May 01, 2023
During the opening weekend of Dollywood’s Flower and Food Festival, I had the fun and festive opportunity to go on a “Behind the Bloom” tour. This was my first guided tour of Dollywood, and I wanted to share some details to help you in considering a tour of your own!
On Dollywood.com, it tells you that “Dollywood's Flower & Food Festival celebrates the beautiful blossoms and fresh flavors of the season.” For quick reference, let me list some of the special things about the Flower & Food Festival:
- Beautiful Mosaicultures
- Umbrella Sky (more than 50 colorful umbrellas hanging over Showstreet)
- Unique festival food offerings
- Bloom! - Dollywood’s unique aerial show
- Special musical acts
- Free Experience Guide (a festival passport)
- Tons of flowers (over 1 million blooms)
- And more!
All of the unique festival features listed above are available to experience with admission to the park, but the guided tour is an add-on and walks one through these experiences in a curated manner with a lot of additional perks.
Upon checking in for the tour at the TimeSaver and Special Experiences Reservation Center, I received three items: a tour lanyard, a voucher to exchange for a gift and a one-time use TimeSaver pass.
We began our tour beside the Showstreet Palace Theatre with a friendly welcome from our tour guide and personal photographer. Throughout the tour, not only would the tour guide share interesting facts and features of the park and festival, but her being our personal photographer was a great addition to the 11 of us on the tour, snapping great photos of us at all the greatest photo ops of the festival.
Our first tour stop was at the Sweet Shoppe Candy Kitchen to sample some of the festival specific fudge: “Berry Delicious,” “Chocolate Cherry” and “Pink Sprinkle Donut.” This would be one of a few stops for food samples. By Market Square, we sampled the festival specific Mango Boba Iced Tea and delicious Kettle Korn (read my piece about the Kettle Korn here). Later on in the tour, we sampled three varieties of honey from Dollywood's resident beekeeper for the festival, Alan Frakenberg, with Hug-A-Bee Honey.
In addition to the food sampling stops, we also popped into a few shops, where our tour guide shared facts about each location. I learned that in some of the stores in Dollywood the entire inventory is of products unique to Dollywood and not able to be purchased anywhere else. We also stopped by some of the locations in the park specific to Dolly Parton’s story, including the replica of her Tennessee Mountain Home and the Robert F. Thomas Chapel, which allowed for the guide to share bits and pieces of Dolly’s story.
Of course, the prominent features of the tours are the eight Mosaiculture locations of the festival. Mosaicultures are often confused with topiaries, but our guide shared how topiaries are purely the plants being grown and pruned into shape while Mosaicultures include various plants joined on a steel structure to form a design. The guide also shared how it took 1,200 labor hours to install the Mosaicultures and flowers for the festival by the 14-person Dollywood landscaping team and the 17-member special events team. That's a lot of work! It was in these stops along the tour the guides shared the most interesting facts: the Mosaicultures are cultivated and brought from Montreal, Canada; the Coat of Many Colors Mosaiculture consists of 16 types of flowers and weighs 1,500 lbs.; and some of the flower beds in the park were installed temporarily on top sections of the walkways just for the Flower & Food Festival. There were tons of facts like these shared during the tour, and many had to do with impressive numbers.
The tour lasted about two hours and finished at The Hall Sisters performance on the steps of the Robert F. Thomas Chapel. It was early in the day, and we had a big portion of the day left to explore the park on our own with a new appreciation for the festival’s decor. I made sure to stop by the Emporium at the end of the day to redeem my voucher for a gift. It was a tabletop wheelbarrow planter with Dollywood's logo and festival name on the side.
1) The tour allowed me as a guest to slow down a bit in the park. I was able to experience a lot on the tour, but I didn’t have to worry about being responsible for fitting it all in.
2) All the details and timing were taken care of, and that I enjoyed.
3) Food samples.
4) It was nice having a personal photographer.
5) This tour really helped me take the time to learn about and appreciate each Mosaiculture.
If you are able to take this or another festival tour at Dollywood, I’d recommend it!
Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the perks of this tour:
● Collectible “Behind the Blooms” lanyard
● One-time use TimeSaver pass
● Personal Photographer
● Samplings of three Dollywood’s snacks
● Exclusive character meet & greet opportunity
● Exclusive 6” x 8” photo
● Exclusive festival keep-sake
Note that there are two different types of tours at Dollywood. There are the festival tours such as this one, which last about two hours and focus largely to the festival. There also are Dollywood VIP tours which last a full day.
Dollywood’s “Behind the Blooms” Tour is available through June 11. Tickets may be purchased the day of your visit, but to be certain to secure a spot, you can sign up in advance online here.
Learn about another festival tour: Magic of Glacier Ridge Guided Tour here. I’ll be looking forward to more festival tours in the future. See you there!
All Insiders Best Value
All Insiders Best Value