Facts About Dollywood: 10 You Didn’t Know

The smell of sweet cinnamon bread from Grist Mill, the down-home charm of the Great Smoky Mountains, and plenty of hair-raising roller coasters. Thinking of visiting Dollywood? Dive into reasons that make this theme park more than just rides, from unique attractions and heartwarming history to mouthwatering treats!

Ever found yourself asking questions like, who owns Dollywood? Or pondered, how much of Dollywood does Dolly own? Maybe you’ve even wondered, “how often does Dolly Parton visit Dollywood?” We’ve seen these queries swirling around the web and decided it’s high time to set the record straight! Keep reading to discover the most interesting Dollywood facts!

Dollywood is not just any theme park. For decades, it has stood tall as one of the most cherished in the United States. In fact, in 2022, it proudly took the crown as the best theme park in the US! While its association with the legendary Dolly Parton might be its claim to fame, Dollywood is also a favorite because of the heart-pounding thrills that both locals and international visitors can’t get enough of.

But here’s the thing–even after decades of roller coasters, festivals, and mouthwatering treats, there’s still so much that remains unknown about this magical place. Join us as we unravel ten fascinating facts about Dollywood that’ll make you appreciate the park even more.

10 Interesting Facts About Dollywood

1. Dollywood Wasn’t Always Dollywood

Believe it or not, the rich history of Dollywood goes beyond its iconic name. The Dollywood before Dollywood that we recognize today started as a modest attraction named Rebel Railroad, which boasted features like a coal fired steam engine, a general store, a blacksmith shop, and a lively saloon.

By 1970, it evolved into Goldrush Junction. However, the story didn’t end there. In 1976, after being acquired by Herschend Enterprises, it was rechristened as Silver Dollar City. Today, you can find Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO.

So, you might wonder, “When was Dollywood built?” The transformation to Dollywood occurred in 1986, located in the same beloved spot in Sevier County, after Dolly Parton herself became enamored with the park. And if you’re asking, “When did Dollywood open?” or “When did Dolly Parton open Dollywood?” the gates officially swung open in May 1986.

On that historic day, traffic was backed up for an impressive 6 miles down US 441! The saga of Dollywood history continues, with 3 million people enjoying the beloved theme park’s attractions each year.

roller coaster ride at dollywood in pigeon forge
Photo Credit: Dollywood / Facebook

2. Dolly Parton is Not the Sole Owner of Dollywood

The connection between Dolly Parton and Dollywood often sparks a whirlwind of questions. First off, Dolly Parton is not the CEO of the theme park. Nor is she the sole commander-in-chief.

So, when someone pops the question, “When did Dolly sell Dollywood?”, it’s essential to note that while Dollywood proudly bears her name, it was never entirely hers to sell. The park’s true steward is Herschend Family Entertainment, the brains behind other big names like SeaWorld and over 20 other theme parks in the United States.

Related Post: Dollywood Kids Rides: A Parents’ Complete Guide

But wait, “Does Dolly Parton still own Dollywood?” Here’s the scoop–Dolly Parton Production has a 50 percent stake in the park. And if you’re itching to know, “How much does Dolly Parton make from Dollywood?” Word on the street is that her stake in the park is valued at a cool $165 million. Quite the hefty sum, wouldn’t you say?

3. Dolly Parton Frequently Visits Dollywood… But She Doesn’t Ride the Roller Coasters

It’s a common curiosity–how often is Dolly at Dollywood?

After all, the theme park is partly her brainchild and carries her iconic name. While there isn’t an exact number to answer “How often does Dolly Parton go to Dollywood?” insider chatter suggests she drops by multiple times a year. Whether it’s for business rendezvous, casual check-ins, or her scheduled public events, like the much-talked-about opening of Big Bear Mountain, where she showed up dressed as “bear bait.”

So, if you’re at Dollywood, look around. Dolly might be observing you from afar, delighting in your screams on the latest roller coaster.

Speaking of roller coasters, don’t expect to see her in the seat next to you on those exhilarating rides. Despite owning a theme park, Dolly steers clear of the roller coasters. Why? The beloved singer candidly shared her motion sickness tales, reminiscing about those queasy school bus rides. Plus, she jests about having a lot to lose–like her hair, for one!

Close up of the Dollywood Express in motion at Dollywood on a sunny day in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, USA
photo credit: Dollywood via Facebook

4. Dollywood Adds a New Attraction Each Year

With an array of thrilling roller coasters and captivating rides at Dollywood, the park always finds ways to elevate the experience. Each year, they introduce a fresh attraction, ensuring the park’s magic remains evergreen.

Do you remember back in 2016 when they unleashed the Lightning Rod? It’s still one of the country’s fastest roller coasters! Fast-forward to this year, and it’s all about embracing the wilderness. The spotlight is on the newly minted Big Bear Mountain–the park’s longest and most majestic roller coaster yet.

Related Post: Dollywood Tickets Discount – Ultimate Savings Guide

You might wonder, “How big is Dollywood?” given its consistent expansion. Spanning how many acres is Dollywood? A vast 160 acres! This expansive space not only accommodates new rides but also grand events like the Festival of Nations, a month-long celebration of global music, delicacies, culture, and entertainment. Truly, at Dollywood, the adventure never stops.

5. Dollywood is a Place for Foodies

Dollywood isn’t just a haven for thrill-seekers. It’s a paradise for food enthusiasts too! You’ve probably heard the whispers about the legendary cinnamon bread at Dollywood’s Grist Mill. Die-hard fans will insist you haven’t truly experienced Dollywood without tasting it. But there’s more to savor!

One of the tastiest Dollywood secrets? The colossal 25-pound apple pie is baked daily in the Spotlight Bakery, crafted from scratch, and baked in a cast iron skillet. The moment you enter the bakery, you’ll be left drooling by the irresistible aroma–a mix of apples, cinnamon, butter, and sugar. Yum!

Wondering, “Is Dollywood a dry park?” Indeed, Dollywood refrains from serving alcohol. However, for those looking for a tipple, Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort offers alcoholic beverages at its Song & Hearth restaurant.

As for settling your bill, if you’re thinking, “Does Dollywood accept Apple Pay?” the answer is no. But don’t fret–they gladly accept mainstays like Visa and Mastercard.

Close up of a grill full of cron, chicken, and sausages at the BBQ and Blue Grass Festival at Dollywood - Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, USA
photo credit: Dollywood via Facebook

6. There is a Church Inside Dollywood

Dollywood is a place where families and friends go to have fun and feel the thrill. But beyond the rides and fanfare, Dollywood holds a spiritual touch. Nestled within the park is the Robert F Thomas Chapel, named in honor of the doctor who ushered Dolly Parton into the world. Additionally, given Dolly’s early tryst with singing in church, it’s no wonder a chapel finds its place in the park.

Related Post: Dollywood Tips and Tricks – An Insider’s Guide

Now, you might be wondering, “Is Dollywood open on Sundays?” the answer is a resounding yes! In fact, for those seeking a moment of serenity, there’s a chapel service every Sunday at 11:00 AM.

The festive season also brings Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas, where the park transforms with dazzling lights and heartwarming shows, some hosted right within the sacred walls of the chapel, reflecting the true essence of Christmas.

7. Dollywood is Home to Two World War II Veterans

Within Dollywood’s expanse lie some fascinating Dollywood hidden secrets, sometimes right in plain sight. Take the Dollywood Express, for instance. This beloved attraction whistles and chugs through the park, enchanting guests with scenic views.

It might surprise you that these two steam engines have played an even more important role–they assisted in the delivery of vital supplies during World War II! These days, the locomotives whisk visitors on a 5-mile adventure, showcasing the breathtaking beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains. Talk about history in motion!

Close up of a butterfly sculpture with another one in the background along with trees and a souvenir stand at the Flowers and Food Festival at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, USA
photo credit: Dollywood via Facebook

8. Dollywood Has An Eagle Mountain Sanctuary

One of Dollywood’s lesser-known treasures is its commitment to wildlife conservation. Nestled within Craftsman’s Valley, the park boasts the Eagle Mountain Sanctuary – the country’s largest presentation of non-releasable bald eagles. This sanctuary is more than just an exhibit. It’s also an active conservation effort.

Related Post: Dollywood Rides for Toddlers: A Parent’s Essential Guide to the Park

Here, the eagles are nurtured and cared for, with man-made nesting structures provided to encourage nesting pairs. The park’s initiative not only educates visitors but ensures these magnificent creatures, akin to the park’s wild eagle rides, remain a symbol of pride for generations to come.

9. Pets are Welcome at Dollywood’s Doggywood

Dollywood is located where families visit to explore, and more often than not, they bring Fido along for the ride too. Recognizing that many families love traveling with their four-legged members, Dollywood has created Doggywood.

While your pets can’t join you on the roller coasters, they have their own special place to unwind. Doggywood is designed for dogs to chill out, ensuring they’re safe and comfortable. So, bring Fido along! While you’re diving into the park’s adventures, your pup can have its own little vacation at Doggywood.

Close up of two little girls sitting near a garden at Dollywood eating popcorn on a sunny day
photo credit: Dollywood via Facebook

10. Dollywood is the First Theme Park to Have an On-Site Calming Room

Dollywood isn’t just another place where roller coasters rule and adrenaline spikes are the norm. In fact, the park has consistently shown a deep understanding of its guests’ varied needs. While many look forward to the excitement and adventure, there are those who can get overwhelmed.

Recognizing this, Dollywood built an on-site calming room, becoming the first-ever theme park to do so. This space is adorned with cool, soothing colors and comes equipped with everything from a rocking chair to a sensory play wall.

Whether it’s the crowds, unexpected noises, or simply a deviation from the usual routine, Dollywood ensures every guest feels safe, understood, and valued.

Experience Dolly Parton’s Family of Attractions

Interesting Dollywood facts abound, and make us appreciate it more! However, Dolly Parton’s magic doesn’t stop with this beloved theme park. Extend your Dolly adventure by visiting other attractions–dive into fun at Dollywood’s Splash Country Water Park or be mesmerized at Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Attraction.

If you’re planning to tick off multiple spots, consider bundling your tickets on Tripster. The Pigeon Forge Vacation Package lets you customize your experience, ensuring both convenience and savings. So, when you next find yourself in Pigeon Forge Tennessee, dive deep into the world of Dolly, and don’t forget to share your discoveries with us!

Have You Been to Dollywood?

Which ride or experience is your favorite? Have any Dollywood facts to share? Leave us a comment below!

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Written by Nicole King

There are only two things that make Nicole really happy–books and travel! When her head’s not buried in a book, she’s most likely...

1 comment about “Facts About Dollywood: 10 You Didn’t Know”

Juilena Watson

November 7, 2023 at 3:15 pm

I love Tennessee twister years ago

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