DOLLYWOOD & Splash Country
Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Herschend Family Entertainment
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(12/30/16) Lightning Rod Closed For The Season (MORE...)
(12/13/16) Smoky Mountain Christmas and Parade of Many Colors Review (MORE...)
(12/10/16) First Checks From Dolly's "My Peoiple Fund" Coming Next Week (MORE...)
(11/30/16) Wildfires Damage Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge Area (MORE...)
Dixie Stampede (2016) Review
Dolly Parton’s Lumberjack Adventure (2016) Review
Dolly Parton’s Lumberjack Adventure - Christmas Edition (2016) Review
DOLLYWOOD’S SPLASH COUNTRY WATERPARK - OFFICIAL REVIEW
FireChaser Express Grand Opening & Review - Click Here
General Park News - (12/30/16) Screamscape has heard from a few readers that Lightning Rod had been having troubles since about mid-December, and now the official Dollywood website confirms that it is closed for the rest of the season. With the park ready to close for a winter break (last day is this Sunday, January 1st, 2017) this wont be an issue for most, but if you were planning a special trip to the park just for Lightning Rod, unfortunately you will have to wait until the park reopens for the 2017 season on March 18th.
Screamscape dropped by Dollywood last week with the family to take in Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas events. For those not in the know, unlike almost all the rest of the theme parks around the nation not located in Southern California or Florida, Dollywood stays open (almost daily) throughout the fall and early winter season, typically only closing down in early January after the New Year’s crowd has left for a two-month break before reopening again in March.
You can really tell as well, as even in the winter the park can pack in the crowds just as much as it does in the busy summer months… sometimes more so. The park is quite popular in the winter season for big family trips as well as a large number of senior guests who come out in droves to see the park’s huge assortment of live musical, dance and holiday performance shows at the theaters spread throughout the park. This year is no different with the performances of: It’s A Wonderful Life, Christmas in the Smokies, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, O Holy Night and others, as well as tons of live musical acts performing at the various outdoor stages throughout the park.
Our daytime hours were mixed between the shows, seeing the Rudolph characters, visiting Santa's Workshop and taking in the thrills. On that note, I just have to stop and say how unbelievable Lightning Rod really is. The ride experience is simply so intense it is almost indescribable. From the queue the ride looks like it is over pretty quick, but let me tell you that when you are on it and being relentlessly hit with ejector-seat level air-time, back to back, 12 times in a row from start to finish... believe me when you hit the brakes you are ready for it to be over, because you need to catch your breath. Or get a fresh change of underwear.
That said, once the the sun sets all the Christmas lights come on across the park, literally covering almost every building and structure from top to bottom. New this year was the addition of The Parade of Many Colors, which features a group of light up characters and floats that run a lengthy path across the front side of the park. Much like when you visit a Disney park, find a spot to watch the parade early because the entire run is packed with guests of all ages waiting to see the parade go by. I got a decent spot myself and was able to get some good pictures of many of the parade units. Check out the photos, or better yet, plan a trip to the park to see the parade and the rest of the Smoky Mountain Christmas festivities yourself.
One final tip for everyone... seek out the Grist Mill at some point during the day to try a fantastic treat you wont soon forget called Cinnamon Bread. Buy a loaf... better yet buy two, because they vanish so quickly, and add in a couple of cups of the icing so you can dip it in to make it even better. Trust me, you wont regret it... but plan ahead as the later in the day that you wait, the longer the line to get the Cinnamon Bread will get. It is a very popular item and a true favorite amongst the park regulars who never miss it. So glad that I finally discovered it myself this trip for the first time.
(12/10/16) Our friends at Dollywood have announced the dates where the first checks from Dolly's "My Peoiple Fund" will be distributed to those in need affected by the Gatlinburg fires.
Thursday, Dec. 15 Last name A – F
Friday, Dec. 16 Last name G – L
Monday, Dec. 19 Last name M – R
Tuesday, Dec. 20 Last name S – Z
10 a.m. – 7 p.m. each day at the CARE MORE Assistance Center inside the LeConte Event Center
2986 Teaster Ln., Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
The Dollywood Foundation My People Fund was established to assist those families (owners or renters) who lost their primary residence in the wildfires (complete loss or uninhabitable). Eligible families receive $1000 a month for six months.
Applicants are urged to pre-apply by visiting dollywoodfoundation.org. County officials are using the U.S. Geological Survey of the damage and cross-referencing with official documents to ensure the families who lost everything receive these funds.
More than 900 people have applied for funds, with more expected to complete the application. For efficiency, The Dollywood Foundation encourages only the head of household report on the day that correlates with their last name. The head of household should be prepared with photo I.D. The Dollywood Foundation emphasizes that funds will not run out. This is the first of six distribution periods.
(11/30/16) It's been a crazy 24-hours for the Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge area in Tennessee as super high winds as high as 80mph blew into the area and quickly spread wildfires in the nearby mountains into populated areas, burning hundreds of homes and structures and causing mass panic as people attempted to evacuate to safety. Throughout the day there have been many reports of various attractions and resorts suffering damage, many of which have later been corrected as being undamaged after all.
As Gatlinburg was said to be off-limits to anyone not already there, information has been hard to come by but here is what we think to know so far. The Gatlinburg area suffered the most damage from the sound of things, with many homes and vacation cabins burned down to the foundations. Despite reports from major news outlets claiming that Ober Gatlinburg, the Park Vista Hotel, Hillbilly Golf, Mysterious Mansion and other attractions were turned to ash, later reports have come in claiming that the attractions are either unharmed or may have only received slight damage. Videos you can find online from those in the area also show that the main drag through downtown Gatlinburg also seems untouched by the flames.
Be warned however that as of the last report I saw Tuesday afternoon the 441 highway up through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that goes to Cherokee is closed, as fires still line the steep mountains up there. I believe highway 321 that runs from Gatlinburg to the East out towards I-40 is open, however this region is also where quite a bit of extensive fire damage took place.
I've seen very few reports of damage in Pigeon Forge along the main tourist corridor, however several of the Dollywood cabins did get burned by neabry flames across the mountains as the fire got very close to the park's property. According to a statement from Dollywood, the park and DreamMore Resort were left unharmed by the flames. Dollywood itself however will remain closed until Friday when it opens at 2pm to resume normal operations. The park will focus their efforts over the next two days to supporting the community.
"Dollywood hosts have joined in supporting the needs of their fellow hosts affected as well as assisting other area businesses in supplying personal care items to the shelter at the LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge and they continue to feed and house firefighters and first responders.
“I have been watching the terrible fires in the Great Smoky Mountains and I am heartbroken. I am praying for all the families affected by the fire and the firefighters who are working so hard to keep everyone safe. It is a blessing that my Dollywood theme park, the DreamMore Resort, Dixie Stampede and so many businesses in Pigeon Forge have been spared,” Dolly Parton said."
(11/21/16) Dollywood has posted a video preview on Twitter of their new Parade of Many Colors show now performing at Dollywood each night at 8pm. Check it out below!
(11/9/16) More good news from Dollywood guests who reported to Screamscape that during a visit on Saturday they got in several rides on Lightning Rod, and noted that around 5pm the park added a second train. I've also been told that a rough spot at the bottom of the first drop has been repaired and is now "smooth as glass", and our riders were also fond of the night rides on Lightning Rod as there is reported no light at used in the valley where the majority of the coaster layout is, making for one really wild ride in utter darkness that was described as "pure coaster nirvana".
(11/7/16) Good news from Dollywood park guests, as they report that Lightning Rod was up and running for guests once again this past weekend. According to one report however, it was only seen to be running one train during their time at the coaster.
(10/27/16) Several readers who has visited Dollywood lately have confirmed that Lightning Rod is down again. For some there wasn’t much going on, while others claim to have seen it make a test run or two, but nothing that would indicate that it may be ramping up testing to prepare to reopen just yet. Stay tuned.
(10/26/16) Anyone know the status of Lightning Rod? I've seen a couple of emails come in lately that indicated that it may be suffering from another round of troubles and downtime to repair certain issues.
(9/26/16) Dollywood will host the park’s annual National Southern Gospel & Harvest Celebration from Sept. 30 to Oct. 29, 2016. The event is chocked full of free daily concerts throughout the park. Five-time Grammy Award winner Sandi Patty, who is in her final year of touring, headlines this year’s festival with concerts Sept. 30-Oct. 1. Guests can see a number of returning Dollywood favorites including Guy Penrod (Oct. 14-15), The McKameys (Oct. 7-8), Karen Peck & New River (Oct. 19-20), The Isaacs (Oct. 5-6), Ernie Haase & Signature Sound (Oct. 16-17) and Gold City (Oct. 21-22).
“It’s no secret I love singing about the beauty of God’s coloring book,” said Dolly Parton, “and viewing the bright fall colors of the Great Smoky Mountains on His pages is so very inspiring. When you mix in all of that great Southern gospel talent, including Sandi Patty, this truly is a great time of year to visit my Dollywood.”
Also new this week, Screamscape has posted official reviews of Dolly’s other two attractions in Pigeon Forge this week: the Dixie Stampede dinner theater and the new Dolly Parton’s Lumberjack Adventure dinner theater shows. You can find both of them listed on our Pigeon Forge Attractions page.
(9/14/16) Congratulations to Dollywood for picking up FOUR of the "Best Of" awards at this year's Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Awards ceremony. The park received awards for:
Best New Ride for Lightning Rod
Friendliest Park (for the 5th consecutive year)
Best Shows (for the 8th consecutive year)
Best Christmas Event (for the 9th consecutive year)
Dollywood also ranked highly in several other categories like Best Food (2nd), Cleanest Park (2nd), Best Park (3rd), Best Water Park (3rd) Best Landscaping (4th) and Best Wooden Coaster (Thunderhead - 7th).
Way to go Dollywood, the awards are well deserved in this case.
(9/1/16) Dolly Parton announced that a new $2.5 million nighttime parade will be coming to Dollywood in time for the park’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival. The parade will feature several fun and bright floats, interactive characters and more and they are calling it, “The Parade of Many Colors”.
“The parade perfectly complements Dollywood’s spectacular Christmas offerings which include four million festive lights, the remastered Christmas in the Smokies, the all-new It’s a Wonderful Life, and the joyous holiday atmosphere guests have come to enjoy during this lively festival.”
“The joy I feel during the Christmas season makes my heart sing because of the love and sweet Christmas memories I have of family and friends from when I was a child,” Parton said with a smile. “Christmas is the time of year when traditions, faith and family come together to create experiences we all remember forever. That is why my new movie and this parade are so important for me. I truly believe The Parade of Many Colors will inspire some of those same lifelong memories for the families who see it.”
2017 - Drop Line and WhistlePunk Chaser - (10/27/16)
Dollywood has announced two new attractions coming to the park for the 2017 season. First up is the new “Drop Line”, a 200 foot tall drop tower experience that will tower over the scenic Timber Canyon area and from the look of things, it may be installed onto the same site as the retired Timber Tower attraction. Also nearby will be a new kiddie coaster called WhistlePunk Chaser, described as preparing ‘younger loggers’ for the days when they too will be able to ride Thunderhead.
They also announced a new show coming to the park in 2017 called "enra", which will feature a Tokyo based dance company which was featured on America's Got Talent in 2015. Also in October 2017 the Dollywood Harvest Festival will add the spectacular "GREAT! Pumpkin LumiNights" event after dark that will immerse your entire family in fall pumpkin illumination and a new pumpkin trail.
2017 - TailSpin Racer at Dollywood’s Splash Country - (8/17/16)
Dollywood's Splash Country will open a new slide in 2017 called TailSpin Racer. This is a new six-lane wide mat-racer style slide to be built near the front of the park, but this one will start things off with a high speed spiral in a dark enclosed section of slide before blasting back out into the open air for the final hurdle-drop run to the finish line.
I've got to admit that I like the idea of the park having two racers slides now. They are high-capacity monsters, with perhaps the best through-put in any waterpark, so having two of them, each with their own unique look and style, will go a long way to making sure everyone can spend more time in the water than they do standing in lines.
DOLLYWOOD’S SPLASH COUNTRY -
Review by Lance Hart
Here at Screamscape our family are big fans of waterparks, and we've traveled across the country to visit many of them over the years, and have written quite a few reports about our favorites which you can find scattered throughout our many "Features" articles.
Today we add to this famous list another waterpark that is very deserving of your attention: Dollywood's Splash Country. The park is located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, just across the road from the world famous Dollywood theme park, in the heart of the Smoky Mountains, nestled right in-between the theme park and Dollywood's DreamMore Resort, surrounded by the lush and beautiful hillsides that make for the perfect terrain for a truly incredible waterpark.
In fact once you get your ticket and head down the path to the park entrance, you may just quickly forget just where you are, as you pass into what may be one of the most well themed and beautifully landscaped waterparks anywhere. Your ears will be filled with the sound of waterfalls, trickling rivers, laughing children and gentle music as you enter the first area where the entry to the Downbound Float Trip (aka: Lazy River) sits to your right, with a backdrop of cascading waterfalls. To your left is the Little Creek Falls kiddie play area for the little kids, and there are plenty of lounge chairs on either side here if you wanted to plop down and park your stuff.
Of course this is just the tip of the ice-berg, as Splash Country has several great areas you can sit and relax in. You can keep walking straight ahead and up a rise to find the huge Mountain Waves area, dominated by a 25,000 sqft wave pool. Or head down the hill to your left and you can hang out at Bear Mountain Fire Tower area, dominated by a huge water fortress structure, complete with a massive bucket of water on top that dumps down on everyone below every couple of minutes. Keep walking down the path from here and you'll come to one of my favorite and very secluded areas, The Cascades... a highly themed 8,000 sqft lagoon that you can wade in, with a zero-depth entry point on one end for the kiddies with fun interactive elements, or play on the two kiddie sized slides in the middle, or wade out to the far side to hang out under the rocky waterfalls.
While The Cascades is surrounded by plenty of lounge chairs, the area also features a deluxe upgrade that can really up the relaxation factor of your day at Splash Country to the 100% satisfaction level. I'm talking about the Retreats and Canopies the park has available for rental. The Retreats are bigger (200 sqft) and offer you not only a shaded space where you can relax, but a safe place to keep your valuables (with a locker box) and your own sun-deck if you want to catch some rays. The Canopies are smaller (65 sqft) shaded spaces, perfect for couples, complete with two chaise-lounge chairs.
You will spy Retreats and Canopies scattered out around the park in various areas, though a large number of the Retreats are in The Cascades. While I've never been one to try out this kind of thing before at other waterparks, my family and I were able to try out a Retreat in The Cascades and I may never be able to go back to roughing it again. Ours also featured a nice table, a phone where you can order food to be delivered right to you, and a TV to watch if you so desired (so no missing the big game!). However sometimes the benefits of the Retreats are more than what is advertised... especially as a parent. The Retreat gives your group of kids a "base" where they can not only keep their stuff for the day, but your kids can venture off on their own, allowing the older kids to go wild and slide for a bit while you focus on the smaller kids, and everyone knows to come back to the Retreat to check in. The park also offers refillable drink bottles, which you can't take on the slides with you, but the Retreat makes a perfect place to take a break every so often, rest, get re-hydrated, maybe eat something and head back out for more fun in the sun. They are available on a first-come basis as you enter the park, so inquire about availability, it really will make your day.
With everyone's gear settled, sunscreen applied, its time to head out into the waterpark for some wet fun and wild thrills. I've already mentioned a few of the more mellow ways you can spend your day, so lets focus now on the more WILD times you can have. If you are near The Cascades or Mountain Waves I'm sure you've spotted the huge Fire Tower Falls slide tower, featuring a pair of near vertical dive slides that you wont soon forget. Not far from here is the Big Bear Plunge (big raft) slide that winds through twists and tunnels along with a big splashdown, or take on the parks newest thrill slide, RiverRush, which has Tennessee's first and only water coaster slide that will take you on a wild experience like no other.
Venture over to the other side of the park and you'll find a wild assortment of other slides like the Wild River Falls (raft slides) or the short but wild Butterfly slides that are themed to look like the Dollywood butterfly logo. Near here is the Raging River Rapids (big raft) slide, the three Mountain Scream body slides, the SwiftWater Run bowl slide, the Mountain Twist slides that you go down head-first on matt that are much wilder than they look, or venture up the valley to race your friends down the always fun Slick Rock Racer.
After visiting so many waterparks that are essentially giant concrete pool pads, roasting under the harsh sun standing in long lines, a day spent at the lush Splash Country waterpark where you are never far from the natural green landscape that surrounds the whole park will change your mind about how a great a day at the waterpark should really be. Check the park website for the official schedule, but it’s usually open from about Mid-May to Early to Mid-September. So treat yourself to an enjoyable and relaxing experience at Dollywood's Splash Country... you'll thank me later if you've never been.