Friday, February 22, 2013
Location: Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, United States
Owner: Dolly Parton with Herschend Family Entertainment
1961 (as Rebel Railroad)
1986 (as Dollywood)
Operating season: March - December
Area: 150 acres (0.61 km2)
Rides Total: 27
Roller coasters: 6
Water rides: 4
Dollywood is a theme park owned by entertainer Dolly Parton and Herschend Family Entertainment. It is located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Dollywood has 3,000 people on its payroll, making it the largest employer in that community.
In addition to standard amusement park thrill rides, Dollywood features traditional crafts and music of the Smoky Mountains area. Dollywood also owns the adjacent Dollywood's Splash Country, and the chain of Dixie Stampede dinner theaters. The park hosts a number of concerts and musical events each year, including appearances by Parton and her family, as well as other national and local musical acts.
Dollywood hosts 2.5 million guests in a typical season, as of 2009, up from 1.3 million visitors in 1986, when the park opened on the site of Silver Dollar City theme park. As of 2010, the park was the biggest "ticketed" tourist attraction in Tennessee each year for more than a decade. Parton attributes much of the success of the park to its location close to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Since (as of 2010) 88 percent of tourists in Tennessee drive rather than fly, the economic impact of a large tourist attraction like Dollywood helps the economy in that region of the state, according to Susan Whitaker, the state tourism development commissioner. The theme park's operating season runs from early spring until around Christmas.
Dollywood is also the site of the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame, sponsored by the Southern Gospel Music Association, an independent non-profit corporation.
Parton said in 2010 that she would like to open more Dollywood parks in the future. "We definitely want to expand with new things every year, eventually with a resort," she said. "We may eventually have Dollywoods in other parts of the country, where we can kind of be true to whatever's going on in that part of the world."
The park first opened in 1961 as a small tourist attraction by the Robins Brothers from Blowing Rock, NC, named "Rebel Railroad", featuring a steam train, general store, blacksmith shop, and saloon. The park was modeled after their first successful theme park Tweetsie in Blowing Rock. In 1970, Rebel Railroad was renamed "Goldrush Junction" when it was bought by Art Modell, who also owned the Cleveland Browns football team. In 1976, Jack and Pete Herschend bought Goldrush Junction and renamed it "Goldrush" for the 1976 season. But in 1977, they renamed it "Silver Dollar City Tennessee" as a sister park to their original Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri.
In 1986, Dolly Parton became a co-owner, and the park was renamed "Dollywood". In 2010, Parton said she became involved with the operation because, "I always thought that if I made it big or got successful at what I had started out to do, that I wanted to come back to my part of the country and do something great, something that would bring a lot of jobs into this area."
From 1986 to 2010, the park doubled in size to 150 acres (0.61 km2). In 2009, the park had a six percent decline in attendance, which a park spokesman attributed to bad weather, although many other theme parks in the United States suffered attendance drops that year, as often happens to relatively high-priced tourist attractions in recessions. As of 2010, prices for admission to the park were $56 for adults and $45 for children.
On November 16, 2010, Dollywood earned the industry's most prestigious award, the Liseberg Applause Award, which was accepted by Dolly Parton during a ceremony at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2010 in Orlando.
Areas of the park
Further information: List of Dollywood attractions
Dollywood features a full-size steam train, one of the park's signature attractions.
Dollywood is organized into ten themed areas. The Showstreet, Rivertown Junction, Craftsmen's Valley, Village, Country Fair, Timber Canyon, and Jukebox Junction areas reflect the historical eras and culture of east Tennessee, while the Dreamland Forest and Adventures in Imagination areas explore Dolly Parton's life and imagination. Many attractions focus on the history and culture of the Southern Appalachian region.
Showstreet - Attractions include The Showstreet Palace Theatre, Friendship Gardens, The Celebrity Theatre, and The Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame.
Rivertown Junction - Attractions include The Tennessee Mountain Home, The Back Porch Theatre, and the Smoky Mountain River Rampage whitewater rafting ride.
Craftsmen's Valley - Attractions include The Dollywood Grist Mill, The Valley Theatre, Eagle Mountain Sanctuary, Wings of America Theatre, Robert F. Thomas Chapel, Calico Falls Schoolhouse, the Tennessee Tornado coaster, Blazing Fury coaster, Daredevil Falls flume ride, and craft exhibits.
The Village - Attractions include The Dollywood Express steam train, Heartsong, a Carousel, and the Magic Laughmaker.
The Country Fair - Rides include The Dizzy Disk, the Amazing Flying Elephants, Lemon Twist, Shooting Star, Sky Rider, Veggietales Sideshow Spin Kid's Rollercoaster, Waltzing Swinger, Piggy Parade, Busy Bees, Lucky Ducky, Dolly's Demolition Derby, The Scrambler, and the Wonder Wheel.
Timber Canyon - Attractions include the Mystery Mine coaster, the Thunderhead coaster, and Lumberjack Lifts.
Jukebox Junction - Attractions include the Rockin' Roadway car ride and The Pines Theatre.
Owen's Farm - Attractions include the Mountain Slidewinder water-toboggan ride, The Barnstormer, a barn and plane styled Giant Swing attraction. It will also include soft pigs, planes and other things for the visitor's enjoyment.
Adventures in Imagination - Attractions include "smokey mountain wilderness adventure" simulator ride and the "Chasing Rainbows" Dolly Parton museum.
Wilderness Pass - Attractions include the River Battle water ride, the SkyZip upcharge attraction, and Adventure Mountain, America's largest rope course, Wild Eagle, America's first winged coaster.
Dollywood features five festivals, each with unique entertainment, between the months of March and December.
Dollywood's Festival of Nations offers five weeks of cultural events by performers from around the world, including Kidsfest, a children's festival; Barbeque & Bluegrass, a bluegrass music and barbeque festival; the National Southern Gospel & Harvest Celebration, featuring gospel music and professional craftsmen.
1986: Silver Dollar City Tennessee reopens as Dollywood on May 3. The Rivertown Junction area, new for 1986, features the Smoky Mountain River Rampage, a whitewater rafting ride; The Back Porch Theatre; Aunt Granny's Dixie Fixins' Restaurant; and the Tennessee Mountain Home, a replica of the cabin in which Parton grew up. Also new is "Rags to Riches: The Dolly Parton Story"; a museum featuring articles and mementos from Dolly's life and career. "The Butter Churn" (a Trabant ride) is removed at the end of the season.
1987: The Daydream Ridge area opens, featuring the Mountain Slidewinder water toboggan ride; Mountain Dan's Burger House; Sweet Dreams Candy Shop; The Rainbow Factory blown glass shop; and the Critter Creek Playground.
1988: The 1,739-seat Celebrity Theatre is constructed adjacent to the entrance of the park. The theatre features the "Showcase of Stars" celebrity concert series. Five new children’s rides are added to the Fun Country area, including a Zamperla Balloon Race. The Dollywood Foundation is established to provide books and schools supplies for the children of Sevier County.
1989: Thunder Express, a steel mine train coaster, is built adjacent to Blazing Fury. The ride had been relocated to the park from Six Flags Over Mid-America. 1989 is the final season for the National Mountain Music Festival, which had been carried over from the Silver Dollar City years.
1990: A 1903 Antique Dentzel Carousel, originally built for Rocky Springs Park in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is relocated to the park. Situated near the train depot, it takes over the space previously occupied by the Silver Dollar Saloon. The 600-seat Gaslight Theatre opens near the Carousel. The Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival premiers in November, extending the park's operating season into December.
1991: Eagle Mountain Sanctuary, an outdoor aviary is added. Also new is the Wings of America Theatre, featuring the Birds of Prey show, and the 300-seat Valley Theatre.
1992: The Showstreet area is added, featuring the Showstreet Palace theatre; The Butterfly Emporium; The Backstage Restaurant; The Spotlight Bakery; the Friendship Gardens; and WDLY-FM; a working radio station. To accommodate the expansion, the park's main entrance is moved from Rivertown Junction to Showstreet. The Barnwood Theatre is converted into Imagination Station; an interactive children's play area. 1992 is the first season Dollywood's annual attendance tops 2 million.
1993: The Fun Country area is renovated into The Country Fair, featuring three new rides: The Wonder Wheel, a 60 ft (18 m) tall Ferris wheel; Twist and Shout, a "Scrambler" ride; and the Tennessee Twister, a tilt-a-whirl. The Balloon Race ride is relocated to the Daydream Ridge area to make room for the new attractions. Also new at the park this season is the "Sunset Musicfest", a summer music festival.
1994: The Gaslight Theatre becomes the Heartsong Theatre, featuring "Heartsong", a multi-media musical presentation that tells the story of Dolly Parton's life.
1995: The Jukebox Junction 1950's themed area is added, featuring Rockin' Roadway; a miniature car ride, The Pines Theatre, Red's Diner, and Cas Walker's Music Store. The Sunset Musicfest does not return for the 1995 season.
1996: The Dollywood Boulevard area is added, featuring "Thunder Road", a turbo-simulator ride based upon the 1957 movie of the same name. The area also featured the Silver Screen Café; a 1950's cinema themed restaurant, and the Centerstage gift shop.
1997: "U Pick Nick", a children's show featuring themes from the Nickelodeon television network, plays in the Celebrity Theatre during the summer. The Flooded Mine dark-ride is closed and demolished in October. The Silver Screen Cafe is refurbished to DJ Platters in the Dollywood Boulevard area.
1998: Daredevil Falls, a new shoot the chutes flume ride, opens in area formerly occupied by the Flooded Mine. At the time of its opening, it was billed as "The Highest and Fastest Waterfall ride in America" featuring a 62 ft (19 m) drop. Thunder Express is closed in September and removed from the park. It is sold to the Magic Springs Theme Park in Arkansas. The antique carousel is removed at the end of the season and replaced by a new Chance Rides carousel.
1999: The Tennessee Tornado; a steel looping coaster, opens in the area formerly occupied by Thunder Express. Also new is the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame. The Balloon Race ride is removed from the park.
2000: The Daydream Ridge area is renovated into Dreamland Forest, an interactive children's area.
2001: The Festival of Nations international festival premiers in April. Dolly's Splash Country, a new 25-acre (100,000 m2) water park, is opened adjacent to Dollywood's parking lot. Admission is separate from Dollywood.
2002: Dollywood Boulevard is renovated into a new area, Adventures in Imagination. The Smoky Mountain Wilderness Adventure; a new simulator film, replaces Thunder Road. Chasing Rainbows, a new Dolly museum, opens in the building formerly occupied by DJ Platters.
2003: Kidsfest, a summer children's festival, premiers. Imagination Station is converted into Celebration Hall, a special events facility. 2003 is the final season for the "Showcase of Stars" celebrity concert series.
2004: A new area of the park, "Thunderhead Gap", opens featuring the Thunderhead a wooden roller coaster. The construction of the new area opens up a new valley for the park to expand into. The Country Fair Falls log flume is demolished in November. Most of the other Country Fair rides, including the Swingamajig, The Tennessee Twister, The Convoy, and The Barnstormer, are removed at the end of the season to free up space for newer rides.
2005: The Country Fair area is renovated to include 10 new rides: Dizzy Disk, the Amazing Flying Elephants, Lemon Twist, Shooting Star, Sky Rider, Veggietales Sideshow Spin Kid's roller coaster, Waltzing Swinger, Piggy Parade, Busy Bees, and Lucky Ducky.
2006: The Timber Tower ride, along with Lil' Loggers Landing, Beaver Creek, Beaver Creek Boat Float, and the Lumberjack Lifts, opened in a new area adjacent to Thunderhead. Timber Tower was dismantled following a lawsuit with the ride manufacturing before for the 2012 season opener.
2007: The Mystery Mine, a Gerstlauer Eurofighter coaster with two vertical lifts, a 95 degree, 85 ft (26 m) drop, a heartline roll, and a dive loop, was built. The $17 million-dollar ride is heavily themed as an old abandoned mine shaft. In November, the original entrance road to the theme park's parking lot on Dollywood Lane is permanently closed to the public. All cars now enter the parking lot off Veteran's Boulevard via McCarter Hollow Road.
2008: River Battle, an interactive water raft ride, is built in a new section of the park called "Wilderness Pass" that connects the Timber Canyon and Craftsmen's Valley areas. "Thunder Road" returns to the motion theatre, (now called the "Imagination Cinema") replacing Smoky Mountain Wilderness Adventure. Della's Lye Soap shop is moved from Craftsmens Valley to the Wilderness Pass area. In its place is a new an exhibit housing the Wings of America show birds. The Polar Express 4-D Experience is shown in the Imagination Cinema during the park's Smoky Mountain Christmas.
2009: Dollywood features two new shows "Imaginé" and "Sha-Kon-O-Hey! Land of Blue Smoke,". "Imaginé" is presented by Le Grand Cirque and is headlining the park's Festival of Nations. "Sha-Kon-O-Hey! Land of Blue Smoke" is a major production based on the last family living in the Smoky Mountains at the time it becomes a National Park. "Sha-Kon-O-Hey! Land of Blue Smoke" features music written by Dolly Parton. "Thunder Road" is renamed "White Lightning" and then changed to a new attraction- Journey To The Center Of The Earth 4D based on the 2008 remake of the original film. "SkyZip" owned by Skyline Eco-Adventures of Maui, Hawaii expands to Dollywood opening the first multi-line zipline tour inside of a theme park.
2010: The Adventure Mountain attraction, delayed in 2009, is set to open in 2010. This attraction, built at a cost of $6 million, will open in the new Wilderness Pass area of Dollywood. It will feature four distinct adventure courses ranging from easy to expert including 100 different rope features, swinging beams, suspension bridges, flying islands and a tire traverse. Adventure trails will range from a few inches above ground to more than 26 feet (7.9 m) in the air. For younger kids, the area will include a scaled-down play area, called Camp Teachittoomee. Adventure Mountain Website and timber tower is closed at the end of the season.
2011: Barnstormer opened in March 2011. The $5.5 million giant swing is situated in a barnyard-themed area which also includes a play area for younger guests. The ride features two pendulum arms with seating for 32 riders. Seated back to back, riders travel progressively higher on each swing of the Barnstormer’s massive arms, reaching a maximum speed of 65 miles per hour and 230 degrees of rotation. At its peak, the Barnstormer reaches 89 feet (27 m) in the air, taking riders high above the barn’s rooftop and the area’s treetops. The ride is located where the Dreamland Forest section once was. The new area is called "Owen's Farm". Barnstormer Website
2012: Wild Eagle opened March 24, 2012 . It is the first Bolliger & Mabillard Wing Coaster in the United States and it is the biggest investment in Dollywood history. The Timber Tower ride is removed. Dollywood announces their partnership with Gaylord to build an indoor water and snow park in Nashville, TN adjacent to Opryland that is expected to open in 2014. The park also buys the SkyZip zip line attraction from its operator.
2013: Dollywood has dedicated 2013 to encouraging families to spend time together. The park will add the shows Cirque Shanghai, Mystic India, and One World Party to the Festival of The Nations along with over 50 new international food items. They also will introduce the new Festival, "Great American Summer" which will replace KidsFest. This Festival will include, The Great American Country Show, Gazillion Bubbles, The Little Engine Playhouse, and Salute to America. During this Festival, Dollywood will extend their hours to 10:00am – 10:00pm and add a nightly Firework show. Dollywood will also feature their version of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol during their Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival. Their adjacent park, Dollywood's Splash Country will add the $5 million, River Rush. It will be Tennessee's first water coaster and is expected to open in May 2013. River Rush will be located between Big Bear Plunge and Bear Mountain Fire Tower.
List of Dollywood attractions
List of Dollywood entertainment
Posted by Palmer at 4:31 PM