Dolly Parton Accepts 'Oscar' Of Theme Parks for Dollywood

Dolly Parton says receiving the 2010 Applause Award for Dollywood is like winning "the Oscar" of theme parks.

"I'm just honored and proud," Parton tells The Associated Press. "I'm excited that this is our 25th anniversary for Dollywood, that we won it this year, and that I had a chance to be here."

Parton, co-owner of the 150-acre theme park in her hometown of Pigeon Forge, Tenn., picked up the award in Orlando, at a trade show hosted by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.

The Applause Award is the most prestigious reocgnition in the amusement and theme park industry, and is presented every other year by Liseberg amusement park located in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Parton credited employees of the theme park she opened in 1986 as the reason for Dollywood's success and recognition.

"We are so honored to win this award," Parton says. "All those folks back home cooking, cleaning, entertaining and landscaping – I am proud of every one of them."

Dollywood is located near the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and attracts about 2.5 million visitors each year.

Mark Wedin, president and CEO of Liseberg Group and chairman of the award's board of governors, says Dollywood was recognized for its "outstanding level of quality, especially regarding originality of theming in shows, rides, landscaping and attractions."

He adds, "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."

Previous U.S. winners of the Applause Award include Disney's Magic Kingdom, Nashville's Opryland in Tennessee, Pennsylvania's Hershey Park, Universal Studios Florida and Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Virginia.

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