Awards & Milestones

Dollywood Earns Three 2019 Golden Ticket Awards

Published September 9, 2019 / Last Updated September 10, 2019
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 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, 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

Nashville Mayor Declares August 5 Dolly Parton Day

Published August 9, 2019 / Last Updated August 9, 2019

David Briley, Mayor of the City of Nashville, TN, declared August 5th, Dolly Parton Day.

On August 5, 2019, David Briley the mayor of Nashville, TN, signed a proclamation recognizing the day as Dolly Parton Day. The proclamation states,

“We give thanks for Dolly’s unparalleled career as an entertainer and philanthropist and her ability to touch millions of lives everywhere, including so many right here in Music City, with her moving music and her generous heart.”

This honor acknowledges Dolly’s long history with the city and Tennessee. It notes her debut on the Grand Ole Opry stage at the Ryman Auditorium at age 13 and her bold move to Music City at age 18.

Dolly Parton Day not only celebrates Dolly’s outstanding musical career but also places high regard for her generosity. Dolly founded her Imagination Library first in Sevier County, TN in 1995. She then made the program available for replication statewide and today, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has gifted over 125 million free books to children around the world.

Both Dolly and the Imagination Library received a special honor from the National Conference of State Legislatures at its 2019 Legislative Summit held at Music City Center in Nashville, TN.

Pictured Above: Dolly Parton, David Briley (Mayor of the City of Nashville, TN)

Photo Courtesy of the Mayor’s Office

Michael MartinNashville Mayor Declares August 5 Dolly Parton Day

Dolly Parton To Be Inducted Into East Tennessee Writers Hall Of Fame

Published July 23, 2019 / Last Updated July 23, 2019

Dolly Parton will be inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall Of Fame sponsored by Friends of Literacy.

On Friday, September 20, sixteen prominent writers will be inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. This year’s awards gala will be at the Historic Southern Railway Station. Friends of Literacy has sponsored the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame for 16 years and is proud to honor the significant contributions of local writers to the culture and history of the region.

Inductees include Michael Lofaro (Lifetime Achievement), Elizabeth Genovise (Fiction), Kim Trevathan (Nonfiction), Rhea Carmon (Poetry), Paul Harrill (Screenwriting), Jamie Satterfield (Journalism), Alan Sherrod (Social Media), and Karen E. Reynolds (Songwriting). Accepting their awards by video will be Rick Yancey (Young Adult Literature) and Dolly Parton (Outstanding Contribution to East Tennessee Culture and Literacy).

Additionally, six East Tennessee writers are being inducted posthumously: Kim Williams (Songwriting), Rikki Hall (Journalism), Anne Wetzell Armstrong (Fiction), Sarah Booth Conroy (Nonfiction), Bert Vincent (Nonfiction), and George Washington Harris (Lifetime Achievement). The evening will also include a presentation by a Friends of Literacy student.

Event Sponsors

Sponsors for this year’s event include 21st Mortgage Corporation, WNOX Radio, Knoxville News Sentinel, Pilot Flying J, KPMG, LHP Capital, and Herron-Connell Insurance.

Purchase Tickets

Tickets go on sale August 1. Individual tickets are $100 each and include dinner and cash bar. Tables are $1,000 each and include a VIP meet and greet with the writers. Tickets may be purchased online at or, or by phone at 865-549-7007.

About Friends Of Literacy

Friends of Literacy is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve adult literacy and education in East Tennessee. Proceeds from the gala support those programs.


Michael MartinDolly Parton To Be Inducted Into East Tennessee Writers Hall Of Fame

The FBI Honors The Dollywood Foundation

Published May 6, 2019 / Last Updated May 6, 2019

The Dollywood Foundation received the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award.

On May 3, 2019, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) held an annual event at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. During this event, FBI Director Christopher Wray presented 57 individuals and organizations with the Director’s Community Leadership Award.

The Director’s Community Leadership Awards honor individuals and organizations for their efforts in combating crime, terrorism, drugs and violence in America. Dolly Parton and the Dollywood Foundation received this honor from the Knoxville Division for the generous support and goodwill provided to the people who were affected by the 2016 wildfires. David Dotson, Chief Executive Officer of the Dollywood Foundation accepted the award on behalf of the Foundation. Dolly Parton responded to the honor with a special message.

Director’s Community Leadership Award

The awards were formally created in 1990 to honor the work of community leaders supporting the FBI’s mission. Honorees are nominated by leaders of the FBI’s 56 field offices and the Bureau’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division.

2018 Director’s Community Leadership Award Winners


FBI Director Christopher Wray presented 57 individuals and organizations with the Director’s Community Leadership Award.


Michael MartinThe FBI Honors The Dollywood Foundation

Dolly Parton Honored As 2019 MusiCares® Person Of The Year

Published February 1, 2019 / Last Updated February 10, 2019

Photo Credit: Rob Hoffman

Eight-time Grammy® Winner Dolly Parton named 2019 MusiCares® Person of the Year at the Gala benefiting music people in need on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019.

Eight-time GRAMMY® winner Dolly Parton received honors at the 2019 MusiCares® Person of the Year tribute on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. Neil Portnow, President/CEO of MusiCares and the Recording Academy™ first made the announcement on September 4, 2018.

Little Big Town hosted the event and those appearing included GRAMMY® winners Vince Gill, Don Henley, Kacey Musgraves, Willie Nelson, and Mavis Staples; and GRAMMY® nominee Linda Perry. Dolly also graced the stage along with Leon Bridges, Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, Miley Cyrus, Lauren Daigle,  Norah Jones, Shawn Mendes, Katy Perry, P!NK, Mark Ronson and Chris Stapleton. The star-studded list of performers also included Jennifer Nettles, Brandi Carlile, Margo Price, Yolanda Adams, Cam and Jon Batiste.

Proceeds from the 29th annual benefit gala will provide essential support for MusiCares, a charity founded by the Recording Academy that ensures music people have a place to turn in times of financial, medical and personal need. The tribute was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center two nights prior to the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards®.

Parton is the first artist from the Nashville music community to be honored by MusiCares. She is being recognized as the 2019 MusiCares Person of the Year for her considerable creative accomplishments and her longtime support of a number of causes through her Dollywood Foundation, including the Imagination Library, which, since 1996, has provided more than 100 million books to children from birth to five years of age in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the U.K.

“Dolly Parton has always been and continues to be a courageous trailblazer and indomitable inspiration for creators and artists—so for us to have the opportunity to honor her at our annual MusiCares Person of the Year gala is to pay tribute to a true pillar of strength and someone who we all look up to and cherish,” said Portnow. With her legendary talent, she has forged a career that spans decades and her gifts as a performer resound on both stage and screen. Dolly also knows the power of philanthropy and she has used her stardom to contribute to a wide range of causes from natural disasters to education and literacy programs.”

“I am so excited and humbled to be honored as MusiCares Person of the Year,” said Dolly. “It’s even more special knowing the gala benefits music people in need. I can’t wait to hear all of the great artists singing my music.”

Remarks Dolly’s manager Danny Nozell, CEO, CTK Management, “I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving to be the first MusiCares Person of the Year representing the Nashville music community. It’s been a privilege to witness her generous heart, first-hand, for the last 14 years.”

“With each passing year, the goal of MusiCares remains clear: to do more and serve more music people in need,” said Michael McDonald, MusiCares’ Board Chair. “Over the course of our last fiscal year, we provided more than $6.4 million dollars to more than 8,500 members of the music industry—the largest number of clients served and dollars distributed in a single year in our charity’s history. We are confident that our 2019 Person of the Year tribute to Dolly Parton will help us raise the funds that sustain and expand our mission.”

MusiCares Person of the Year Tribute Ceremony

The MusiCares Person of the Year tribute ceremony is one of the most prestigious events held during GRAMMY Week. The Person of the Year gala will begin with a reception and silent auction offering an exclusive and unparalleled selection of luxury items, VIP experiences and one-of-a-kind celebrity memorabilia for bidding guests. The reception and silent auction will be followed by a gala dinner sponsored by AEG; a live auction; a tribute concert featuring renowned musicians and other artists; and the award presentation. The celebration culminates with the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019. The telecast will be broadcast live on the CBS Television Network at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

About MusiCares

Established in 1989 by the Recording Academy, MusiCares offers health and human services and programs to members of the music community, including emergency financial assistance for basic living expenses such as rent, utilities, and car payments; medical expenses, including doctor, dentist and hospital bills; and treatment for HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, hepatitis C and other critical illnesses. MusiCares offers nationwide educational workshops covering a variety of subjects, including financial, legal, medical, and substance abuse issues, and programs in collaboration with health care professionals that provide services such as flu shots, hearing tests and medical/dental screenings. MusiCares provides access to addiction recovery treatment and sober living resources for members of the music community. Staffed by qualified chemical dependency and intervention specialists, MusiCares offers Safe Harbor Room® support, sponsored in part by the Bohemian Foundation, to provide a network to those in recovery while they are participating in the production of televised music shows and other major music events. MusiCares holds weekly addiction support groups for people to discuss how to best cope with the issues surrounding the recovery process.

Michael MartinDolly Parton Honored As 2019 MusiCares® Person Of The Year