Dollywood — Smoky Mountain Fun for All Ages


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With 2.5 million visitors each year, Dollywood is Tennessee’s No. 1 ticketed attraction. Spanning 150 acres in Pigeon Forge and the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Dollywood has more than 40 rides and attractions — an ideal destination for family fun.

As a guest of the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce, I recently traveled to Tennessee for Dollywood’s media day and had the opportunity to interview legendary entertainer Dolly Parton, who owns the park with Herschend Family Entertainment.

Fun for all ages

With a variety of rides and height requirements, all ages will find excitement at Dollywood.

“We always try to cater to families,” Parton says. “That’s what Dollywood is all about.”

Older kids will love Mystery Mine, a steel coaster where the 1,811-foot track travels through an abandoned coal mine. There’s also a thrilling 95-degree, 85-foot vertical drop that plunges into darkness.

Adventure-seekers will also love Wild Eagle, which rises 21 stories into the sky and provides riders with the sensation of flight. Riders travel the coaster’s massive 3,127-foot track as it dives, drops, twists and turns. The coaster reaches a top speed of 61 miles per hour and maneuvers four inversions including a giant loop, a “zero-G” roll and a giant flat spin.

Younger visitors will enjoy the rides in the County Fair section of the park. Hop aboard the Dollywood Express, the 110-ton coal-fired steam engine for a 5-mile journey around the park or the traditional Village Carousel for nostalgic fun.

FireChaser Express

New to the park this season is the FireChaser Express, the nation’s first dual-launch family coaster that travels both forward and backward. The coaster celebrates the volunteer-based fire departments of the 1940s when firefighting trains were common and protected the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The FireChaser Express’ passenger trains are themed to celebrate all firefighters who bravely work to ensure the safety of others.

With a 39-inch minimum height requirement, the coaster was designed so that even very young children can ride with their families. The FireChaser Express launches twice, blasting riders forward and backward on a winding 2,427-foot track. The coaster is projected from the loading station traveling from zero to 16 mph in just 1.1 seconds. Near the end of the ride, a backward launch from 0 to 20 mph in 2 seconds sends FireChaser Express back to the station in the opposite direction.

“My new FireChaser Express has folks goin’ in all different directions, and that’s going to be a lot of fun, but it teaches an important lesson, too,” Parton says. “FireChaser Express celebrates our heroes — firefighters — and it reminds the rest of us that we can all be heroes if we’ll just step up and help others, whether it’s in a small way or a big way.”

Demonstrations and Entertainment

In addition to rides, Dollywood is highly themed with local history and preservation. Visitors will enjoy many demonstrations of turn-of-the-century crafts such as blacksmithing, candlemaking, woodcarving, glassblowing and more.

As expected, music plays a big part of the entertainment at Dollywood. Visitors will enjoy a variety of live entertainment including country, bluegrass, Southern gospel, classic rock ’n’ roll, and Appalachian music.

If you are a Dolly Parton fan, don’t miss Chasing Rainbows, an interactive museum with memorabilia from Parton’s life and career. You’ll see movie costumes, awards, handwritten song lyrics and even the original Coat of Many Colors, the coat Parton sang about in her hit 1971 song.

DreamMore Resort

Scheduled to open summer of 2015, the 300-room DreamMore Resort will be next to Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country, the adjacent 35-acre water park.

“We really wanted to have a resort, so we can make Dollywood a complete vacation destination,” Parton says.

Resort guests will be able to enjoy spectacular views of the Great Smoky Mountains, family-friendly amenities such as an indoor and outdoor pool complex, a family activities center, a spa, a farmhouse-style restaurant and more. The resort’s design will emphasize a favorite Southern gathering spot for families — the front porch — and will include many family-oriented sanctuaries, such as fire pits, swings and hammocks, to encourage family bonding and togetherness.

“We’re going to try and keep it very Southern,” Parton says. “We’re going to play heavily on the front-porch theme because back in the country, I think people like to sit out on the porch where you can plan, where you can dream.”

Myra Wright is publisher and editor of Piedmont Parent magazine.


Nearby Attractions

Splash Country

2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
800-DOLLYWOOD (800-365-5996)
dollywood.com/waterpark
Admission: $42-$48
Park Hours: Opened May 17
Multi-Day Multi-Park Tickets: $75-$92

Dixie Stampede

Guests will enjoy a four-course feast, musical entertainment and horse-riding stunts.
3849 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
865-453-4400
dixiestampede.com
See website for show schedule
Tickets: $36-$62

If You Go

Dollywood
2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd., Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
800-DOLLYWOOD (800-365-5996)
dollywood.com
Admission: $46-$58 (one-day tickets)
Park hours: Dollywood opens March each year and will close in January. Park hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. with summer hours of 10 a.m.-10 p.m. beginning June 14.

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December 2019

Wear your favorite holiday attire and dine with Santa Claus. Enjoy a delicious brunch, stories and crafts, and take pictures with the jolly man from the North Pole. 

Cost: $10/child. Free for ages 2 and younger

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Joyner Park Community Center
701 Harris Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
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Historic Polk House
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Raleigh, NC  27604
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See dancers and a guitarist from Flamenco Carolina perform a Spanish style of music and dance.

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Century Center
100 N. Greensboro St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Wake Forest Renaissance Centre
405 S. Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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The Durham Medical Orchestra performs with special guest Joseph Alessi, principal trombone, New York Philharmonic.

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Baldwin Auditorium, Duke University
1336 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
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Cost: Free

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Wake Forest Presbyterian Church
12605 Capital Blvd
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Cost: $10-$60/person

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Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
Raleigh, NC  27601
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White Plains United Methodist Church
313 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27513
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Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
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Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
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Century Center
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Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC
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Cost: $15 and up

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PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Ages 1-5 and caregiver delight in the discoveries of nature. Register online. 

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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Century Center
100 N. Greensboro St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Cost: Free

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Wake Forest Renaissance Centre
405 S. Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
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Cost: For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for everyone, and adult accompanime

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Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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North Carolina Museum of Art East Building and Museum Plaza
Raleigh, NC


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Harris Lake County Park
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New Hill, NC  27562
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Halle Cultural Arts Center
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Apex, NC  27502
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Middle Creek Community Center
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Crossroads Fellowship
2721 E Millbrook Road
Raleigh, NC  27604
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1058 West Club Blvd
Durham, NC  27701
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Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Cost: Free

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Cary Senior Center
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, NC  27513
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Cost: $32/resident, $42/nonresident

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Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
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Cost: Free

Where:
Baileywick Road Park
9501 Baileywick Rd
Second Shelter Field
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Sponsor: Raleigh Redhawks Rugby
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Cost: $30 - $35

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Koka Booth Amphitheater
8003 Regency Pkwy
Cary, NC  27518
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Telephone: 919-401-6307
Contact Name: Jamie Botta
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Ages 5-12 make a picture frame for the holidays. Snack provided. Register online. 

Cost: $30/resident, $45/nonresident

Where:
Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

More information

Ages 1-5 and caregiver delight in the discoveries of nature. Register online. 

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free Gratis

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

More information

Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $40

Where:
Family Preschool
4907 Garrett Rd
Durham, NC  27707
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Sponsor: Family Preschool
Telephone: 919-402-1500
Contact Name: Sue Henson
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Family Wildlife Series: Holiday Habitat Helpers Saturday, December 14, 2-3 Attract winter wildlife to your backyard by providing or improving their habitat.  Create simple outdoor decorations...

Cost: Free

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Website »

More information

Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us as we watch for meteors during the Gemenids Meteor Shower. Local astronomers will help us observe these shooting stars and other phenomena in the night sky. As a bonus we may see or hear...

Cost: Free

Where:
American Tobacco Trail
1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Rd.
Apex, NC  27502
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park and the American Tobacco Trail
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Cost: $25/person

Where:
Wake Forest Renaissance Centre
405 S. Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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See the choir perform beloved Christmas songs with guest vocal group AVANTE. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
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