Dolly’s Christmas Chapel

One of the most picturesque scenes that occurs every Christmas at Dollywood takes place at Dolly’s Christmas Chapel. The peaceful chapel stands out among the other park buildings and rides as its draped in thousands of Christmas lights and offers special services throughout Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas festival.

Dollywood’s country church, complete with just one room, simple wooden pews, and hardwood floors serves as a Christmas memory for many who come to Dollywood during the holidays in order to experience Christmas in the Smokies at its finest. Experience the chapel at Christmas, named in honor of Dr. Robert F. Thomas who delivered little Dolly Rebecca Parton, for services each Sunday at 5:30 p.m. during the Christmas season.

The chapel itself is found nestled in behind all the rides, attractions, and restaurants at Dollywood. Each is lit up in their own special way during the Christmas season, but none as magically appealing as the chapel. From its chiming bell to the wreathes and garland hung around its windows and doors, its the perfect holiday setting.

The Christian Christmas service starts at 5:30 on the dot and lasts for a half hour. Church-goers can light candles and step back and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas amongst all shining lights and musical performances of Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas.

As mentioned, the Robert F. Thomas Chapel is named for the doctor who delivered Dolly, he also helped deliver a number of her siblings. He served as pastor of the chapel which bears his name until his death in 1981.

According to Dollywood Chaplain Joey Buck, God has been at work in Dollywood and continues to be through the many people who come to the chapel during the park’s Christmas celebration and throughout the year.

The chapel is also a wonderful opportunity to people traveling to Pigeon Forge and Dollywood to attend church services even while they’re on vacation. Many people choose not to go to church services while they’re out of town, this is just an opportunity for those looking to continue that aspect of their lives when they’re in Pigeon Forge and Dollywood.

“People come from around the world, from across the country, and many different backgrounds, many different traditions and together we meet and call ourselves a church. And what we can do is celebrate what we have in common and that is Jesus Christ,” Buck said.

Dolly’s Christmas Chapel hopes to see everyone that comes through the park this Christmas season. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to stop by.

Dollywood’s Eagle Mountain Sanctuary

The Eagle Mountain Sanctuary on Dollywood’s property is the largest aviary of non-releasable Bald Eagles in the world.  These eagles have been wounded in the wild, or orphaned in their nests and brought to East Tennessee to be raised in captivity and cared for by the good people of the American Eagle Foundation.  Eagle Mountain Sanctuary is located in Craftsmens Valley across form the blacksmith’s shop, right next to the Wings of America Theater.  This makes it easy to find and of course the ability to look up the side of the mountain and watch eagle sin nature on the side of the Great Smoky Mountains is simply wonderful.

As you walk toward the netting that is used to protect the eagles and keep them safe inside the sanctuary you will feel as if you are stepping out of yourself, and certainly stepping out of Dollywood.  It is almost otherworldly.  The eagles have built nests and inherited nests on the side of this mountain.  You get a feel for the enormity of the nests, the size of these beautiful creatures.  You also get to hear them as they interact.

You might even hear the eagles before you see them on the mountain.  They screech and chirp to each other making the wonderful noises you will ever hear.  They are very social animals.  They do not usually live in quarters quite this tight but they seem to get a long and they are well cared for.  The eagles in the Eagle Mountain Sanctuary are being rehabilitated or can simply not be released back into the wild.  This is as close as you will ever get to a bald eagle.

Unless of course, you turn around and go to the smaller pens near the eagle gift shop.  Here some of the more well behaved eagles are in smaller enclosures that allow you to get much closer to the eagles and see them moving around and interacting with their environment.  Especially for young people and people that have never seen eagles before this is a treat and you will find that you spend countless minutes watching the birds hop and flit from tree to tree.

The Eagle Mountain Sanctuary is one of the most wonderful attractions and exhibits in Dollywood.  They have an amazing exhibit and they do a great deal of good for the bird that is the symbol of our country.  It is hard to believe that some of these eagles have been injured by hunters and cannot return to the wild but it is good to know that the professionals that are taking care of them have the best interest of the eagles at heart.

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain River Rampage

The wettest ride at Dollywood is the Smoky Mountain River Rampage.  This white water rafting style ride promises dips, plunges and lots and lots of water.  Stepping into the circular boat means that you have agreed to get drenched in the fast moving water.  The ride is located at the front of the park, in Rivertown Junction, making it easy to find and of course, making it a perfect last stop after a hot day in the park.

As you enter the line, you are going to notice one thing right off the bat, the line can get very long.  It has one of the longest, and most winding queues in the park outside of the roller coasters.  This line can really stack up.  The wait can take a good bit of time, but the folks at Dollywood have made sure that you stay under the cover of trees and buildings most of the time so that you don’t get too hot before getting really wet.  On a similar note, if it starts to rain, that’s the perfect time to head for this ride. For whatever reason, if it is raining people tend to leave the lines for water rides.  It doesn’t make a lot of sense but it does seem to happen.

River Rampage2After standing in line for a little while, you will reach the front of the line and you will see a line of circular boats lined up in front of you.  The people running the ride will help you into your boat. Make sure that you are secured in your seat before setting off on your journey.  The boats bounce merrily along the course before they begin their journey up the first hill.  This hill is the start of the fun part.  As you top the hill, you get a great view of the surrounding area outside the park, before plunging down the other side.  If you are on the downhill side of this plunge, get ready to get soaked.  After this plunge, you will be on a twisting course through rapids, beside cascades and close to waterfalls, all designed to get you as wet as possible.  Add to that, the fact that the people that are watching you get soaked can add to the fun by firing water cannons at you and you have a ride that is guaranteed to make sure you are cooled off after a hot day in the summer sun.

Once your ride is over, you arrive back at the docks, ready to disembark.  After you have gotten out of your boat you can exit, or get right back in line to ride it again.  And, if you are lucky and there is no one else in line, they might just let you ride through again without getting out of the boat at all.  Either, way you have just been on the wettest ride that Dollywood has to offer.  It is exciting, it is fun and it really knows how to take away the heat.

Dollywood’s Mystery Mine

In March of 2007, Dollywood invited its guests to take a ride on the Mystery Mine, its haunted mine car roller coaster that, at the time, was setting records and was the first roller coaster of its kind in the US.  This steel Euro Fighter style coaster features inversions, loops and at the time the steepest drop in the country.  Mystery Mine is still packing the people in with the wonderful theme-ing and the fact that it is one of the fastest rides in the park.  Located in Timber Canyon, it is on the hill as you walk toward Adventure Mountain and River Battle and it is just right up the hill from Thunderhead.

Mystery Mine is a Euro Fighter style roller coaster.  This design of coaster is the invention of the Gerstlauer corporation.  They build roller coasters all over the world and the trademark of this type of roller coaster is the beyond vertical drop.  In other words, one of the drops along the track will descend at greater then 90 degrees.  This type of drop really pours on the speed and the g-forces, making the excitement and thrill for the passengers even greater.  At the time Gerstlauer installed this ride for Dollywood it actually had the steepest drop in the world, though that spot has now been taken over by the Steel Hawg at Indiana Beach.

The theme of Mystery Mine is that you are entering an abandoned, condemned and haunted mine shaft.  You start your journey with a quick drop and several tight turns before the lift kicks in and pulls you straight up the main climb.  After this drop you are sent outside the mine building over the walking crowds below and into an Immelman style u-turn and then back into the mine.  Inside the mine shaft there is an explosion of dynamite as the car sets off through the last pieces of the track:  a 95 degree drop, after which you are pitched back into the outside world to a camera flash, taking your picture, before you start a barrel roll and a final half loop.  After the loop, you arrive back at the station.  The whole trip took you 2 and a half minutes, you reached speeds of 48 miles per hour and you were inverted in the safety of your car twice.  This is a stunning roller coaster that is still calling to thrill seekers from around the world.


  • Best New Theme Park Attraction for 2007 by Theme Park Insider
  • 48th on Amusement Today’s Best 50 Steel Coasters for 2997
  • #2 New Ride of 2007 by Amusement Today

Mystery Mine is one of those rides you have to experience to believe.  The line does get long, the ride is not very long but you will see people get out of line after riding it and get right back in line to ride it again.  This is still one of the biggest thrills at Dollywood.  Combining aerial acrobatics, great theme-ing and of course, plenty of safety. Mystery Mine promises to bring on the thrill for decades to come.

Dollywood’s Blazing Fury

Fire in the Hole!

Blazing Fury is one of the oldest rides at Dollywood.  Built in 1978, this ride has been in operation since Silver Dollar City took over the park but before it even became Dollywood.  This steel enclosed roller coaster tells the story of a small mining town that is on fire and the people of the town are, comically in some cases, trying to put it out.  This enclosed ride is one of the few rides in the park that can be ridden in almost any weather.  It can be pouring buckets of rain outside, and you can still ride the Blazing Fury without fear of getting wet… almost.

The premise behind the Blazing Fury is that you are on a ride, in a mine car, through a little mining town in the mountains.  The mine and the town have caught faire and you are watching the people of the town try and put out the flames.  The ride was built in the 1970s and some of that nostalgia and style are still evident today.  Dollywood, due to the popularity of the ride, has done little to attempt to change it over the years.  At times, the crepe paper flames, the mannequin like denizens of the town and voice acting still speak to the time when the ride was opened, but that is part of the fun.  Also, if you have been to Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO then you might have ridden its sister ride:  Fire in the Hole.

The ride itself is very simple.  The cars that you ride in are powered.  They pull themselves up the winding track with the help of tires on the track to move them along on the steeper sections.  The cars take the drops with the assistance of gravity.  At the end of the ride, the culmination of the ride, is an 18 foot drop into pitch blackness.  The suddenness of the drop and the fact that the ride gets darker as it progress leaves you wanting another go on the Blazing Fury as soon as you get off.  You will see people all day rushing to get back in line for another trip.

The Blazing Fury is located in the Craftsmens Valley section of the park.  If you are headed up the valley toward the Tennessee Tornado, you will pass the Blazing Fury on the way.  If you have gotten to the Tornado by way of Adventure Pass, continue down the valley and you will pass the Blazing Fury on the right as you head down away from the Tornado and the games area at the top of the valley.

So, when you are at Dollywood, the next time you are vacationing in Pigeon Forge, take a ride on the only completely enclosed steel roller coaster at Dollywood, the Blazing Fury.  Watch for the nostalgic props that were used to create this ride in the 1970s.  Listen for the throw back to Silver Dollar City at the end of the ride when you here the lineman shout:  Fire in the Hole.  Take a ride back to a simpler time in the parks history.

Santa’s Workshop at Dollywood

If you ever want to see a child’s face light up with happiness and anticipation take them to Santa’s Workshop at Dollywood. It’s a magical place where wishes come true and smiles are in no short supply. One look inside at all the toys and you’ll see why families flock to this spot every year.

As one of the more popular stops during Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas, Santa’s Workshop in Celebration Hall sees quite a lot of foot traffic every night during December. Step inside this giant toy store and its immediately evident – larger-than-life-sized toys greet every visitor as they walk in the shop. Fun, interactive activities await around every corner, such as gazing through the over-sized ViewMaster. But don’t forget the most important reason for stopping by…. Visiting with Santa! Have your picture taken and be sure to tell what you really want for Christmas. It might be one of your only chances so make it good.

Meet Santa and take part in some Christmas fun with the entire family. From ornament decorating to sand art and other holiday games, there’s something to get everyone in the Christmas spirit at Santa’s Workshop.

When you leave, don’t be surprised to see Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge wandering around during Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas. He needs some good ole-fashioned Smoky Mountain holiday cheer. As one of Charles Dickens’ most enduring characters, he spreads his own brand of Christmas cheer throughout the park. Look for Tinker the famous Christmas tree. Tinker is larger than life and shares fun holiday stories sure to captivate youngsters who can’t believe their eyes or ears. The entire family will enjoy Tinker’s hilarious antics.

No matter where you’re from or why you’re here, you’ll find something to about Santa’s Workshop and especially Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas. The yearly December event features such renowned shows as Christmas on Ice, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, A Smoky Mountain Christmas, Christmas with the Kingdom Heirs, and much much more. Come to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge this Christmas season and experience the holidays like they were meant to be.

Dollywood’s Polar Express in 4-D

Dollywood’s Polar Express in 4-D has closed. Information below is maintained for historical purposes.

If you plan on going to a Smoky Mountain Christmas at Dollywood this year, be sure you check out the Polar Express in 4-D. Since its inception a few years ago at the ’08 festival, the program has been a rousing success.

Located in the theme park’s Imagination Cinema, the Polar Express 4-D Experience as it’s been called, tells the popular holiday story of the Polar Express, the children who ride the Express, their journey to the North Pole, and all the adventures that happen along the way. And all in 4-D.

The 4-D experience as developed for The Polar Express, takes and uses a 3-D digital projection system that gives the appearance of images leaping off the projection screen. The addition of 4-D effects, means you’ll notice snow falling around you as well as smells like that of hot chocolate.

“This Christmas, I’m inviting families to take a spectacular holiday journey where dreams become real, and everybody knows I dream bigger than just about anybody else,” Dolly Parton said. “On The Polar Express 4-D Experience, all you have to do is believe, and I sure do!”

Like in The Polar Express, all anyone asks is that you go in, eyes open, and BELIEVE!

As mentioned, on The Polar Express a hesitant, but curious young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole – a land of elves, and you guessed it, home to one Santa Claus. This journey shows him the true meaning of Christmas and encourages one to believe no matter how unbelievable some things may be.

The Polar Express 4-D Experience is based the Warner Bros. Pictures film and book by Chris Van Allsburg.

In addition to a winter wonderland of more than four-million holiday lights, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas festival includes a Christmastime entertainment lineup of Christmas in the Smokies, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, An Appalachian Christmas, Christmas with the Kingdom Heirs, The Victorian Melodies, O’ Holy Night, Carol of the Trees plus the nightly Lighted Christmas Parade, and much much more.

Families can also explore Santa’s Workshop, a magnificent 500-square-foot home away from home featuring larger-than-life-sized toys like a seven-foot-tall sailboat; a 9-foot elephant; a tricycle that stands at 5 feet; an 8-foot-tall dollhouse; as well as a number of other large Christmas toys that you’ll have to see to believe.

Tips for Visiting Dollywood

Dollywood coupons, discounts, and tips in Pigeon Forge, TN. Get inside information on the hottest of Pigeon Forge attractions – Dollywood theme park!

So you, your family, and friends have decided to visit Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN for the day and you’re looking for some tips on making the experience more enjoyable. Well you’ve come to the right place as we’ve compiled the best tips on Dollywood coupons, the best days to visit, what to wear, ways to save money, and more! Here’s our list of 10 tips that will make your day at Dollywood much more enjoyable!

  1. It’s Dollywood…not Dollyworld or Dolly World – Many people mistakingly call the theme park “Dollyworld” I suppose since it sounds close to “Disneyworld”. Dolly’s theme park, though, is named Dollywood as a play on words to Hollywood. So now that you know how it’s pronounced, spelled, etc you don’t have to come to town asking for information about Dollyworld. This should save you at least a laugh or two!
  2. Ride the Trolley – Parking is $6 for a standard-sized vehicle and $9 for RV’s or anything larger. A trolley ride is .50 per person and it will take you right to the entrance of Dollywood. So yeah, you would have to have 24 people riding the trolley to equal the cost of parking! You can park at Patriot Park for free and then hop on a Dollywood trolley that runs every 15 minutes.
  3. Eat Before You Go – This may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s important to remember. Food at Dollywood can be pricey, so try to fill up before you enter the park and then try to make it through the day on snacks purchased at Dollywood or a single meal. A local favorite is Red’s Diner in the 50’s section. The burger, fries, and shakes are great!
  4. Dollywood Provides Water – You are not allowed to brink snacks or liquids into the park, but Dollywood does provide free cups of water in their restaurants and plenty of water fountains. If anything, this keeps you from carrying bottles around all day. Keep this in mind as water is a good thing if you’re in the heat.
  5. Dress for Action – Dress according to how you plan to enjoy Dollywood. If you plan on riding lots of rides (especially the water rides), plan on wearing light clothing that will dry quickly. Sandals are a good choice as well if you have a comfortable pair…and be sure they attach to your feet with velcro or other straps in order to keep them from flying away on certain rides!
  6. When to Visit – Wednesdays and Thursdays are typically the least busy days. Saturdays are nuts and should be avoided…unless you like waiting in lines.
  7. Purchase Tickets at Home – If you need to buy tickets, then purchase them at home. Information can be found on Dollywood’s Ticket Page
  8. Consider a Season Pass – If you’ll be spending more than one day at Dollywood or if you plan on going back at least one more time during the year, then get a season pass…it’s cheaper, plus it comes with extra benefits…like free parking if you don’t like the trolley.
  9. Get Dollywood’s Latest Info – Dollywood provides downloads of the latest schedules, maps, guides, etc on their website –
  10. Dollywood Coupons: One of the biggest questions we get asked is where to find coupons for Dollywood. Unfortunately, Dollywood doesn’t broker out discounts to third parties much any more, so if you see discounts from other places then it is probably timeshare bait. McDonald’s and Wendy’s restaurants in Pigeon Forge often have $5 off coupons for Dollywood or Splash Country on their bags. It’s definitely worth a look when you roll into town to stop at either of those restaurants! The official Dollywood website is the main source of Dollywood coupons. There you can find the official list of current special offers and coupons for Dollywood in Pigeon Forge.

The following tips were provided by “Charlie” in the forums in his winning entry into the Inside Pigeon Forge Getaway Giveaway where users submitted their best tips for visiting Pigeon Forge, TN.

Charlie’s Tips for Visiting Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN

  1. Wear a fanny pack/belt bag to hold items such as keys, camera, money, sun screen, sun glasses, lip balm, first aid kit (details later) and whatever else you may need.
  2. If you are taking a digital camera and are parking in a large lot, take a photo of the row/section sign so that you can easily locate you vehicle after a long exhausting day.
  3. Don’t carry bottles of water around all day, they offer free cups of ice water at most all of the restaurants
  4. (probably my best tip!) Take several small zip lock type baggies with you for your camera and any other valuables you need to protect from water. They will take up little room in you pack/bag and will protect your camera should you visit any water type attractions. I have seen so many people looking forlornly at their cameras after a water ride, please protect yours. Whether it is an expensive digital camera or an inexpensive disposable one, nothing is worse than losing cherished vacation photos to water.
  5. Get to the park early and head straight for the back. It will be a lot less crowded and you will be working your way back toward your end destination. The front of the park always fills up first.
  6. To save money on eating if you have a large group, pack a picnic lunch. You can have your hand stamped at the gate, go find a nice, quiet, relaxing spot in the forest and eat your lunch, then return to the park.
  7. As I’m sure many others have mentioned, if you can, take advantage of Dollywoods’ After 3 PM, Next Day Free option.

We also have information on ways to visit Pigeon Forge on a budget, so be sure to check that out as well!

Dollywood’s Great American Summer

It’s going to be a Great American Summer at Dollywood! Well, isn’t it always? In reality it is, but this happens to be a certain new initiative in which Dollywood’s operating hours are extended daily to 10 pm.

Start the day out with a live performance of the Star Spangled Banner and end it with a spectacular fireworks show titled, Dolly’s Nights of Many Colors. Dollywood’s rides come alive like never before! Its Wild Eagle, Thunderhead, Mystery Mine, and Tennessee Tornado under the moonlight.

Dollywood has been providing families with a great Smoky Mountain experience since 1986 when it took over the former Silver Dollar City. Dolly’s core values are reflected in the theme that bares her name, values that include faith, family, and fun.

Speaking of fun, there will be plenty of it to go around this summer. It all starts with the park’s newest attraction, River Rush, located at Dolly’s Splash Country right next door.

As for Dollywood theme park, shows like “My People: Dolly’s Letter Home” headline the new attractions at the park. If you come from a musical family, you’ll enjoy this show, which includes several members of her family. “My People: Dolly’s Letter Home” is scheduled to opens in early May. Elsewhere on the new show bill, “The Great American Country Show” opens around the same time.

Dollywood’s emphasis on live entertainment has earned plaudits — including, for the past four years, Golden Ticket Awards for Best Shows. Golden Ticket Awards are presented by the trade publication Amusement Today, which last year gave Dollywood top honors for Friendliest Park, Best Food and Best Christmas Event. The park likewise earned a Best New Ride nod for its Wild Eagle roller coaster.

Parton’s music also will be featured in “Dolly’s Nights of Many Colors,” a nightly fireworks display. Along with expanded park hours, the show is part of Dollywood’s new Great American Summer promotion, which runs June 22-Aug. 4.

Dollywood’s River Battle

In 2008, Dollywood opened one of the most inventive rides that they have ever put in their park.  It is a water ride, but it is so much more.  Part water gun fight, part water ride and fully interactive. The riders are not the only ones involved in the ride, the people that are watching the folks on River Battle get a chance to get in on the action as well.

The first thing you are going to notice about River Battle is the fact that it is beautifully made. It is designed with the younger visitors to the theme park in mind and Dollywood has spared no expense in making it look wonderful. The ride is decorated with plenty of Smoky Mountain critters and madness. Frogs, raccoons  bees, flowers, parts to old cars, signs and everything else come alive in the lagoon that is the course for River Battle. When you step into the boat and find a seat you will notice that you have a water gun with a spinning handle on it in front of you. The faster you spin the handle, the more water that shoots out of the gun. As the ride gets going you will be able to shoot targets and the decorations and the people walking along the path outside of the River Battle.

And, the people that you are shooting at will have the opportunity to shoot back at you! Yup, the people that are watching the ride can walk to one of the water shooters on the rail along the ride and hose down the people that are on the ride. And you can shoot back at them. In fact, if you want to stay dry around River Battle, you need to give the ride a wide berth, walking in the dry areas around the ride itself. If you stray into the wet parts of the lane around the ride, you will get wet. This pitched battle between the people on the ride, the people on other boats in the ride and the folks walking around the ride is what makes this one of the most fun sections of Dollywood.

River Battle is one of the rides in the park that doesn’t have seat belts, it doesn’t have high speed drops and spins, it is a simple ride with lots of fun and lots of water powered high-jinx. And, after you come off the ride they have family sized dryers where you can get dried off before your next adventure, or… go find another water ride, like Daredevil Falls or River Rampage and see just how wet you can get at Dollywood in one day.