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Dollywood: Pigeon Forge’s Best Theme Park

Dollywood is located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and is one of the best theme parks in the country. It’s owned by country music legend Dolly Parton and offers visitors a unique blend of rides and attractions, live entertainment, craft shops, restaurants, and more! From thrilling rollercoasters to entertaining shows, there’s something for everyone at this family fun destination.

Dollywood sign.

What can you do at Dollywood? Take a stroll through trees and gardens, ride the roller coasters, or take the kids to one of the many kid-friendly attractions! And don’t forget to pick up some souvenirs; there are plenty of shops around that offer unique mementos from your experience at Dollywood. Whether you’re looking for family fun, thrills, or a taste of the South, Dollywood is the perfect place to spend a day.

Dollywood also offers many shows that are sure to please audiences from all over the world. The country music performances alone will keep you entertained with some of your favorite tunes performed live on stage – but if you’re looking for international flair, they have those too! Every day, different performers take center stage to showcase their talents.

Awards

Dollywood has received numerous awards and it’s easy to see why – the folks that work there love their jobs and treat the guests just like they would like to be treated.

In 2023, the park was awarded FIVE Golden Tickets: Best Park, Best Guest Experience, Best Christmas Event of 2022, Best Kids Area, and Best Family Coaster. It was the best year yet for the theme park.

In 2022, Dollywood was awarded the Golden Ticket Award for Best Guest Experience, Best Christmas Event, and Best Kids’ Area.

Dollywood’s awards also include Amusement Today‘s Golden Ticket Awards for Best Shows (2009-2015), which was twice named the world’s number 1 wooden coaster (Thunderhead), winner of Amusement Today‘s Friendliest Park (2012 – 2015), and so many more.

The park was the winner of the 2010 Applause Award, an award that is bestowed upon the park whose management, operations and creative accomplishments have inspired the theme park and attractions industry with its foresight, originality and sound business development.  

The Food

One of my favorite things about the park is the food. Dollywood’s delicious food was named the winner of Best Food by Amusement Today in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2017.

It’s easy to work up an appetite at the park and just as easy to satisfy your hunger.  There are over 2 dozen locations to grab a bite to eat, serving everything from homemade cinnamon bread to fresh pork rinds to a 12-pound pizza pie and everything in between.

Woman holding 25-pound apple pie.
25 Pound Homemade Apple Pie – yes, it’s real!

Keeping with trends, there is a food truck that you can find in Jukebox Junction.

Food Truck selling chicken sandwiches and French fries.

You just might hear Frannies famous fried chicken sandwich and legendary crinkle-cut fries calling your name.

Chicken sandwich and French fries.

Rather have a burger?  You can step back in time and enjoy one at Red’s Drive In.  In addition to old-fashioned hamburgers, they also serve thick, creamy milkshakes.  (Fact:  Red’s was named after the restaurant where Dolly had her first hamburger.)

Red's Drive In.

If you find that your phone or mobile device has a low battery, you can recharge it at one of these Coke bottle replica charging stations, located at Red’s Drive-In.

There are plenty of sit-down and dine-in options, like Aunt Granny’s.

Aunt Granny's restaurant at Dollywood.

Named by USA Today as one of the top 10 best theme park restaurants in the country, Aunt Granny’s is an all-you-care-to-eat buffet.

Chicken dinner with mashed potatoes and green beans.

The Rides

Some of the thrill rides are tucked into the trees, like Daredevil Falls, an attraction that takes passengers over a waterfall down a 60-foot drop at a heart-racing 50 mph.

Screamin' Eagle entrance.

One of my favorite rides is the Wild Eagle, America’s first wing coaster that takes riders on a smooth and thrilling ride 21 stories above Dollywood.

If you are a thrill-seeker, then Barnstormer will be up your alley.  It may look like a giant swing, but it is so much more – Barnstormer reaches 45 miles per hour and rotates 230 degrees.

Barnstormer ride.

Like roller coasters? Lightning Rod is the world’s first launched and fastest wood coaster.   Lightning Rod races down a 165-foot drop and propels guests along its 3,800-ft. track to a top speed of 73 mph, the fastest speed for a wood coaster in the world.

Lightning Rod ride entrance.
YouTube video
Rides at Dollywood.

There are rides for kids of all ages and all levels of thrilling excitement.

For those who are seeking a milder attraction, the Rockin’ Roadway is located next door to Lightning Rod.  (Fact:  The cute used car lot is actually extra storage for cars for the ride.)

Used cars ride.

The Shows

Live entertainment abounds around the amusement park with performers coming from around the world.

Siberian Dance Company on stage.

The park hosts the gospel quartet, the Kingdom Heirs, at the Showstreet Palace Theater.

Some of the other entertainment around the park includes:

  • A Brighter Day – Four vocalists and a five-piece band perform a curated selection of songs from various genres, including country, contemporary Christian, and pop, creating an uplifting and positive message you are sure to be inspired by, at the Back Porch Theater.
  • Harmonies of the Heart – Two of Dolly’s nieces, Heidi Lou and Jada Star, Dolly’s cousin Shelley and family friend Barry J sing original songs and tell stories about their doting “Aunt Granny” (Dolly Parton) at the Dreamsong Theater.
  • Smoky Mountain String Band – Bluegrass fans rejoice! You can get your fill of banjo playin’, pickin’, and grinnin’ at Valley Theater.

Eagle Mountain Sanctuary

A great place to rest your feet and learn about fascinating raptors is at the Wings of America Show.  Adjacent to the show’s venue is Eagle Mountain Sanctuary, a 30,000-square-foot home for birds of prey that are cared for by the American Eagle Foundation.

Inside Dollywood

Trees are everywhere, which is especially great for escaping the scorching summer heat in the South.  When you go, be sure to look into the shady areas – there are some cute and interesting sculptures.

Tree sculpture with children playing.

Throughout the park, you may notice special “guests.”  There is even a spot by the bridge where you can purchase a handful of feed to feed the fish.

Mallard ducks near a puddle.

The park is beautifully landscaped with little touches throughout.

Flowers in a tub.

Guests of all ages enjoy riding the authentic coal-fired steam engine on a 20-minute journey through the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.  (If you have sunglasses, put them on.  Remember, this is a real steam engine and you don’t want to get soot in your eyes.)  

Black train number 192.

There are 2 engines that operate at the park.  In their former life, they both were in service in Alaska during World War II.

Dolly Parton

This park is a great place to learn more about Dolly Parton, America’s favorite country music legend, starting with her Tennessee mountain home.

Below is a two-bedroom replica of the home in which Dolly grew up.  She was one of 12 children living in this small house. Can you imagine yourself in that situation?

Dolly Parton's Tennessee Mountain Home.

For a modern take, be sure to make your way to Chasing Rainbows, the state-of-the-art Dolly Parton museum that houses memorabilia from Dolly’s life and behind-the-scenes collections. Just outside of Chasing Rainbows is Dolly’s former tour bus.

Chasing Rainbows at Dollywood.

Shopping

Walking through the park you will see artisans and master craftsmen hard at work.  Below is an example of hand-thrown pottery made in Dollywood.

Blue and brown pottery.

There are numerous gift shops to find gifts for your friends and family who weren’t able to make it to the park with you.

Pig sculpture.

The cute firetruck below was for sale in Craftsman’s Valley.

Toy fire truck.

Further exploring the park there are even more rides to thrill and excite.  All told, there are over 40 rides and attractions.

Dollywood is a theme park for everyone. With roller coasters, food, shows, and more…you’ll be getting your kicks at one of Tennessee’s best attractions!


Dollywood is part of the Herschend family of amusement parks (think Silver Dollar City). You can learn more about Dollywood at the Dollywood website.

Park Notes

  • There is a fee for parking.  $22.80 for regular-sized vehicles, and $27.35 for oversized vehicles.
  • A cup of water is free if you ask for one.
  • You can leave the park and return the same day.  Be sure you save your ticket stub and get your hand stamped before you leave.  You will need to have your ticket re-scanned before re-entering the park.
  • Credit cards are accepted.  (American Express, VISA, MasterCard, and Discover)  Checks are accepted with a valid driver’s license.
  • Did you bring Fido with you on vacation?  He can visit Doggywood (for a small fee).  Be sure to read all of the details about boarding by clicking here.
  • According to Dollywood FAQs: If it is raining when you leave the Park and your visit is shortened by the rain, you can request a Rain Check—just ask.

Tickets

The regular prices of one-day tickets are:

  • Regular (ages 10-61) $89
  • Child (ages 4-9)         $79
  • Senior (ages 62 – 99) $79

For $10 more, you can add access to the water park (same-day admission) to any ticket.

Season passes are available.  You can purchase one-, two-, or three-day tickets and season passes on-site or online.

You can connect with Dollywood on Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | and Instagram.  Click here for the Dollywood website.

I was a guest at Dollywood and was able to check it out for myself.  All thoughts, opinions, and grammatical errors are my own.


Room with a bed.

Ready to start planning your trip to Dollywood?  Great!  Now read these other posts to help you on your way:

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7 Comments

  1. My husband and I love love Dollywood. To us it is the best theme park in the world. Wrle can’t wait to get back.

  2. I am a life-long Dolly fan, and I adored visiting Dollywood. It wasn’t even about the rides for us, it was about the atmosphere, the food, and the music. I would go back to Tennessee just to spend more time there!

  3. I’ve always wanted to go here! It looks so fun – plus that fried chicken sandwich looks delicious!

  4. I love 💘 Dolly wood it is a Beautiful park for the whole family.
    I can’t wait to get there this summer..

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