Dolly Parton’s Dollywood wins award. Dolly Parton has defeated the Disney machine and every other amusement park in the world. On Tuesday, Parton accepted the award naming her Dollywood in Pigeon Valley, TN as the Top Theme Park of the year. To make matters a bit more interesting, the award was given at the amusement industry’s annual international expo, held this year in Disney’s backyard, Orlando, FL. The Applause Award, given biannually, honors “a park whose management, operations and creative accomplishments have inspired the industry with its foresight, originality and sound business development.” “This truly unique park shows an outstanding level of quality, especially regarding originality of theming in shows, rides, landscaping and attractions. The friendliness of staff and cleanliness of the park is extraordinary and this, combined with a dedicated leadership honoring family values, sets a tremendous example to the whole industry,” says Mats Wedin, President CEO Liseberg Group and Chairman of the Liseberg Applause Award Board of Governors. Parton said in her acceptance speech “We are so honored to win this award. Our success over the last 25 years is because of the great team at Dollywood that I lovingly call my other family. All those folks back home cooking, cleaning, entertaining and landscaping, I am proud of every one of them. “Of course, Walt Disney became successful because he had Mickey Mouse who has two big ears. So I figured I could be successful with Dollywood with my two big partners.” She followed by pointing to her business partners Pete and Jack Herschend of Herschend Family Entertainment. The theme park opened in 1985 and has become the largest employer in the region where Dolly originally grew up and which was formerly known as an impoverished area of the Smokey Mountains. The park now generates $1 billion in payroll. Disney wasn’t even nominated for the biannual award. Dollywood beat Alton Towers in England and Phantasialand in Germany. Previous winners include Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Xetulu in Guatamala, Epcot, Disneyland, Silver Dollar City and Europa-Park.