Just like the voluptuous country music superstar the park is named after, there is so much more to Dollywood than meets the eye. Owned by Dolly Parton and Herschend Family Entertainment, Dollywood is all at once an amusement park, a musical destination, a cultural experience and an exceptional venue for unforgettable meetings.
Located near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, the park first opened in 1961 as a small Appalachian attraction called Rebel Railroad. At the time, the park’s main attractions were a steam train, a general store, a working blacksmith shop, and a saloon. As the years went by, the park changed ownership but didn’t experience much growth until the Queen of Country Music herself stepped in to fulfill an early promise she made early in her career. Dolly officially opened Dollywood on May 3, 1986, and was famously quoted as saying how she always thought that if she got successful that she would come back to her home and do something great that would bring jobs to the area.
Since she took over as part owner, the park has become the largest employer in Sevier Country, Tennessee, and is the state’s top ticketed attraction, doubling in size to 150 acres over the past 25 years and welcoming more than 2.5 million visitors annually. Open March through January, the park offers celebrated rides, unique shows and crafts demonstrations along with five award-winning festivals annually.
“What really makes Dollywood special is the people,” said Pete Owens, director of public relations for Dollywood. “There are very few places were you can go and feel as welcome as you are at Dollywood. There is such a variety of things to do for all different age groups.”
Dollywood is a virtual amusement multiplex, organized into ten separate themed areas that include The Showstreet, Rivertown Junction, Owens Farm, Adventures in Imagination, Craftsmen’s Valley, The Village, Wilderness Pass, Country Fair, Timber Canyon, and Jukebox Junction. The park has four functional indoor theatres that are available for meetings and events, seating anywhere from 200-1,750. For groups looking to eat and meet, the park rents out four restaurants for smaller groups, a picnic facility that is capable of seating 200+ guests, and opens up for catered meals at The Blue Ribbon Pavilion (500 people per hour) and Celebration Hall (400 people per hour).
Catering and Dining
The kitchens at Dollywood can whip up some Southern specialties such as pulled pork and corn on the cob for any size group. Depending on the group’s needs, the park can either offer dining vouchers for each member to choose which restaurant to spend their Dollywood dollars during their free time or custom catering with their base catering menus. The culinary team has cooked for thousands of guests throughout the years, with all ranges of special dietary requirements and health concerns, and can adapt their menus to accommodate special requests. Alcohol is not permitted.
Amusement is king at this park built by “the Queen,” and park admission is included in group tickets and meeting/event per person rates at Dollywood. The sales team offers special add-on packages for groups that include everything from photo prints to park-hopper passes, dining vouchers and more. The main attractions at the park include several “first of their kind” roller coasters like the Wild Eagle and Mystery Mine, but Dollywood offers more than 40 rides and attractions throughout the 150 acres of the Smoky Mountain themed park. Don’t miss attractions include daily demonstrations of ancient crafts and, of course, the award-winning shows and musical events.
The hospitality and variety of activities at the theme park make Dollywood an incredible destination for meeting groups or events, offering an authentic Southern experience for anyone seeking that Smoky Mountain charm. Beginning in summer 2015, the park will become even more hospitable as it opens Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort. The resort will feature 307 rooms, a spa and salon, an outdoor resort pool and indoor pool, a full service restaurant, and approximately 6,000 square feet of meeting space. Guests of the hotel will have access to exclusive park privileges and transportation, as well as access to the many storytelling spots, fire pits, hammocks, and swings spread throughout this family-friendly property.
Location: Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Type of Venue: Off site; theme park
Accommodations: Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort