Awards & Milestones

Dollywood Earns Three 2019 Golden Ticket Awards

Published September 9, 2019 / Last Updated September 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
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman
Senior Editor - Amanda Webb

Most-Honored Park Wins For Best Kids’ Area, Best Guest Experience And Best Christmas Event

Dollywood certainly has earned a number of major accolades in recent years, and the Smoky Mountain theme park won three more on Saturday night during Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards ceremony held at Silverwood theme park in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Dollywood earned finalist placement in seven total categories and won more awards than any other park. Dolly Parton said,

“I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish here since we opened Dollywood in 1986. First, we’ve been able to provide so many jobs to the great people who live here in the Smokies. Second, I wanted the world to know how beautiful this area truly is. I’ve been able to travel the world and see so many great things, but in the end, the Smokies are where my heart sings. I wanted to give folks the world over a reason to come here and see it for themselves.”

Dolly continued,

“We don’t do what we do to win awards. They are nice, but we do it because we want to provide families an escape to a beautiful place where they can forget about all the things going on in their daily lives and truly enjoy each other.”

Dollywood’s three Golden Ticket Awards include:

  • Best Guest Experience, inaugural winner of this prestigious new category;
  • Best Kids’ Area, for Wildwood Grove, Dollywood’s first win in this category;
  • Best Christmas Event, the only park to ever earn this award, Dollywood celebrates its 12th consecutive win.

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

  • Best Food, second place;
  • Best Park, second place;
  • Most Beautiful Park, third place;
  • Best Park, fifth place;
  • Best Wooden Coaster for Lightning Rod, seventh place.

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.

“The Golden Ticket for Best Kids’ Area reinforces what guests have been telling us since it opened; Wildwood Grove is a place where families can laugh, play and make memories together,” said Craig Ross, President of The Dollywood Company. “Dolly wanted Wildwood Grove to truly reflect the experiences she had as a little girl growing up here in the Great Smoky Mountains. As we started to develop the area and she began telling stories—some we had heard and some we hadn’t—we knew kids were going to love exploring the wilderness of Wildwood Grove she had dreamed up.”

Two categories Dollywood has dominated for a number of years—Best Shows and Friendliest Park—have been retired and replaced with new categories. Best Guest Experience combines the previous Friendliest Park award with the Cleanest Park award into one prestigious new category. Pete Owens, Dollywood’s Vice-President of Marketing and Public Relations said,

“Winning the Golden Ticket for Best Guest Experience further solidifies what we’ve known for so long. The Dollywood experience provides guests a genuinely friendly, clean and warm environment to create memories they will be able to share forever. From our welcoming hosts and picturesque natural surroundings to our unique attractions, entertainment and food, Dollywood offers an experience that is hard to find elsewhere.”

About Golden Ticket Awards

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, kids’ area, food and more.

“It has been fascinating to observe the results over the past two decades,” said Amusement Today’s Tim Baldwin, Golden Ticket Awards Communications Coordinator. “I have watched Dollywood ascend from a great regional theme park to a world-famous destination. That continual climb has been the result of offering an outstanding product at all levels — food, shows, innovative rides and a fantastic atmosphere. Dollywood is just the complete package! It has been inspiring to watch the park trying to continue to better itself — and it is succeeding in a huge way. The fact that they are recognized in numerous categories is testimony to that.”

Dollywood’s Harvest Festival

Dollywood's Great Pumpkin LumiNights won USA TODAY's 10Best Reader's Choice 2019 Travel Award for Best Theme Park Halloween Event

There are still a number of great opportunities for guests to enjoy what has arguably become the biggest season in Dollywood’s history. Dollywood’s Harvest Festival presented by Humana features the return of an even larger Great Pumpkin LumiNights*, which includes new experiences in Wildwood Grove! Additionally, more than 600 Southern gospel concerts take place throughout the festival.

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana, now the 12-time winner for Best Christmas Event, features the second year of Glacier Ridge, as well as the first year of Christmas in Wildwood Grove. 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.

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

*Dollywood was also crowned winner of another notable award by USA TODAY this past Friday. Dollywood’s Great Pumpkin LumiNights won the 2019 USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice Travel Award for Best Theme Park Halloween Event!

Team DollyDollywood Earns Three 2019 Golden Ticket Awards

Hallmark Channel Announces “Christmas At Dollywood,” Starring Danica McKellar

Published July 12, 2019 / Last Updated July 12, 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

Production to begin on Hallmark Channel’s “Christmas At Dollywood,” Starring Danica McKellar with a special appearance by Country Music legend and American Treasure, Dolly Parton

A Must-See Film, In a Must-See Place, Just in Time for Hallmark Channel’s Ratings-Winning 10th Anniversary of COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS

Hallmark Channel announces Danica McKellar, is set as the lead of the World Premiere Original Movie, “Christmas At Dollywood,” premiering in December as part of the network’s 10th Anniversary salute to its #1-rated COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS program event. Making a special appearance in the film is Dollywood’s beloved namesake, country music legend and American treasure, Dolly Parton. The film commences principal photography at the theme park in November.

In “Christmas At Dollywood,” Rachel Lewis (McKellar) is a single mom and award-winning Broadway producer who learns investors have mismanaged her latest theatrical – a holiday extravaganza – into bankruptcy, forcing the show to close before it opens. Rachel is dismayed, but not for long, as her friend calls from Tennessee to let her know there is an opportunity for a seasoned pro to produce a show for the 20th anniversary of the award-winning Smoky Mountain Christmas festival at Dollywood. One caveat, Rachel learns this is a co-production with Luke Hakman, entertainment director for Dollywood.

Luke is a long-time Dollywood employee who sees the holiday show as key to him becoming the park’s next GM. With nine-year-old daughter Amy in tow, Rachel leaves New York City to return to her Appalachian mountain roots. Every night as Rachel tucks Amy into bed, she tells the child a new ADVENTURES OF AMY story, a collection of personal mother-daughter bedtime stories Rachel hopes to author someday. One night, Rachel tells Amy about a little girl following Santa Claus on his route. Using the stars as her guide, fantasy Amy travels with Santa to the Northern Lights. Rachel tells her child the lights are so magical and beautiful that Amy can always look to the night sky to find her way home. Is this an idea for the new Dollywood show? Rachel thinks so, though she will have to convince a skeptical Luke who has his own vision of success. As the pair meets in the middle to please the boss, little do Rachel and Luke realize love lurks in all the unexpected places because this isn’t the Great White Way. Or Hollywood. This is Dollywood!

“Dolly Parton is a bright light who is rich in spirit, kindness, and love. ‘Christmas At Dollywood’ features Danica McKellar in a story about finding love and new beginnings in the most familiar place — home. A holiday movie set in a winter wonderland like Dollywood exemplifies the quality of the talent, storytelling, and filmmaking that has made COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS the #1 program event on television for ten years,” said Michelle Vicary, Executive Vice President, Programming & Publicity, Crown Media Family Networks.

Danica McKellar and Dolly Parton share a special connection to children’s literacy: both are successful authors and two of Danica’s books can be found in Dolly’s world-renowned Imagination Library.

“Christmas At Dollywood” is written by Nina Weinman. Executive Producers are Alan Ett and Bruce Hendricks.

Team DollyHallmark Channel Announces “Christmas At Dollywood,” Starring Danica McKellar

Dollywood Hosts A “Summer Celebration” Everyone Will Enjoy

Published June 24, 2019 / Last Updated June 26, 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
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman
Senior Editor - Amanda Webb

Wildwood Grove, nightly fireworks, extended hours highlight summer at Dollywood

With summer quickly approaching, now is the perfect time to enjoy the biggest season in Dollywood’s history, as the award-winning vacation destination has a sensational celebration that provides families more time to enjoy together. Dollywood’s Summer Celebration (June 22- Aug. 4) features extended park hours—10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily—as well as a nightly fireworks spectacular, thrilling new entertainment and the fun of Dollywood after dark!

Wildwood Grove

For the first time, families can enjoy the beauty of Wildwood Grove in the evening. 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 green, leafy canopy of the Wildwood Tree comes to life each evening in a unique nighttime experience that features nearly 650 lighted butterflies dancing playfully in the warm evening breeze.

Dollywood Opens Wildwood Grove Blackbear Trail

Thrilling New Entertainment

Summer Celebration also is full of new entertainment offerings, including an exciting production from Dollywood’s talented entertainment team called “Summer Feels…” Taking place in DP’s Celebrity Theater June 22- Aug. 4, “Summer Feels…” is highlighted by 10 talented performers and six world-class musicians who take audiences on a musical journey through today’s hits with a few surprising old favorites mixed in!

Several special entertainment guests visit Dollywood this summer as well. In partnership with Humana, Dollywood hosts the Tennessee Air National Guard Band of the South—which features a concert band, a classic rock and country rock band, and a brass quintet—on Monday, June 24. The group performs multiple concerts at three different performance venues in the park and inspires patriotism by fostering a deep appreciation of the rich history and legacy of the Air Force. One of the group’s missions is to increase the public’s understanding of the importance of air power, the missions and programs of the Air Force and Air National Guard and the bravery, sacrifice and dedication of Airmen across the globe.

On select Thursdays throughout the summer, WIVK and Dollywood team up to present the New Faces of Country concert series. These concerts at Back Porch Theater offer an intimate setting for fans to hear from some of the genre’s next big stars. Be sure to catch them as they begin their rise up the charts! Artists currently scheduled to appear include Adam Craig, Caylee Hammack and King Callaway.

It’s story time again as The Little Engine Playhouse showcases three favorite books from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, including Coat of Many Colors, based on Parton’s children’s book. Coat of Many Colors and Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon (new for 2019), feature sing-along songs that kids of all ages will enjoy. Everyone’s favorite, The Little Engine That Could, also comes to the stage with a delightful reminder of what can happen with just a little bit of determination.

Award-Winning Rides

While Dollywood guests have an amazing amount of entertainment options to enjoy during their visit, they also can experience the park’s award-winning rides in a completely different environment. Once the sun sets, Dollywood’s trademark attractions, like Wild Eagle, Lightning Rod and Thunderhead, provide a unique experience for those who climb aboard. These rides thrill guests who race through the summer night with no idea which way the track will turn next!

Dolly’s Nights of Many Colors

Each evening during Summer Celebration ends with Dolly’s Nights of Many Colors, a thrilling fireworks extravaganza synchronized to music. There is no better way to finish a day with family than by enjoying the moment together.

For more information about Dollywood’s Summer Celebration, visit Dollywood.com or call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD. For show schedules, park maps and more, download the Dollywood App.

Team DollyDollywood Hosts A “Summer Celebration” Everyone Will Enjoy

Award-Winning Bluegrass Music & Tasty Barbeque Headline Dollywood’s Annual Festival

Published May 20, 2019 / Last Updated May 28, 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
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman
Senior Editor - Amanda Webb

Nearly 450 Bluegrass artists appearing at Dollywood’s Barbeque & Bluegrass Presented By BUSH’S®

Perhaps the best way to celebrate the approaching summer is a trip to Dollywood’s Barbeque & Bluegrass presented by BUSH’S®, May 24-June 2. Thanks to an impressive lineup of talented bluegrass musicians and menus full of expertly-prepared barbeque from Dollywood’s culinary team, the hardest part for guests may be deciding where to start! This 10-Day festival runs May 24 – June 2.

Celebrated Bluegrass Artists

The event kicks off in style with a blockbuster opening weekend featuring bluegrass music’s biggest names performing at DP’s Celebrity Theater. Multi-time International Bluegrass Music Association Vocal Group of the Year, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver (May 24), and the “Queen of Bluegrass” Rhonda Vincent & The Rage (May 25-26) headline the first three days of the festival. The hits keep coming from the finest musicians in the genre, including Dailey & Vincent (May 27-28).

Artists appearing at DP’s Celebrity Theater:

  • Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver (May 24)
  • Rhonda Vincent & The Rage (May 25-26)
  • Dailey & Vincent (May 27-28)
  • The Grascals (May 29)
  • Sister Sadie (May 30)
  • Flatt Lonesome (May 31)
  • Joe Mullins and The Radio Ramblers (June 1)
  • Blue Highway (June 2)

One of the largest bluegrass events around, Dollywood’s Barbeque & Bluegrass offers guests more than 40 individual performances—all included with park admission—every day of the festival. That means nearly 450 bluegrass performances take place during the run of the event.

Groups featured at Dollywood’s Showstreet Palace Theater:

  • Sugar & The Mint (May 24)
  • Former America’s Got Talent contestants Summer Brooke and the Mountain Faith Band (May 26)
  • Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper (May 27)
  • Lonesome River Band (May 28)
  • The Kenny and Amanda Smith Band (June 1)
  • Volume Five (June 2)

Additional performances take place at The Plaza Stage at Wilderness Pass:

  • Gate 10 (May 24)
  • The Burnett Sisters (May 28)
  • Turning Ground (May 30)
  • Unbridled Strings (June 2)

Several roving performers keep the sweet sounds of bluegrass music echoing throughout the streets of Dollywood, including the unique championship buckdancing and fiddling of Nashville’s Hillary Klug (May 24-June 2).

For a complete lineup of concert performances and show times, please visit Dollywood.com or view the Dollywood App. It’s a heaping helping of free daily concerts from an amazing collection of talented performers.

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver at Dollywood's Barbeque & Bluegrass
Dailey and Vincent at Dollywood's Barbeque & Bluegrass
Flatt Lonesome at Dollywood's Barbeque & Bluegrass
Blue Highway at Dollywood's Barbeque & Bluegrass
Rhonda Vincent & The Rage at Dollywood’s Barbeque and Bluegrass

Stellar Barbeque Selections

Dollywood’s award-winning foods team has turned up the heat on the culinary offerings during this festival with a plethora of delights that perfectly complement the amazing music ringing through the air. Traditional items, including smoked ribs and slow-smoked pulled pork highlight the menu, while a number of additional options are sure to become favorites.

Dollywood chefs took advantage of the park’s partnership with BUSH’S® Beans to include several tantalizing recipes, including Cowboy Kettle Beans, while BBQ pork nachos, roasted corn on the cob, and even BBQ shrimp skewers are sure to be hits.

For more information, show times and food information for Dollywood’s Barbeque & Bluegrass presented by BUSH’S®, please call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD, visit Dollywood.com or download the Dollywood App.

Dollywood's Barbeque & Bluegrass
Discover Barbeque & Bluegrass
Team DollyAward-Winning Bluegrass Music & Tasty Barbeque Headline Dollywood’s Annual Festival

Dolly Parton Opens Wildwood Grove At Dollywood

Published May 11, 2019 / Last Updated May 11, 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 officially opens the largest expansion in park history as guests experience $37 million Wildwood Grove.

Dollywood again solidified its place among the nation’s premier family destinations as Dolly Parton officially opened Wildwood Grove, the largest expansion in park history. Dolly opened the fascinating new land to visitors ready to enjoy its 11 thrilling new experiences. During an early morning media event, she shared the inspiration and dreams that led to the creation of Wildwood Grove, calling the area the new standard for Dollywood.

At $37 million, Wildwood Grove is Dollywood theme park’s largest capital investment ever and is the first new area added to Dollywood since Wilderness Pass in 2008. The biggest adventure in Dollywood’s history provides guests of all sizes unique experiences to enjoy together as a family.

“When I was a little girl growing up in the hills of the Smoky Mountains, I’d often let my imagination just run away—something I still do now—dreaming these big dreams about what it’d be like to venture off with a family of bears in to the woods or how fun it would be to hitch a ride with the butterflies and dragonflies,” Parton said. “All us kids would splash and play in the creeks and ponds around home and have these daydreams about the world around us, and that’s what’s so special about Wildwood Grove. We’ve been able to create a new area to allow families to experience some of those exact dreams we all had when we were little.

“Wildwood Grove is so special to me because so many of the same daydreams and imaginations from my childhood have now found a perfect place at my Dollywood. I hope families will enjoy laughing, playing and exploring together in this great new place that truly does feel like home for me.”

The Dollywood Company President Craig Ross explained the significance of the newest addition to the storied theme park.

“Without doubt, this is one of the most exciting days in the history of our company,” Ross explained. “It is rare in our industry that a park adds a completely new land in its entirety, and as we continue to grow and set attendance records, we needed to add more area to give guests more room to spread out and explore. Additionally, we were able to take many of Dolly’s childhood dreams and create experiences that are uniquely Smoky Mountain-themed and really help tell the story of this beautiful area.

“I know our guests will be thrilled with the great diversity of attractions they will be able to enjoy when they visit Wildwood Grove. We’re extremely proud of the fact that there are experiences here that every member of the family will love and enjoy.”

 

 

Photo Credits: Curtis Hilbun

After stepping into Wildwood Grove, imagination takes flight, delivering explorers on a journey of discovery in this breathtaking area. Remarkable sights await visitors throughout the land. In the distance, the breathtaking Wildwood Tree catches the eye as lively butterflies shimmer in the daylight. Families laugh and play, taking rides inside giant acorns at Treetop Tower and aboard a thrilling “leaf boat” on the Great Tree Swing.

Even the bears are friendly in Wildwood Grove, as they let guests meander with them through their own natural habitat at the Black Bear Trail. If smaller guests need a quick break, Hidden Hollow contains a 4,000 sq. ft. climate-controlled area with climbing structures, slides and games where kids and their parents can enjoy play time full of exploration.

Nearby, families scream with delight as they take a ride with Tennessee’s state symbol—the mockingbird—in an experience they control themselves at The Mad Mockingbird. Others dip and dart through geysers while suspended from dragonflies on the area’s signature ride attraction, Dragonflier.

At the heart of it all is The Wildwood Tree. This focal point is a beacon for all, drawing families to watch the butterflies play in its leafy canopy, while encouraging others to splash and play in the winding creek that flows at its base. As the daylight fades, families can bask in a colorful kaleidoscope of summer fun as the area glows to life.

Wildwood Grove also features new merchandise and dining options for park guests. Till & Harvest, which is expected to open around Memorial Day, provides the perfect blend of Smoky Mountain flavors and fresh Mexican cuisine. The menu features a variety of build-your-own style entrees such as burritos, bowls, salads and nachos all filled with wood-fired meats, fresh vegetables and flavorful sauces. Along with the Smoky Mountain Mexican flavors, Till & Harvest also provides a spacious open-air patio for families to enjoy the sights and sounds of Wildwood Grove while they enjoy their meal.

Mountain Grove Merchants is the one-stop-shop for guests looking for the perfect gift or souvenir to celebrate their adventure in Wildwood Grove.

Nearly $1 million has been invested in Wildwood Grove’s landscaping, with more than 400 trees and 2,300 shrubs creating a beautiful, yet decidedly natural atmosphere to enjoy. As the landscaping continues to mature, the visual appeal of the area will only increase.

Each day of exploration in Wildwood Grove is an experience families don’t want to miss. These merry memory making moments are certain to become a treasured part of every family’s visit.

Wildwood Grove Facts

The Wildwood Tree comes to life each evening during a unique nighttime experience which begins June 15. Each season of the year features a spectacular new experience for guests. The Wildwood Tree features nearly 650 lighted butterflies (orange, blue, yellow, pink and multi-colored) and almost 9000 leaves.

  • 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. (Vekoma 453m suspended coaster) (1486 ft. in length)
  • Black Bear Trail— Riders hop on the back of these friendly bears for a spirited trek through their natural habitat. (Metallbau Emmeln Pony Trek)
  • Great Tree Swing— Guests aboard this thrilling “leaf boat” swing back and forth just like a leaf falling from a giant sycamore tree. (Zamperla Galleon)
  • 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. (Zamperla Samba Tower)
  • 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. (Larson Flying Scooter)
  • Frogs & Fireflies— Adventurous guests can hop aboard one of these friendly frogs as they chase each other in a spirited race around the lily pad. (Zamperla Jump Around)
  • Hidden Hollow— This 4,000 sq. ft., climate-controlled area allows families to explore and play in an indoor environment.

Wildwood Creek features pop jets, splashing pools and more wet play activities, while the dry play area at Wildwood Creek features “music instruments” for guests to enjoy.

Three new costume characters call Wildwood Grove home. Flit and Flutter serve as Wildwood Grove’s ambassadors and Benjamin Bear loves to make new friends. Characters will have scheduled opportunities to meet guests each day.

For more information about Wildwood Grove or Dollywood’s 2019 season, please visit Dollywood.com or call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD.

Team DollyDolly Parton Opens Wildwood Grove At Dollywood