I Beg Your Parton?

But Liz, you ask, what on Earth is there to do in Orlando besides go to Disney World and watch little children in Crocs run around terrorizing Central Florida with their sticky ice cream hands and uncovered coughing mouths?

Good question, dear readers. While I was on my epic vacation, I wondered the same thing. Thanks to a giant rack of brochures in the game room of the Marriott Grande Vista Orlando, my question was answered in a prompt and thorough manner. And the answer is there is Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede to do. According to the brochure, it’s Orlando’s most fun place to eat! Hmm, well. I’ll be the judge of that!

The Dixie Stampede is a force to be reckoned with. Where else can you sit in a giant arena sipping soup from a bowl (because spoons were not an option) while watching a real live herd of smelly buffalo stampede across a football-field sized floor before your very eyes? And let’s not forget the seating arrangements – one side of the arena was for “The North” and the other side devoted to “The South”. Yes, that North and South! The evening was full of events like pig racing (adorable!), bareback ostrich racing (uncomfortable!), and audience-participatory dizzy bat races, where each competitor represents either liberal elite Yankees or country bumkin Confederate-lovers. And anytime your side won, you got to taunt the other side with cheers and raise your “Dixie Stampede” foam fingers while eating a whole rotisserie chicken without a knife (knives also were not an option). If I remember things correctly from my AP history class, it was exactly how the real Civil War played out. But then again, that was an exam I got a 2 on so I could be wrong.

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And all this for just $45.99 each, plus the $30 Glennis and I spent because the souvenir picture we got was “signed” by Dolly herself and who can pass that up? Oh right, Dolly Parton is somehow responsible for this whole hillbilly mess of a good time, and at the end of the show, the lights dimmed (if only I could say the same of the buffalo aroma) and a giant screen with DollyVision was lowered, and she sang a song about how it’s ok to joke about being from the North or the South but really, we’re all the same when you git down to it so – hey! those aren’t my eyes, y’all! Look up here, I’m serious!- so three cheers for the red, white and blue!

Oh and did I mention that my dad and brother picked us up afterward in a rental minivan? That might also be worth noting, just to flesh out this vacation for you.

Anyway, I told you I would be the judge of fun, and I hereby declare that what with the political tension, the rodeo trickery, the unlimited Pepsi products and the piglets that could jump miniature hurdles, this really is Orlando’s most fun place to eat. dixie

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P.S. For Glennis’ near-identical account of the evening (which I didn’t know she wrote until now), click!

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