Work Campers Guide
What Makes Us Special
Dollywood is not your ordinary amusement park. We are fortunate to be able to take advantage of the natural beauty of East Tennessee while providing a park that caters to adults, teens, and youth. We offer a great variety of shopping, rides, attractions, restaurants and entertainment.
Where Are We Located
Dollywood is located 10 miles from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The national park offers camping, swimming, hiking, horseback riding, bicycling and many other adventures. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States.
Dollywood's Operating Schedule
Based on the local tourist traffic, we operate limited hours March, April, May, September, November and December. Our peak season is generally June, July and August. We are closed January, February and the first part of March. See calendar for exact dates and times of operation. Our operating schedule is subject to change.
Employment for Work Campers can begin as early as March.
Dollywood does conduct phone interviews for Work Campers. We understand that you are probably not in our area at the time you are making your summer plans. To begin the process, please complete the application and mail back to us. We will contact you as soon as we can. Please be aware that during the months of January, February, March and early April, we can spend up to four days a week on the road recruiting. Please be prepared to play "phone tag" with us. Just be patient and we will make contact with all Work Campers who are interested.
Almost all positions require that employees work in direct contact with Guests, answering questions, communicating policies and procedures and assisting with problems. Dollywood expects an extremely high level of customer service that includes coming to work with the correct attitude, communicating information in a friendly, warm tone and being helpful in stressful situations.
Due to the wide range of customers that visit Dollywood, all employees must be able to provide customer service to people of all ages ranging from very young children to senior adults.
Physical Nature of the Job
All positions require physical work of some nature. Attractions positions require that employees load people on and off boats and cars, move boats and cars and assist people if an evacuation of the ride is necessary. In many positions you must memorize extensive safety guidelines. Merchandise, Amusement and Ticket positions require that employees have strong cash handling skills and be able to assist people with packages, dust and clean the selling area and re-stock product when needed. Foods positions require that employees prepare food, serve food and clean. All positions require standing and walking for long periods of time.
Stress of the Job
Most positions are in areas of high noise and activity and require they employees deal with these issues in order to be successful. All jobs require that employees work at a fast pace to control lines while maintaining excellent customer service. Some positions allow for groups of employees to work together, but some require that employees work alone. All employees are empowered and encouraged to make decisions and solve guest issues.
Scheduling of Work Campers
Dollywood management staff tries to schedule Work Camper couples on shifts as close as possible. However, we cannot guarantee that you will be scheduled exactly the same hours. We ask that Work Campers be flexible and understanding. One person may have to come in earlier than the other, and one may leave later than another. Under normal schedule circumstances, we can give Work Camper couples the same days off during the week.
Please be prepared to work both weekend days and have your scheduled time off during the week.
Due to the nature of our business, Dollywood does not guarantee a certain number of hours per week. During the spring and fall, Work Campers can expect to work an average of 25 hours per week. During the peak season this number increases dramatically.
The most successful Work Camper couples have picked two specific days of the week as their days off and were consistent in requesting these days off.
When Do I Begin Work?
Some positions at Dollywood begin in March and April, but more positions begin in late May or early June. Most positions at Dollywood's Splash Country begin in mid-May and end in mid-September. You will be given an approximate start date when you are hired. This date will let us know when you are planning to arrive in the area and when to begin scheduling your training. This date is not a definite date and does not mean that you will begin working full-time at once.
Orientation and Training
To prepare you for work at Dollywood, all new employees must complete the proper training. All employees go through a four-hour customer service training session. This class will also give you information regarding the company culture, policies and procedures. Additional training is provided in the areas of cash handling and cash register operation. Some teams offer their own "in-house" training such as On-The-Job Training in the Foods Team, Safety Training in the Attractions Team and Games Team Training in the Amusement Team.
Length of Shifts
The operating schedule directly affects the length of shifts and the number of days scheduled. Some teams schedule an average shift of 6-8 hours while others schedule much longer shifts, up to 12-15 hours per day. The Amusement Team and the Attractions Team generally schedule shifts of 10 to 12 hours per day and cannot shorten the shift. Please take this into consideration when requesting to work in these areas.
Dollywood Family Medical Center
Dollywood has taken exciting steps to address the healthcare needs of the park's employees and their dependents. The Dollywood Family Medical Center provides low cost healthcare such as routine family medical care, x-rays, laboratory services, physicals and wellness programs. Each visit to the facility costs only $15 for the employee and $20 for each dependent. Dependents of the employees become eligible to use the Center when the employee returns for the third season.
Breaks and Meal Breaks
The amount of break time allowed depends on the length of the shift worked and the number of breakers who are available. The meal break period is 45 minutes of which the company pays 15 minutes. Unfortunately, we cannot schedule Work Campers on the same meal breaks.
Dollywood has a very strict smoking policy. Employees cannot smoke in front of the Guests at any time and can only smoke in designated areas. Dollywood does not give smoke breaks, but employees can use their normal break periods for this activity.
Weather and Temperatures
The weather has a direct affect on staffing and the work environment. Employees can be "called off" of work due to inclement weather and low attendance. Employees can be asked to work extra shifts if attendance is higher than projection. Most employees work outside in the heat or cold. While most Work Campers are aware of the heat, many are surprised by the high humidity level and the amount of work that has to be performed outside.
Merchandise positions require that employees learn to use our computer cash register system for all sales transactions. Foods and Amusement positions require cash handling for most positions. All cash handling positions require an extremely high level of accuracy and can require the use of credit card verification machine. Training is provided for all cash and handling positions.
Identification Needed to Work
The federal government requires that an I-9 form be completed by the employer on every new employee. Please be prepared to show two forms of ID. One ID must be from the federal/state government such as an original birth certificate or original social security card. (Sorry, we cannot accept copies of documents or metal social security cards.) The other form of ID must be a photo ID such as a state issued driver's license. Both IDs must be in the same name. Please be aware, according to federal law, employees cannot begin work without these two forms of ID.
Wage and Wage Increases
Dollywood sets a standard wage for entry-level positions. Each year this wage is adjusted to the local area's competitive wage. Wage increases are given at the completion of the season and apply to the next season. Wage increases are based on employees' performance evaluation.
Costuming and Grooming Standards
All positions require that employees wear a costume that is themed around the time period of the area. Dollywood provides three changes of costume for each employee. Employees are responsible for providing black or brown shoes and black socks. (Dollywood employees receive a discount at two area shoe stores for this purpose. Ask for information when you arrive in town.)
To maintain costuming and grooming standards, Dollywood does not allow visible tattoos or visible body piercing.
Long-term campground spaces are reserved very quickly in this area. Please do not delay in making your reservations. Please ask about accommodations such as size of camper, phone and cable access, distance to Dollywood, and local trolley service.
Many Work Campers coordinate a carpool with fellow Work Campers in their campground resort area. This eases the stress of scheduling and allows Work Campers the freedom to work additional hours.
The purpose of state administered unemployment compensation is to provide a safety net for employees who want to work but for whom no suitable work is available. Dollywood supports this concept. In fact, last year we paid almost $1 million in unemployment compensation to our seasonal employees. Dollywood believes that it is unfair and inappropriate to pay unemployment to people who choose not to work when suitable positions are available. For this reason, hosts who voluntarily leave the Company when hours exist for the Host's Job classification (e.g. Food Specialist, Ride Attendant, Merchandise Sales Host) will be classified as "resigned" rather than "laid off" on their clearance form. This classification will most likely cause the state to deny unemployment benefits.
A Host's eligibility for unemployment compensation is not determined by a date he/she may have committed to work until. Rather it is determined by the availability of suitable work (in the same job classification) when he/she chooses to leave. All employees at Dollywood are employed as employees at will. That means that every employee is hired for an indefinite time, until released from employment by Dollywood. For example, suppose a Host committed to work until October 31. If he/she chooses to leave on November 1 and hours for his/her job classifications were still available, he/she would be classified as "resigned, declined suitable work," rather than laid off. Dollywood will continue to sign up working hosts for partial unemployment to ensure they will always earn more by working than not working. Furthermore, while we encourage hosts to work in any vacant position for which they are qualified, we do not require hosts to work in a job classification that is different from what they worked during the regular season.
Example: Suppose, at Christmas, the position of Food Specialist was open at Red's Diner, while there were no open positions for Attractions Ride attendants or Merchandise Sales Hosts. Consider the following three regular season hosts: Attraction Ride Attendant, Merchandise Sales Host, Food Specialist at the Hickory House. In this situation all three hosts would be given the opportunity to work the open position. If anyone accepted the position, the other two would be laid off. If, however, no one accepted the position, the Food Specialist would be classified as resigned while the other hosts would be cleared and laid off. For this reason, couples who leave at the same time but who work in different jobs may have different work classifications when leaving. One may be cleared as laid off, the other cleared as resigned.
Feedback from Our Work Camper Family
Listed below is feedback we have received from our Work Camper family. We hope this assists you in preparation for employment with Dollywood.
- "The people are so nice..." Time and again we heard comments regarding the enjoyment the Work Campers gained by working with and greeting such nice people.
- Humidity...Humidity...Humidity... Work Campers were surprised by the high level of humidity and heat index. The "image" of coming to spend the summer in the "cool" mountains is often misleading.
- Work Schedules... Some Work Campers were frustrated in the beginning by the erratic schedules. To get all of the training sessions in, many times the first few weeks of scheduling are frustrating. Please be patient, but stand firm on your scheduling wishes. Most schedules can be adjusted to fit realistic needs.
- Number of Hours Scheduled... Remember, the number of hours available in the early spring and in September are limited due to the operating schedule.
- Physical Nature of the Job... We suggest that Work Campers begin preparation for extensive walking and standing by maintaining a fitness program during the winter months.
- Size of Company... Dollywood is a large corporation employing up to 2,000 Hosts. We have set policies and procedures that must be followed by all employees. Many Work Campers are accustomed to working for smaller businesses with more flexibility in decision making.
- The Perks Are Great... Work Campers enjoy the discounts and free admission offered at area businesses and attractions.
Again, thanks for your interest in employment with Dollywood. Please feel free to contact us at any time regarding employment questions. We look forward to hearing from you soon.