What destination gives you the opportunity to climb a mountain, ride one of the world’s fastest roller coasters, enjoy Southern cuisine, and take in an award-winning show? Dollywood. Yes, Dolly Parton’s theme park which is nestled into the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Though it’s a far cry from a shrine to the legendary songbird, you’ll see her fingerprints all over the 150-acre park.
Dollywood has grown from a regional theme park to a world-class destination that includes top-rated coasters, the industry’s best entertainment, a family resort, mountain cabins with sweeping views, a water park dubbed a “Must See” by the Travel Channel, and Dolly Parton even has a couple dinner attraction options for visitors who plan an extended stay.
Over the past decade, Dollywood has earned more accolades than any other theme park in the world. In 2016, the park took home four top recognitions from the Golden Ticket Awards, hosted by Amusement Today:
- Best New Ride, for Lightning Rod, both the world’s fastest wooden coaster and the world’s first wooden launching coaster;
- Friendliest Park, for the fifth consecutive year;
- Best Shows, Dollywood’s eighth consecutive victory in this category;
- Best Christmas Event, the only park to ever earn this award, Dollywood celebrates its ninth consecutive win.
Dollywood offers more than 40 rides and attractions, including Lightning Rod, the world’s first launching wood coaster and the world’s fastest wood coaster, Wild Eagle, the country’s first wing coaster, FireChaser Express, the nation’s first dual-launch family coaster, as well as Thunderhead wooden coaster and the steel thriller Mystery Mine. And, new for summer 2017—the Smoky Mountain theme park is unveiling a 200-foot drop tower. Drop Line lifts guests more than 20 stories above Dollywood’s Timber Canyon, providing extraordinary rotating views of the Great Smoky Mountains before plummeting guests to the ground in a rush of excitement.
Show Stopping Entertainment
Dollywood’s entertainment is recognized worldwide, having received more trophies than any other theme park for its live entertainment which showcases country, bluegrass, Southern gospel, classic rock ‘n’ roll and Appalachian music. There are seven theaters, street performances and roving entertainers. Being Dolly Parton’s park, they take entertainment very seriously!
When you’re making your Dollywood schedule for the day, be sure to plan stops in Craftsman’s Valley. There, you’ll find daily demonstrations by more than a dozen master craftsmen as they offer a glimpse into the authentic artistry of the area’s rich heritage with everything from hand-blown glass to blacksmithing. Where else can you step off a roller coaster, and then go buy pottery?
Food with Southern Flair
While many people may not associate a spectacular dining experience with a trip to a theme park, Dollywood’s guests have known for years the food available here always is worth taking the time to savor. Southern food is a common theme—you can find fried green tomatoes, pimento cheese, green beans and cornbread, fried chicken and barbeque throughout the park. But if you have a hankering for more traditional theme park food—corn dogs, pizza, funnel cakes—they have that, too.
Location, Location, Location
The hills of Tennessee are certainly no concrete jungle. Dollywood’s beautiful landscape is as natural as sipping a cold glass of sweet tea on a porch swing. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is free to visitors and its offerings draw crowds of millions of visitors annually—many of whom also find their way to Dollywood. Good shoes are imperative for a successful day at this theme park: you’ll need them to climb hills as much as you’ll want them for being on your feet to see all 10 themed areas of the park. Be on the lookout for wildflowers native to the mountains and enjoy the naturally shaded spots to stop and rest for a spell.
When you spend a few days at Dollywood and then venture into other attractions in the area, you’ll gain an even deeper understanding of Smoky Mountain culture. Whether you want to take advantage of the great outdoors and take a hike, tube down the Wye, or drive through Cades Cove for your chance to spot deer or maybe even black bears, you’ll begin to see why Dolly Parton has written so many songs about her home. If you’d rather shop, eat and visit museums, there are dozens of options to check out in Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. You won’t be bored while visiting the Smokies!
All The Extras
Spend an hour at Dollywood and you’ll notice something different about this theme park—the very culture drips with genuine, welcoming charm. From the jovial tram drivers you encounter in the parking lot to the folks who make eye contact with you at the turnstiles to the host who points you to the nearest restroom, the people who work at Dollywood truly love their park. And it’s obvious. They want you to love it, too.
With attractions like its 110-ton coal-fired steam engine, the Dollywood Express, and Eagle Mountain Sanctuary, the world’s largest population of non-releasable bald eagles, there’s no doubt Dollywood is endearing. But when you add the next door water park, Dollywood’s Splash Country, the amenities of Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa, their portfolio of stunning views and options in Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins, plus Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede and Smoky Mountain Adventures, there’s no reason to delay a visit to this gem of a destination. Book your lodging and buy park tickets at Dollywood.com and start planning your visit!