June 01, 2023
This blog was written by Dollywood PR Intern, Kayli Mann.
Growing up just a few hours down the road in Southern West Virginia, Dollywood and Sevier County have been a staple in my family for generations. My grandparents spent their honeymoon here (back before Dollywood was Dollywood!), my parents would drive here with friends, and now it’s my turn to carry on our treasured Dollywood traditions.
Here are some of our favorite rituals on our trips here, dating back to my first trip here in 2004.
I may be a lover of all things that thrill now, but Rockin’ Roadway is my favorite Dollywood ride. Not only can the entire family enjoy this experience, but it is so much fun to ride around in miniatures of classic cars and listen to songs from what my grandparents call “the good old days.” I think this is where I became an Elvis fan!
When I brought my friends down during the Harvest Festival in 2022, I made sure we all rode on the Rockin’ Roadway. It’s easy to get stressed trying to do everything in the park just right, and Rockin’ Roadway gives its riders a couple of minutes of stress-free respite. Now, with Lightning Rod as a backdrop, riders have the perfect vantage point to see the coaster’s launch up the lift hill. It always makes me so excited to ride that coaster!
Everyone in my family has a different ride tolerance. Picture me in 2016, trying to find a ride that could accommodate both my little brother and my grandfather, was easy for my grandma to ride but thrilling enough for my parents to ride. The easiest answer? The Dollywood Express train! We’ve loved to see the changes to both the park and the train over the years. It’s the perfect place for a dose of sweet nostalgia.
It was my family that helped me love roller coasters, including my grandpa. My grandparents tried to bring my brother and I to Dollywood almost every year. When I returned without my grandpa this year, I rediscovered so many memories of my family’s trips here in my childhood. Every ride my brother and I take on the Wild Eagle reminds me of him.
There is nothing more perfect than sharing the memories of your family on a coaster together. My family and I are visiting the park together this summer for the first time in years, and I think every single one of us (yes, even you, Grandma!) is going to really love Wildwood Grove and Big Bear Mountain. Now all I have to do is convince my grandma to be brave.
For me, trips begin to feel the same after a few visits at many amusement parks. However, Dollywood is a theme park. Every time my family comes to Dollywood, there is something novel to try. Whether it’s the Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration’s drone show, walking up to Timber Canyon to experience Great Pumpkin LumiNights during the Harvest Festival or trying the newest coaster, we can always find something new to create memories. Besides getting the family onto Big Bear Mountain, I’m especially looking forward to experiencing new culinary treats at the Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration. I’m definitely going to get my brother to try the peach boba!
And the most exciting thing? As the third generation of my family to love Dollywood, I’ll get to make my own traditions and memories now. When I bring my future kids here, they will, too. Dollywood holds so many special memories for my family, and I hope it does for yours, too.
If you and your family are still looking for a perfect summer vacation, this is your sign to visit Dollywood and create some memories this summer. You can try out some of our family traditions - or make up some of your own!