Experience the Charm and Excitement of Dollywood
With live music showcasing country, rock ‘n’ roll and bluegrass, daily demonstrations from world class master craftsmen, tasty southern-style food and, of course, more than 40 ground-breaking rides and attractions, Dollywood theme park is a family destination like none other. The 150-acre theme park filled is filled to the brim with entertainment and unique opportunities for families of all types! Located in Pigeon Forge near Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Dollywood is recognized worldwide for hosting nearly 2.5 million visitors annually, continually receiving a lengthy list of awards.
History of Dollywood
Dollywood is home to award-winning rides, world-class entertainment, one-of-a-kind food choices and hard-working staff members; however, it wasn’t always the hugely successful theme park it is today. Back in 1961, the Robbins Brothers opened a small-scale attraction on the Dollywood site, known as Rebel Railroad, which featured a coal-fired steam train, general store, blacksmith shop and a saloon. The site brought in all types of intrigued visitors who were eager to catch of glimpse of all Rebel Railroad had to offer and who wanted to witness the Smoky Mountain way of life. Little did the Robbins Brothers know, they were laying the groundwork for what would later become Tennessee’s most visited attraction.
Later in 1970, Rebel Railroad was purchased by the owner of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, Art Modell, who renamed the attraction to Goldrush Junction. Although the name changed, the entertainment was unaltered and, in fact, expanded with new attractions such as a wood shop, saw mill, outdoor theater, campground and several children’s rides. After several other name changes, additional features and millions of dollars invested in improvements, the theme park eventually came under the ownership of Jack and Pete Herschend who soon welcomed a much-loved and recognizable east Tennessee tradition to the mix. In 1986, singer, songwriter and native superstar Dolly Parton joined the Herschend brothers in the theme park business. Not only did she share her expertise and love of The Great Smoky Mountains, but she also shared her name, which is now why the theme park is known as Dollywood.
Since the mid-1980s, the park has had a tremendous increase in attendance, more than doubled in size and received more than $300 million in expansions and additions. Because Dollywood’s ongoing commitment to offering their guests something new each season has been so successful, the park has claimed its spot among industry award winners, including the 2010 Applause Award and third place in USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice contest for Best Theme Park as well as the leading honor for Friendliest Park, Best Shows, Best New Waterpark Attraction and Best Christmas Event. These awards, among dozens of others, are the reason why visitors from across the country and around the world flock to Pigeon Forge’s entertainment park to experience the heart and soul of The Great Smoky Mountains.
It goes without saying that the rides at Dollywood are truly unique and fun for all ages. There are a wide variety of rides around the park to enjoy such as the country’s first wing coaster, Wild Eagle, a wooden coaster, Thunderhead, the nation’s first dual-launch family coaster, FireChaser Express, and the steel thriller, Mystery Mine. Among the dozens of rollercoasters and rides at Dollywood, you will find plenty of other popular attractions that can only be found in the Smokies. The Dollywood Express is a 110-ton coal-fired steam engine that takes up to 550 park guests on a scenic five-mile journey through the foothills of The Great Smoky Mountains. The train’s two engines were originally built for the U.S. Army and both were used in Alaska during World War II to transport troops and lumber. Needless to say, the history is right on track when it comes to the Dollywood Express.
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Summer Fun at Dollywood’s Splash Country
Let’s not forget about Dollywood’s Splash Country, a 35-acre adventure water park adjacent to the theme park featuring a variety of water slides and attractions. Challenge Tennessee’s first and only water coaster, RiverRush or splash around in any of the children’s interactive play areas. Relax in The Cascades, an 8,000-square foot lagoon-style leisure pool, or test your courage on Fire Tower Falls, the state’s tallest twin speed slides.
When you’re ready to relax from all of the aquatic thrills, unwind in a cozy canopy or retreat. Sit back in a lounge chair and relax under a shaded canopy. The canopies feature a convenient storage locker to keep your belongings safe. For more lavish accommodations, rent one of the 200-foot retreats complete with satellite television, a ceiling fan, dining table, secure storage and food and drink delivery. Dollywood season pass holders can save when renting either one of these.
From the excitement of giant water slides to the calm serenity of a poolside retreat, the water park offers summertime fun for all ages from mid-May to Labor Day.
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Shopping in Dollywood
Stop by Craftsman’s Valley featuring your one-stop-shop for authentic handmade crafts. In the Valley, talented artisans perform the same tasks that were so vital to life in the late 1800s, such as creating beautiful hand-forged steel items, customized metal gifts and home décor. Craftsman’s Valley is also home to the Old Flames Candle Shop where candle makers dip candles the old-fashioned way to create a wide variety of beautiful homemade items. Guests can purchase leather apparel and accessories at Smoky Creek Leather. These authentic craft destinations, along with many other extraordinary workshops, are disbursed all throughout the park offering a remarkable array of gifts, homemade crafts, treats and accessories.
Speaking of unique souvenirs, Dollywood is home to more than 40 shopping destinations that offer everything from specialty craft items to apparel to children’s toys. You will be amazed at all the shops offered around the park such as Dolly’s Closet where guests will find Dolly’s style in their size and the Taffy Kitchen featuring over 60 flavors of this familiar favorite. Bear Market, located inside Granny Owen’s Toys, gives kids a chance to build their own cuddly, new friend. Throughout Dollywood, great shopping opportunities await guests who are eager to find that special keepsake or memento to help remind them of their time in the Smoky Mountains.
Restaurants in Dollywood
Be sure to treat yourself to some delicious, southern food while at Dollywood for a chance to grub on award-winning recipes that have earned Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Award for Best Theme Park Food. The spectacular dining experience at Dollywood offers top-notch quality food choices for you and your family and is always worth taking the time to savor.
Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa™ is a 307-room property next door to the Dollywood theme park and Dollywood’s Splash Country. Guests can enjoy amazing views of The Great Smoky Mountains, an indoor and outdoor pool complex, swings, hammocks, a family activity center and so much more. Indulge in these unique amenities, treat yourself to a spa or indulge a delicious dinner at their farmhouse-style restaurant—you certainly will not be disappointed with your stay.
Staying at the resort has additional benefits for once you get into the theme park. Take the free resort shuttle to and from the DreamMore Resort to either Dollywood parks. Resort guests with tickets to Dollywood can receive a complimentary TimeSaver to use on the 10 TimeSaver attractions. Resort guests can also gain early entry to Dollywood on Saturday mornings to start their day of fun as soon as possible.
Guests to the DreamMore Resort can also take advantage of special packages including, dining, entertainment, spa and other seasonal offerings. Get discounts to a number of attractions in the Smoky Mountains, located near Dollywood, with the Smoky Mountain Excursions package. Or, receive tickets to one of the many dinner theater shows at Dollywood when you purchase the Resort Dinner Show Package.
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Dollywood’s Southern Charm
The friendly and award-winning staff at Dollywood greets you and your family with southern charm and open arms and will make you feel as if you are leaving your second home when the day is over. The people of both the past and present who make Dollywood the unforgettable attraction it is today encourage their guests to pursue their own dreams—just like Dolly! Be sure to experience this one-of-a-kind and impactful theme park that proves the Smokies truly is a special place.