DOLLYWOOD & Splash Country
Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Herschend Family Entertainment
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(12/24/17) Major Site Clearing Taking Place For Unknown 2019 Project (MORE...)
(11/6/17) Dollywood Shows Off Art For "The Venue" in 2018 (MORE...)
(11/4/17) The Season of Showstoppers (MORE...)
(10/20/17) Dollywood Hosts Light The Way 5K Walk/Run Event This November (MORE...)
Dixie Stampede (2016) Review
DOLLYWOOD’S SPLASH COUNTRY WATERPARK - OFFICIAL REVIEW
FireChaser Express Grand Opening & Review - Click Here
Dollywood DreamMore Resort (MORE...)
General Park News - (10/20/17) Participants in the sixth annual Light the Way 5K Run/Walk will see Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana in a different light – actually four million lights – as the theme park hosts this special event on Friday, Nov. 10 beginning at 11:17 p.m. A new element of fun for this year’s event is a one-mile fun walk that will be held concurrently with the 5K race for those who want to participate at a more leisurely pace through the twinkling holiday lights.
Proceeds from the event benefit Keep Sevier Beautiful (KSB) and the Share It Forward (SIF) program at Dollywood. KSB, an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, is a volunteer-based organization which focuses on waste reduction/recycling, litter prevention and beautifying public spaces through education and community-based programs. KSB’s goal is to protect the natural beauty of the area that millions of visitors come to see each year. SIF is a non-profit charity established for the purpose of raising and using funds to assist The Dollywood Company employees and their families in times of need.
“The beauty of Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas festival combined with the challenge of a course that only a theme park can provide makes Light the Way a one-of-a-kind event for runners and walkers,” said David Owenby, Director of the Share It Forward program. “But most importantly, this event helps provide our non-profit organizations with financial assistance just before the holidays,” added Lisa Bryant, Executive Director of Keep Sevier Beautiful.
Light the Way 5K Run/Walk participants are treated to a unique course decorated by the park’s four million Christmas lights, beginning their journey at Dollywood’s groups’ entrance, traversing through the parking lot and then winding through the theme park.
The certified race will be chip timed and managed by Scenic City Multi-Sports. Awards will be presented to the top three overall for male and female participants.
Pre-registration is encouraged for the Light the Way 5K as the race is limited to 2,017 participants. Registration fee until race day is $45. Register online at www.lighttheway5k.net. Race day registration takes place from 11 a.m. -10 p.m. at the front gate area at Dollywood’s Splash Country.
(9/14/17) Dollywood won four awards from this year's Golden Ticket Awards presentation: Friendliest Park (6th year in a row), Best Shows (9th year in a row), Best Christmas Event (10 wins) and Best Food (4th win).
(9/5/17) Dollywood is offering a special vacation package you might enjoy for travel takes between now and Dec. 31st, 2017 called the Resort Dinner Show Package. The deal includes a stay at Dollywood's DreamMore Resort (See our review!) along with two tickets to Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede OR Dolly Parton's Smoky Mountain Adventure dinner theater shows. For details, click here.
(8/24/17) I'm kinda sad about this one, as I used to have a blast riding this with my kids on a hot summer day, but according to an official post by Dollywood on their Facebook page the park will remove the River Battle attraction at the end of the summer season... so your last day to ride is Sept. 4th. I'm guessing that perhaps the site may be used for something else next season perhaps. Anyone know more?
In other news Dollywood has announced their plans to launch an all new family friendly fall event this year after dark to be called Great Pumpkin LumiNights. The idea is to take the same concept that the park does at Christmas time by filling the park with thousands of lights, but for the fall the park's Timber Canyon area will be illuminated with glowing pumpkins everywhere you look.
During the daytime the park will host Dollywood's Harvest Festival presented by Humana from Sept. 29 through Oct. 28 where the biggest names in Southern gospel take to stages every day throughout the park with more than 500 individual performances during the run of the festival. This will be followed nightly for the first time by the new Great Pumpkin LumiNights.
Families will bask in the glow of thousands of intricately-carved pumpkins as they wander through immersive harvest-themed displays throughout Dollywood’s Timber Canyon. Beyond the impressive displays, guests can find a number of exciting activities to create thrilling memories together. With so many carved pumpkins needed to create Great Pumpkin LumiNights, Dollywood has a number of “pumpkin artists” who will host demonstrations to help guests learn how to produce the perfect pumpkin masterpiece.
Unique harvest games and attractions—including a glow maze—for kids, a nightly Pumpkin Boogie dance party, and friendly costume characters help add to the festive atmosphere. New themed food options and exclusive harvest-themed Coca-Cola products make Great Pumpkin LumiNights the place to be when the sun goes down in the Smokies.
The park’s Year of the Family continues with America’s most-loved holiday theme park event, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana (Nov. 4- Jan. 1, 2018). Honored for nine-consecutive years with Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket for Best Christmas Event, Dollywood is home to a festive holiday atmosphere that truly puts guests in the holiday spirit.
“I just love Christmas at Dollywood, and I know you all do too,” Parton said. “The Parade of Many Colors is back this Christmas, along with seven holiday shows and four million beautiful lights. We even have Rudolph and his friends back for another year of creating family memories. It will be a November and December to remember!”
From the spectacular shows and elaborate holiday decorations to the four million sparkling lights and Christmas-themed menus, Dollywood captures the essence of Christmas in the Smoky Mountains.
Parton also spoke about her newest project, a children’s CD entitled I Believe in You. The CD will be released in September and features songs she has written throughout the years for Dollywood’s Little Engine Playhouse. It includes a new version of Coat of Many Colors which debuted in the playhouse this summer.
2018 - The “Season of Showstoppers” and “The Venue” - (11/6/17) Another note from Dollywood describes "The Venue", a new themed multi-purpose area that will replace the park's closed River Battle ride between Mystery Mine and the entrance to Wild Eagle. While it will have a natural looking theme to it, the area is being designed with the idea of being able to overlay extra themeing to it to tie into whatever special event or seasonal holiday is being celebrated in the park at any given time of year.
(11/4/17) Dolly Parton and Dollywood have announced that in 2018 the park will make their 'largest entertainment investment in history'. This will take the form of an unprecedented lineup of performers coming to Dollywood throughout the 2018 season in what Dolly has called a, "Season of Showstoppers".
“Music is the universal language that unites all of us,” Parton explained. “It celebrates our people, our families and our communities. I’ve made music my life’s work because I feel each and every one of us has a special song to sing. I’ve made sure that here at my Dollywood, we use music to encourage and inspire those songs in each and every one of our shows.”
Dollywood’s 2018 entertainment roster reads like the nomination list from an awards ceremony. A range of performers—from CMA Hall of Fame members to emerging artists—ensure there is something for everyone. Combined, the headlining artists performing at Dollywood in 2018 have 42 gold albums, 18 platinum albums, 30 Grammys, 14 Country Music Association Awards, 10 American Country Music Awards, five American Music Association Awards and 62 Dove Awards.
It all begins with Dollywood’s Festival of Nations (March 17-April 9) which includes headliners National Dance Company of Siberia, The Flamenco Kings starring Los Vivancos, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
April plays host to three weeks (April 11-29) of stellar performances during the all-new Spring Mix music series. Dollywood guests can expect performances by Dollywood entertainment alumnus Bogguss, Sheppard, Pam Tillis, Gayle, Connie Smith and Shenandoah during the first week of the event. The second week plays host to artists such as Amy Grant, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Larnelle Harris, David Phelps and comedienne Chonda Pierce – also known as “The Queen of Clean.”
Classic artists like The Marshall Tucker Band (Can’t You See and Heard it in a Love Song), The Drifters (Under the Boardwalk and Save the Last Dance for Me), Debby Boone (You Light Up My Life), The Atlanta Rhythm Section (So Into You and Imaginary Lover), Firefall (Just Remember I Love You and You Are the Woman), and Al Stewart (The Year of the Cat and Song on the Radio) entertain park guests during the final week of the event. Individual concert dates and show times will be announced at a later date.
Already one of the nation’s best bluegrass events, Dollywood’s Barbeque & Bluegrass (May 25- June 10) adds an extra week of concerts from the biggest names in the business. Guests should expect hundreds of live bluegrass performances during the festival with headline shows from Grammy and IBMA winner Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, and IMBA winners Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, Dailey & Vincent, and many more.
Families have a multitude of world-renowned options to keep them entertained during Dollywood’s Summer Celebration. iLuminate, finalists on America’s Got Talent in 2011, bring their electrified glow-in-the-dark costumes to DP’s Celebrity Theater to perform dynamic dance routines and illusions to thrill guests. Summer 2018 also sees international touring sensation DRUMLine Live! visit the park with riveting rhythms, bold beats and ear-grabbing energy. Developed by the consultants of the hit 2002 movie Drumline, the band featured in this exhilarating show creates a synchronized musical masterpiece for guests—it’s more than just the typical halftime performance! Dan Dunn—America’s favorite speed painter—brings his innovative and mesmerizing PaintJam to Dollywood. Audiences will be astonished as he creates stunning works of art on a spinning 360-degree canvas, while he dances and moves throughout the performance.
Dollywood’s popular Rock the Smokies moves to August 25 with TobyMac and Crowder serving as headliners. Multiple contemporary Christian artists perform throughout the park during this exciting conclusion to the summer.
Dollywood’s Harvest Festival presented by Humana (Sept. 28 – Nov. 3) provides more fall family fun with the expansion of the new guest-favorite Great Pumpkin LumiNights and the largest Southern gospel event in America. During the festival, several hundred performances by Southern gospel royalty take place during the day, while at night, thousands of carved pumpkins illuminate the dark with an expanded number of displays and activities for families to enjoy. Dollywood guests also can enjoy the spectacular artistry of visiting crafters from across the country, or sample the special harvest-themed food items from Dollywood’s award-winning foods team.
Dollywood’s 2018 season again ends with America’s favorite theme park holiday event, Smoky Mountain Christmas. Voted as the best theme park Christmas event for a decade, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana (Nov. 10, 2018 – Jan. 5, 2019) features four million spectacular lights, classic holiday entertainment—including Christmas in the Smokies and It’s a Wonderful Life—Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Friends, and the heartwarming Parade of Many Colors.
2019 - Unknown Expansion Project - (12/24/17) Screamscape has been getting some interesting reports about new construction taking place at Dollywood as of late. As previously reported, River Battle is coming out to be replaced by "The Venue". Meanwhile, over the last several years we've witnessed a slow but steady clearing of the land along the upper end of the train route. Several years ago the large circle / turnaround area at the top of the line used to be forested, but was cleared out for unknown reasons, and ever since then the land near the train tracks leading up to this point behind Firechaser Express and now down to the hillside behind Thunderhead has been slowly been cleared and leveled for some kind of unknown future project.
Well now it looks like this clearing is suddenly going full speed ahead and has really expanded in scope. Coaster Studios dropped by the park this week and posted some video footage of this huge land clearing taking place as seen while riding the train, which you can watch below. You can compare the video footage to some photos a reader sent in about 10 days ago and see how much more the site has been cleared since then. Based on the video, I've marked on an aerial image where I believe this clearing now is, as if I'm right, this is clearly a big enough space to build an entirely new land, if that is what the park wanted. I would look for something huge to appear here in 2019.
Lastly, you see a bit of it at the end of the video, but it seems the park also quietly demolished the old "Apple Jack's Sandwiches" restaurant structure leaving no trace of it, other than a construction fence. I'm told that Dolly used to have a private little apartment space on the second floor of the building she could use a long time ago, but the space was said to have been cleared out completely about 6 or 7 years ago. (Of course, Dolly now has her own Suite at the DreamMore Resort...)
DOLLYWOOD’S SPLASH COUNTRY -
Review by Lance Hart
Here at Screamscape our family are big fans of waterparks, and we've traveled across the country to visit many of them over the years, and have written quite a few reports about our favorites which you can find scattered throughout our many "Features" articles.
Today we add to this famous list another waterpark that is very deserving of your attention: Dollywood's Splash Country. The park is located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, just across the road from the world famous Dollywood theme park, in the heart of the Smoky Mountains, nestled right in-between the theme park and Dollywood's DreamMore Resort, surrounded by the lush and beautiful hillsides that make for the perfect terrain for a truly incredible waterpark.
In fact once you get your ticket and head down the path to the park entrance, you may just quickly forget just where you are, as you pass into what may be one of the most well themed and beautifully landscaped waterparks anywhere. Your ears will be filled with the sound of waterfalls, trickling rivers, laughing children and gentle music as you enter the first area where the entry to the Downbound Float Trip (aka: Lazy River) sits to your right, with a backdrop of cascading waterfalls. To your left is the Little Creek Falls kiddie play area for the little kids, and there are plenty of lounge chairs on either side here if you wanted to plop down and park your stuff.
Of course this is just the tip of the ice-berg, as Splash Country has several great areas you can sit and relax in. You can keep walking straight ahead and up a rise to find the huge Mountain Waves area, dominated by a 25,000 sqft wave pool. Or head down the hill to your left and you can hang out at Bear Mountain Fire Tower area, dominated by a huge water fortress structure, complete with a massive bucket of water on top that dumps down on everyone below every couple of minutes. Keep walking down the path from here and you'll come to one of my favorite and very secluded areas, The Cascades... a highly themed 8,000 sqft lagoon that you can wade in, with a zero-depth entry point on one end for the kiddies with fun interactive elements, or play on the two kiddie sized slides in the middle, or wade out to the far side to hang out under the rocky waterfalls.
While The Cascades is surrounded by plenty of lounge chairs, the area also features a deluxe upgrade that can really up the relaxation factor of your day at Splash Country to the 100% satisfaction level. I'm talking about the Retreats and Canopies the park has available for rental. The Retreats are bigger (200 sqft) and offer you not only a shaded space where you can relax, but a safe place to keep your valuables (with a locker box) and your own sun-deck if you want to catch some rays. The Canopies are smaller (65 sqft) shaded spaces, perfect for couples, complete with two chaise-lounge chairs.
You will spy Retreats and Canopies scattered out around the park in various areas, though a large number of the Retreats are in The Cascades. While I've never been one to try out this kind of thing before at other waterparks, my family and I were able to try out a Retreat in The Cascades and I may never be able to go back to roughing it again. Ours also featured a nice table, a phone where you can order food to be delivered right to you, and a TV to watch if you so desired (so no missing the big game!). However sometimes the benefits of the Retreats are more than what is advertised... especially as a parent. The Retreat gives your group of kids a "base" where they can not only keep their stuff for the day, but your kids can venture off on their own, allowing the older kids to go wild and slide for a bit while you focus on the smaller kids, and everyone knows to come back to the Retreat to check in. The park also offers refillable drink bottles, which you can't take on the slides with you, but the Retreat makes a perfect place to take a break every so often, rest, get re-hydrated, maybe eat something and head back out for more fun in the sun. They are available on a first-come basis as you enter the park, so inquire about availability, it really will make your day.
With everyone's gear settled, sunscreen applied, its time to head out into the waterpark for some wet fun and wild thrills. I've already mentioned a few of the more mellow ways you can spend your day, so lets focus now on the more WILD times you can have. If you are near The Cascades or Mountain Waves I'm sure you've spotted the huge Fire Tower Falls slide tower, featuring a pair of near vertical dive slides that you wont soon forget. Not far from here is the Big Bear Plunge (big raft) slide that winds through twists and tunnels along with a big splashdown, or take on the parks newest thrill slide, RiverRush, which has Tennessee's first and only water coaster slide that will take you on a wild experience like no other.
Venture over to the other side of the park and you'll find a wild assortment of other slides like the Wild River Falls (raft slides) or the short but wild Butterfly slides that are themed to look like the Dollywood butterfly logo. Near here is the Raging River Rapids (big raft) slide, the three Mountain Scream body slides, the SwiftWater Run bowl slide, the Mountain Twist slides that you go down head-first on matt that are much wilder than they look, or venture up the valley to race your friends down the always fun Slick Rock Racer.
After visiting so many waterparks that are essentially giant concrete pool pads, roasting under the harsh sun standing in long lines, a day spent at the lush Splash Country waterpark where you are never far from the natural green landscape that surrounds the whole park will change your mind about how a great a day at the waterpark should really be. Check the park website for the official schedule, but it’s usually open from about Mid-May to Early to Mid-September. So treat yourself to an enjoyable and relaxing experience at Dollywood's Splash Country... you'll thank me later if you've never been.
DOLLYWOOD’S DREAMMORE RESORT -
Review by Lance and Kerry Hart
For years now, going back to the beginning of the theme park itself, one of the dreams of Dolly and the Dollywood theme park was to build their very own on-site resort. For some time now they had already offered mountainside holiday cabins scattered throughout the nearby landscape, but building a true on-site resort hotel experience next to the park was something that was key to take Dollywood up to the next level. It almost came to be back in 2008, but the financial crisis that hit the world put the project on hold once again, waiting until the time was finally right.
In Summer 2015 that long-time dream had become a reality and Dolly Parton was on hand to formally open the doors for guests to stay at the Dollywood DreamMore Resort, built right next door to their already impressive Splash Country waterpark, nestled into the hillside of the Smoky Mountains of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The 307-room resort is a sight to behold, mixing the features of a mega-resort experience built with the loving care of a Tennessee country mountain home, filled with plenty of southern comfort touches to give it a very warm, welcome and almost familiar feeling.
Back in December, I was invited to come down to the park with my family to not only see all of Dollywood’s brand new Christmas season attractions, as well as get a taste of the beyond fantastic Lightning Rod coaster, but to also experience the park’s DreamMore Resort first hand. At the time, the resort was all decked out for the Christmas holiday season, with extra special touches that really made it stand out as being a one of a kind experience, complete with visits from Santa Claus, seasonal arts and craft making opportunities for the kids, holiday dining dishes aplenty… the experience was enough to make me want to make an annual Christmas visit to the DreamMore Resort a future family tradition.
The Resort is home a selection of very tasty snacks, coffee and more at the “DM Pantry” near the lobby, but it is dining at the “Song & Hearth: A Southern Eatery” where the DreamMore culinary experience comes home. I didn’t have the time to try it for the Lunch or Dinner menus during my visit, but we did hit it up for a most wonderful breakfast buffet experience that offered about anything you could ever think to ask for, and about half a dozen more things that you never even imagined.
The breakfast experience was made even more special by the appearance of themed Christmas Carolers who performed throughout the restaurants many themed rooms, as well as the appearance by Santa himself to arrived to sing and play games with the children. As I said, you couldn’t have asked for a more perfect Christmas seasonal vacation stop, especially if you have children, as they really went out of their way to make the entire resort shine for the holiday season, even with the addition of special holiday trees out in the outdoor pool area, with lights that was dance to holiday music every times each evening, along with small nearby fire pits where you roast SMOREs by the fire.
Not just wanting to report on how the resort was for the Christmas season, we also quietly returned for a second stay at the DreamMore Resort in April, to get a second taste of what the resort experience was like the rest of the year, as well as touch upon some features we didn’t get a chance to try the first time around, such as the The Spa at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort for my wife’s birthday.
The Spa at Dollywood's DreamMore Resort is a great way to add some pampering. The Spa menu offers something for everyone, including Dolly's youngest fans. After arriving at the resort my wife headed straight to the spa for a massage and facial and then on the last day which happened to be her 40th birthday she finished up with a Manicure and Pedicure. The spa has a very "glitzy and chic" appearance. They have 3 pedicure chairs, so perfect if you are on a girls trip, or mother daughter or even bridal parties, 3 treatment rooms, one of which can accommodate a couples massage. There is a beautiful outside sitting area where you can relax in between spa treatments and enjoy that mountain air too. You do not have to be staying at the resort to book spa appointments, but keep in mind that the Spa is not huge so I would book appointments prior to your arrival. The Spa is also closed on Mondays so keep that in mind if you plan to visit.
The standard guest rooms we experienced were about what you would expect, average in size and with all the normal in-room amenities, with options for a single king bed, double queens, in addition to some special options to add a double bunk bed to the single king, perfect for those with smaller children. Then there are also bigger Suite rooms available with other size options and connecting rooms for groups to sleep up to 8. The rooms are as nice as can be of course, but if there was one item I might be more critical of is the beds themselves are a bit “stiff” for my personal comfort, and I’d love to see them upgraded to something a bit more comfy.
As for the rest of the resort, there are a bunch of other great amenities including a heated indoor pool, a nice gym if you want to work out, free WiFi, free parking, a fun little arcade room that also offers tables and sitting space to pull out a few board games, and strolling about the resort during any given day you may come across various live musical performers setting up to perform a variety of music. As for the outdoor pool, as nice as it looks, we still did not get to try it. We were kind of shocked to see that even during the week of Spring Break, the outdoor pool had yet to open for the season.
All said and done the DreamMore Resort is a beautiful addition to the Dollywood property, turning it into a full fledged theme park “resort” experience. Even better for those visiting the Dollywood theme park… you’ll be happy to know that the queue-cutting TimeSaver upcharge perk offered in Dollywood is given away to all resort guests at the DreamMore Resort for free if they have park tickets or season passes which is a huge cost saver over buying TimeSaver access for your group inside the theme park. Even better, you will pick up the actual TimeSaver device at a special desk in the DreamMore Resort, avoiding the line to get one at Dollywood itself. Mix this in with the door to door shuttle service that takes you right to a special resort-guests only entrance into Dollywood itself, and you are set to be treated like a country music star for the day, with queue-free entry into most of the major park attractions and special reserved VIP seating at most shows.
In addition to the regular perks, for for those who visit Pigeon Forge often, you may want to look into the “Founders Club Premier” club. Right now it costs an extra $149 to join, but you get 20% off dining and spa services, a certificate to add a free second nights stay when you visit (subject to availability), a free one-day ticket into Dollywood or Splash Country, automatic room upgrades (again, subject to availability) along with other special offers.
Bottom line, if you are visiting Dollywood while in Pigeon Forge, it would be hard to go wrong by staying at the DreamMore Resort, as the perks are plentiful and you can’t beat staying so close to Dollywood and Splash Country. And while Dollywood was mum on the subject, I get the feeling that this won’t be the last resort we see with Dolly’s name on it in Pigeon Forge. I'd expect more great things to come for sure.