Dollywood: A Family Amusement Park
Located near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Dollywood is Tennessee’s top ticketed attraction. The award-winning theme park, which hosts nearly 2.5 million visitors per year, celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2010. Ticket prices range from $45-55. There are dozens of hotels close to Dollywood, if you need to stay overnight. Music Road Hotel
and The Inn at Christmas Place
are two of the area’s best.
Timber Tower and Thunderhead
Thunderhead is one of Dollywood’s most popular rides. The roller coaster is a turbulent wooden ride with a 100-foot drop and speeds reaching 55 mph. The nearby Timber Tower rises 65 feet in the air before it starts spinning and toppling riders 60 degrees in various directions.
Prepared to get wet on this coaster, which uses the Smoky Mountain terrain as its path. Riders hike through the landscape before sliding back down the mountainside in toboggans.
This steel coaster’s theme is an abandoned coalmine, and it tells the tale using special effects. It was the first Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter roller coaster in the United States when it opened in 2007. The ride has many twists and turns—and an 85-foot, 95-degree vertical drop that’s too exciting to miss.
Smoky Mountain River Rampage
White water rafting on the Smoky Mountain River Rampage is the perfect way to cool down on a hot day. The twists and dips along the way will splash riders.
Opened in 1999, the Tennessee Tornado is a triple-looping steel roller coaster with a maximum speed of 70 mph. The highlight of this ride is the 128-foot drop through an actual mountain.
Eagle Mountain Sanctuary
Dollywood is home to the country’s largest presentation of non-releasable bald eagles. Members of the American Eagle Foundation care for the birds in a 30,000-square-foot aviary. The Wings of America show gives an up-close view of eagles, hawks and other birds of prey.
Smoky Mountain Home
Dolly mentions her Tennessee upbringing often, and visitors can see just what she’s talking about when they step into a replica of her childhood home. Dolly, her parents and 11 siblings lived in a two-room mountain house with no electricity or running water.
Demonstrations from the area’s master craftsmen and artisans take place daily at Dollywood. Stop to see the blacksmith forge iron and steel items, or the glass blower making pitchers, vases, lamps and other ornaments.
Dollywood features an array of Southern cooking from chicken fried steak to barbecue pork sandwiches. You’ll find full-service dining and fast food options throughout the park. Stop by PaPaw’s Flat Bread (pictured) for a sandwich grilled in Dollywood’s signature Big Skillet.
Dollywood offers some of the best live stage shows in eastern Tennessee. Whether you’re interested in country, bluegrass, Southern gospel or classic rock, Dollywood has it all. Sha-Kon-O-Hey! (pictured) explores the heritage of the Smoky Mountains through music with eight songs written by Dolly.
Dollywood’s Splash Country
is a “Must-See” water park, according to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. With more than 30 acres of wet and wild adventure, it’s the perfect spot to spend a summer day. The park is adjacent to Dollywood, but visitors should be prepared to spend a whole day at the water park to enjoy all the rides. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen, as most rides are in the sun. Admission costs $40-45 per person. There is no cost for children three years old and under.
Downbound Float Trip
Located in Dollywood’s Splash Country, the Downbound Float Trip is 1,500 feet long. Basking in the summer sun while viewing the Smoky Mountains may be the most relaxing part of your trip. Fun fact: More than 1 million gallons of water are used to fill the Downbound Float Trip and the 25,000-square-foot Mountain Waves wave pool.
Wild River Falls
A mix of open and closed tunnel slides make up this Splash Country water ride. Riders use inner tubes to wind down four unique slides.