My Top 5 Favorite Things About Dollywood:
Category: Trip Planning
Date: February 1, 2017
There are many things that I love about Dollywood, from the old schoolhouse in the park to the most amazing shows. I love that there is a chapel right in the park and at the same time there are those rides that are so thrilling and FUN! I could list 100 things that I love about Dollywood, but here are my favorite 5:
1- Dolly Parton
She is such a generous person. She is kind and so funny! I loved how she is raising money for those families that were involved in the fire as part of her My People fundraiser with the Dollywood Foundation. I love that even with her success, she has never forgotten her past, or where she came from, or her humble beginnings. She has a replica at Dollywood of her childhood home (her brother built it and her mom helped decorate it). She grew up with only one bed in her home and in very closer quarters with her family. It is said that she still returns to visit her childhood home often.
2- The rides!
My favorite is the Lightning Rod. It was amazing. It was so fast and so much fun (and worth the wait to ride in the front!) Our son’s favorite ride was the Wild Eagle. It took a little courage before he would ride it, but after he did he told me that he felt like he was flying. The water rides were a huge hit in our family, too. They are a perfect way to cool off in the middle of a warm day!
3- The 25 lb. Apple Pie!
For Dollywood’s 25th anniversary, their pastry chef created a 25 lb. apple pie - and it was such a hit, so it is still there in their 32nd season. It is the star of the bakery. When we walked in, I think we all stopped to stare at it for at least 5 minutes, amazed that a pie could be so big and look so delicious! It comes in the cast iron skillet, too. Can you imagine bringing that out for dessert at your next party!? So fun!
4- Reminiscent of Simpler Times
I can’t really describe it, but it feels easy there- peaceful. It has an old-time feel. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t old-time at all, but it just feels like a simple time. The people are among them most kind people that I have ever met. When I met Dolly Parton, I asked her why she thought the workers were so sweet and she said, “It’s just our mountain way!”
5- Craftsman’s Valley
It’s not something you find at most theme parks- master craftsmen who practice their crafts in front of an audience. You can even buy handmade goods right after watching them make them. It is like a fall festival every day. You know the kind where they have the craft stations just filled with things that locals have made? That’s it. They have these amazing wood crafts, recipes, and jams that you can take home with you that day. My favorite things were the wooden signs, but my sister-in-law loved the blown glass.
Dollywood isn’t just a theme park, it is a whole vacation… an experience that I am happy to give my family. It is somewhere that I want my kids to take their kids and say, “When I was young, my mom loved this ride!” Or, “When we ate here when I was your age, it was just as good!” It is somewhere that I know my family loves and I love it, too (maybe the most!) :)
My Family's Favorite Ride at Dollywood
Category: Thrill Rides
Date: April 19, 2017
Picture hopping into the passenger seat of a 1950s-era hot rod and then in the blink of an eye, going from 0-45 miles per hour and up 20 stories. That’s what Lightning Rod at Dollywood is all about. It speeds down the 165-foot drop at 73 mph (the fastest speed for a wood roller coaster in the world!)
When my husband and I first went on the ride, we had no idea what to expect. We were calm, cool & collected…
Well… what can I say? It was AWESOME!
Dollywood is right when they call it an “adrenaline-charged lap through the trees in the hills and valleys surrounding Dollywood.” We actually had 20 seconds of airtime! I couldn’t wait to bring our kids for a try on it! Our oldest son loved it like we did. We waited in line to get the front seat and he was blown away by the speed of the roller coaster. He asked to go on it again and again. (This is right up there with Wild Eagle in his mind.)
On my next trip to Dollywood, with my mom & sister-in-law, we tried it again.
This is the before picture… I should have asked someone to take an after one. Haha!
We have many favorites at Dollywood, but for me and my family, this one takes the cake. It was exciting and unexpected. I can’t wait to try this ride at night (on our next trip). One of my favorite things is to stay at Dollywood when it is dark outside and go on the roller coasters… I’m not sure what it is, but it brings a whole new level of excitement to the rides.
Do you know the story behind it?
Johnny Rev, as his friends affectionately call him, grew up with adrenaline coursing through his veins. His family’s reputation was built on years of spinning wrenches and tuning engines, and now Johnny is the go-to guy for those with an unquenchable need for speed. Never one to settle, each of Johnny’s hot rods is more impressive than the one before. Finally, after months of tinkering, Johnny invites Dollywood guests to sit behind the wheel for the first test drive of Lightning Rod, his newest flashy, world record-breaking creation. (read more here)
If you haven’t tried this ride yet- what are you waiting for? It’s amazing, fast, fun, thrilling and all around a BLAST! Go for it!
Ps- Planning a trip this spring? Check out Dollywood’s Spring Guide to help you plan your visit :) Find more info here.
Mother's Day at Dollywood: My Top 10
Category: Family Visits
Date: May 08, 2017
I love visiting Dollywood, so Mother’s Day is the perfect opportunity each year to go with my family. I have some favorite things that I like to do there and on Mother’s Day weekend, I get to pick.
1 - Stay at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa
Dollywood’s resort is amazing and I enjoy every minute of it! I love to sit out back and look at the mountains with my kids. One of my favorite things to do here is to simply spend quiet moments with my kids in the little areas all around the resort. This picture was taken at The Barn by the pool. We love this spot! They use it for events.
2 - Take In Views of the Pool
While I love to be IN the pool, I also love to just look at the amazing views of the pool. Look at this one that I took with my phone—beautiful! And, the outdoor pool will be open full-time just in time for Mother’s Day!
3 - Drink Dolly’s Pink Lemonade
I don’t know if it’s the lemonade that I love or how adorable it looks when they put it out for guests! It’s a treat you can expect in the lobby each day. (Around the holidays, you can expect a seasonal drink like warm apple cider!)
4 - Explore the Town
I love the Great Smoky Mountains and when we visit Dollywood, we always stop and look around the area on our way out. Between Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg there’s quite a bit to discover! Here are my recommendations (beyond Dollywood): Sevierville- try something local and enjoy Courthouse Donuts; Pigeon Forge- there’s something for my whole family to do at The Island; and Gatlinburg- Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is a don’t miss.
5 - Slow Down for Simpler Times
At Dollywood, I seriously LOVE the Calico Falls Schoolhouse and Dolly’s Tennessee Mountain Home. I think this is half of why I love visiting –it’s those older things that take you back.
6 - Indulge Yourself at The Spa
Most moms will tell you, you can’t go wrong with a spa gift certificate for Mother’s Day! And when it comes to Dolly Parton, she kicks it up a notch! The Spa at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort is equally glamourous and comfortable. Only Dolly can pull that off! As long as you’re visiting the resort, you may as well let your family spoil you a little. What’s your favorite service? Facial, massage, manicure, pedicure—take your pick!
7 - Enjoy Dinner That You Didn’t Make
Whether you order off the menu or visit the buffet when you eat at Song & Hearth at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort, you will have a fabulous meal! Certainly for Mother’s Day, I don’t plan to cook or do dishes, so dinner at this Southern eatery is a gift in and of itself! The resort will have a Mother’s Day brunch that offers breakfast selections, as well as carving stations, seafood, a raw bar, desserts and more!
8 - Plan a Day EVERYONE Will Love
When my family visits Dollywood, we all have fun. As a mom, there’s nothing better than being with your family when everyone is smiling and having a good time. We experience this every time we visit Dollywood. There are attractions for every age and interest!
9 - Savor Family Moments
One of the perks of staying at a resort is the little extras they offer. At Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort, there’s often live music and special activities for the kids through Camp DW. During the month of May on weekends, you can get a full-color caricature family portrait made as a keepsake. My kids would love that! What a fun way to remember our Mother’s Day trip.
10 - Visit Dollywood’s Splash Country
Isn’t it great when the calendar aligns so well with our plans?! Mother’s Day weekend is also opening weekend for Dollywood’s Splash Country. What a beautiful water park! And, being that it’s right next door to the resort, it’s easy to hop over there enjoy the 35-acres of attractions and jump back on the trolley when we need a break.
These are my top reasons. I encourage you to come up with your own reasons to visit for Mother’s Day. See you there!
3 Reasons We're Celebrating Father's Day at Dollywood
Category: Family Visits
Date: June 05, 2017
*This guest post is written by Dollywood Insider Becky Mansfield’s husband, Mickey.
Father’s Day is less about thanking dad and more about making memories with your family. As a dad of four kids, I know that my favorite gift for Father’s Day is that question and answer sheet where my kids say that I weigh 20 pounds and I’m 8 feet tall. My favorite thing to do on Father’s Day is to go somewhere special. This year, we’re going to Dollywood. Here are my top reasons for choosing to spend “my day” at this great theme park.
1 - We like to go to Dollywood for Father’s Day because it makes us feel connected. We don’t feel rushed and we don’t feel like we are on anyone else’s time but our own. We can hang out at the park all day and head to the resort at night. We have the option to visit either the theme park or the water park—or maybe both!
Our family splits up for part of the day and the younger kids go to their rides with my wife, while I take our oldest son to ride the thrill rides. We usually meet up a few hours later for more family time. It’s almost like being a kid again when I get onto those rides.
2 - I plan to treat myself and eat cinnamon bread at Dollywood’s Grist Mill. I think I’ve heard it about five times from different friends, but the cinnamon bread that is homemade at Dollywood is out of this world. When your favorite food is cinnamon bread and cinnamon rolls, your kids will urge you to get it for Father’s Day. Who are you to deny your kids this simple pleasure!? Hahaha!
Not hungry for cinnamon bread? How about a pie big enough to feed your entire family and then some. At Spotlight Bakery and Sandwich Shop, they bake a 25 lb. apple pie. One slice can feed four adults!
3 - I’m looking forward to taking a break from it all. We like to go to Dollywood because it’s like we are taking a break from the rest of life- a break from the hustle and bustle of work, sports, chores, etc. We are just enjoying being together and hanging out.
In the end, it’s just my pick of where we want to go. It’s my pick of what we want to do--and I choose Dollywood because I know that on Father’s Day, like any day, my goal is to be together with my family.
My Family's Favorite Dollywood Treat
Date: July 03, 2017
Now, if it were only up to me, I’d vote for the funnel cakes. Oh yes, the funnel cakes right by Market Square are a favorite. My kids know that if they are with me, we will be stopping there. We dip each bite in powdered sugar. We scoop up the last drop of it with the last bite of the funnel cake-- as the ducks watch closely, hoping for a bite to drop!
However, it’s not just me. We are a family of six, so, the winning “Treat Vote” goes to the cinnamon bread at Grist Mill. I’ll admit that it was AMAZING. It was, by far, the best cinnamon bread I’ve ever had. The fact that we had one each day of our trip might be the icing on the cake for their vote.
It is pull-apart, melt-in-your-mouth, give-me-more, amazingly wonderful. Here’s a sneak peek (don’t ask about a “before picture.” The smell was too delicious to ignore and I had THREE chances to take a before picture and each time our appetites got the best of us! hahaha!)
I had heard that Dollywood’s Cinnamon Bread was unbeatable and I also confess that I could have (easily) eaten a whole loaf all by myself. We shared the loaf, but it was one of those moments where everyone was eating fast to get to the next bite.
While we were at the Grist Mill, I also surprised my husband by ordering one of their giant icing-filled chocolate chip cookies. Let the feast begin! This is what it looked like when we had “Treats for Lunch” (yep. I’m not even kidding. It’s vacation, after all!)
So, if you are even slightly debating which treat is your favorite, I suggest doing what we did and trying them all-- at the same time! Then choose YOUR favorite and let us know! We’ll be waiting…