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

Dollywood Earns Three 2018 Golden Ticket Awards

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

Team Dolly

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dollywood’s three Golden Ticket Awards include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fall Features At Dollywood

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

Christmas Favorites

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

Coming In 2019

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

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

Team DollyDollywood Earns Three 2018 Golden Ticket Awards

Dollywood Earns Four Golden Ticket Awards

Published September 12, 2017 / Last Updated September 12, 2017

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

Most-honored park wins for best entertainment, Christmas event, food and friendliness

The winningest park in Amusement Today’s Golden Tickets history, Dollywood again this year earned more category wins and finalist positions than any other park in the world. During the magazine’s 2017 awards ceremony, Dollywood picked up four “best of” awards. The park also placed in the top-ten in six additional categories.

2017 Golden Ticket Wins

Dollywood receives 4 Golden Ticket Awards in 2017

2017 Golden Ticket Awards

  • Sixth Consecutive Win – Friendliest Park
  • Ninth Consecutive Win – Best Shows
  • 10th Consecutive Win – Best Christmas Event (the only park to ever earn this award)
  • Fourth Win In This Category – Best Food

The Golden Ticket Awards are the most sought after awards in the business of amusements and attractions. Dolly Parton said,

“You all know how very proud I am of my Dollywood and the special folks who work there. It makes me feel so good to know that our guests feel the same way about the park when they come visit us. It’s the perfect place to help them make those memories they’re always going to hold close. Our people do a great job of doin’ just what my mama always used to say—they treat our guests just like they’d want to be treated. And isn’t that what really makes the difference?”

Dolly continued,

“Families can feel the love our folks have for them by the effort and attention they put in to every single detail of the park. They want to make sure every guest leaves with a smile on their face. Dollywood will continue to grow, but I’m thankful my team will never forget what got us to where we are: going above and beyond to give our guests experiences they’ll always remember.”

2017 Golden Ticket Top-Ten Category Finishes

  • Second Place – Cleanest Park
  • Third Place – Best Park
  • Fourth Place – Best Water Park for Dollywood’s Splash Country
  • Fourth Place – Best Landscaping
  • Fifth Place – Best Wooden Coaster for Lightning Rod
  • Eighth Place – Best Wooden Coaster for Thunderhead

Tim Baldwin, Golden Ticket Awards Communications Coordinator for Amusement Today said,

“It has been incredibly exciting to watch Dollywood — which was a relatively unknown contender when the Golden Ticket Awards started in 1998 — become this theme park industry powerhouse. Dollywood not only places as a finalist in more categories than any other park, it has taken top prize in four categories — again, more than any other park. Dollywood is setting the bar, and other parks would be wise to look at their example. It’s certainly a park to watch.”

Tim went on to say,

“Dollywood is the whole package — great food, entertaining shows, friendly hospitality and great rides. It’s little surprise to see them capture the attention of our voters. Each year, our selected panel has an incredible amount of worldwide experience, so to be honored on a worldwide scale in so many categories is an amazing accomplishment.”

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. The survey asks voters to rate the “best” in a number of categories. Categories include best parks, roller coasters, water rides, shows, kids’ area, landscaping and Christmas events. The Golden Ticket Awards were held on Saturday, Sept. 9 at Lake Compounce amusement park in Bristol, Connecticut.

Other Dollywood Awards This Season

USA Today’s 10Best recognized Dollywood as the third best theme park in the country. And the organization also named Dollywood’s Splash Country the eighth best water park. The National Amusement Park Historical Association also named Dollywood as their “Favorite Theme Park” this year. Dollywood edged Walt Disney World for first, a position the Florida attraction had held for thirteen consecutive years. The NAPHA also honored Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas as their “Favorite Post-Summer Season Amusement Park Event.” Fox News recognized the park as the top Small Town Theme Park thanks to its location in the foothills of the Smokies.

Learn more about Dollywood’s Year of the Family

Team DollyDollywood Earns Four Golden Ticket Awards

Dollywood Earns Four Golden Ticket Awards

Published September 13, 2016 / Last Updated September 13, 2016

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 honored for best new ride, entertainment, friendliness and Christmas event at this year’s Golden Ticket Awards.

Dollywood again earned several of Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards, this year picking up four “best of” awards and placing in the top-five in five additional categories during the magazine’s 2016 awards ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 10 at Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH. Dolly Parton said,

“I’m so very proud of the experience families have when they come visit my Dollywood. While they’re here having fun with us, I want them to create those special heartfelt moments they’ll always treasure. I know it’s our people who work here who help make those memories happen for them. Some people call it friendliness, but I just call it what it is—caring for others.”

Dolly went on to say,

“Our folks show their love for families through the care they put in to everything they do—from our beautiful landscaping and that delicious food to makin’ sure each guest leaves with a smile on their face. I’m very proud of the way Dollywood has grown, but I’m most proud of my Dollywood team who goes above and beyond to give families memories they’ll share forever.”

Dollywood’s four Golden Ticket Awards include:

  • Best New Ride, for Lightning Rod, both the world’s fastest wooden coaster and the world’s first wooden launching coaster
  • Friendliest Park, for the fifth consecutive year
  • Best Shows, Dollywood’s eighth consecutive victory in this category
  • Best Christmas Event, the only park to ever earn this award, Dollywood celebrates its ninth consecutive win

Dollywood also ranked in six additional categories:

  • Best Food, second place
  • Cleanest Park, second place
  • Best Park, third place
  • Best Water Park for Dollywood’s Splash Country, third place
  • Best Landscaping, fourth place
  • Best Wooden Coaster for Thunderhead, seventh place

Tim Baldwin, Golden Ticket Awards Communications Coordinator for Amusement Today noted,

“Dollywood is a finalist in more categories than any other park—ten to be exact. The destination claims four Golden Ticket wins this year! These accomplishments should command the attention of anyone in the industry looking for a model of how to do things right. It’s no wonder Dollywood charms more and more visitors each year. The place is sheer joy.”

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 23 categories such as best parks, roller coasters, water rides, shows, kids’ area, landscaping and Christmas events.

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.

Dollywood was recognized in 2010 at the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions with the Applause Award in recognition of a park whose management, operations and creative accomplishments have inspired the industry with its foresight, originality and sound business development.

Team DollyDollywood Earns Four Golden Ticket Awards

Dollywood Wins Three Golden Ticket Awards

Published September 13, 2015 / Last Updated September 20, 2015

Dolly Parton Productions

Managing Editor at Dolly Parton Productions
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

Dollywood receives three 2015 Golden Ticket Awards including Friendliest Park, Best Shows and Best Christmas Event

Dolly Parton’s theme park continues to rack up accolades from Amusement Today’s annual Golden Ticket Awards. This year Dollywood earned three “best of” awards and placed in the top-five in seven additional categories. Dolly said,

“Every time they announce the Golden Tickets results, I am so proud to hear how much folks love and respect Dollywood. This is our 30th anniversary season, and if you would have told me all those years ago that we would win all these awards, I’m not sure even I could have dreamed it! I truly am thankful for all of the guests who have continued to support us and for all the new folks who visit us each year! I also am grateful for the dedicated team at my Dollywood Company for providing our guests a memorable experience when they come see us.”

The Golden Ticket Awards are the most sought-after awards in the business of amusements and attractions. Pete Owens, Public Relations Director for the Dollywood Company, said,

“As a park, it is always gratifying to be honored by your peers and experts. We are particularly proud of the designation as friendliest park. That goes to what Dollywood is also about and why we encourage our guests to love every moment with their families.”

Dollywood’s three Golden Ticket Awards include:

  • Friendliest Park, for the fourth consecutive year;
  • Best Shows, Dollywood’s seventh consecutive victory in this category;
  • Best Christmas Event, the only park to ever earn this award, Dollywood celebrates its eighth consecutive win.

Dollywood also ranked in seven additional categories:

  • Best Food, second place;
  • Cleanest Park, second place;
  • Best Water Park for Dollywood’s Splash Country, third place;
  • Best Park, fourth place;
  • Best Water Ride for Dollywood’s Mountain Slidewinder, fourth place;
  • Best Wooden Coaster for Dollywood’s Thunderhead, fifth place;
  • Best Landscaping, fifth place.

The 2015 awards ceremony was held on Sept. 12, at Luna Park in New York City. 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 25 categories such as best parks, roller coasters, water rides, shows, kids’ area, landscaping and Christmas events.

Dollywood Wins 2015 Golden Ticket Awards
Pete Owens Director of Media/Public Relations for Dollywood accepts Dollywood's 2015 Golden Ticket Award Wins
Dollywood Wins 2015 Golden Ticket Awards
Dollywood's Golden Ticket Awards
Dolly Parton holds Dollywood's Golden Ticket Awards
Dollywood's Golden Ticket Awards

Dollywood was recognized in 2010 at the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions with the Applause Award in recognition of a park whose management, operations and creative accomplishments have inspired the industry with its foresight, originality and sound business development.

Dolly Parton ProductionsDollywood Wins Three Golden Ticket Awards