Pigeon Forge, TN
Review by: Lance & Kerry Hart
(4/28/17) For years now, going back to the beginning of the theme park itself, one of the dreams of Dolly and the Dollywood theme park was to build their very own on-site resort. For some time now they had already offered mountainside holiday cabins scattered throughout the nearby landscape, but building a true on-site resort hotel experience next to the park was something that was key to take Dollywood up to the next level. It almost came to be back in 2008, but the financial crisis that hit the world put the project on hold once again, waiting until the time was finally right.
Back in December, I was invited to come down to the park with my family to not only see all of Dollywood’s brand new Christmas season attractions, as well as get a taste of the beyond fantastic Lightning Rod coaster, but to also experience the park’s DreamMore Resort first hand. At the time, the resort was all decked out for the Christmas holiday season, with extra special touches that really made it stand out as being a one of a kind experience, complete with visits from Santa Claus, seasonal arts and craft making opportunities for the kids, holiday dining dishes aplenty… the experience was enough to make me want to make an annual Christmas visit to the DreamMore Resort a future family tradition.
In Summer 2015 that long-time dream had become a reality and Dolly Parton was on hand to formally open the doors for guests to stay at the Dollywood DreamMore Resort, built right next door to their already impressive Splash Country waterpark, nestled into the hillside of the Smoky Mountains of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The 307-room resort is a sight to behold, mixing the features of a mega-resort experience built with the loving care of a Tennessee country mountain home, filled with plenty of southern comfort touches to give it a very warm, welcome and almost familiar feeling.
The Resort is home a selection of very tasty snacks, coffee and more at the “DM Pantry” near the lobby, but it is dining at the “Song & Hearth: A Southern Eatery” where the DreamMore culinary experience comes home. I didn’t have the time to try it for the Lunch or Dinner menus during my visit, but we did hit it up for a most wonderful breakfast buffet experience that offered about anything you could ever think to ask for, and about half a dozen more things that you never even imagined.
The breakfast experience was made even more special by the appearance of themed Christmas Carolers who performed throughout the restaurants many themed rooms, as well as the appearance by Santa himself to arrived to sing and play games with the children. As I said, you couldn’t have asked for a more perfect Christmas seasonal vacation stop, especially if you have children, as they really went out of their way to make the entire resort shine for the holiday season, even with the addition of special holiday trees out in the outdoor pool area, with lights that was dance to holiday music every times each evening, along with small nearby fire pits where you roast SMOREs by the fire.
Not just wanting to report on how the resort was for the Christmas season, we also quietly returned for a second stay at the DreamMore Resort in April, to get a second taste of what the resort experience was like the rest of the year, as well as touch upon some features we didn’t get a chance to try the first time around, such as the The Spa at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort for my wife’s birthday.
The Spa at Dollywood's DreamMore Resort is a great way to add some pampering. The Spa menu offers something for everyone, including Dolly's youngest fans. After arriving at the resort my wife headed straight to the spa for a massage and facial and then on the last day which happened to be her 40th birthday she finished up with a Manicure and Pedicure. The spa has a very "glitzy and chic" appearance. They have 3 pedicure chairs, so perfect if you are on a girls trip, or mother daughter or even bridal parties, 3 treatment rooms, one of which can accommodate a couples massage. There is a beautiful outside sitting area where you can relax in between spa treatments and enjoy that mountain air too. You do not have to be staying at the resort to book spa appointments, but keep in mind that the Spa is not huge so I would book appointments prior to your arrival. The Spa is also closed on Mondays so keep that in mind if you plan to visit.
The standard guest rooms we experienced were about what you would expect, average in size and with all the normal in-room amenities, with options for a single king bed, double queens, in addition to some special options to add a double bunk bed to the single king, perfect for those with smaller children. Then there are also bigger Suite rooms available with other size options and connecting rooms for groups to sleep up to 8. The rooms are as nice as can be of course, but if there was one item I might be more critical of is the beds themselves are a bit “stiff” for my personal comfort, and I’d love to see them upgraded to something a bit more comfy.
As for the rest of the resort, there are a bunch of other great amenities including a heated indoor pool, a nice gym if you want to work out, free WiFi, free parking, a fun little arcade room that also offers tables and sitting space to pull out a few board games, and strolling about the resort during any given day you may come across various live musical performers setting up to perform a variety of music. As for the outdoor pool, as nice as it looks, we still did not get to try it. We were kind of shocked to see that even during the week of Spring Break, the outdoor pool had yet to open for the season.
All said and done the DreamMore Resort is a beautiful addition to the Dollywood property, turning it into a full fledged theme park “resort” experience. Even better for those visiting the Dollywood theme park… you’ll be happy to know that the queue-cutting TimeSaver upcharge perk offered in Dollywood is given away to all resort guests at the DreamMore Resort for free if they have park tickets or season passes which is a huge cost saver over buying TimeSaver access for your group inside the theme park. Even better, you will pick up the actual TimeSaver device at a special desk in the DreamMore Resort, avoiding the line to get one at Dollywood itself. Mix this in with the door to door shuttle service that takes you right to a special resort-guests only entrance into Dollywood itself, and you are set to be treated like a country music star for the day, with queue-free entry into most of the major park attractions and special reserved VIP seating at most shows.
In addition to the regular perks, for for those who visit Pigeon Forge often, you may want to look into the “Founders Club Premier” club. Right now it costs an extra $149 to join, but you get 20% off dining and spa services, a certificate to add a free second nights stay when you visit (subject to availability), a free one-day ticket into Dollywood or Splash Country, automatic room upgrades (again, subject to availability) along with other special offers.
Bottom line, if you are visiting Dollywood while in Pigeon Forge, it would be hard to go wrong by staying at the DreamMore Resort, as the perks are plentiful and you can’t beat staying so close to Dollywood and Splash Country. And while Dollywood was mum on the subject, I get the feeling that this won’t be the last resort we see with Dolly’s name on it in Pigeon Forge. I'd expect more great things to come for sure.