Dollywood is a family-oriented amusement park located in Pigeon Forge Tennesse on the outskirts of the Smoky Mountains. To get an idea of where Pigeon Forge is located, it is about 200 miles east of Nashville, which is the state capital.
The amusement park got its name after the famous American country singer Dolly Parton, who owns Dollywood (which in turn is a play on the word 'Hollywood', the city in California popular because of the movie industry). She bought the park in 1986 because she grew up in the area. She had a very poor childhood and the area in general had always experienced hard times economically, so buying the park was her way of giving back to the community. The park is rich with the culture of the Smoky Mountains and includes festivals year-round that spotlight the southern way of life.
Dollywood provides plenty of entertainment with rides, shows, concerts and festivals from mid-March through January 1. It is closed from January 2 to mid-March; check the site for details. The surrounding area of Pigeon Forge Tennessee provides a spectacular backdrop to the amusement park and is incorporated in the theme and dÃ©cor of Dollywood. Even the thrill rides, such as Daredevil Falls and Mystery Mine look right at home in the Smoky Mountains. This is a nice touch as a lot of rollercoasters can look sterile and can actually be an eyesore in the parks.
In addition to the entertainment, there is plenty of shopping to do in Dollywood. The shopping once again reflects the area of Pigeon Forge and the Smoky Mountains, offering traditional crafts and goods of the area. Everything from clothing to furniture, souvenirs to edible goods can be purchased at Dollywood. And of course, Dolly Parton's own music and movies is sold there as well. The Craftsmen are an even bigger treat when it comes to shopping, and you can find one of a kind items such as hand-blown custom glass, handmade candles, and figurines made from woodcarvers. The artisans have daily demonstrations that explore each of their crafts.
If you have an interest in Southern Gospel Music, the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame is located inside the park. It is a natural fit since Southern Gospel Music has deep roots in Tennessee. The Southern Gospel Music Association established the Hall of Fame in 1997, which is the group that picks new inductees annually. There are plaques commemorating the musicians, as well as memorabilia and a gift shop in the museum.
Of course when visiting Dollywood you are going to want to eat! The food at Dollywood includes traditional southern cooking such as barbecue, cornbread, ham n' beans, and meatloaf, and the usual sides of potato salad, coleslaw, and green beans. Cast-iron cooking is featured, as it is popular cooking method in the South. There is also a large selection of midway and festival food like kettle corn, funnel cakes, cotton candy and ice cream, to name a few. It is a great place to experience authentic country cooking, and Dollywood takes their cooking very seriously.
Dollywood in Pigeon Forge Tennessee is a great place for a family vacation. Don't forget to visit the other attractions in the area, such as Smoky Mountain National Park, Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede, and Splash Country.