Located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Dollywood is one of the most visited places in the state. It’s known for its thrilling theme park rides, water attractions, country and bluegrass concerts and, of course, its tributes to Dolly Parton. Here are ten things you may not have known about the famous park.
It wasn’t always called Dollywood
The park was originally opened in 1961 under the name Rebel Railroad. Then, in 1970 it was purchased by then Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell, and he renamed it Goldrush Junction. That wasn’t the final name change! In 1976, Herschend Entertprises took over and it became Silver Dollar City. Finally, in 1986, Parton stepped onto the park’s board and it was named Dollywood.
There’s a replica of Dolly’s house
Inside Dollywood, there’s a replica of the Sevierville, Tennessee home that Parton grew up in. The real two-room cabin was built by Parton’s brother and housed all of Parton’s 12 brothers and sisters. In the replica Dollywood house, you’ll actually find some belongings from the original home.
You can attend church on Sundays
The Robert F. Thomas chapel in the park holds services every Sunday. It was built in 1973 and named after the doctor who delivered Parton when she was born. The chapel is also a nod to Parton getting her start in music from singing in church.
There’s a new, super-speedy attraction coming soon
This year, Dollywood is unveiling the world’s fastest wooden roller coaster, the Lightning Rod. According to Dollywood.com, the ride is currently under “technical ride rehearsal” and should be open later this year to riders. It hits top speeds of 75-mph and is designed to look like a 1950s hot rod.
The Grist Mill is fully operational
While the Dollywood Grist Mill was just built in the 1982, it’s fully functional. Powered by the large water wheel, it grinds corn and wheat every single day. Visitors can purchase stone-ground corn meal and baked goods made right there on the spot.
Dolly Parton is not the CEO
Parton merely sits on the board, but she’s integral in planning the events and attractions of the park. Dollywood is still owned and operated by Herschend Family Entertainment, which also owns SeaWorld and over 20 other theme parks across the United States.
It’s the most Instagrammed place in Tennessee
Yes, it’s true! Dollywood is the most Instagrammed location in the state, and with 2.5 million attendees a year, it’s not hard to believe.
You can drop your pups off at Doggywood
There are no pets allowed in the park, but that doesn’t mean your four-legged friends have to miss out on the fun. If you’re traveling and want to bring your pup along, just drop them off at Doggywood while you go explore the park for just $25.00 per day.
The Dollywood Express’ engine was used in WWII
There’s history galore at Dollywood, and one of the most amazing sites to see there is The Dollywood Express pulled by Klondike Katie. The steam engine was actually used in Alaska during World War II and still runs on coal. The attraction takes visitors on a 5-mile ride in the surrounding mountains.
It takes Christmas seriously
Each Christmas, the park strings about 4 million lights, hosts special performances and even has a parade. It’s also an annual tradition at Dollywood for a group of singers and dancers to perform holiday favorites in a series of concerts for visitors.