Dollywood Theme Park

Dollywood’s Wildwood Grove Coming In 2019

Published February 3, 2019 / Last Updated February 10, 2019

Team Dolly

Team Dolly is a collaboration of writers, editors, and publishers assembled by Dolly Parton Productions. Each member is dedicated to accurately publishing the latest news and historical archives of the living legend that is Dolly Rebecca Parton.

Managing Editor - Jacob Timmons
Senior Editor - Amanda Webb
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman

Dollywood announces its largest expansion in park history with the new Wildwood Grove, slated to open in 2019.

Wildwood Grove, the largest capital investment in Dollywood’s 32-year history, is slated to open in 2019 and provides an adventurous journey for guests to explore, imagine and play together as a family.

The adventure begins as soon as guests enter Wildwood Grove through the massive hollow trunk of a fallen tree. Once inside this delightful place, a remarkable world is unveiled to families through their own imaginations.

The Wildwood Tree—a tree unlike any other—serves as the centerpiece of the area. It grows from a cluster of natural rock and boulders, and offers a natural platform for performances throughout the day and night. The green, leafy canopy is adorned with thousands of butterflies that dance playfully in the breeze. As the sun sinks in the sky, Wildwood Grove glows warmly as lanterns and lights glimmer like cheerful fireflies. Once darkness falls, the area sparkles as the Wildwood Tree comes to life each evening in a unique nighttime show that features the butterflies glowing in a kaleidoscope of spectacular color.

 

Six new ride attractions await guests eager to explore this captivating land. Those attractions include:

The Dragonflier— This thrilling suspended roller coaster lets guests soar with a dragonfly as it dips and darts along the gushing geysers and lush landscape of Wildwood Grove.
Black Bear Trail— Riders hop on the back of these friendly bears for a spirited trek through their natural habitat. Families will enjoy meandering through the woods of this unique Smoky Mountain experience.
Sycamore Swing— Guests aboard this thrilling “leaf boat” swing back and forth just like a leaf falling from a giant sycamore tree.
Treetop Tower— This family tower gives guests a sky-high view of Wildwood Grove as they soar nearly 40 feet in the air. Riders, seated inside giant acorns, spin around the top of a tall oak tree before gently drifting back to the grove floor.
The Mad Mockingbird— Tennessee’s state bird—the mockingbird—gives visitors a lift as it flies in a high speed circle around a tall tree. Riders control their ride experience by moving a sail as the birds rush above the ground.
Frogs and Fireflies—These friendly frogs hop up and down as they chase each other around the lily pad trying to catch the flickering fireflies fluttering from the tall reeds and grasses. Adventurous guests can hop aboard for this riveting race.

Play options abound inside Wildwood Grove. Hidden Hollow, a 4,000 sq. ft. indoor play space, provides a climate-controlled area for families looking to recharge before their next big adventure. With climbing structures, slides and multiple games, play time here is full of exploration. Another refreshing stop for play is at Wildwood Creek where numerous pop jets, splashing pools and more await. There, guests also can discover their musical side thanks to the various “instruments” available to play.

New Friends

Several new friends await guests to the area. In the tradition of the Wildwood butterflies before them, Flit and Flutter—Wildwood Grove’s butterfly ambassadors of beauty and grace—dutifully watch over the Wildwood Tree. While each has their own distinct personality, both Flit and Flutter enjoy interacting with visitors to Wildwood Grove. Guests also can meet Benjamin Bear, a playful friend who loves to explore the grove with new visitors.

New Dining

Wildwood Grove’s featured dining establishment, named Till & Harvest, offers another great option from Dollywood’s award-winning foods team. Visitors can order from a selection of Southwest fresh favorites, including burritos, salads and more, all with a Southern twist. In addition to traditional entrees and a topping bar with assorted salsas, guests can add items like pulled pork and fresh coleslaw to their selections. A walk-up window provides sweet treats like churros and ice cream.

As with most areas of Dollywood, Wildwood Grove takes advantage of the natural beauty of the surrounding Smoky Mountains. Nearly $1 million has been planned for landscaping the area, with more than 400 trees and 1,000 shrubs helping transform this space into a lush and relaxing spot hidden within the foothills of the Smokies.

For more information about Dollywood, please visit www.dollywood.com, call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD or download the Dollywood App.

Team DollyDollywood’s Wildwood Grove Coming In 2019

Happy Birthday To Two Of Dollywood’s Famous Leading Ladies

Published November 1, 2018 / Last Updated November 1, 2018

Team Dolly

Team Dolly is a collaboration of writers, editors, and publishers assembled by Dolly Parton Productions. Each member is dedicated to accurately publishing the latest news and historical archives of the living legend that is Dolly Rebecca Parton.

Managing Editor - Jacob Timmons
Senior Editor - Amanda Webb
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman

Happy Birthday to Dollywood’s Klondike Katie and Cinderella!

Two of Dollywood’s most famous leading ladies celebrated milestone birthdays this year. Katie celebrates her 75th, while “Cindy” enjoys the big 8-0 this season. Both ladies have the opportunity to entertain thousands of Dollywood guests each season, and their performances turn heads and garner waves of admiration wherever the track takes them.

They both admirably served in the U.S. Army during World War II, but now enjoy their retirement years at the world’s friendliest theme park. Their “warm” demeanors certainly are welcomed here.

The two Baldwin coal-fired steam trains—Klondike Katie, No. 192, and Cinderella, No. 70—were built in 1943 and 1938 respectively by Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia. Both trains served in Alaska during World War II, transporting troops and lumber on various missions across what would become the 49th U.S. state. Both engines were still in use when they were purchased from the Army. The two locomotives now work together to serve guests as The Dollywood Express, one of the park’s signature attractions.

Klondike Katie has worked most of the season while her co-worker Cinderella underwent a months-long refresh. She now looks much like she did back in 1938, with similar cosmetics and a font type close to what would have been on her originally. Just in time for Dollywood’s Harvest Festival presented by Humana (now- Nov. 3), both Cinderella and Klondike Katie are ready to charge full steam ahead into the park’s busy fall and Christmas seasons.

Maintaining The Dollywood Express

Dollywood Express Team Lead Tim Smith says maintaining the workhorses is a labor of love for his team. For many of them, their current jobs were dreams many years in the making. Smith has had an interest in steam trains his whole life, working at the North Carolina Transportation Museum, as well as Tweetsie Railroad (located in Blowing Rock, North Carolina). He moved west and worked at the Durango and Silverton Railroad in Durango, Colorado and the Virginia and Truckee Railroad in Virginia City, Nevada. He desired to move closer to home and in 2015 accepted his current position at Dollywood.

“We do most of the work ourselves,” the North Wilkesboro, North Carolina native said. “It gives our group a sense of pride in what we do to know we’re able to keep these trains running and give our guests memories they’re always going to hold on to. We can do most of the maintenance work here, but there are things we send out to others to help us with from time to time. We have an iron caster in LaFollette (Tennessee) that can do most of the ironwork we need. Klondike Katie’s sister (engine No. 190) is at Tweetsie Railroad; they have the equipment needed to work on our drive wheels.”

When Klondike Katie first arrived in Pigeon Forge in 1961, the area looked much different. She anchored a new attraction that had just been built that provided visitors with a five-mile journey through the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. In the early years, there was not even a workshop to house Klondike Katie. After several changes of ownership, the small park was acquired in 1977 by Jack and Pete Herschend of the Branson, Missouri-based Herschend Enterprises. Owners of Silver Dollar City in Branson, the brothers renamed the park Silver Dollar City, Tennessee. The big steam engine was acquired as part of the sale.

That same year, the Herschends acquired engine 70 and shipped her to the park to work alongside No. 192. After Dolly Parton and the Herschends formed Dollywood in 1986, and the number of visitors continued to climb, the two locomotives continued faithfully serving. For thousands of guests, The Dollywood Express is their main reason for visiting. Smith and his hardworking team balance a tricky schedule to ensure the engines receive the maintenance they need, while also staying operational for park guests each day.

“Our hardest part is balancing the demand of the park schedule with the needed maintenance,” Smith explained. “We try to do our maintenance when the park is closed so we don’t inconvenience our guests. We try not to do major projects when the park is open, but there are times that we have to do it. It probably upsets us more than it does the guests because we love how it feels when you take them up the mountain and they come back with smiles on their faces. On those rare days when we do have to undertake major maintenance, I assure you our team is probably more unhappy about it than the guests. But we work hard to stay on our schedule and make sure as much as we can is taken care of when the park is closed.”

And while most folks may think maintenance stops with the locomotives, the crew in the train shop also has to maintain the tracks and the passenger cars. It adds up to a great deal of work each season.

“The train shop annually replaces around 200-300 crossties out of the nearly 6,000 ties in the track,” Smith continued. “We occasionally replace entire sections of the track during the winter months. The locomotives, cars and tracks are looked over constantly looking for anything unusual by the team. We generally try to do our most extensive maintenance during the winter. The cars are inspected top to bottom and repainted each winter. Each locomotive is checked over inside and out. Some winters we may be just replacing a few rod brasses and then some winters we may have the whole engine disassembled.”

For the untrained eye (and ear), it may be hard to tell the two apart, except for the numbers emblazoned on their sides. For the many locomotive enthusiasts who visit the park, as well as the Dollywood hosts who work alongside them every day, each has its own personality. Klondike Katie originally was built for speed, while Cinderella had more power and torque to pull heavier loads. In addition to the visual cues, the engines sound very different; especially as they begin their climb out of the Dollywood Express Train Depot for the 20-minute roundtrip experience. Even the folks who work on the pair have their favorite—they just don’t let the other engine know it. Even Smith does a great job of hiding which is his “true” favorite.

“I generally tell folks that ask me that my favorite is the one that is running,” he said with a laugh. “Klondike Katie is my sentimental favorite since it is the park’s original engine; I also spent 15 years operating her sister engine 190 at Tweetsie Railroad. But, I would have to say #70 is my favorite of the two to operate.”

No matter which locomotive is pulling the train, The Dollywood Express is a guest-favorite for many who visit the park. Happy Birthday, Klondike Katie and Cinderella!

Plan your next ride aboard The Dollywood Express at Dollywood.com

 

Team DollyHappy Birthday To Two Of Dollywood’s Famous Leading Ladies

Dollywood Hosts Light The Way 5k Walk/run Nov. 16

Published November 1, 2018 / Last Updated November 1, 2018

Team Dolly

Team Dolly is a collaboration of writers, editors, and publishers assembled by Dolly Parton Productions. Each member is dedicated to accurately publishing the latest news and historical archives of the living legend that is Dolly Rebecca Parton.

Managing Editor - Jacob Timmons
Senior Editor - Amanda Webb
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman

Light The Way 5k proceeds benefit Keep Sevier Beautiful & Share It Forward, an assistance program for Dollywood employees.

Participants in the seventh annual Light the Way 5K Run/Walk get to see Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas festival in a different light – actually five million lights – as the theme park hosts this special event on Friday, Nov. 16 beginning at 11:18 p.m.

Light the Way 5K at DollywoodProceeds from the event benefit Keep Sevier Beautiful (KSB) and the Share It Forward (SIF) program at Dollywood. KSB, an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, is a volunteer-based organization which focuses on waste reduction/recycling, litter prevention and beautifying public spaces through education and community-based programs.

KSB’s goal is to protect the natural beauty of the area that millions of visitors come to see each year. SIF is a non-profit organization to serve The Dollywood Company employees and their families through a variety of quality programs. SIF programming is funded primarily through employee donations which are matched dollar for dollar by The Dollywood Company and, up to specified limits, by the shareholders of Herschend Family Entertainment, the park’s operating partner.

“The beauty of Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas festival combined with the challenge of a course that only a theme park can provide makes Light the Way a one-of-a-kind event for runners and walkers,” said Aaron Newberry, Executive Director of Share It Forward. “But most importantly, this event helps provide our non-profit organizations with financial assistance just before the holidays,” added Lisa Bryant, Executive Director of Keep Sevier Beautiful.

Light the Way 5K Run/Walk participants are treated to a unique course decorated by the park’s five million Christmas lights, beginning their journey at Dollywood’s preferred parking entrance, traversing through the parking lot and then winding through the theme park.

The certified race will be chip timed and managed by Scenic City Multi-Sports. Awards will be presented to the top three overall for male and female participants.

Pre-registration is encouraged for the Light the Way 5K as the race is limited to 2,018 participants. Registration fee until race day is $45. Register online at www.lighttheway5k.net. Race day registration takes place from 11 a.m. -10 p.m. at the front gate area at Dollywood’s Splash Country.

For more information, email info@keepsevierbeautiful.org or visit Light The Way 5k.

Team DollyDollywood Hosts Light The Way 5k Walk/run Nov. 16

Dollywood Earns Three 2018 Golden Ticket Awards

Published September 11, 2018 / Last Updated September 11, 2018

Team Dolly

Team Dolly is a collaboration of writers, editors, and publishers assembled by Dolly Parton Productions. Each member is dedicated to accurately publishing the latest news and historical archives of the living legend that is Dolly Rebecca Parton.

Managing Editor - Jacob Timmons
Senior Editor - Amanda Webb
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman

Dollywood Earns Three Golden Ticket Awards For Entertainment, Friendliness And Christmas Event

Dollywood continued its winning ways on Saturday night, racking up three more “best of” awards at Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards ceremony held at Silver Dollar City theme park in Branson, Missouri. Dollywood earned finalist placement in eight categories.

“I’ve said it before, but back when I started Dollywood, I remember just prayin’ that people were going to come visit us that very first year,” Dolly Parton said with a laugh. “Here we are in our 33rd season, still earning some of the biggest awards and honors you can get, and I can’t tell you how proud I am of what we’re accomplishing. I started Dollywood because I’m proud of the Smoky Mountains and wanted more people to come experience the beauty God has put right here in our back yard. We’re adding Wildwood Grove next year, and I know it’s going to give families more room to explore, imagine, play and spend time together here in the Smokies.

“The other reason I started Dollywood was because I wanted to hire the good people of Sevier County to work in the park. I knew when folks came and met the people who live and work here, they’d want to come back year after year because they would feel like part of the family. It must be working; we just won Friendliest Park for the seventh year! I’m so proud of the job our people do treating our guests well and going above and beyond to give them a truly memorable experience.”

Dollywood’s three Golden Ticket Awards include:

  • Friendliest Park, for the seventh consecutive year;
  • Best Shows, Dollywood’s 10th consecutive win;
  • Best Christmas Event, the only park to ever earn this award, Dollywood celebrates its 11th consecutive win.

Dollywood also had Top Ten (finalist) positions in five additional categories:

  • Best Food, second place;
  • Cleanest Park, third place;
  • Best Water Park for Dollywood’s Splash Country, fourth place;
  • Best Park, fifth place;
  • Best Wooden Coaster for Lightning Rod, sixth place;
  • Best Wooden Coaster for Thunderhead, 10th place.

“Over the two decades that Amusement Today has honored parks with the Golden Ticket Awards, it has been incredibly impressive to see Dollywood continue one successful move after another,” said Tim Baldwin, Golden Ticket Awards Communications Coordinator. “The park’s presence spread through all the categories is undeniable. They seem to hit the key ingredients to creating a wonderful guest experience—the food, the staff, the entertainment and rides are all top notch.”

Calculated from an international poll conducted by Amusement Today, the industry’s leading trade publication, the Golden Ticket Awards are the results of a detailed survey sent to a database of experienced and well-traveled amusement park fans around the world in balanced geographical regions. Voters are asked to rate the “best” in a number of categories such as best parks, roller coasters, water rides, shows, kids’ area, landscaping and Christmas events.

“I think our voters, along with any guest that enjoys a visit to Dollywood, are moved by the wonderful experience,” Baldwin continued. “The environment is fun and welcoming which makes it so memorable. I think each of us embraces those times when family or friends just have a wonderful day together. That’s Dollywood.”

The Golden Ticket Awards are the most sought-after awards in the business of amusements and attractions. The awards have become the subject of much discussion by park aficionados the world over and garnered mentions in such notable media outlets as USA Today and the Chicago Tribune, and by the late radio newsman Paul Harvey. The awards also were the topic of a one-hour Travel Channel documentary.

Fall Features At Dollywood

A number of memorable moments are in store for Dollywood guests in the coming months. Dollywood’s Harvest Festival presented by Humana features the return of an even larger Great Pumpkin LumiNights with double the displays and double the fun! Additionally, more than 625 Southern gospel concerts take place throughout the festival.

Christmas Favorites

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana, now the 11-time winner for Best Christmas event, grows with the addition of Glacier Ridge, an immersive new experience that adds more than one million lights to the park. Now boasting five million spectacular lights, Smoky Mountain Christmas puts guests in the holiday spirit with stunning lights displays, tantalizing food options, traditional shows and fun experiences like the Parade of Many Colors and Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer and friends.

Coming In 2019

In 2019, Dollywood opens Wildwood Grove, an extraordinary new land that features 11 thrilling experiences for guests, comprised of six unique ride attractions—including a suspended family roller coaster called The Dragonflier— the 55 ft. tall Wildwood Tree, live entertainment, various indoor and outdoor play areas for families to enjoy, a new restaurant and more.

For more information about Dollywood, visit Dollywood.com, call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD or download the Dollywood App.

Team DollyDollywood Earns Three 2018 Golden Ticket Awards

Dolly Parton and Alyvia Alyn Lind Team Up For Epic Dollywood Expansion Announcement

Published August 3, 2018 / Last Updated August 3, 2018

Team Dolly

Team Dolly is a collaboration of writers, editors, and publishers assembled by Dolly Parton Productions. Each member is dedicated to accurately publishing the latest news and historical archives of the living legend that is Dolly Rebecca Parton.

Managing Editor - Jacob Timmons
Senior Editor - Amanda Webb
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman

Dolly Parton received some help from actress Alyvia Alyn Lind during an epic announcement at Dollywood today!

Hearing the familiar voice of “Little Dolly” in DP’s Celebrity Theater was quite a surprise for Dollywood visitors as well as the visiting members of the press. Actress Alyvia Alyn Lind joined Dolly Parton on stage and set the scene for one of Dollywood’s biggest announcements in the park’s history.

Dollywood, already one of the nation’s premier family vacation destinations, is growing even larger thanks to an impressive expansion. Wildwood Grove, the largest capital investment in Dollywood’s 32-year history, is slated to open in 2019. The new land provides an adventurous journey for guests to explore, imagine and play together as a family. Dolly said,

“I’ve told you before about how I’d let my imagination roam free when I’d be out exploring in the hills around our home in the Smoky Mountains. I’d pretend that the frogs and butterflies were my friends. I’d imagine about what it’d be like to fly with a dragonfly or to follow a bear family through the woods. Now all these things are coming true for our guests to experience in Wildwood Grove; it may be my new favorite part of Dollywood!”

Wildwood Grove features 11 thrilling experiences for guests, comprised of six unique ride attractions—including a suspended family roller coaster called the Dragonflier— the 55 ft. tall Wildwood Tree, live entertainment, various indoor and outdoor play areas for families to enjoy, a new restaurant and more. The total cost for the project is $37 million, meeting The Dollywood Company’s 2013 commitment of $300 million in investments over a 10 year period four years ahead of schedule. Dolly also said,

“This area is going to give families a place to explore, play and imagine together—but more importantly—it’s a place where they can spend more time together,” she explained. “I believe everyone has a song in their heart that needs to be set free. Wildwood Grove will be a place where families can learn together about what their heart song truly is.”

The Dollywood Company President Craig Ross echoed Dolly’s sentiments about how Wildwood Grove provides a range of experiences for every member of the family.

“I think our guests are going to be excited about the diverse combination of attractions they will find in Wildwood Grove,” Ross said. “It continues our commitment to provide guests a variety of unique experiences and attractions that every visitor to the park can enjoy. We’ve also incorporated many of their requests for certain amenities that help make their visit more enjoyable. In Wildwood Grove, you’ll find more charging stations, a climate-controlled indoor space for play, larger respite locations, additional play areas which are more inclusive for everyone, and more entertainment opportunities for every member of the family.”

Dolly and Alyvia closed the event with a beautiful performance of “Tennessee Mountain Home.” Alyvia Alyn Lind starred as Little Dolly in “Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors” (2015) and “Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love” (2016).

Photo Credit: Curtis Hilbun

2018’s Season of Showstoppers

While Wildwood Grove opens in 2019, Dollywood guests still have great festivals to enjoy during 2018’s Season of Showstoppers. Dollywood’s Harvest Festival presented by Humana (Sept. 28-Nov. 3) features the return of Great Pumpkin LumiNights—which doubles in size in 2018—as well as the largest Southern gospel celebration in the world. The season ends with the 10-time winner for Best Christmas Event, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana (Nov. 10- Jan. 5). This year, Wilderness Pass transforms into Glacier Ridge, a winter wonderland complete with a 50 ft. tall video motion Christmas tree.

For more information about Dollywood, please visit www.dollywood.com, call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD or download the Dollywood App.

Team DollyDolly Parton and Alyvia Alyn Lind Team Up For Epic Dollywood Expansion Announcement