pines Theater in Sevierville, Tennessee, where Dolly had her first public stage performance at age 10? In addition to Dolly, other legends of country music performed on the Sevierville stage, including Bill Monroe, Roy Acuff, the Carlisle Brothers and the Carter Family. When Dolly Parton and June Carter later shared a stage at the Grand Ole Opry, they are said to have reminisced about the evenings when they shared the Pines Theater stage. In signage, Dolly also is said to remember going to see movies at the theater for 10 cents. Sevierville's Pines Theater's building still stands to this day; it has been used as many things throughout the years and recently reopened as a new dining and entertainment venue.
Red's Drive-In has become one of my favorite eateries in the park. You can dress up a burger to your liking with a self-serve toppings bar, and its sleek 1950s retro interior makes for a novel experience.
I recently found out that Red's Drive-In pays tribute to Red's Café©, which opened in 1946 in downtown Sevierville - the same year Dolly was born. It is here Dolly had her first "store bought" burger. Young Dolly would also buy coffee at Red's Café© which helped keep her energized for her late nights of performing at the Pines Theatre. Paul "Red" Clevenger would cook up his burgers in a cast-iron skillet over a wood-burning stove, and he was known for his kindness and generosity.
When a family ordered half-sized burgers for their kids, Red often would smile and say, "they look like they could eat a whole burger" and would throw in an extra burger "on the house." Although the original Red's Café© does not exist in Sevierville today, at its original site stands a large mural depicting Dolly being served her first burger by Red.
Cas Walker's Super Market
Tucked in a corner of Jukebox Junction next to Lightning Rod, you will see a recreated store front of Cas Walker's Supermarket.
Cas Walker was a businessman, politician and broadcasting personality who hosted a radio and then television show, in part to promote his chain of supermarkets that extended from Knoxville, across Tennessee and into Virginia and Kentucky. Cas Walker is credited for helping Dolly start her career, as Dolly performed regularly on his show starting at age 10. She often sang jingles to promote the store and its products.
One fun attraction for all ages is the Rockin' Roadway. Here you can board a miniature 1950s style convertible, each with its own radio playing 50s hits, and cruise along a themed roadway. The entrance to the attraction is themed as a car dealership and shop.
A sign reads "Watson Motor Company." This, too, was once a real business in Sevierville. A sign recalls Dolly saying, "I remember going to town and seeing all those cars at the Watson Motor Company. We didn't have a car when I was little. Daddy couldn't afford one. Finally, Daddy bought a car and would take us to church on Sunday evening and Wednesday night prayer meetings. That's when I started singing in church."
Judy's Luggage and Millinery
On the Main Street of Jukebox Junction next to the Pine's Theater is a faux storefront of Judy's Luggage Millinery. The name is a nod to Dolly's best friend since childhood, Judy Ogle. You may remember her as little Dolly Parton's friend portrayed in the "Coat of Many Colors" and "Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love" movies. She has worked with Dolly throughout her career and is listed in the credits on many of Dolly's film projects including "Christmas on the Square," "Heartstrings" and "A Smoky Mountain Christmas." Why Luggage and Millinery, one may ask? Well, she has been credited for wardrobe on a number of productions and been along with Dolly as she's traveled, so the shop title seems fitting.
Howard's TV Repair
Also, on Jukebox Junction's Main Street, another storefront reads Howard's TV Repair.
This pays tribute to Howard DeCaussin, who served for many years as Dollywood's vice president of maintenance and construction. Upon his passing in 1995, Dolly wrote a song titled after him which she delivered to his widow. Today at Dollywood, in the flowerbed outside DreamSong Theater, you will find a plaque in memory of Howard.
Dollywood broke records with Lightning Rod. When it first opened in 2016, Jukebox Junction's resident roller coaster was the first wooden launch coaster in the world and the fastest wooden roller coaster at 73 mph. It's a thrill for sure.
Like everything in Jukebox Junction, it relates back to Dolly's early life in Sevierville. Dolly said about this exciting coaster, "Lightning Rod reminds me so much of those colorful cars cruisin' up and down Main Street in downtown Sevierville back when I was in high school. I remember all those souped-up cars..." (from https://dollyparton.com/family_destinations/dollywood/lightning-rod-announcement/8940).
Has any of this sparked your interest in Jukebox Junction? Come experience it for yourself and appreciate the well-thought-out theming and tributes. If you are interested in learning more about the stories behind Jukebox Junction's attractions and theming, take the time to read the info graphs on the walls in Red's Drive-In and signs in the lobby of the Pines Theater in Dollywood.
All Insiders Behind the Scenes
All Insiders Behind the Scenes