On This Day: Dolly Parton’s Dollywood Opens in Pigeon Forge, TN in 1986

by Anna Dunn

On this day in 1986, Dolly Parton opened her legendary Dollywood. The theme park, located in Pigeon Forge Tennessee, still operates today. It provides fun and entertainment for millions of families.

Dollywood has many rides and hosts festivals (COVID Permitting). While the park opened with just four themed areas, it’s since expanded greatly. But ‘Dollywood’ actually started out as something else entirely.

Dolly Parton’s Theme Park Before She Bought It

Before Dolly Parton bought Dollywood, it was a whole different park. The theme park was first called “Rebel Railroad” in the 60s and was barely a theme park at all. It was then named “Goldrush Junction” in 1970 then quickly renamed “Goldrush” in 1976. Finally, the park settled on the name “Silver Dollar City.”

The park’s main attraction was its coal-fired steam train called “Klondike Katie.” Another popular attraction was the Silver Dollar Grist Mill. To this day, Dollywood visitors can take a 20 minute “Dollywood Express” through the smoky mountains.

Some of ‘Dollywood’s’ Most Charming Features

Seeing as it is owned by Dolly Parton, ‘Dollywood’ already sets itself apart from other amusement parks, but it also carries a unique charm. First, ‘Dollywood’ has a two-room replica of the famous singer’s childhood home.

The park also has a delightfully fun “Smoky Mountain River Rampage” ride, which is a great way to beat the heat. Its latest ride, “Drop Line,” is a fun way to give the kiddos an adrenaline rush.

Dollywood features a water park, a theme park, a resort, cabins, and dinner shows. Trip Advisor has ranked the park one of the best in the world.

Like all theme parks, Dollywood took a hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the theme park is bouncing back. On April 23rd, the park hosted a flower festival. The spring festival included music from a wide variety of acts, including Southern gospel groups.

Recently, the park has been able to ease up its Coronavirus regulations. This is in part thanks to the widespread vaccinations that have helped slow the spread of the illness. Temperature checks are no longer part of the process to get into the park. The mask mandate has also lifted, but the park still encourages social distancing protocols.

For decades now, Dollywood has been providing fun for millions. With its unique southern charm and iconic namesake, the park provides an experience like no other can. And if a global pandemic can’t take the theme park down, nothing can.