Fans of Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede may notice a change as the dinner show attraction opens for the 2018 season. The “Dixie” is gone from from the name and it will be called Dolly Parton’s Stampede.
According to World Choice Investments, which operates the dinner show attraction in Pigeon Forge, as well as attractions in Branson, Mo. and Myrtle Beach, S.C., the rebranding is part of the company’s plans for expansion into other cities and around the world.
The company stated in a release:
As the expansion plans take shape, the production team is hard at work updating the existing shows for 2018.
“Our shows currently are identified by where they are located,” Dolly said. “Some examples are Smoky Mountain Adventures or Dixie Stampede. We also recognize that attitudes change and feel that by streamlining the names of our shows, it will remove any confusion or concerns about our shows and will help our efforts to expand into new cities.” To that end, WCI’s legacy show, Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede, will become simply Dolly Parton’s Stampede for the 2018 season.
“There is interest in several parts of the United States and internationally to host one of our unique dinner attraction shows,” said Jim Rule, World Choice Investments CEO. “We provide spectacular family entertainment at a great value. We continually listen to our guests and our desire to expand coupled with our desire to stay relevant in today’s changing world led us to simplify our shows’ names.”
Fans took to social media Tuesday following the announcement, some voicing support for the name change, while others were angry and called it an attempt to strip the show of its southern heritage.
The show first opened in 1988 as a wild west comedy called “The Life and Times of Billy Kincaid” and followed the journey of a young man from Tennessee as he traveled westward, encountering famous people in history such as Wild Bill Hickok, Chief Sitting Bull and Calamity Jane. Performers competed in contests of skill for either the North or South team, cheered on by the audience. In recent years, the show received criticism for romanticizing the Civil War with its southern plantation theme and servers clad in uniforms similar to those of confederate and union soldiers.
A $2.5 million renovation of Dixie Stampede in 2015 included new lighting, sound, and an LED wall with 12.5 million LED bulbs that replaced the old southern mansion backdrop. Servers also underwent a wardrobe change that less resembled the historical Civil War uniforms. In online reviews, some visitors to the show still condemned it for subtle racism and minimizing Civil War history to a friendly rivalry between the North and South.
Regardless, the dinner show remains one of the most popular attractions in Pigeon Forge and that is unlikely to change as a result of the rebranding. Representatives did not reveal what other changes are in store for the show this year.
Dolly Parton’s Stampede in Pigeon Forge is scheduled to open January 19.
Photo: Dolly Parton’s Stampede/Facebook