Dollywood is one of the greatest attractions in the Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg area, a 125-acre theme park with around 30 rides, including some of the most innovative in the nation – see our guide to some of the best Dollywood Rides. Acclaimed as one of the best amusement parks in the nation, with 2.5 million visitors annually, Dollywood has the nation’s first roller coaster that also goes backwards – the FireChaser Express – which makes for unique experiences and extra thrills for riders.
Next door on another 25 acres is Dollywood’s fantastic water park, Splash Country – see our feature here – innovating again with its cutting-edge water coaster, River Rush, which goes uphill as well as down, making for a super long water ride.
All of these high-tech and thoroughly modern thrills and entertainment happen in the trees and forest of the Smoky Mountains, a scenic delight to add to the thrills and enjoyment. Co-owned by Dolly Parton, Dollywood captures the Appalachian history and life of the Smokies in numerous entrancing ways – there’s even a working grist mill producing cornmeal and flour.
There are rides for all ages, ranging from mild to intense, and signs to help you figure out which ones are for you. Combined with the rides, the additional amusements, shows, shops and attractions make a great family-oriented village in its own world. There’s a steam engine train to get around on, and Dollywood workers are super friendly.
The quality of Dollywood’s productions really stands out in its annual festivals and shows. In spring, Dollywood’s Festival of Nations hosts top talent from around the world for a month with music, performance and international cuisine. In May-June there’s the Barbeque & Bluegrass Festival, which means exactly what it says, in massive amounts!
Then comes Great American Summer, with a multitude of great talent in numerous shows. The park hours are extended, and selected rides are open in the darkness of night – a rare experience for many. And there’s a fireworks show every night. KidsFest happens during this time too, with special events and shows for kids.
Fall brings Harvest Celebration with numerous free concerts of gospel, bluegrass and country music. To end the year, there’s Smoky Mountain Christmas, with millions of twinkling lights, shows, carolers and fireworks synchronized to Christmas hymns. Year-round, Dollywood is a class act.
Dolly Parton has much to do with Dollywood’s unique feel and its success, especially with music. Dolly knows everyone in the business, and Dollywood is on every performer’s radar as a great venue to play. In 2015, the readers of USAToday voted 5 Tennessee places as their Top 10 Musical Attractions, and one of them was Dollywood – pretty good for a theme park!
Getting to Dollywood is easy from Pigeon Forge, and there’s plenty of paid parking there. Taking the trolley is also a great option – trolleys run pretty constantly back and forth for amazingly cheap ticket prices. If you haven’t ridden the trolleys of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, check out our Trolley page and see what you’re missing!
Dollywood is hugely popular, which means crowds. Good advice is to buy tickets online, this helps save you waiting in line. The Dollywood and Splash Country websites are a must for advance research. Take some time to study the maps, the “thrill intensity” of each ride, and the things you should bring to save having to buy them onsite. A great resource is Dollywood’s Trip Tips page.
Pets are not allowed inside Dollywood, for obvious reasons, but you can leave them for the day at Doggywood, a facility provided by Dollywood. Dogs only please, and reservations highly recommended. Check out our page for pet friendly cabins in Pigeon Forge to get a cabin close to Dollywood that is also fun for your pet.
Visit www.dollywood.com/ for more information, ticket pricing, and hours of operation, or call 1-865-428-9488.