Awards & Milestones

Dollywood Earns Three 2018 Golden Ticket Awards

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

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, call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD or download the Dollywood App.

Michael MartinDollywood Earns Three 2018 Golden Ticket Awards

Dolly Parton First Winner Of Excellence In Leadership Award

Published August 12, 2018 / Last Updated August 13, 2018

Leadership Tennessee presented Dolly Parton with the first ever Excellence in Leadership Award.

On Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, at the Country Music Hall of Fame Leadership Tennessee presented living legend Dolly Parton with the first ever Dolly Parton Excellence in Leadership Award for her selfless work to improve lives across Tennessee.

“My dream was to make as many people happy as I could in this life, and I am grateful to Leadership Tennessee and First Lady Crissy Haslam for recognizing our work done to improve the lives of all Tennesseans,” Dolly said. “Even more humbling is for decades to come the future leaders of Tennessee will receive an award with the Parton family name attached to it, and for that I am truly honored and thankful.”

Dolly’s contributions to the Volunteer State are transformational and selfless to generations of Tennesseans. After the devastating Gatlinburg wildfires in 2016, Dolly’s Emmy-winning “Smoky Mountains Rise” telethon raised more than $12.5 million for her My People Fund to provide financial assistance to victims of those fires.

In addition to the joy and comfort her music has brought to millions of fans, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library mails free, high-quality books to children from birth until they begin school regardless of family income, and since its launch in 1995, more than 100 million books have been mailed to children in five different countries on three different continents.

“Tennessee has many talented sons and daughters but there are few who are as beloved as Dolly Parton,” First Lady Crissy Haslam, chair of the Fifth Anniversary Committee said. “And while she may be most known for her music, she has undoubtedly proved to be an exemplar of leadership through her generosity, humility, inclusiveness, expertise and passion. As a state, we are indebted to all that Dolly has done for Tennessee and its people; there is no one better suited for the very first Excellence in Leadership Award.”

The Dolly Parton Excellence in Leadership Award, designed and created by artist and Nashville native Ben Caldwell, marked the culmination of a year celebrating Leadership Tennessee’s fifth anniversary.

Leadership Tennessee executive director Cathy Cate and Class IV member CeeGee McCord, director of global, public and community affairs and vice president of the Eastman Foundation, also announced the three winners of the Volunteer State of Mind initiative receiving grants for volunteer programs across Tennessee:

“An integral component of our mission at Leadership Tennessee is network building, and the Volunteer State of Mind initiative brought that collaborative focus to the spirit of volunteerism in Tennessee,” Cate said. “I want to thank all of those who submitted and look forward to watching how the award winners build on this network of ideas and efforts to selflessly serve fellow Tennesseans.”

Sponsored by Eastman and the Eastman Foundation, Volunteer State of Mind was one of several activities and events being held in recognition of Leadership Tennessee’s fifth year. Leadership Tennessee hosted a gubernatorial forum in May as well as events with Pulitzer Prize winning writer Thomas Friedman in February and a summit on childhood poverty in April.

Photos Courtesy of Patrick Sheehan
From left – Leadership Tennessee executive director Cathy Cate, First Lady and Leadership Tennessee Class III member Crissy Haslam, Dolly Parton, Class IV member and Excellence in Leadership Award chair state Rep. Mark White

About Leadership Tennessee

Leadership Tennessee is an organization committed to collaborative, non-partisan dialogue on issues of statewide importance by crossing over geographic and professional boundaries and connecting a diverse network of problem solvers and engaged citizens. A new class of 40 leaders is selected annually to take part in a leadership study course while visiting different areas of Tennessee, learning best practices and analyzing important issues faced by Tennesseans. To date, 170 leaders have gone through the program.

Michael MartinDolly Parton First Winner Of Excellence In Leadership Award

Dolly Parton Honored With Bill Rosendahl Public Service Award At LA Press Club Annual Gala

Published June 27, 2018 / Last Updated June 27, 2018

Dolly Parton received the Bill Rosendahl Public Service Award at the 60th SoCal Journalism Awards Gala.

Photo credit: Curtis Sabir

The Los Angeles Press honored global superstar Dolly Parton at the 60th SoCal Journalism Awards Gala at the Crystal Ballroom of the historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown LA on Sunday, June 24, 2018.

Dolly was honored with the Bill Rosendahl Public Service Award for contributions to the public good. The event focused on the philanthropic efforts of Imagination Library, her book gifting organization that has mailed over 100 million books to children in Australia, Canada, the U.K. and U.S., as well as her “Smoky Mountains Rise” telethon, which raised more than $12.5 million dollars for her My People Fund which provided financial assistance to victims of the massive wildfires that impacted the Gatlinburg, TN area in late November 2016.

The awards gala also honored NBC News’ Lester Holt, LA Times Business Editor Kimi Yoshino and Saudi Arabian Blogger Raif Badawi. Holt received the Joseph M. Quinn Award for Lifetime Achievement, Yoshino the President’s Award for impact on media and Badawi the Daniel Pearl Award for courage and integrity in journalism.

The gala was attended by over 500 journalists and media executives. Several excellence in journalism awards were announced during the event.

Among Dolly Parton’s most current projects is her collaboration with Linda Perry on the upcoming soundtrack for the film “Dumplin’“. Perry produced the album and produced and wrote the film’s score, and Dolly is executive producer. Together, they co-wrote six new songs for the project. The “Dumplin’” film, starring Jennifer Aniston & Danielle MacDonald, is based on the best-selling book of the same name by Julie Murphy, about a girl (Willowdeen) who struggles to find herself.

Recently announced, Dolly’s Dixie Pixie Productions is partnering with Warner Bros.Television to produce a series of television films to premiere on Netflix in 2019. Each installment will be based on a different Dolly Parton classic song, with the singer-songwriter appearing in select episodes.

Michael MartinDolly Parton Honored With Bill Rosendahl Public Service Award At LA Press Club Annual Gala

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library To Dedicate 100 Millionth Book To Library Of Congress

Published February 21, 2018 / Last Updated February 21, 2018

Dolly to dedicate Imagination Library’s 100 Millionth Book to the Library of Congress on Tuesday, February 27, 2018, at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Watch Live Event With Dolly Parton At Library Of Congress On Feb. 27

On Feb. 27, Dolly Parton will join Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden for a very special presentation of the Imagination Library’s 100 Millionth Book to the Library of Congress collection. The program will begin at 10 a.m. and will be streamed live on both Youtube and Facebook. Viewers can also expect to hear about an exciting collaboration between Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and the Library of Congress.

Celebration Event

The Book Lady is all set for her trip to the nation’s capital. Of her many successes, awards and personal achievements, this day will be one Dolly will treasure forever alongside many of the people who help make the Imagination Library possible. The once small program inspired by Dolly’s father will now have its own place in the world’s largest library. Dolly said,

“I’m really looking forward to presenting my Imagination Library’s 100 Millionth Book to the Library of Congress. It’s a big honor and one that I’m so very proud to share with the many special partners and local affiliates who have helped make this day possible. Together we can all Dream More, Learn More, Care More and Be More.”

Dignitaries, partners of the Imagination Library and many others will be on hand to celebrate this momentous occasion. In addition to presenting the 100 Millionth Book, Dolly is expected to read a very special book to a group of local school children who will be part of the celebration.

100 Millionth Book Live Stream Event

100 Millionth Book Milestone

Since launching in 1996, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has celebrated many milestones. Some of which include mailing the 25 millionth book (2010), Best Practices award from the Library of Congress Literacy Awards (2014) and the 1 Million A Month Milestone (2016). The excitement around this next accomplishment has been building for months as the program prepares to mail it’s 100 millionth book. Reaching the 100 Millionth Book Milestone is a true testament to the dedication of many, many people who work to “put more books in the hands of more children.”

Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at and register creative works of authorship at

Michael MartinDolly Parton’s Imagination Library To Dedicate 100 Millionth Book To Library Of Congress

Dolly Parton Wins Emmy For Smoky Mountains Rise Telethon

Published January 22, 2018 / Last Updated January 22, 2018

Global superstar Dolly Parton wins Emmy for Outstanding Affairs Program Midsouth and received Governors’ Award at 2018 ceremony

Dolly Parton wins Emmy at the 32nd Midsouth Regional Emmy Awards in the Community Service category for Smoky Mountains Rise. Dolly Parton won alongside collaborators Nicholas E. Dugger, Danny Nozell, Pete Owens, Scott Durand, Shanna Strassberg, Edie Lynn Hoback and John Zarling.

During the ceremony, Dolly and the Dollywood Foundation received The Governors’ Award for outstanding achievement in community service. The Board of Governors’ Award is for truly outstanding and unique accomplishments and achievements of some duration and durability. Past recipients include Ralph Emery (1991), NASA TV and Marshall Space Flight Center (2008) and Vanderbilt University News Archive (2012).

“I am so excited to receive these awards tonight, when people ask me what I want them to say about me 100 years from now, I always joke that I want them to say ‘boy, she sure does look good for her age!’ But, in all honesty, I want the work we’ve done through the Dollywood Foundation and Imagination Library to stand the test of time. Of course, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I want my music to be a part of that story, but in all honesty, my music has been a part of everything I have ever done in this business. My music has given wings to my dreams ever since I was a child, and as I sit here tonight, I am so thankful for the fans who have stood by me and supported me all of these years.” 

Congratulations to Dolly for receiving the Governors’ Award for outstanding achievement during the regional Emmys ceremony tonight! We at Dollywood are proud of all you’ve accomplished.

Posted by Dollywood on Saturday, January 20, 2018

Michael MartinDolly Parton Wins Emmy For Smoky Mountains Rise Telethon