25 February, 2024, 05:39

Dollywood Takes a Turn Towards Sustainability with Natural Gas Trolleys

Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa has the unique setting of the beautiful Smoky Mountains. It’s the splendor of the surrounding area that has inspired the resort to be the first in the United States to choose natural gas fuel for its guest trolleys. In giving back to the mountains that have been a breathtaking backdrop for the multitude of family memories made here, the resort seeks to be environmentally friendly by using the cleanest alternative to transportation fuel available.

In the midst of the preparation for Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa, the company wanted to provide guests with an effortless way to get to the theme parks. With the resort located so close to the park, they knew trolleys would be the best answer. Planning began in 2013, long before the resort opened. The conversation included what type of fuel should be used, resulting in the decision to be industry trailblazers and introduce natural gas trolleys. The first trolley run was made the day the resort opened on July 27, 2015.

“Guests express a great level of appreciation that Dollywood made a choice that may have required a little more effort. but is ultimately better for the environment we are blessed to find ourselves in,” says Lance Ridley, Transportation Manager for The Dollywood Company. “The first thing that guests usually notice is that there is no odor with our trolleys, and that gets the conversation started.”

Lance grew up in East Tennessee where he continues to live and work, so he recognizes and appreciates its great natural beauty. “Our surroundings were in everyone’s mind, and we did not want anything to take away or distract from the amazing experience here (as a Dollywood guest).”

Although the trolley was the first of its kind operating on natural gas, there hasn’t been a single problem using this type of fuel. Dollywood has partnered with the Sevier County Utility District (SCUD) in servicing the trolleys since inception.

A typical day for a trolley driver starts as early as 6:30 a.m. at SCUD to pick up the trolleys and fuel them. For hosts working the late shift, a day ends around 11:30 p.m. with cleaning and inspecting the trolleys. On a day when the Dollywood theme park is open 12 hours, the trolleys run a lot longer. Fun fact: due to split shifts on longer park days, the longest day for a trolley driver is during Dollywood’s shortest operational hours.

The trolleys are a special perk for guests at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa. No need to worry about anything like parking or traffic with trolley drivers transporting park goers from resort to park and back. In the summer months, the trolleys also take guests to Dollywood’s Splash Country water park.

Guests may not know that trolley drivers are required to have a commercial driver’s license, but no worries: Dollywood trains all of the drivers in-house. A total of 22 drivers serve resort guests as their transportation experts on the trolley throughout Dollywood’s operating season from March through December, and several have been in their positions since the first day the vehicles were in operation.

The hard work of Dollywood’s trolley drivers pays off as they are able to serve and improve the experience of park goers. In all aspects, even transportation, the Dollywood Company looks for ways to create memories worth repeating.

“Dollywood adds the imaginative touch of a dreamer to everything, including the trolleys,” says Lance. “Very few people know that our trolleys are made with a one-of-a-kind wood: Dollywood!” So while Dollywood makes taking care of its environment seriously, they also add an element of fun to everything.