About Us

Dollywood is more than just a world class theme park. It’s the complete getaway for families looking to disconnect from the world’s distractions and reconnect with each other while nestled in the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains. Dollywood’s properties provide ample opportunity to overwrite life’s daily stresses with new family memories.

The Dollywood Difference

Ask anyone who has visited Dollywood before, and they’ll tell you this place is different. It’s not a difference that you can touch or see. It’s a difference you can feel.

When you’re at Dollywood, time slows down a bit and your troubles don’t seem so troublesome. You could name a million things that make Dollywood so special, but we think it boils down to the simple things like the feeling you get when you’re with the ones you care about most, or the warm, inviting smiles of the Dollywood Hosts who treat you more like family than a guest.

Our Mission

CREATING MEMORIES WORTH REPEATING®

Our Values

WE GREATLY EXCEED GUESTS' EXPECTATIONS

  • With distinctive, themed, entertaining experiences for every member of the family.
  • With genuinely friendly, caring people who take pride in what they do.

WE SERVE OTHERS

  • By working as a team and empowering each other.
  • By being accountable to our guests, each other and the communities we serve.
  • By Leading with Love; being Patient, Kind, Humble, Respectful, Trusting, Unselfish, Forgiving, Truthful and Dedicated.

WE CREATE EMOTIONAL CONNECTIONS

  • By treating guests like a member of our family.
  • By providing shared experiences that bring families closer together.

WE CONSTANTLY IMPROVE

  • By adapting to our guests' changing expectations.
  • By managing safety, security, risks and resources.
  • By investing in people and products to produce growth and provide a reasonable return on our investment.

All in a Manner Consistent with Christian Values and Ethics

Dollywood History

Since 1986, visitors from around the world have become well acquainted with the Dollywood name and experience. However, the entertainment park actually traces its roots back to 1961 when Rebel Railroad first opened on the site that, over time, has expanded and grown into Dollywood.

The Robbins Brothers from North Carolina operated a small-scale attraction that featured a coal-fired steam train named Klondike Katie, a general store, a blacksmith shop and a saloon for visitors to enjoy. The Robbins Brothers had indeed created a winning formula. Visitors were intrigued by the Smoky Mountain way of life, and vacationers were eager to catch a glimpse of what Rebel Railroad had to offer. Little did the Robbins Brothers know that they were laying the groundwork for what would later become Tennessee's most-visited attraction.

 

In 1970, Rebel Railroad underwent a change in ownership and name when it was purchased by Art Modell, then owner of the NFL's Cleveland Browns. Under new ownership, Rebel Railroad was renamed Goldrush Junction and was touted as "Tennessee's Million Dollar Fun Attraction." Though the name had changed, the experience was unaltered; actually Goldrush Junction began to expand. Visitors still enjoyed the five-mile train ride into the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, complete with mock Indian attacks and train robberies.

New attractions including a wood shop and a saw mill were added in a nod to the area's rich history as a logging community. Further additions included an outdoor theater, log cabins, a campground, and several children's rides. Goldrush Junction visitors could pan for gold, stop by "The Lady Gay" saloon which featured live entertainment, and ride the Log Flume which had been relocated to Goldrush Junction from the New York World's Fair. In 1973, the Robert F. Thomas Church was constructed. Named for a well known doctor in the Sevier County area, the Robert F. Thomas Church represented the strength and devotion of this Appalachian community to its Christian values. Later on, the Robert F. Thomas Church would have a strong link to a very well known Sevier County native.

Visitors continued to flock to this attraction located just outside the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains. For a single season in 1976, Goldrush Junction was known simply as Goldrush. In 1977, the park would undergo yet another name change as well as a change in ownership. Jack and Pete Herschend of the Branson-based Herschend Enterprises purchased Goldrush, and it would now be known as Silver Dollar City, Tennessee.

The Herschend Family wasn't new to the attractions industry. Jack and Pete were born to Danish immigrant Hugo Herschend and his Chicago-born wife Mary. Together, the family had often traveled to Marvel Cave-Missouri's deepest-which had been opened to tourists in 1894 by the Lynch Family. In 1950, the Herschend Family entered into an agreement to lease Marvel Cave from the Lynch Family. They quickly cemented their commitment to expand the area with an early 1950s purchase of 640 acres around the cave. Hugo and Mary continued with plans to transform Marvel Cave into a major tourist attraction. Although Hugo passed away in 1955, Mary, Jack and Pete moved forward and began work on a cave train project. In 1958, their hard work was rewarded with the inaugural run of the world's only underground passenger cable train at the time.

On May 1, 1960, what had previously been known as Marvel Cave now marked its opening day as Silver Dollar City in Branson. The themed park featured five frontier-style buildings-a blacksmith shop, general store, ice cream parlor, doll shop, the Stage Coach Inn-as well as two reconstructed log buildings, the Wilderness Church and the McHaffie Homestead. Local entertainers played hillbilly music while the "Hatfields and McCoys" revived their legendary feud on Main Street. Employees costumed in 1880s attire became the "citizens" of Silver Dollar City. As for the theme park's name, it traces its origin to the 1960s when folks paid for everything in cash. The Herschends were encouraged to use silver dollars as change for transactions in the park. Thus, when vacationers spent the coins elsewhere and were asked where they had gotten the coins, they would reply "Silver Dollar City." The Herschends took the advice, appropriately coining the phrase "Silver Dollar City."

With Silver Dollar City, Branson up and running, the Herschend Corporation expanded into other themed entertainment ventures including White Water water parks; the Showboat Branson Belle, an exquisite paddle boat featuring dinner and entertainment; and the Grand Village shopping complex in Branson.

The Herschend Family was the proud owner of a winning concept. They captured the very heart and soul of the late-1800s Appalachian mountain people and their communities while also preserving the history and traditions of the area. With the success of Silver Dollar City, Branson well in hand, the Herschend Brothers looked eastward to their next endeavor.

Upon acquiring Goldrush in 1977, the Herschend Brothers contributed more than a million dollars in improvements on the way to opening Silver Dollar City, Tennessee in Pigeon Forge. Intent upon showcasing the craftsmanship of the Smoky Mountain region, guests entered near the park's train trestle, passed under the train tracks and entered Craftsman's Valley. The area was filled with talented artisans including blacksmiths, wood carvers, leather smiths and lye soap makers who showcased their crafts while demonstrating their trades. The park experienced significant growth over the next decade of operation including the addition of rides, shops, more craftsmen, shows and attractions like the Silver Dollar Grist Mill which was completed in 1983 and became the first working grist mill built in Tennessee in more than 100 years. The Herschend Brothers never compromised their commitment to the preservation of the Great Smoky Mountains' heritage and traditions.

In 1980, the park broadened its appeal as it expanded beyond Craftsman's Valley and the train depot with the addition of several rides. Silver Dollar City enjoyed steady growth in attendance and new additions to the park were made throughout the early 1980s. However, the Herschend Brothers soon welcomed another much-loved and recognizable East Tennessee tradition to the mix. Singer, songwriter and actress Dolly Parton, a Sevier County, Tennessee native and entertainment superstar, joined the Herschends in the theme park business in 1986. Not only would Dolly share her entertainment expertise and her love of the Great Smoky Mountains, she would also share her name as what had been Silver Dollar City opened in 1986 as Dollywood.

Since 1986, Dolly Parton and Herschend Family Enterprises have remained partners in Dollywood, Tennessee's most-visited tourist attraction. Dollywood also ranks in the Top 50 most attended theme parks worldwide. The park has more than doubled in size now encompassing 150 acres. An entirely new area, Rivertown Junction, was added for Dollywood's first season. Included in this area were Aunt Granny's-still Dollywood's most-visited restaurant-Dolly's Tennessee Mountain Home; the 450-seat Back Porch Theatre and the Smoky Mountain Rampage.

Dollywood also experienced tremendous increases in attendance, drawing 1.3 million visitors in 1986, an increase of approximately 75 percent as compared to Silver Dollar City's last season in 1985. Dollywood consistently entertains more than two million visitors annually (a 54 percent increase over its inaugural 1986 season and a 160 percent increase over its 1985 attendance.)

In the years since the Dollywood name has graced the theme park's main entrance, more than $110 million in expansions and additions are now visible as a result of Dollywood's ongoing commitment to offering guests something new each season. And, several old favorites continue to welcome guests including Klondike Katie, a 110-ton coal-fired steam train built in 1943 that still roams the tracks through the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. And, the Robert F. Thomas Chapel remains but its significance to the park grew stronger after Dolly joined the family. It was Dr. Robert F. Thomas, the local Sevier County doctor, who one day delivered the fourth of twelve children to Lee and Avie Lee Parton-Dolly Rebecca Parton.

Visitors from across the country and around the world flock to the Pigeon Forge entertainment park to experience the heart and soul of the Great Smoky Mountains. Dollywood prides itself on "Creating Memories Worth Repeating®." By offering a blend of thrilling rides, spectacular shows and master craftsmen in the Great Smoky Mountain and presented by employees with a genuine interest in the guest's experience-all sprinkled with Dolly's own special brand of charm and appeal-Dollywood more than delivers.

Park Expansions

2017

Dollywood declared 2017 the “Year of the Family” with the summertime addition of Drop Line, a 200-foot tall free-fall experience in Timber Canyon, and Whistle Punk Chaser, a junior coaster which allows Dollywood’s younger guests the opportunity to experience the exciting twists and turns of a larger roller coaster. For the first time during the fall Harvest Festival, Dollywood offered extended operating hours each evening and added Great Pumpkin LumiNights, which immersed families in fabulous fall pumpkin illumination.

2016

Dollywood announced the addition of Lightning Rod, both the world’s fastest wood coaster and the world’s first launching wood coaster. Set to roll to the starting line in March 2016, Lightning Rod adds another groundbreaking roller coaster to the park’s already impressive portfolio of world-class attractions. The thrilling $22 million ride also marks the single largest attraction investment in The Dollywood Company’s history. Themed after a tricked out 1950s-era hot rod, Lightning Rod launches riders from zero to 45 mph more than 20 stories up its lift hill to one of the ride’s first airtime moments. At the crest of the hill, riders face twin summit airtime hills before tackling the daring first drop. Lightning Rod races down the 165-foot drop and propels guests along its 3,800-ft. track to a top speed of 73 mph, the fastest speed for a wood coaster in the world.

2015

Dollywood’s 30th anniversary celebration provided six spectacular festivals and a number of surprises to delight visitors in 2015. From amazing stage shows and award-winning roller coasters to a nightly summer fireworks display and the seven-time winner for Best Christmas Event, guests enjoyed seasons of fun at Dollywood! Guests enjoyed six new shows during Dollywood’s Great American Summer, including Lite the Night and Live From the Back Porch. Dollywood also added two new entertainment events in fall, Dollywood’s Showcase of Stars, welcomed some of the biggest names in entertainment to Dollywood, along with Rock the Smokies, a day-long celebration or praise and worship with contemporary Christian performers like Third Day and For King & Country.

2014

Dollywood debuted FireChaser Express , the nation’s first dual-launch family coaster that travels both forward and backward. With a 39-inch minimum height requirement, FireChaser Express invites families to enjoy the exciting journey as a group. Perched 12 stories above the park’s Wilderness Pass area, FireChaser Express launches twice, blasting riders forward and backward on a winding 2,427-foot track. The coaster is projected from the loading station traveling from zero to 16 mph in just 1.1 second. Near the end of the ride, a backward launch from zero to 20 mph in two seconds sends FireChaser Express hurtling back to the station in the opposite direction.

2013

Dollywood’s love for family time, and summer time came to life with music and light as Dollywood’s Great American Summer debuted in 2013. Special extended park hours from 10 a.m.—10 p.m. helped families spend more time together no matter their schedules. Each day was filled with new shows, including Cirque Shanghai during Festival of Nations and Great American Country, plus nightly fireworks set to original music written and recorded by Dolly. Dolly also made history in Dollywood’s 2013 Smoky Mountain Christmas festival when she appeared in Dollywood’s A Christmas Carol as a hologram. She stars in the ground breaking show as the Ghost of Christmas Past, with flair only Dolly can bring using hologram technology and challenging the other Dollywood actors to interact with her hologram each day.

2012

Dollywood adds the $20 million Wild Eagle, the first wing coaster in the U.S. Reaching a top speed of 61 mph, Wild Eagle looms 21 stories above Dollywood in the park’s Timber Canyon area. The steel coaster’s 3,127-foot track’s highest drop features four inversions and a 135-foot first drop. Spirit of the Dance headlines Dollywood’s Festival of Nations while KidsFest features Chris Perondi's Stunt Dog Experience.

2011

Barnstormer High-flying hijinks came to Dollywood in 2011 with the arrival of the Barnstormer. The park’s newest ride, located in Craftsman’s Valley, carries passenger 81 feet in the air on two giant pendulum arms at a maximum speed of 45 miles per hour and 230 degrees of rotation. Dollywood’s popular Barbeque & Bluegrass festival made a triumphant return in late summer. Later in the season, Dollywood’s Christmas on Ice!, a new ice skating show, premiered to headline Smoky Mountain Christmas.

2010

Adventure Mountain Dollywood mark’s its 25th anniversary season in 2010. The new Adventure Mountain, the country’s largest challenge course, rises above the landscape in the park’s Wilderness Pass area. Designed exclusively for Dollywood, the one-of-a-kind two-acre attraction is unmatched universally in size and scope and features more than 140 interactive outdoor elements. Dollywood Festival of Nations welcomes three new shows—Nova Scotia’s DRUM!, Peru’s Jallmay, and Trinidad’s Invaders. For the first time, KidsFest features an all-new lineup of shows with a new headliner every week of the festival.

2009

Dollywood’s entertainment lineup expanded to welcome Sha-Kon-A-Hey! Land of Blue Smoke, the most elaborate musical production in the park’s 24-year history. Opening May 9, 2009, in DP’s Celebrity Theatre, the show tells the heartfelt story of the last family to leave the area that would become Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2009. No story about the Smoky Mountains would be complete without Dolly, who wrote the eight new songs featured in Sha-Kon-A-Hey! Le Grand Cirque’s Imaginé headlines Dollywood Festival of Nations and features a premier cast of world champion acrobats and performers from 15 countries and acts including pole climbing, contortionists, hoop diving, unicyclists, silk ropes, the diablo, and much more!

2008

Dollywood welcomes the new family water adventure ride River Battle, a $5 million attraction in the park’s new Wilderness Pass area, adjacent to Timber Canyon. River Battle features nine, eight-passenger rafts, each armed with soaker guns. Passengers navigate a 500-foot channel featuring more than 100 targets along the way. River Battle engages riders as well as unsuspecting onlookers on the banks for a uniquely interactive experience.

2007

The season unveils the largest capital investments at both parks. Dollywood’s $17.5 million Mystery Mine steel coaster occupies a one-acre expansion in Timber Canyon. Passengers encounter the ruins of an abandoned mine while traveling a 1,811-foot track which includes a hair-raising 95-degree, 85-foot vertical drop, just the first in a series of amazing maneuvers.

2006

Dollywood’s Timber Canyon area opens. Lumberjack Lifts, Lil’ Loggers’ Landing, Beaver Creek Boat Float and Beaver Creek round out the new ride and attractions offerings in the action-packed adventure area. In addition, the new 150-seat LumberCamp restaurant greeted hungry guests. New entertainment offerings include Dreamland Drive-In, a ‘50s and ‘60s musical review in the Pines Theatre plus the much-anticipated Dollywood’s Babes in Toyland, the centerpiece of the Smoky Mountain Christmas festival. In addition, Dollywood launches its fifth festival—BBQ & Bluegrass featuring entertainment by Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, the Del McCoury Band and more.

2005

A 3.5 acre, $5 million renovation in Dollywood's Country Fair area brings 10 new family rides to the park. In addition, the park's fall season introduces the new National Music & Harvest Celebration featuring 38 days of free concerts performed by country, bluegrass, Southern gospel and Americana artists.

2017

In 2017 experience the wet and wild twists, turns and thrills of Dollywood’s Splash Country’s newest attraction, TailSpin Racer! From its unique spiraling, high-speed AquaTubes to its splashdown finish, it’s an all-out race to see who can get to the end first.

2013

Adding yet another history-making coaster to The Dollywood Company’s roster, Dollywood’s Splash Country introduced RiverRush, Tennessee’s first water coaster, in May 2013. A hydromagnetic coaster, RiverRush combines all of the powerful climbs, plunging drops, thrilling twists, and tight turns of a traditional land coaster with the waterpark’s calling card—water—for the very latest in waterpark experiences.

2010

In its 10th year of operation, Slick Rock Racer, a $1 million multi-lane mat slide, joins the water park’s lineup of adventure slides.

2008

Relaxation and tranquility combine with adventure for The Cascades™, a new $2.8 million 8,000-sq.-ft. leisure pool. A rock grotto with intertwined slides, a geyser with 20-foot sprays, a 24,000-sq.-ft. tiered deck space and eight new Waterside Retreats make The Cascades a family favorite at the water park.

2007

Relaxation and tranquility combine with adventure for The Cascades™, a new $2.8 million 8,000-sq.-ft. leisure pool. A rock grotto with intertwined slides, a geyser with 20-foot sprays, a 24,000-sq.-ft. tiered deck space and eight new Waterside Retreats make The Cascades a family favorite at the water park.

2006

Fire Tower Falls™ changes the water park’s landscape as the twin speed slides become the park’s tallest and fastest slides ever, rising 70 feet into the air.

2005

A four-alarm soaking awaits guests at the new Bear Mountain Fire Tower™, a $2 million multi-level interactive water attraction.

2004

Guests at Dollwood's Splash Country were taking the plunge-the Big Bear Plunge-on the water park's new $1.4 million extreme white water rafting adventure ride situated in the park's new Big Bear Ridge area.

2003

This $20 million waterpark, opened on May 19. Situated on 25 acres near Dollywood on Middle Creek Road in Pigeon Forge, Dolly's Splash Country features a 25,000-square-foot wave pool, a family raft ride, a lazy river, an interactive children's area, multi-person tube rides, two "extreme" body slides, shaded lounge areas and a restaurant.

2001

This $20 million waterpark, opened on May 19. Situated on 25 acres near Dollywood on Middle Creek Road in Pigeon Forge, Dolly's Splash Country features a 25,000-square-foot wave pool, a family raft ride, a lazy river, an interactive children's area, multi-person tube rides, two "extreme" body slides, shaded lounge areas and a restaurant.

Community Relations

We pride ourselves on giving back to the communities that so graciously support us. We support countless not-for-profit organizations whose missions are consistent with our mission.
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Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library is all about inspiration and imagination. It was developed in 1995 by Dolly for her native Sevier County, Tennessee.
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Herschend Family Entertainment

Dollywood is the product of a wonderful relationship between Herschend Family Entertainment and entertainment legend Dolly Parton that dates back to 1985.
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American Eagle Foundation

The not-for-profit American Eagle Foundation is headquartered at Dollywood and is widely recognized as a leader in bald eagle conservation, recovery and public environmental education.
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