This post continues our time in Gatlinburg, TN.
Today, our plan was to visit the Dollywood Theme Park.
Dollywood has been opened since 1986. However, the park actually traces its roots back to 1961 when Rebel Railroad first opened on the same site. It then became Goldrush Junction in 1970 after the owner of the Cleveland Browns purchased the park.
Then, in 1977, the park underwent yet another name change as well as a change in ownership when Jack and Pete Herschend purchased Goldrush and changed the name to Silver Dollar City.
In 1986, the Herschend Brothers welcomed another much-loved and recognizable East Tennessee tradition to the mix. Singer, songwriter and actress Dolly Parton, a Sevier County, Tennessee native and entertainment superstar, joined the Herschends in the theme park business in 1986. That same year, the park changed its name to Dollywood.
Since then, Dolly has opened many other businesses in the area such as Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Theater, Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show, Dollywood’s Splash Country, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins and Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa.
Dolly has dedicated her life to giving back to this area where she was born and raised.
I had only visited Dollywood once before and it was about 25 yrs ago so I didn’t remember anything about the park.
We arrived to the park around 11 am. The park is opened daily from 10 am to 7 pm.
We had to pay $25 to park and the park entrance fee was $89. We also decided to purchase the Flower & Food Festival Tasting pass for an additional $37. All in all, with taxes, we paid $309 for 2 tickets to the park, 2 food tasting passes & parking!
So, yes it’s expensive especially when you aren’t planning on riding any of the rides!
I think they need a reduced ticket for people like us! lol! 😉
After parking, we caught the shuttle to the entrance.
Since we had purchased our tickets online, we headed straight to the entrance gate instead of having to stand in a long line to purchase tickets!
Tip: Download the Dollywood Park app or pick up a paper map to help you navigate the park!
The park spans 150 acres and offers more than 40 rides and attractions, including Wild Eagle, the country’s first wing coaster.
You have a ton of restaurant choices when you get ready to eat!
See their restaurant guide here.
After entering the park, one of the first things you will see is the Dollywood sign where an employee will snap your picture!
We then headed for the area where we could use our food pass.
The pass allowed us to choose up to 5 different food or drink options for the price of the pass which was $37.
So, if you are at the park all day, it’s a great option!
The park was decorated with more than one million brilliant blooms and towering sculptures crafted from thousands of living plants and flowers, including a peacock, bears, an upside-down umbrella and even a beekeeper!
After finding the food, we decided on the chicken tacos for lunch…they were good but small!
After lunch, we walked around the park admiring all the flowers.
The flower and plant sculptures were so cool!
The park featured the Harvey Water Clock that was patented in 1798.
It’s the only one of its kind to ever be built.
The water turned the water wheel which turned the gears to register the hour, day, month and year!
We couldn’t pass up having our picture made in front of the colorful flower frame!
We checked out some of the many shops in the park.
At one of the shops, you could make your own knife!
A shot of the Robert F Thomas Chapel.
The chapel is named in honor of the doctor who delivered Dolly Rebecca Parton.
We passed the bald eagle exhibit where they keep injured eagles and rehabilitate them.
They also kept other birds that had been injured…I was amazed of how some of these birds ended up at Dollywood!
Like this red shouldered hawk!
A little boy in Georgia had found an egg on the ground and placed it in an incubator with his chicken eggs! After the egg hatched, he realized it wasn’t a chicken at all!
An old school house
Look at these rules for teachers back then!
The Hall Sisters were putting on a show at the chapel so we stood and listened to them for a while.
After listening for a while, we continued our stroll through the park.
We stopped and watched this gentleman making these cool pictures carved out on wood!
Next we headed to purchase some of that delicious, freshly made cinnamon bread that the park is known for! You can’t go to Dollywood and not purchase this bread!
The line was very long and stayed that way most of the day!
You can watch them make it right in front of you!
My sister and I shared a loaf and it was delicious!!
A shot of the grist mill where they make the bread.
After our yummy snack, we continued our walk through the park.
We spotted an old cabin that was a replica of Dolly’s home that she grew up in.
Her brother actually built this cabin and her mom decorated the interior with mostly items that are original to the Parton family.
Shots of the inside
As we continued our walk through the park, we spotted a tour bus that once belonged to Dolly.
They allowed people to walk through the bus and take pics so, of course, we couldn’t pass that up!
Note: Six days after we were there, Dolly visited the park for the opening of her new roller coaster! I was so upset that we missed seeing her!
Shots of her old tour bus that was designed by her and her sisters.
After touring the bus, we walked to a nearby theater where a show was about to start.
The show’s performers included one of Dolly’s nieces and Dolly’s cousin.
The show was all about Dolly and her songs…it lasted about 30 mins.
After the show, we did a little shopping in Dolly’s Closet clothing store.
Right outside the door of the store, there were street performers putting on a show!
After doing some shopping, we rode the carousel!
It was about the only ride that we were brave enough to ride! lol
Next, we decided to take a ride on the old steam engine train!
The train is an authentic 110-ton coal-fired steam engine that takes you on a ride around the park….it’s about a 20 min ride.
It was cool but be prepared to protect your eyes and clothes from the black coal cinders that is emitted from the train!
After the train ride, we waked into another theater and watched a short film called Heartsong in the Heartsong Theater.
Sorry, but it was cheesy and I would skip it!
Tip: Dolly is opening the new Heartsong Lodge & Resort this fall
After the movie, we headed to find something to eat.
We used our food pass to order a cuban sandwich and a ordered a blueberry boba tea.
Since I had two more food/drink items that I could use my pass on, I used it for another cuban sandwich to have for later and then we headed to the bakery to use it for a bakery item.
The bakery also had the cinnamon bread so I purchased 3 more loaves to take home!
After purchasing our baked goods, we left the park.
We decided to head back to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail to see if we could spot any bears.
Since the nature trail was only 1.5 miles from our hotel, we drove the road twice every day we were there!
Of course, we spotted more bears!
We had seen them every time we had driven the road!
We spotted a momma bear and her cub and pulled over and watched her for probably 30 mins!
We couldn’t get a good shot of them because they were too far away.
After leaving the nature trail, we stopped off at the Anakeesta parking lot to take pictures in front of the huge flower sculpture and the big chair!
We had forgotten to take pics here when we visted Anakeesta the night before so we went back to take them.
After leaving here, we headed back to our hotel and called it a night!
Thanks for reading!
Stay tuned for Day 4!