Where “Southern hospitality meets old world charm” is only the beginning of it…


If you have never experienced Dollywood, like I hadn’t until recently, you will find it a one-of-a-kind combination of charm, entertainment, creativity, beauty, magic, and fun—the kind of place that breathes new life into the overused saying, “fun for the whole family.” The theme park, located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and founded by entertainer Dolly Parton, features a wide variety of things to do, ranging from high-quality shows to thrilling rides and everything in between.

My visit to Dollywood, which also included some time at Dollywood’s Splash Country water park and a stay at the on-property DreamMore Resort, quickly exceeded my personal expectations. Dollywood’s distinction from the standard “family amusement park” became apparent in many ways. Just a simple walk through the park revealed an attention to detail and a desire to create something truly unique for guests to experience. I noticed many standout features, one being the sheer size of the park itself, which was unexpected. I had gone in presuming that I’d be able to see and do everything in a single day, but that definitely wasn’t the case. Also, the staff members were extremely kind and gave me the feeling that they genuinely wanted to be there. One of the biggest surprises was how much time I wanted to spend checking out all the shops and stops throughout the park. Far removed from the typical cookie-cutter gift shops found in other parks I’ve been to, all touting the same cheap, tacky knickknacks, the stores throughout Dollywood carry genuine, quality products. They made my walk across the park more interesting, as I found myself wanting to watch the craftsman creating blown glass wares and the blacksmith fire up the forge as he hammered out a gorgeous cast iron piece for the store. And I wasn’t the only person enjoying these and other unique aspects of Dollywood—the park was filled with guests of all ages, from grandparents to young children. I began to realize how well Dollywood caters to all age groups.

You will find Dollywood’s “Parent Swap” service to be a great help if you are among the parents who find yourselves in the difficult situation where one or more of your children are tall enough to go on a ride, while your smaller ones are not.

I had anticipated the rides and shows, but even those still far surpassed my expectations. The rides themselves offer a full day of excitement and adventure, with over 30 throughout the park and more to come with the company’s recently announced expansion in the works.

I found such a variety of rides to meet different tastes and activity levels. Want to have a “take it easy” kind of day? Then, there is a good selection of calm but fun rides. Feeling adventurous instead? You definitely won’t be disappointed. The park hosts a wide variety of thrilling options. Want to go fast? The world’s fastest wooden roller coaster, the Lightning Rod, at an exhilarating top speed of 73 miles per hour, will send you hurtling around large turns and flying down massive hills faster than you can say “need for speed.”
Not into speed, but want to fly high?


Wild Eagle

The ride for you may be just be the Wild Eagle, America’s first “wing” style coaster and one of the smoothest rides you’ll ever experience. I thoroughly enjoyed the array of rides, but maybe coasters are not your thing.  Not to worry—of course a place conceived by Dolly Parton would know how to entertain beyond just rides. Whether you take in one of the regularly available shows or one of the many different seasonal performances, Dollywood’s world-class shows don’t disappoint.


Speaking of not disappointing, one area that is typically a letdown at many parks is the food selection, but I found quite the opposite at Dollywood, where there is a great variety of quality, satisfying options. The park is a four-time winner of the Amusement Today Golden Ticket prize for the best food in the industry, and the specialty foods really show it off. A few of the noted park favorites include a Southern-style sit down buffet, fried chicken sandwiches, and their renowned cinnamon bread that is described as “ooey, gooey, cinnamon goodness.” I especially enjoyed the BBQ skillet and the grilled corn.

When my day at the park had come to an end, my Dollywood experience didn’t have to—I got to relax and recharge at the gorgeous on-property DreamMore Resort. Offering a wonderful balance between family-friendly and luxurious, the hotel features numerous amenities and services for adults and children alike. I was amazed by all the perks I received as a DreamMore guest, including early access to the park on certain days and complimentary flash passes to skip some of those extra-long lines. A free shuttle that runs back and forth all day between the hotel and parks helped me avoid the hassle of parking, especially when I needed to leave and return to the park mid-day. And that shuttle not only goes to Dollywood but also to Dollywood’s Splash Country. Getting to spend my second day enjoying the amazing 35-acre water park, open during the warmer months, made for an incredible summer combo weekend trip!

If you choose to stay at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort, you have the added bonus of the store-to-room delivery service to avoid having to carry any of your purchases all over the massive park. In-park purchases will be wrapped and delivered to your room at the time of your purchase.

DreamMore Resort
DreamMore Resort

After my experience, I would definitely give Dollywood two thumbs up and encourage you and your family to check it out if you haven’t already.  I’ll bet you will be planning a return visit before you even make it to your car to head back home.


Harvest Festival Presented By Humana


The fresh and comforting feel of fall is right around the corner, and Dollywood looks forward to welcoming you to a familiar family tradition soon. Starting September 25, explore days full of play and nights all aglow at Harvest Festival featuring Great Pumpkin LumiNights presented by Covenant Health.


VISIT For more information…www.dollywood.com


Kristen Bland

Kristen Bland