DOLLYWOOD & Splash Country
Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Herschend Family Entertainment
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(5/16/17) Dollywood Opens Tailspin Racers at Splash Country (MORE...)
(5/11/17) Dollywood Opens New DropLine Tower Ride (MORE...)
(4/28/17) Screamscape Review - Dollywood DreamMore Resort (MORE...)
(4/4/17) ENRA To Perform Over Spring Break (MORE...)
Dixie Stampede (2016) Review
Dolly Parton’s Lumberjack Adventure (2016) Review
Dolly Parton’s Lumberjack Adventure - Christmas Edition (2016) Review
DOLLYWOOD’S SPLASH COUNTRY WATERPARK - OFFICIAL REVIEW
FireChaser Express Grand Opening & Review - Click Here
General Park News - (4/4/17) Dollywood has announced that during Spring Break (Apr. 10 - 22) the park will not only feature extended hours, but also the mesmerizing talents of ENRA, a cutting-edge performance group that appeared on America’s Got Talent in 2015. “The Tokyo-based performing arts company creates on-screen computer graphics to accompany live action performance including modern dance, martial arts, rhythmic gymnastics, ballet, juggling and street dance. The synchronized combination of motion graphics and on-stage performance creates an unprecedented treat for audiences.”
During Dollywood’s Spring Break, park hours are extended each weekday from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.; hours on Saturday, April 15 are 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. Dollywood is closed on Easter Sunday (April 16). For more information, please visit the official website at dollywood.com
(3/6/17) Is Dollywood preparing to remove the Sideshow Spin kiddie coaster? I've been told that the old kiddie coaster, with the somewhat odd cars that feature a large Plexiglas cage-like enclosure, has been removed from the list of rides in the park on the official website, as well as being removed from the updated "2017 Ride Height and Safety Requirements" document. You can still see it on the current version of the park map on the website, however unlike every other ride in that section of the park, no information pops up about it when you mouse-over it, so I'd say it's safe to say that the ride is being removed for a future addition.
(12/30/16) Screamscape has heard from a few readers that Lightning Rod had been having troubles since about mid-December, and now the official Dollywood website confirms that it is closed for the rest of the season. With the park ready to close for a winter break (last day is this Sunday, January 1st, 2017) this wont be an issue for most, but if you were planning a special trip to the park just for Lightning Rod, unfortunately you will have to wait until the park reopens for the 2017 season on March 18th.
Screamscape dropped by Dollywood last week with the family to take in Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas events. For those not in the know, unlike almost all the rest of the theme parks around the nation not located in Southern California or Florida, Dollywood stays open (almost daily) throughout the fall and early winter season, typically only closing down in early January after the New Year’s crowd has left for a two-month break before reopening again in March.
You can really tell as well, as even in the winter the park can pack in the crowds just as much as it does in the busy summer months… sometimes more so. The park is quite popular in the winter season for big family trips as well as a large number of senior guests who come out in droves to see the park’s huge assortment of live musical, dance and holiday performance shows at the theaters spread throughout the park. This year is no different with the performances of: It’s A Wonderful Life, Christmas in the Smokies, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, O Holy Night and others, as well as tons of live musical acts performing at the various outdoor stages throughout the park.
Our daytime hours were mixed between the shows, seeing the Rudolph characters, visiting Santa's Workshop and taking in the thrills. On that note, I just have to stop and say how unbelievable Lightning Rod really is. The ride experience is simply so intense it is almost indescribable. From the queue the ride looks like it is over pretty quick, but let me tell you that when you are on it and being relentlessly hit with ejector-seat level air-time, back to back, 12 times in a row from start to finish... believe me when you hit the brakes you are ready for it to be over, because you need to catch your breath. Or get a fresh change of underwear.
That said, once the the sun sets all the Christmas lights come on across the park, literally covering almost every building and structure from top to bottom. New this year was the addition of The Parade of Many Colors, which features a group of light up characters and floats that run a lengthy path across the front side of the park. Much like when you visit a Disney park, find a spot to watch the parade early because the entire run is packed with guests of all ages waiting to see the parade go by. I got a decent spot myself and was able to get some good pictures of many of the parade units. Check out the photos, or better yet, plan a trip to the park to see the parade and the rest of the Smoky Mountain Christmas festivities yourself.
One final tip for everyone... seek out the Grist Mill at some point during the day to try a fantastic treat you wont soon forget called Cinnamon Bread. Buy a loaf... better yet buy two, because they vanish so quickly, and add in a couple of cups of the icing so you can dip it in to make it even better. Trust me, you wont regret it... but plan ahead as the later in the day that you wait, the longer the line to get the Cinnamon Bread will get. It is a very popular item and a true favorite amongst the park regulars who never miss it. So glad that I finally discovered it myself this trip for the first time.
(11/9/16) More good news from Dollywood guests who reported to Screamscape that during a visit on Saturday they got in several rides on Lightning Rod, and noted that around 5pm the park added a second train. I've also been told that a rough spot at the bottom of the first drop has been repaired and is now "smooth as glass", and our riders were also fond of the night rides on Lightning Rod as there is reported no light at used in the valley where the majority of the coaster layout is, making for one really wild ride in utter darkness that was described as "pure coaster nirvana".
2017 - Drop Line and WhistlePunk Chaser - (5/11/17) Dollywood opened their new 230 foot tall DropLine drop tower ride on Saturday and Coaster101 has posted a quick review of the park's newest attraction. Follow the link to read up on all the details, and you can watch their video below which reveals that DropLine has perhaps the best view of Thunderhead you've ever seen... if you can bear to watch before you plunge back to earth.
A reader sent in a couple of new pictures from Dollywood taken this past week showing off the DropLine tower ride and WhistlePunk coaster construction sites. While it looks like there is a bit of landscaping and station work to do on the kiddie coaster, DropLine looks like it could open very soon.
(3/21/17) A reader dropped by Dollywood this week to check on the park's latest construction projects: the WhistlePunk Chaser family coaster and the new DropLine tower which now appears to be fully standing. If you look at the photos they sent in, you can see the bright orange track of the new coaster tucked away in the nook next to Thunderhead... and while the track is going up, there is no queue and looks like they are just starting on the station structure from what we see. Meanwhile they tell us crews were working on finishing up the DropLine installation, working on the seats, and with large cables still dangling from the tower.
As for Sideshow Spin, I'm told that it has already been removed from the park and as you can see in one photo, the side has simply bee converted into an open grassy spot with picnic tables.
(2/28/17) Screamscape sources tell me that the steel tower for the new Drop Line freefall ride at Dollywood is now starting to rise into the sky with the placement of the first tower section. I imagine it wont be long until it is visible from outside the park.
(10/27/16) Dollywood has announced two new attractions coming to the park for the 2017 season. First up is the new “Drop Line”, a 200 foot tall drop tower experience that will tower over the scenic Timber Canyon area and from the look of things, it may be installed onto the same site as the retired Timber Tower attraction. Also nearby will be a new kiddie coaster called WhistlePunk Chaser, described as preparing ‘younger loggers’ for the days when they too will be able to ride Thunderhead.
They also announced a new show coming to the park in 2017 called "enra", which will feature a Tokyo based dance company which was featured on America's Got Talent in 2015. Also in October 2017 the Dollywood Harvest Festival will add the spectacular "GREAT! Pumpkin LumiNights" event after dark that will immerse your entire family in fall pumpkin illumination and a new pumpkin trail.
2017 - TailSpin Racer at Dollywood’s Splash Country - (5/16/17) Dollywood's twitter has posted a fun video showing off the time-lapse construction footage of the new Tailspin Racer slides being built at Splash Country. The new slide opened to the public this past weekend as well, so be sure to take a ride for me the next time you visit while I wait to see if someone ever sets up an official waterslide racing event. To my knowledge, I don't think I've ever been beat to the bottom of a racing slide anywhere.
(8/17/16) Dollywood's Splash Country will open a new slide in 2017 called TailSpin Racer. This is a new six-lane wide mat-racer style slide to be built near the front of the park, but this one will start things off with a high speed spiral in a dark enclosed section of slide before blasting back out into the open air for the final hurdle-drop run to the finish line.
I've got to admit that I like the idea of the park having two racers slides now. They are high-capacity monsters, with perhaps the best through-put in any waterpark, so having two of them, each with their own unique look and style, will go a long way to making sure everyone can spend more time in the water than they do standing in lines.
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.