Family Visits Posts
Jennifer Chasse | A Sweet Way To End A Day At Dollywood
Date: February 1, 2017
The end of any great Dollywood day is always a bit sad. Even after long days of fun at Dollywood, my kids often want to stay and experience “just 1 more!” and don’t want it to end. So, we started a tradition that makes the walk out of Dollywood almost as exciting as the walk in- visiting the Sweet Shoppe!
Dollywood's Sweet Shoppe sits on Showstreet not far from the main entrance and exit. The Shoppe is full of delicious treats to enjoy or take home, and my family likes to make it the last stop of the day and we each choose a treat. It’s a large store with a working kitchen, and if you're lucky you might see master candy makers dipping beautiful apples or mixing brittle on a stainless steel table, or making fudge on a large marble slab. There’s much to choose from and usually my treat is a huge piece of fudge. Fudge holds a special place in my heart and I’ve never met a flavor of fudge I didn’t like. As a girl, my great grandmother used to make a special penuche fudge each Christmas, and it was a treat we looked forward to all year. Like Nana’s, Dollywood's fudge does not disappoint and they have more than a dozen flavors to choose from.
My kids head to the novelties where they sell fun Pucker Powder sticks they can fill themselves, penny candy and crazy-sour things my kids love. My husband usually chooses the ice cream counter. He’s a vanilla kind of guy, and a thick milkshake is his thing. Dollywood serves us Mayfield's ice cream, and they bake their own waffle cones and bowls. Truth be told, more than once I’ve bought both ice cream and fudge!
In addition to the chocolates and candies you might expect, confectioners create regional favorites including potato candy, something called divinity which is made with egg whites and nuts, and a chocolate concoction called Smoky Mountain Mud. As it turns out, Smoky Mountain Mud was an accident. A confectioner messed up a recipe, but kept going to see how it would turn out—and it was a hit! It’s made with milk, Rice Krispies, marshmallows and peanut butter. Dollywood’s Sweet Shoppe also offers packaged gifts and goodies to bring home including taffy, jams and apple butter.
It’s a sweet way to end a day. Want to take a closer look at the Dollywood Sweet Shoppe?
The master craftsman at the Sweet Shoppe is Linda Rice. She’s been making candy for 35 years—longer than Dollywood has been around! She trains all park confectioners in the art of making taffy, fudge, candied apples, apple butter and countless other decadent creations. Stop by this Dollywood treasure to watch your favorite sweets being made—and be sure to take some to go!
Karen George | My Family's Typical Day at Dollywood
Date: February 10, 2017
My family has our Dollywood routine down pat! When we visit, we know exactly what we’re going to do. I’ll share my “typical” day at Dollywood with you, in hopes that your family will make your own traditions when you visit.
Teronya Holmes | Dollywood 2017 "Behind the Scenes" Construction Tour
Date: February 16, 2017
Dolly Parton has proclaimed 2017 “The Year of the Family”, and there are some great things coming to ensure that families are the focus! Come along with your Dollywood Insiders’ hosts as we take you on a “behind-the-scenes media construction tour,” keeping you in-the-know on all the latest and greatest new experiences and park upgrades you can expect for the upcoming 2017 season at Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country.
The Dollywood theme park closes every winter from January through the middle of March. During this time, numerous construction, renovation, and remodeling projects are implemented to enhance the Dollywood guest experience upon re-opening in March. It also allows improvements to be made without impacting the day-to-day operations or inconveniencing guests.
This year, before Dollywood re-opens (March 18) and Dollywood’s Splash Country re-opens (May 13), about 250 such construction and remodeling projects, totaling around $11 million in capital investments, are taking place.
Most of these are “behind-the-scenes” projects which focus on improving the “guest experience and comfort.” Dollywood surveys its guests constantly throughout the year and uses this feedback to prioritize improvements. For instance, personnel are busy replacing air conditioning systems in theaters and other locations, repairing and replacing roofs, painting structures, and remodeling walkways and other areas. Dollywood is also working to facilitate time management in the park, which surveys showed is very important to guests. These improvements will include reconfigured lines and food service processes, as well as widened doorways and pathways to accommodate better circulation as the park and attendance grows.
Before I get to the BIG news of the fabulous NEW ATTRACTIONS under construction, let’s talk about a few of the “smaller” projects.
“Backstage Restaurant” Becomes “Front Porch Cafe”
Backstage Restaurant, which formerly boasted a movie and musical theme, is being completely remodeled and renamed the “Front Porch Café.” It’s going to feel like you’ve come to enjoy a meal and a visit “on your neighbor’s front porch up in the beautiful Tennessee mountain farmlands.” The atmosphere will be enhanced by a farm theme, peaceful murals providing farmland scenery on the walls, new hardwood floors, tongue-and-groove ceilings, and mountain music. The new menu will feature healthful farm-fresh food, much of it locally sourced. There will also be some Tennessee favorites, such as country-fried steak and fried green tomatoes. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
“Rainbow Glass Factory” Becomes “Mountain Blown Glass”
One thing Dollywood is known for is showcasing the beautiful and useful handiwork of regional craftsmen and craftswomen of the Smoky Mountains. One such exhibit of craftsmanship at Dollywood since the 1980s has been the art of glassblowing. You may not know that you can actually blow your own glass ornament at what was formerly known as “Rainbow Glass Factory” in Rivertown Junction. Improvements are being made in three phases: reconfiguring the glassblowing equipment to showcase two craftsmen at once; a newly built area to “make-your-own glass ornament;” and a remodel of the retail shop, where you can purchase handmade ornaments and gifts in a myriad of patterns, shapes, and colors.
“Timber Canyon Pass” Goes Big and Bountiful
The 800-foot Timber Canyon Pass, which is the “back way” to the biggest coasters and attractions at Dollywood (take a left upon entering the park), is getting a makeover to enable it to handle large crowds. Construction crews were working hard to widen, straighten, and add new sound and lighting to this oft-used walkway. They’re even adding additional props to beautify the area and provide some new picturesque settings for those family photos.
“Lumber Jack’s Pizza” Sized for Service
Lumberjacks are known for their big appetites after working so hard, but they also, apparently, want to get their food faster between thrill attractions. Lumber Jack’s Pizza has also been known for its BIG 30-inch pizzas, with individual slices bigger than your head! However, in order to provide dining experiences that will meet the needs of guests requiring faster food service, Dollywood has opted to do away with those humongous pizza slices and start serving 8” to 9” personal pizzas. These pizzas have been promised to retain their deliciousness and will continue to be fired in the large pizza oven, which will remain intact. These changes, along with a remodeled and reconfigured line process, will expedite the dining experience and get all your lumberjacks back in line for the next thrilling attraction as soon as possible!
NOW for the ride enthusiasts… you’re not going to be disappointed in 2017. Three fabulous new attractions are currently under construction, set to open this summer!
“Drop Line” - Sure to Raise Your Adrenaline Levels
Drop Line is going to do just what it says it’s going to do: DROP. Twenty stories (230 feet) to be exact. This thrilling attraction, part of the continued logging story theme in Timber Canyon, will be located across from Lumber Jack’s Pizza, just past Thunderhead. After you’ve been lifted up to the heights of this tower, just before you drop, you’ll be thrilled by a split-second view of the majestic Smoky Mountains and the park. You’ll barely have enough time to prepare yourself for the thrilling rush as you plummet back to Earth! Drop Line will open this summer; exact date yet to be announced.
“Whistle Punk Chaser” to Thrill the Junior Coaster Enthusiast
Right between Drop Line and Thunderhead (the wooden roller coaster), “Whistle Punk Chaser” is opening in the Summer of 2017. What’s a “Whistle Punk,” you ask? In logging terms, it’s a lumberjack who operates the signal wire running to a donkey engine whistle. And in this case, it’s a junior coaster full of thrilling twists and turns for the younger loggers at Dollywood. It fits right in with Dolly’s promise of 2017 being, “The Year of the Family,” with something for everyone. In this case, it provides convenience for families with something to do for the small kids while the big kids get to enjoy the bigger thrill attractions close by.
“Make a Big Splash on TailSpin Racer”
Just in time for the grand opening of Dollywood’s Splash Country in May, a new and exciting waterslide attraction will be opening - bringing the park’s total to eleven splash-tacular slides! Guests will see the new “TailSpin Racer,” which is longer than a football field, as soon as they enter the water park. First you’ll spiral through enclosed AquaTubes, which will finally open up into an open racing slide for your splash-down finish. There are six lanes, so you and five of your competitors can line up for a slip-sliding sprint to the finish line! The winner gets to the Lazy River first!
As you can see, there is something new and exciting for everyone this season at Dollywood! Stay tuned as the Dollywood Insiders promise to bring you all of the exciting news as it comes along!
Our “sneak peak” tour was hosted by various Dollywood personnel, including Pete Owens, Director of Communications; Amber Davis, Ellen Liston, and Wes Ramey from Dollywood Communications and PR; Brian Dudash, Vice President of Maintenance and Construction; Evan Schukman, Director of Facilities; and Mike Brown, Dollywood’s Splash Country General Manager.
Katie Van Dyke | Dollywood With Your Little Ones
Date: February 27, 2017
Dollywood is ready to host you. All you need is a stroller and a plan. So here goes.
Stop one is Dollywood’s Centralized Measuring station. You will find it across from The Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame on Showstreet. Stopping first will make the rest of your day much smoother. A Dollywood host will measure your child and then give them a color-coded wristband. The coded wristbands correspond to the color-coded information displayed on signs at each ride in the park and helps you quickly identify which rides your littles can ride. No waiting in line only to find out you’re not tall enough. Plus they get their very own, very special Dollywood bracelet. Can you tell I’ve had to sell this stop?
Then it is on to the fun.
We hit Rockin' Roadway first. It is a classic favorite and it is on the way to the Country Fair. The added bonus is if you happen to have bigs with you, too, they could ride Lightning Rod because it’s right next door.
Country Fair is your area to play. It is full of fun rides for your little guys, and the hosts running the rides are seriously as patient and kind as can be. Don't miss Piggy Parade, Lucky Ducky, Busy Bees, or Amazing Flying Elephants. Again, Dollywood has thought this through: if you have a few older kids in your group there’s the Scrambler, Demolition Derby, the Dizzy Disk and more rides for them. Everyone is happy here.
The Village Carousel is another ride your littles will love, it is just up the hill from the Country Fair.
Toddlers get tired. If you need a midday break or nap, we have a few favorite options: shows or a train ride. The Little Engine Playhouse during Dollywood Summer is perfect, entertaining and air-conditioned. There are three 20-minute sing-along musicals throughout the day, each featuring Dolly via a special video-taped appearance. There are several other great show options, and they change throughout the season so check the schedule on your visit. There will be something you will all love.
The Dollywood Express is another tested favorite. An authentic coal-fired steam engine takes you on a five-mile journey through the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. It is a perfect way to allow your littles to rest and still have fun.
Water-loving littles ones will want to make a stop at the Firehouse Fun Yard or the Pig Pen, they can climb, build, slide and play in the pop-jet water fountains. These fun play areas are located near some larger rides making the perfect place to play while the bigs in your group ride a ride or two. River Battle is another great water option. Guests shorter than 48” can ride with you if they love water or you can simply stand at the water guns on land and get sprayed by the riders. We had one that hated to ride but loved to squirt riders, especially when they were his brothers.
A note for you nursing mamas: the nursing rooms are fantastic. Located in Showstreet, the Baby Care Center offers a private nursing area furnished with multiple gliders with foot stools, two baby changing stations and a restroom. Restrooms with nursing stations can also be found in Country Fair, Jukebox Junction, Market Square, The Village and Craftman's Valley near the Woodcarving Shop. Any park restaurant (this does not include concession stands) can assist you with warming a bottle.