Dollywood – Is Dolly Parton’s theme park located inPigeon Forge, Tennessee. There are many people who may be turned off at the thought of visiting Dollywood because they do not know exactly to expect. To be honest, I was one of them. When my husband and I planned a vacation to Tennessee in 1998 it was for the purpose of visiting Fan Fair in Nashville. Since we were only 3 hours from our property in Sevierville, TN we added that to the list and headed east. There were a few things I wanted to do, like outlet shopping, but Dollywood was on my husband’s wish list. Not me, I didn’t have a clue and didn’t want one. Being from New Jersey I assumed it would be like the boardwalk in Seaside, NJ – rides, junk food, neon lights, bells, whistles and a lot of noise.
After we arrived in Tennessee I picked up the schedule for Dollywood and read through it. Ok, I was a newlywed and figured I really should do at least one thing on hubby’s wish list. A Dollywood visit would, however, be under my terms. On the way to the theme park I told him, and I quote, “One hour, one hour only and we are out of there!” Six hours later I wasn’t ready to leave. It was nothing like the boardwalk or any other theme park I knew of. It was different and unique. Dolly Parton did good!
Dollywood was built in the hills of Pigeon Forge, TN. It was Dolly Parton’s vision and she continues to update and add to it every year. She attends the formal opening weekend which includes a parade through the byways of Pigeon Forge and her appearances at the park over the three days. From the roads surrounding Dollywood you can see little bits of the parking lot but the magic within is hidden from view. The designers used the terrain to full advantage. Hughes trees line the paths and provide shade. Rides are nestled among the hills and valleys. You feel like you are in a place all to itself when in reality the hustle and bustle of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are only a few short miles away.
When you are inside the park all you see in the distance are woods and green trees. Flowers, there are millions of flowers in ground displays as well as hanging baskets. It is a full time job just watering all the beautiful displays. There is a lot of walking necessary, and a lot of that walking is uphill. Everything is uphill in East Tennessee!
There is something for everyone to see and do at Dollywood. Even if you are not into roller coasters (like me!) there are more than enough other types of rides to keep you busy for hours. Not into rides at all? Check out demonstrations on lye soap making, woodworking, candy making and glass blowing. When the glass blower says he doesn’t inhale he means it!
Shopping was on my to do list and I could easily have dropped a bundle. There truly is something for everyone from Dollywood t-shirts and other Dolly themed items to hand carved mantels and musical instruments.
Every corner you turn finds some type of entertainment, from the Parton family singers to acrobats and everything in between. Once you pay your admission fee everything is included. There is no additional cost for the rides or entertainment. You will have to stand in line and wait, and wait and sometimes wait a little longer. Don’t give up, if the lines are long that means it’s worth exploring. Your biggest expense will be for food. We usually got away cheap by buying two big hot soft pretzels and two drinks.
My husband and I enjoyed Dollywood so much that after our move to Tennessee we went to the Dollywood job fair. Really! I must have been in the sun too long when that idea hit me! We went for the interview process, which was very long and very interesting. Since the park wasn’t officially open for the season we had the opportunity to walk around and see some of the insider goings on. My husband was offered a job as a pizza maker (he’s Italian). We were looking for part time work. The pizza job was full time, 50 plus hours a week working a hot pizza oven.
Once he turned it down there was no need to continue so we left the park. It was an interesting experience and worth the effort. A full time employee receives free medial at the Dollywood medial facility located inside the park. Most of the employees have to wear the official costumes that relate to each job. You are given one uniform and it has to be washed each night and ready for the next day. Employees are not allowed to wear watches or other jewelry pieces. There was a very long list of what to do and not do.
It was enjoyable visiting Dollywood as a customer. We bought season tickets that first year. The following year we were given complimentary passes through a part time job we had at a cabin rental office. If you work in a service related business (motel, cabin rentals, restaurants, etc.) you can get free passes to Dollywood.
You should visit Dollywood this year. When you leave you will be tired, but you will not be disappointed. There are numerous rental cabins and motels in the area and most offer some type of deal on park tickets. Dollywood is family friendly. There are strollers you can rent, as well as motorized wheel chairs. Please take into consideration the heat and humidity and dress appropriately. Bring extra clothes for the kids as they will get wet on the water rides. Comfy shoes are a must. Make sure to drink a lot of fluids and use your sun screen.
Start planning your trip to the Dollywood theme park. This season opens Saturday March 28, 2009 and remains open through the end of December. Prices vary and they have many special packages available. There are numerous restaurants throughout the park with something for every taste (don’t forget the pizza!). Check out the links and start planning your visit to Dollywood. Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is where you should be!!
Personal experiences by Greenhill
Dollywood Website – Main Page
Dollywood Website – Food/Dining
Dollywood Website – Dates and Hours
Dollywood Website – Special Offers
Dollywood Website – Tickets
Dollywood Website – Maps/Directions
Pigeon Forge Lodging
Dolly Parton Fan Club and Music Site