My daughter was injured on the Dollywood Express train ride. Several large pieces of hot coal embers struck her eye when riding the Dollywood Express train, and I find this to be a significant safety hazard and the very reason why we will never go back to Dollywood again. We usually visit Dollywood 1 or 2 times a year, and had never taken the Dollywood Express train ride until this trip. The train is operated by a coal powered engine. The amount of smoke and soot we endured during our ride was absolutely terrible. My mother, who suffers from COPD, experienced shortness of breath, dizziness and headaches during and after the train ride. My husband's white clothing was completely covered in soot and ash. I experienced headaches after leaving the train. And my daughter's eye injuries were the most severe - requiring medical attention and debris extraction. We all were forced to cover our eyes, nose and mouth during the train ride. I would like to further acknowledge that the medical staff at the medical care center (curiously located right at the exit to Dollywood Express - coincidence?) cared for my daughter without sterile gloves, all while taking a break from eating food. Absolutely disgusting. There were three children in the medical care center being treated for this same type of injury while we were there. One of the medical care workers casually told me as she laughed, "Yeah, this happens ALL the time." I was shocked and deeply disturbed. After riding the Dollywood Express, my family of 5 (and dog, staying in a bleach-soaked kennel at Doggywood) all promptly left the park. It has been three days and my daughter's eye remains red and irritated. This polluting, damaging product should not be used around unprotected people, like park guests, causing injury and negatively impacting those with health conditions. Plain and simple: this is an absolute danger to park guests. I am certain that Dolly would not approve.
Thank you for taking the time to write a review of your experiences on the Dollywood Express. The Dollywood Express has been a part of the culture and atmosphere here at the park for over 30 years and is still among our guests' favorite rides. It is our desire at Dollywood to preserve the natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains. For this reason, we purchase coal at a premium price that contains lower sulphur and ash content available. WE also collect cinder solids in a specially constructed screen in the train's smoke stack as well as the solids from the fire box, so they can be properly disposed. We do have signage located throughout the Dollywood Express Depot that tells guests that they will experience soot from the train.
On behalf of the Dollywood Company, I do want to apologize for the way you were treated while visiting Village Safety. Your review has been shared with our Safety Team as well.