February 08, 2023
I have been visiting Dollywood for more than 22 years, and I would like to think I know a lot about the theme park in general. However, I got to thinking - what do I NOT know? This blog will reveal some fun facts I discovered as I did some research on my favorite park.
Did you know that Dollywood has only been its name since 1986?
It was first known as Rebel Railroad (1961), with the tourist attraction including a coal-fired steam engine, a general store, a blacksmith shop and a saloon. It later was named Goldrush Junction (1970), then simply Goldrush (1971) and became Silver Dollar City in 1976. In a 1982 Barbara Walters interview, Dolly expressed her interest to open a theme park in her hometown, and the Herschend family who owned Silver Dollar City was listening. They suggested a partnership, and the park became Dollywood in 1986.
Once the theme park became Dollywood, places throughout the park were named for or referenced Dolly. Here are a few fun facts that I found:
Everyone raves in popularity over the cinnamon bread, BUT do you know about the 25-pound
apple pie at the Spotlight Bakery?
The pie is made from scratch using about 35 aromatic apples (which is approximately 25 lbs.) and is baked in a cast iron skillet to guarantee its perfect crust. An individual slice weighs about THREE POUNDS and can feed about four adults. Make sure to save room for this Dollywood dessert delight!
Don't miss the beautiful Robert F. Thomas Chapel when you walk through the park, named for the doctor who delivered Dolly Parton.
Did you know that it actually holds church services every Sunday the park is open? Make sure to check the schedule before you visit, because there could be schedule changes. For example, during the Smoky Mountain Christmas season, church service takes place in the late afternoon.
The Dollywood Express is a World War II veteran.
Known as the "United States Army Transportation Corps S118 Steam Locomotives," the two Dollywood engines supported the American war effort by transporting essential supplies. Make sure to climb aboard this coal-fired steam train when you visit to receive more fun-filled facts from Dollywood's own train conductors.
Have you ever noticed these signs found hanging in various locations throughout the park? When a Dollywood employee reaches 30 years of service, Dollywood honors them with a personalized sign that adds to the theming of the park.
It includes their name and the year they began working at Dollywood with some other "Easter eggs." Next time you visit, see if you can find some and interpret what they mean.
You cannot miss the magnificent bald eagles when you walk through Craftsman's Valley.
Did you know Dollywood's Eagle Mountain Sanctuary is the largest presentation of non-releasable bald
eagles in the COUNTRY? I did not. Check out this behind-the-scenes blog to learn even more!
Dollywood is a top-notch theme park but did you know that Dollywood also is a winner of many
In 2022 alone, Dollywood was recognized as Tripadvisor's #1 Theme Park in the United States and won Golden Ticket Awards for Best Kids' Area, Best Christmas Event and Best Guest Experience. I cannot wait to see what awards are in store for 2023!
Dollywood is winning in other areas as well, in my opinion. Dollywood was the FIRST theme park to develop a calming room on-site in 2016.
The space offers a dedicated and quiet location for guests who may need a break from sensory overload while visiting the park. An outdoor calming area was added to Dollywood's Splash Country in 2017. Guests can call 1-800-Dollywood (1-800-365-5996) and speak with someone from the Ride Accessibility Center before visiting and/or check out this blog for more details.
My son Giffin wears his "Patron Saint" Dolly shirt proudly, because a saint we believe Dolly to be!
Not only has Dolly helped hundreds of thousands of children with the creation of Imagination Library (now serving the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and the Republic of Ireland), her efforts helped rebuild the local community after the Gatlinburg wildfires and helped fund programs during the pandemic. Did you know that Dollywood happens to be one of the largest employers in the region? Check out these perks for working at Dollywood!
I hope you have learned something new and will take what I have shared with you on your next visit to Dollywood.
All Insiders Behind the Scenes
All Insiders Behind the Scenes