Located at the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains – in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee – theme park lovers will find Dollywood, a stellar amusement park with plenty of amenities and a whole lotta down-home country charm. The park was created by Herschend Family Entertainment, with country music legend Dolly Parton as a partner, and takes its theme from the regional mountain heritage and culture. Over the years, it has grown to be one of the biggest tourist attractions in Tennessee with 3 million+ annual visitors.
The park is divided into 11 themed sections including Adventures in Imagination, Craftsman Valley, Country Fair, Jukebox Junction, Owen’s Farm, Showstreet, Rivertown Junction, Timber Canyon, The Village, Wildwood Grove, and Wilderness Pass.
Like most amusement parks, Dollywood features many traditional rides, such as bumper cars, a carousel, various swing rides, a log flume, and an assortment of kiddie rides. However, the 150-acre property also touts some of the most popular roller coasters in the U.S. These include FireChaser Express, which provides a forward and backward experience; Wild Eagle, a winged coaster that places the seating on either side of the track to give riders a feeling of floating; and Lightning Rod, which holds the title of World’s Fastest Wooden Coaster. There is also Thunderhead, another wooden coaster; Tennessee Tornado takes riders through a triple loop at speeds of 70 MPH; Mystery Mine has 95-degree banking with an 85-foot vertical drop that plunges into darkness, and Blazing Fury provides an indoor coaster experience.
Additional rides include Rockin’ Roadway, which essentially is a version of Disney World’s Grand Prix; and Dollywood Express, a 19th-century steam engine. This genuine coal-fired steam engine takes guests on an unforgettable 5-mile ride through a section of the Great Smoky Mountains, with departures every 30 minutes.
Eagle Mountain Sanctuary is home to the largest exhibit of non-releasable bald eagles in the U.S. Sadly, the birds living at the facility are all permanently disabled so they receive daily care from the staff of the American Eagle Federation. For more birds, Wings of America Birds of Prey is a live presentation that guests can watch in the Craftsman Valley section of the park, for an educational and up-close look at the birds. Several more live performances can be found throughout the property, with live music and kid-friendly acts. At night throughout the summer months, at approximately 9:40 PM in the Wildwood Grove section, guests can enjoy a thrilling 3D Drone and Fireworks Show (weather permitting).
Although there are no characters in costumes at Dollywood as there are at all Disney parks, Legoland, and Hershey Park, there are numerous friendly and helpful employees available. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons Dollywood rates so high with guests is due to the supportive and accommodating staff, as well as the park’s outstanding cleanliness.
To navigate the property, monitor ride wait times, set alerts for showtimes, and receive special offers, we highly recommend downloading the park app to your phone. The app is available for Android phones HERE and Apple phones HERE
A whopping 32 food outlets exist throughout the various sections of Dollywood, with a combination of quick-serve food stands, sit-down restaurants, and even a section dedicated to food trucks. Most of the stands cater to fast food such as hot dogs and fries; or specialize in a specific tasty treat, such as kettle corn, ice cream, funnel cakes, lemonade, etc. Sit-down restaurants offer vegan and vegetarian options as well as BBQ and smokehouse foods, pizza and salads, and skillet recipes. The most popular among the restaurants is Aunt Granny’s, for an all-you-can-eat country cookin’ experience that includes fried chicken, pot roast, ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, and much more. There are also 3 dinner shows to choose from, including Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Attraction featuring a family feast and an exciting performance for all ages
Adjacent to the theme park is Dollywood Splash Country, a 35-acre waterpark.
With more than 300 rooms and suites for guests, Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa is conveniently located across the street and offers several perks for park-goers. Cabin rentals are also available via the Dollywood website, giving guests access to 67 properties that offer a combination of modern and rustic interiors, amazing views, and plenty of amenities.
Like many amusement parks, Dollywood is not limited to summer visits. In the fall, the park hosts The Harvest Festival with specialty fall foods, plenty of autumn displays, and a Halloween light show called LumiNights. They are also open for the festive season and feature special holiday displays and foods. The park closes only for January and February.
For an up-to-date look at park hours plus ticket prices, passes, and add-ons, click HERE.
Photos Courtesy of Dollywood Media Files