Dolly Parton Opens Up About the Motivation Behind Opening Dollywood

by Shelby Scott

Dolly Parton has become one of the post popular names in music as a result of her illustrious career. However, she also famously kickstarted her charitable organization, Imagination Library, in 1995, which provides free books to children starting at birth. In addition, she’s also provided families with one of the most enjoyable getaway experiences in the country, giving Americans a taste of Dolly in her appropriately named park, Dollywood. After buying the destination in 1986, the “Two Doors Down” singer has opened up about her inspiration for opening the beloved theme park.

While speaking with Travel + Leisure, Dolly Parton explained, “Anytime you start something, you start with a dream. And, of course, if it starts to come true, it expands, and then you get other ideas.”

Diving into Dollywood’s origins, she shared, “I always wanted to have a theme park ever since I started dreaming about being in the business. I thought, if I make it, if I’m successful at what I do, I’d love to have a theme park like this in my home to provide jobs for people in the area but also just to have something wonderful for the home folk.”

As such, Dollywood adopted many of the experiences and settings populating Dolly Parton’s early life. To the outlet, she added, “when we brainstormed, we thought the Smoky Mountains and theme of my life would be better. That was just a given that it would be about my life, my story, and how we grew with that.”

Before opening Dollywood under her own name in 1986, the country music singer explained how she partnered with the theme park’s original owners, the Herschends. After initiating their partnership, Dolly Parton explained, “we started Dolly-izing it and expanded on that through the years.”

What Lies Ahead for Dollywood, Per Dolly Parton

As she outlines above, Dollywood is unique among theme parks as it remains secular from any film studios or fictional characters. Instead, it’s simply a park dedicated to all things important to Dolly Parton herself. Now, in addition to sharing her inspiration behind the park, she has also revealed a little bit of what lies ahead.

Generally, Dolly said, “We own a lot of land, and we’re always trying to acquire more. But I just hope that we continue to do more things.”

More specifically, she did reveal, “I know we’re planning to have at least three more resorts,” but also, “We’re going to always want to have new rides, we’re going to have things for the family, for kids all ages.”

As is typical, Dolly Parton clearly hopes to make Dollywood appealing to everybody, which she’s already successfully done even without more resorts or rides.

Interestingly though, she also said, “as I am the dreamer-in-chief, we base it a little on what’s going on in my life and career at the moment.”