Dollywood Theme Park

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Begins November 5

Published November 2, 2022 / Last Updated November 3, 2022
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
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman
Team Dolly

America’s Favorite Christmas Tradition Begins at Dollywood on Nov. 5 Featuring 6 Million Lights

With several new lighting displays across its 160 acres, Dollywood theme park, the 14-time winner for Best Theme Park Christmas Event, now boasts more than 6 million shining, shimmering lights as part of the popular Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana, happening November 5 through January 1.

The event, which easily can be described as one of America’s favorite Christmas traditions, shines brightly thanks to the warmth of gleaming holiday lights, award-winning stage productions, Christmas culinary masterpieces and the warm family traditions so many guests have enjoyed throughout the festival’s 30 plus years.

“I believe each season in the Smokies is a precious gift from above, but I also know there is no better time than Christmas to experience the magic of this special place,” Dolly shared. “Christmas is a time for new memories to be created, cherished family traditions to be celebrated and the love of the holidays to warm us all.

“It is my wish that our guests celebrate the light of the Christmas season while they are here with us at Dollywood. I also hope they pause long enough to savor the moments spent with one another. It’s those special moments that are sure to become the beautiful memories they will look upon so fondly for so many years.”

A Million New Lights for 2022

Dollywood truly sparkles this Christmas season with new lighting elements throughout the park providing an element of surprise to guests around every corner, even for those aboard the Dollywood Express. Visitors riding the guest-favorite attraction will enjoy a special light show draped across the field located inside the train’s upper turning loop. Another new lighted area is the Village Pass, which features a 130’ light curtain wall that includes programmed movement. This area leads guests from lower Craftsman’s Valley to The Village. Adventures in Imagination shines in pink, platinum and gold decorations—as well as 60 LED butterflies and a new 20’ ft. tall Christmas tree—in an area fittingly called Dolly’s Christmas.

Guests will find hundreds of additional lighted trees throughout the park this year, as well as more new décor elements and eight different light zones to provide each area of Dollywood its own unique look and feel. The new elements add 1 million lights to the park’s already-impressive total, meaning guests will enjoy 6 million lights during this season’s festival.

As always, guests can experience Dollywood’s world-class rides amidst the hustle and bustle of the park during the holidays, as most rides are operational during the Christmas season. Nothing compares to racing quickly through the night sky with millions of lights twinkling below.

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas
Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas
Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas
Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas
Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas
Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas

Dazzling Fireworks and Spectacular Shows

Returning this year on Friday and Saturday evenings is the “Merry & Bright!” fireworks display, which provides a sparkling ending to the day. “Merry & Bright!” lights the sky above Dollywood with a display set to the rhythm of upbeat contemporary holiday hits. After Christmas, the music changes to help guests ready to ring in the new year. Additionally, the New Year’s version of the show takes place nightly Dec. 26- Jan. 1.

In one of the most unique experiences during the Christmas season at Dollywood, Old Saint Nick allows visitors a sneak peek into his little cabin in the Smokies. Guests who visit Santa’s cabin can literally see inside as he reviews…the list! Kids discover whether their names are on the naughty or nice list, and they might even have their photo made as they peer through the window during this once-in-a-lifetime chance to catch Santa at work. Santa goes on a well-deserved vacation after Christmas Day, so families wanting to see him in action shouldn’t wait!

Glacier Ridge fills Dollywood’s Timber Canyon, Wildwood Grove, Wilderness Pass and Upper Craftsman’s Valley with an expansive arctic experience sure to inspire and delight guests. Wilderness Pass serves as one of the highlights of Glacier Ridge thanks to the Wonderful Christmas! Plaza Tree Show, which features a 50-ft. tall animated tree sparkling to life to present a fully-synchronized, dazzling light show throughout the evening. Each show is capped by an immersive snow finale!

Dollywood’s family favorite shows light up both indoor and outdoor stages. The festival’s headline show, “Christmas in the Smokies,” has been a must-see for families every Christmas season since it began in 1990. Many other Dollywood Christmas classics return including “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” “O’ Holy Night,” “Christmas with the Kingdom Heirs,” “Heart of the Holidays,” “Candlelight Carolers,” “The Mistletones,” “Appalachian Christmas with the Smoky Mountain String Band,” “Holiday Wild Roots” and more.

Festive Culinary Surprises

And for those looking to celebrate the holidays with the perfect family meal, Dollywood’s team of chefs have a menu full of culinary surprises sure to delight. From herb-roasted turkey breast and citrus-glazed carved ham to chicken pot pie in a bread cone, there are a number of savory items to satisfy every appetite. A number of unique items abound including eggnog cupcakes, gingerbread-dusted funnel cake, holiday limeade and more.

Christmas at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort

The Christmas fun makes its way to Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa with even more ways to help families make memories this holiday season. To create a truly immersive Smoky Mountain Christmas experience, the resort is celebrating the holidays with a variety of festival-inspired activities, crafts, entertainment, décor and culinary options.

The resort’s halls are decked in beautiful décor inspired by warm, rich memories of Christmas in the Smoky Mountains. The centerpiece is an awe-inspiring, two-story Christmas tree that can be seen from both levels of the lobby. DreamMore Resort’s culinary team prepares delicious holiday meals in Song & Hearth: A Southern Eatery. Guests can gather together to give thanks and enjoy a flavorful meal throughout the season, or experience one of four holiday dining experiences—Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas Day brunch, or New Year’s Eve dinner.

2023 Season Passes

Finally, for anyone searching for the perfect Christmas gift of family fun and memories, a Dollywood season pass is the solution! Diamond or gold season passes purchased during Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas provides admission to this year’s Christmas festival along with admission for Dollywood’s “BIG” 2023 operating season. Guests can purchase their 2023 season pass online now or upgrade their paid one-day admission ticket on the day of their visit. Ticket purchasers receive credit for the value of a regular one-day ticket toward the purchase of a 2023 season pass. The 2023 season features “big” fun, including the opening of Dollywood’s longest roller coaster, Big Bear Mountain, as well as 15 additional operating days and the new I Will Always Love You Celebration, honoring the 50th anniversary of Dolly’s iconic song.

For more information and a park operating calendar, please visit or download the Dollywood app.

Team DollyDollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Begins November 5

Light the Way 5K Returns to Dollywood November 11

Published November 1, 2022 / Last Updated November 2, 2022
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
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman
Team Dolly

Light the Way 5K Celebrates a Decade of Holiday Tradition With Tenth Annual Race on Nov. 11 at Dollywood

Proceeds to benefit Keep Sevier Beautiful and Share It Forward, an assistance program for Dollywood employees

The Light the Way 5K returns for its tenth installment this year to offer runners a certified race experience on a course illuminated by millions of Christmas lights. The race makes its way through Dollywood on Friday, Nov. 11 starting at 11 p.m. with the help of the Knoxville Track Club, which is the new race administration partner for the event.

The course for Light the Way 5K winds its way through the holiday scenery at Dollywood. The route begins at Dollywood’s Front Gate area and travels through the theme park twice, giving runners time to take in the festive décor and lights of the award-winning Smoky Mountain Christmas festival. Walkers will have the opportunity to follow the route for one loop around the park.

Proceeds from the event benefit Keep Sevier Beautiful and the Share It Forward program at Dollywood. Keep Sevier Beautiful, 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. Keep Sevier Beautiful’s goal is to protect the natural beauty of the area that millions of visitors come to see each year. Share It Forward is a non-profit organization to serve The Dollywood Company employees and their families through a variety of quality programs. Share It Forward programming is funded primarily through employee donations which are matched dollar for dollar by The Dollywood Company.

“It’s so exciting to be hosting runners at the Light the Way 5K for a 10th year and for us to have a new partnership with the Knoxville Track Club to make this event even brighter. 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, Director of Operations for Share It Forward. “But just as 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.

The race has been certified again this year, will be chip timed and is managed for the 2022 event by the Knoxville Track Club. Awards will be presented to the top three finishers for both men and women.

Registration Information

Pre-registration is encouraged for the Light the Way 5K as the race is limited to 1,500 participants. Registration fee is $50. Register online at Race day registration takes place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Dollywood’s Splash Country.

For more information, email or visit

Team DollyLight the Way 5K Returns to Dollywood November 11

Anticipation Builds for “Big” 2023 Season at Dollywood

Published October 17, 2022 / Last Updated October 18, 2022
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
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman
Team Dolly

Dolly Parton Celebration Coming to Dollywood in 2023, Along With New Roller Coaster and Additional Operating Days

Things certainly are going to be “BIG” at Dollywood in 2023. The Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, park is gearing up for a season that includes the debut of Big Bear Mountain, the longest roller coaster in the park’s history, a new celebration of one of Dolly’s most iconic songs, as well as 15 additional park operating days throughout the year. With so much big fun in 2023, a Dollywood season pass should be on everyone’s wish list. The park opens to the general public on Saturday, March 11.

I Will Always Love You Celebration

New in 2023, guests will be able to celebrate what has arguably become one of Dolly’s biggest hits, “I Will Always Love You.” To observe the 50th anniversary of this monumental song, the I Will Always Love You Celebration takes place March 11-April 8, kicking off the season with a festive event commemorating the art of songwriting and the stories behind the songs. In addition to honoring Dolly’s iconic status as a songwriter, the event will recognize a number of noted singer/songwriters with headline performances throughout the festival. Additionally, the Songwriters’ Showcase in Showstreet Palace Theater places the spotlight on a number of up-and-coming songwriters, allowing Dollywood guests the opportunity to enjoy their incredible talents.

Big Bear Mountain Roller Coaster

Set to open in the spring, Dollywood’s Big Bear Mountain is the single largest attraction investment in the company’s history. The $25 million roller coaster is nearly 4,000 ft. long, features on-board audio and promises guests a thrilling adventure through the hills bordering Wildwood Grove. This expansion of Wildwood Grove—named the industry’s Best Kids’ Area for three years—takes guests through three separate launches, multiple airtime hills, high-speed carousel turns and tunnels. Big Bear Mountain’s 39” inch height requirement allows even younger adventurers to come along for the ride.

Additional Operating Days Throughout 2023

Not only do the rides get bigger in 2023, so does the operating calendar. Dollywood guests and season passholders can enjoy an additional 15 days of fun in the Smoky Mountains next season when compared to the 2022 calendar. The additional days come throughout the year, meaning guests can enjoy more of everything the 2023 season has to offer. The park opens at 10 a.m. every operating day through the Harvest Festival. Operation begins at 11 a.m. during Smoky Mountain Christmas.

Dollywood’s Flower & Food Festival presented by Covenant Health (April 21-June 4) blooms bright with iconic Mosaiculture displays throughout the park. Vivid larger-than-life flower sculptures create an immersive atmosphere for park guests as they make their way through more than half-a-million blooms during this stunning festival. In addition, Dollywood’s culinary team showcases their world-class abilities with a menu full of delicacies that highlight the tastes of spring in the Smokies.

Dollywood’s Sweet Summer Nights drone and fireworks show has become a guest highlight, and it again takes to the skies above Dollywood in 2023 as part of Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration (June 17-August 6). Another favorite — “Gazillion Bubble Show Aurora” — returns to deliver a mesmerizing burst of excitement to guests in DP’s Celebrity Theater. The show provides many moments where guests will be enveloped by “gazillions” of bubbles for a fun and unpredictable experience that captivates the entire family. Liquid Beats, Hydro Jive Junction and the Bubble Foam Zone all return in 2023 after their popular debuts during this year’s festival.

A family tradition for many, Dollywood’s Harvest Festival presented by Humana (September 22-November 4) celebrates the beauty of fall with thousands of carved pumpkins, spirited performances from talented singers and the fun of Great Pumpkin LumiNights presented by Covenant Health. Great Pumpkin LumiNights, which previously has been named the best theme park harvest event in the world, features elaborate displays that are fun for every member of the family. Creative culinary items, accomplished artisans, and fall fun in the Smokies make this a picture-perfect time to enjoy Dollywood.

The industry’s Best Theme Park Christmas event — Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana (November 11-January 6) — concludes the park’s 2023 season with five million lights, festive holiday shows, and the warm Christmas atmosphere guests have come to expect during this joyous time of year.

Season Pass Options for Every Guest

Dollywood’s 2023 season is so big, guests should consider a season pass to ensure they can experience all of the fun! Three season pass levels—Diamond, Gold and Silver—provide great options for every guest, while the popular Pre-K Imagination Season Pass offers free admission all season long to any child born in 2018 or 2019. Passes are on sale now with reduced pricing until October 30 for current Dollywood season passholders and those who pre registered for this special offer. On October 31, season passes go on sale to the general public.

Dollywood Diamond Season Passes provide a premium experience for guests. In addition to admission all season long, Diamond passholders receive Saturday Early Ride Time, four Bring-A-Friend Free tickets, free general parking, the largest discounts on dining, merchandise and lodging, an all-season unlimited refill mug per pass, as well as discounts on TimeSaver passes, VIP tours and preferred parking. In addition, Diamond Season Passes provide the passholder season access to Dollywood’s Splash Country.

The Gold Pass represents a tremendous value for guests thanks to Saturday Early Ride Time for the passholder, two Bring-A-Friend Free tickets, free general parking, a one-day unlimited refill mug per pass, as well as discounts on dining, merchandise, and lodging. Both Diamond and Gold passholders also receive access to special “Golden Events,” exclusive events an activities just for them. Only the named passholder can receive the perks associated with each pass type.

Gold and Diamond passholders also can take advantage of another great perk, daily “Golden Hours.” During the first hour of every operating day, Gold and Diamond Season Passes operate just like TimeSaver passes, allowing the named passholder expedited boarding on Dollywood’s world-class rides and attractions.

Silver Season Passes also are available and include two Bring-a-Friend Free tickets and a discount on Dollywood lodging. Select blackout dates apply to Silver Season Passes and Silver Bring-a-Friend Free tickets.

For more information about Dollywood’s 2023 season or season passes, please visit or download the Dollywood app.

Team DollyAnticipation Builds for “Big” 2023 Season at Dollywood

Dollywood’s Harvest Festival Brings Fall Family Fun to America’s #1 Theme Park

Published September 21, 2022 / Last Updated September 21, 2022
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
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman
Team Dolly

New Hoot Owl Hollow displays provide more fun for all during Dollywood’s 2022 Harvest Festival

Dollywood guests are sure to have a hoot during this year’s Harvest Festival presented by Humana (Sept. 23 – Oct. 29), thanks to a brand new area created within the family-favorite Great Pumpkin LumiNights presented by Covenant Health.

Appropriately named Hoot Owl Hollow, the area features hundreds of pumpkins in Dollywood’s Craftsman’s Valley that celebrate the nocturnal creature, including a massive 14-foot tall version created with more than 150 carved white pumpkins. It’s just the latest addition to the event that has overwhelmingly become one of America’s favorite fall family destinations, and it will surely have guests pulling an “owl-nighter” in order to experience “owl” the fun!

“I just know folks are going to get a kick out of the new Hoot Owl Hollow,” Dolly shared. “And in ‘owl’ seriousness, I hope our guests make their own precious Smoky Mountain memories while they are here. As I look back on my favorite family memories, so many of them took place during this time of year, and I hope our guests leave with those special moments they’ll share forever.”

A longstanding tradition for so many, the Harvest Festival greets guests with the surrounding mountainsides draped in vibrant colors. Dollywood’s landscaping and fresh décor accent the autumn atmosphere and bring the beauty right into the park, making it ripe for families to create their picture-perfect pumpkin photo ops to share with friends!

“I think everybody knows I believe every day in the Smoky Mountains is beautiful and truly a gift from God,” Dolly said, “but I do feel like fall is when He really puts on a show for all of us to admire and enjoy. As the leaves change, the mountains transform into a patchwork of bright, vibrant colors that make them look as if they’ve come alive. The hot summer days start to fade and crisp, cool winds bring that fresh mountain air down into the valleys and right into my Dollywood. To me, this has to be the most beautiful theme park in the whole world, because no park in the world is built right in the middle of the Smokies!”

Great Pumpkin LumiNights

At night, Great Pumpkin LumiNights, one of the nation’s premier family-friendly harvest time events, provides bushels of memories for guests, thanks to thousands of glowing and carved pumpkins throughout Dollywood. For those with small children—or anyone looking for a fun, not scary experience—this event is certainly the cream of the crop. Families can bask in the glow as they wander through displays in Dollywood’s Timber Canyon, Wilderness Pass, Wildwood Grove and Craftsman’s Valley areas. Beyond the impressive displays, guests can find a number of exciting activities to create long-lasting memories together.

Award-Winning Entertainment

No festival at Dollywood is complete without award-winning entertainment, and the Harvest Festival certainly delivers. Several genres are well-represented with a wide range of Southern Gospel and bluegrass artists, as well as Americana acts and classic country performers scheduled to appear. In all, more than 1,900 performances take place during the Harvest Festival.

Fresh off a finalist appearance on America’s Got Talent, Chapel Hart graces the stage of DP’s Celebrity Theater on Oct. 2. Country music legend John Anderson—known for hits like “Swingin’,” “Seminole Wind,” and “Straight Tequila Night”—visits the park on Oct. 10. Contemporary Christian group Sidewalk Prophets visits Sept. 28, while Southern Gospel favorites, including The Collingsworth Family (Sept. 26), Karen Peck and New River (Oct. 5), Triumphant Quartet (Oct. 19) and The Isaacs (Oct. 21), also entertain guests throughout the festival. Bluegrass is well represented with Rhonda Vincent and the Rage (Oct. 24), Dailey & Vincent (Oct. 24) and more set to perform. Knoxville’s Emily Ann Roberts—who placed second on season nine of NBC’s The Voice—performs Oct. 20.

A complete schedule can be found on Performances take place on indoor and outdoor stages throughout the park, allowing the beautiful sounds to echo through the surrounding hillsides and create highly-engaging entertainment offerings.

Flavors of Fall

Dollywood’s culinary team has created a smorgasbord of creations to take advantage of the bountiful supply of crops provided by the Smoky Mountain harvest. The smells of smoked bratwursts, turkey legs or smoked andouille sausage mac and cheese pair nicely with the fresh tastes of sweet potato poutine, spiced pumpkin bisque and BUSH’S three bean pumpkin chili. For sweet treats, the ever-popular pumpkin spice is in full supply with items ranging from pumpkin spice churros with pumpkin fluff to pumpkin spice iced coffee. Items like the maple pecan bacon funnel cake, hot apple cider, wassail or an apple pie milkshake are perfect to carry and enjoy while admiring the beauty of Dollywood in the fall.

Several other guest favorites return to the Harvest Festival, including the colossal pumpkins—last year’s pumpkins ranged in weight from 800 to 1,500 lbs. each—which come from growers across the East Coast. Visiting artisans display their handmade wares at locations throughout Dollywood, with many demonstrating the skills and techniques they use as they create their one-of-a-kind treasures.

Harvest Festival Happenings at DreamMore Resort

The Harvest Festival fun is also celebrated at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa with themed activities and harvest décor planned throughout the resort’s property.

Guests can enjoy live entertainment by featured Harvest Festival performers in the resort’s atrium every Tuesday, including performances by The Young Fables, The Woods, Billy and Cruz Contreras, the High Beams and Kate and Corey. Daily roaming performers can also be found throughout the resort.

The resort’s culinary team is cooking up special dining experiences, including an unforgettable wine pairing event on Saturday, Oct. 23. In The Lounge, guests can feast upon delicious harvest-themed food and beverage options. At The Spa at DreamMore Resort, guests can relax with special treatments infused with fall scents and ingredients. For Dollywood’s Harvest Festival, guests can choose from treatments that are reminiscent of harvest in the Smoky Mountains such as the Honey Chai Massage or Luminous Pumpkin Facial.

Plan Your Visit

With so many opportunities for creating vibrant new family traditions, Dollywood’s Harvest Festival is a must-see experience this season.

Dollywood is open 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. each day of operation (Sept. 23 – Oct. 29) during the Harvest Festival. The park is closed on Tuesdays throughout the festival. For more information and a park operating calendar, visit or download the Dollywood app.

Team DollyDollywood’s Harvest Festival Brings Fall Family Fun to America’s #1 Theme Park

Dollywood Earns Three Golden Ticket Awards

Published September 14, 2022 / Last Updated September 14, 2022
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
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman
Team Dolly

Most-honored park wins theme park industry’s top awards for guest experience, kids’ area and Christmas event

Following the recent news that Dollywood is Tripadvisor’s top American theme park, the Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, landmark earned three of Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards during a ceremony held September 9th at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio. Dollywood earned finalist placement in seven total categories and won more Golden Ticket awards than any other park in the world.

“We don’t do what we do to win awards, but they sure are nice,” Dolly said jokingly. “Seriously though, we’re proud of the recognition we receive because it means we’re doing well at what we want to do—take care of the great folks who come to visit our park year after year. I’ve always known that the Smokies are a very special place, and for the park to be just one reason why so many people come visit this little part of Tennessee warms my heart. To hear that they think so highly of their time at Dollywood really does this Smoky Mountain girl a lot of good.”

Best Guest Experience

Dollywood continued its clean sweep of the Best Guest Experience category, which was first created in 2019. This marks the third-consecutive Best Guest Experience award for Dollywood. Golden Tickets were not awarded in 2020. The Best Guest Experience award combines several attributes—including friendliness, cleanliness and value—into the judging criteria for the award. Dollywood is the only park to ever win the award, a nod to its friendly and welcoming hosts, as well as its clean appearance and overall atmosphere.

Every day, Eugene Naughton, President of The Dollywood Company, places much emphasis on the guest experience and gives credit to Dollywood hosts and park guests for the park’s third win in that category.

“The Golden Tickets award ceremony is one of my favorite events of the year,” Naughton said. “I appreciate Amusement Today for hosting the awards because they serve as a good gauge to help us understand how our guests are feeling about their experience. We’ve really put a lot of focus the last few years into ensuring that when our guests are inside our park, they are having a great time and are busy creating those memories they’re going to cherish for years to come. Our third-consecutive Best Guest Experience award is a tangible representation that the hard work our hosts put into the park really does matter to our guests. We are proud of these awards and they only make us want to work harder to win them again next year.”

Best Kids’ Area

Dollywood’s Wildwood Grove also earned its third consecutive award for Best Kids’ Area. The park first won this award in 2019 after that season’s opening of the expansive new area. Dollywood guests should expect this great area to become even better next season, as the recently-announced Big Bear Mountain roller coaster opens in Spring 2023. The new ride, manufactured by Vekoma, is nearly 4,000 ft. long and becomes the longest roller coaster at Dollywood. With three launches, on-board audio, plenty of air time and a number of thrilling moments, a fourth Golden Ticket category win could be in the cards for 2023.

Best Christmas Event

One of the park’s stalwart events, Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana, earned its 14th consecutive win for Best Christmas Event. Dollywood remains undefeated in the Christmas category due to the effort of the park’s hard-working hosts who plan for the iconic event year-round. Dollywood’s Christmas festival is so prevalent that it has been showcased in several movies, including Hallmark’s “Christmas at Dollywood” and the upcoming Dolly Parton’s “Mountain Magic Christmas” which premieres on NBC later this year.

Additional Recognition

Due in large part to its idyllic location in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Dollywood earned the runner-up position for Most Beautiful Park, while the park’s creative and talented culinary team took home a second-place finish for Best Food, thanks to their varied and extensive menus of high-quality items. The park also finished second in the Best Park category to Europa-Park in Rust, Germany, making Dollywood the top-placed American entry. Dollywood’s thrilling Thunderhead remained ranked in the Best Wooden Roller Coaster category, finishing as the number 10 wooden coaster in the world.

The Golden Ticket Awards

Tim Baldwin, Communications Coordinator for Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards, explained how Dollywood has transformed itself during the last two decades.

“When the Golden Ticket Awards were introduced in 1998, Dollywood didn’t even appear on the list,” Baldwin said. “Flash forward two decades later and the park’s decisions are clearly evident. Dollywood appears as a finalist on the charts more than any other park and took home the most wins. The Southern hospitality begins with [Dolly] herself and is carried throughout the many staff members at the property. With the addition of award-winning rides and special themed areas over the past 20 years, Dollywood has not only become a national destination, it has also become an exciting global destination.

“This is what happens when you pay attention to what makes the guests happy. Fantastic food, crowd-pleasing entertainment and a commitment to signature attractions that make a park one-of-a-kind. Dollywood is a treasure.”

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 hundreds of experienced and well-traveled amusement park fans, industry journalists and ride manufacturers 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, food and more.

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 have garnered mentions in such notable media outlets as USA Today, the Chicago Tribune and by the late radio newsman Paul Harvey. The awards were also the topic of a one-hour Travel Channel documentary.

Plan Your Visit

With two great festivals ahead this year, there’s plenty of fun still to be had during Dollywood’s 2022 operating season. Dollywood’s Harvest Festival presented by Humana, featuring Great Pumpkin LumiNights presented by Covenant Health, takes place Sept. 23-Oct. 29, while Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana—now the 14-time winner of Best Christmas Event—is slated for Nov. 5-Jan. 1.

For more information, please visit or download the Dollywood app.

Team DollyDollywood Earns Three Golden Ticket Awards