It’s no surprise that Dollywood is the top theme park in Tennessee, with rides, games, dining, entertainment and more! Families travel from all across the country to enjoy everything the park has to offer. However, there is much more to the world-class theme park than meets the eye. Here are 10 fun facts about Dollywood that might surprise you:
1. It Wasn’t Always Dollywood
Dollywood wasn’t always known as Dollywood! The theme park was originally a small tourist attraction named Rebel Railroad and had a coal-fired steam engine, a general store, a blacksmith shop and a saloon. In 1970, the attraction was relaunched as Goldrush Junction, and then renamed Silver Dollar City in 1976 when Herschend Enterprises bought it. It wasn’t until Dolly Parton expressed interest in the park that Herschend Enterprises rebranded it as Dollywood in 1986.
2. Dolly Parton Won’t Ride the Rides
Did you know that Dolly Parton refuses to ride the rides at her own theme park? The country music legend has a fear of roller coasters so has never been on any of the rides! She admitted to having motion sickness, and even used to get sick riding the school bus when she was younger. She also joked that she has too much to lose — like her hair!
3. You Won’t Find Any Recycling Bins
Another interesting fact about Dollywood is that you won’t find any recycling bins around the park. This isn’t because the park doesn’t care about the environment, though. It’s quite the opposite! Sevier County is home to one of the best recycling and composting programs in the world. The Sevier Solid Waste Composting Facility is able to send 70 percent of incoming waste to composting and recycling! The facility removes all recyclable materials once the composting process begins, which means Dollywood doesn’t have to separate any of the trash.
4. There’s a 25-Pound Apple Pie
Have you ever heard of a 25-pound apple pie? You can find one at Dollywood! Next time you visit, be sure to stop by the Spotlight Bakery. The apple pie is made from scratch and baked in a cast iron skillet to guarantee a nice, flaky crust. The filling is made of about 35 aromatic apples, a hint of cinnamon, butter and sugar. The pies are baked fresh every day! An individual slice weighs 3 pounds and can feed about 4 adults, so you’ll have plenty of pie to go around. You can even splurge and get the entire pie with the cast iron skillet it’s baked in to go along with it!
5. There is a Church Service on Sundays
Have you ever heard of a theme park that holds church services? Every Sunday, the chapel in Dollywood has church services for visitors. The Robert F. Thomas Chapel is named to honor the doctor who delivered Dolly as a baby! It is a one-room country church where the wooden pews and hardwood floors echo with the sounds of families and neighbors who gather for Sunday morning worship.
6. There is a Place for Your Furry Friends
Did you know you can bring your furry friends with you to Dollywood? While they’re not allowed in the actual park, you can drop them off at Doggwood! Doggywood has 12 kennel runs and 4 cottages, so reservations are highly recommended. They also have plenty of water for your dogs! When you stay in one of our pet-friendly cabins in Gatlinburg, you will love being able to bring your dog along for your day at Dollywood instead of leaving him behind in the cabin!
7. The Dollywood Express Was Used in WWII
The Dollywood Express is one of the most iconic rides at the theme park, but not many people know the history behind the Dollywood trains. During World War II, the steam engines played an important role in America’s war effort. In 1942, the engines were known as the “United States Army Transportation Corps S118 Class steam locomotives” and helped with the delivery of supplies. Today, the Dollywood Express takes visitors on a 5-mile journey through the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.
8. Dolly Parton is not the CEO
Despite what you might think, Dolly Parton is not the CEO of Dollywood. Dollywood is still owned and operated by Herschend Family Entertainment, which also owns SeaWorld and more than 20 other theme parks in the United States. However, Dolly Parton does sit on the board and is integral in planning the events and attractions of the park.
9. You Can Visit Dolly’s Childhood Home
Okay, so it’s not Dolly Parton’s actual home, but it’s still pretty cool! There is a replica of Dolly’s childhood home that sits near the entrance of Dollywood. Visitors can take the time to walk through the two-room home and get a feel for where Dolly grew up. The replica cabin was constructed by Dolly’s brother Bobby, and the interior was recreated by her mother. Most of the items on display throughout the cabin are original family treasures.
10. It Stopped Traffic on Opening Day
It’s no surprise that Dollywood is so popular today, but did you know it’s been drawing in crowds ever since its opening day? Following its opening in May 1986, traffic leading up to the park was backed up for 6 miles down US 441! And people didn’t stop coming. After only 5 months of being open, Dollywood had welcomed 1 million visitors!
Now that you know all of these interesting facts about Dollywood, it’s time to plan your visit! Browse our Smoky Mountain cabins for the perfect place to stay while you’re here, then start planning your trip.