Dollywood claims to be the world’s friendliest theme park, a title that is well deserved. It is the friendliest place I have ever been. Not only is the staff friendly, but the people visiting the park are friendly. I honestly felt like I had stepped back in time to a place that was simple and safe. I had the unique opportunity to visit the park with new friends I had made from Brandcation. It was a breath of fresh air to visit a family friendly vacation destination without my family in tow. I was truly able to appreciate what the park and what it has to offer for my family.
We made our first stop at the Spotlight Bakery. The entire store was filled with gigantic pastries, cakes, and cookies.
I finally settled on a huge chocolate chip cookie, although the mountain high German chocolate cake was also calling my name. Maria had an enormous cinnamon roll with gooey frosting that made me jealous. Maria and I took our amazing treats out to the courtyard area to chat and reflect on the atmosphere of the park setting. We had arrived just in time for the beginning of the National Southern Gospel and Harvest Celebration featuring local artisans and craftsman hosted in the park Oct3-Nov3. There were 30 booths set up throughout the park where their crafts and talents were displayed. We saw everything from woodcarving and storytelling, harps, oil painting to hand produced sorghum, quilting and glass jewelry.
While most of our group went off to ride the Wild Eagle roller coaster, the first winged roller coaster (I didn’t realize it before now, but the Wild Eagle roller coaster is directly across from the Wings of America Theater and the Eagle Habitat.) and other rides, Barb, Andrea and I strolled through Owen’s Farm and on up to the Craftsman’s Valley before lunch. We visited all the little shops along the way, many of which had craftsmen on hand demonstrating their trade. We found a great deal of things to purchase. Dollywood offers free Package Pick-Up so you don’t have to tote your item around the entire park, but they also offer shipping to your front door for a very reasonable shipping fee. I took advantage of this service because I was purchasing a hand blown glass pumpkin. I was told it would take a few weeks to receive my item, but it came within a week and I am a lot of states away from Dollywood.
I had my first taste of collard greens when we had lunch at Granny Ogle’s Ham N Beans and they were yummy. The berry cobbler was delicious and even the gluten free brownies were great. Our server Tammy was wonderful. While at lunch we received some valuable information about the food programs available at Dollywood from Cecil Page. Some of you may already know that my husband and kids have a corn allergy and my husband and now one of my daughters have even more allergies than that. It can make vacationing a nightmare. Dollywood has acted upon these growing concerns and started a program called Start Fresh with the help of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FANN). There is no need to call ahead for this program because it is available park wide at all their restaurants. Special food team members have received extra education to deal with food allergies. All one needs to do is alert the manager that there is a food allergy and the area you are seated in is cleaned and sanitized, you receive a special yellow menu folder to select your order. The kitchen staff also cleans and sanitize the work area and opens a start fresh pack filled with new cooking necessities to prepare your meal. Since the program debuted they have only had 4 customers that they were not able to accommodate, however they do allow you to bring your own food and store your cooler in a designated area.
Not only does the park have shops and amusement rides for both young and old, but they have a multitude of shows available throughout the park theaters, a museum, and a coal fired steam engine. The last adventure we went on was the Dollywood express on the five mile tour around the park and up into the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. Maria, Barb, Andrea and I saw the rides towering above the trees and cute little cabins set out in the meadows. The engineer told stories and even played a song with the engine’s whistle. I had soot rain down on me, but it just brushed away after the ride was over. It was a fun experience that I haven’t experienced before.We had tickets to Dream Land Drive, but we unfortunately had someone get sick in our group and had to head out before the show began.
I had a blast at Dollywood. I can’t wait to go back. Next year Dollywood will unveil their first ever water roller coaster, River Rush, at Splash Country. I think staying at the Dollywood cabins would be the perfect way to enjoy all the Dollywood has to offer. Many of their cabins overlook the park and have spectacular views of the area. Dolly is right, One day is not enough! After the park make sure to spend An Evening at Dixie Stampede for dinner and a show.
Disclosure: This event was hosted by Brandfluential