Since 1986, visitors from around the world have become well acquainted with the Dollywood name and experience. However, the entertainment park actually traces its roots back to 1961 when Rebel Railroad first opened on the site that, over time, has expanded and grown into Dollywood.
Visitors to the Smoky Mountains thrill to the sights and sounds of Dollywood and are invited to continue their mountain adventure with Appalachian GhostWalks offering both single evening lantern-led ghostwalks in the Smokies as well as our "Smoky Mountain Haunted Adventure Tour Package".
DollyWood Theme Park History and Information
Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is one of several local attractions featured with Appalachian GhostWalks' "Haunted Historic Gatlinburg GhostWalk" as well as a number of other East Tennessee Ghost Tours. In fact, there are several fantastic itineraries presented daily and/or nightly, year-round. Reservations are required so call (423) 743-WALK (9255) for reservations by telephone, or RESERVE NOW ONLINE for a SPOOK-tacular good time!!!
The Robbins Brothers from North Carolina operated a small-scale attraction that featured a coal-fired steam train named Klondike Katie, a general store, a blacksmith shop and a saloon for visitors to enjoy. The Robbins Brothers had indeed created a winning formula. Visitors were intrigued by the Smoky Mountain way of life, and vacationers were eager to catch a glimpse of what Rebel Railroad had to offer. Little did the Robbins Brothers know that they were laying the groundwork for what would later become Tennessee's most-visited attraction.
In 1970, Rebel Railroad underwent a change in ownership and name when it was purchased by Art Modell, then owner of the NFL's Cleveland Browns. Under new ownership, Rebel Railroad was renamed Goldrush Junction and was touted as "Tennessee's Million Dollar Fun Attraction." Though the name had changed, the experience was unaltered; actually Goldrush Junction began to expand. Visitors still enjoyed the five-mile train ride into the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, complete with mock Indian attacks and train robberies.
New attractions including a wood shop and a saw mill were added in a nod to the area's rich history as a logging community. Further additions included an outdoor theater, log cabins, a campground, and several children's rides. Goldrush Junction visitors could pan for gold, stop by "The Lady Gay" saloon which featured live entertainment, and ride the Log Flume which had been relocated to Goldrush Junction from the New York World's Fair.
In 1973, the Robert F. Thomas Church was constructed. Named for a well known doctor in the Sevier County area, the Robert F. Thomas Church represented the strength and devotion of this Appalachian community to its Christian values. Later on, the Robert F. Thomas Church would have a strong link to a very well known Sevier County native.
Visitors continued to flock to this attraction located just outside the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains. For a single season in 1976, Goldrush Junction was known simply as Goldrush. In 1977, the park would undergo yet another name change as well as a change in ownership. Jack and Pete Herschend of the Branson-based Herschend Enterprises purchased Goldrush, and it would now be known as Silver Dollar City, Tennessee.
Dollywood also experienced tremendous increases in attendance, drawing 1.3 million visitors in 1986, an increase of approximately 75 percent as compared to Silver Dollar City's last season in 1985. Dollywood consistently entertains more than two million visitors annually (a 54 percent increase over its inaugural 1986 season and a 160 percent increase over its 1985 attendance.)
In the years since the Dollywood name has graced the theme park's main entrance, more than $110 million in expansions and additions are now visible as a result of Dollywood's ongoing commitment to offering guests something new each season. And, several old favorites continue to welcome guests including Klondike Katie, a 110-ton coal-fired steam train built in 1943 that still roams the tracks through the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.
And, the Robert F. Thomas Chapel remains but its significance to the park grew stronger after Dolly joined the family. It was Dr. Robert F. Thomas, the local Sevier County doctor, who one day delivered the fourth of twelve children to Lee and Avie Lee Parton-Dolly Rebecca Parton.
Visitors from across the country and around the world flock to the Pigeon Forge entertainment park to experience the heart and soul of the Great Smoky Mountains. Dollywood prides itself on creating "Memories Worth Repeating™." By offering a blend of thrilling rides, spectacular shows and master craftsmen in the Great Smoky Mountain and presented by employees with a genuine interest in the guest's experience-all sprinkled with Dolly's own special brand of charm and appeal-Dollywood more than delivers.
DollyWood Address: 1198 McCarter Hollow Road, Pigeon Forge, TN 37862
To Get DollyWood Tickets and Information Call: 1 (800) 365-5996
Click Here to visit the Dollywood Theme Park website for tickets as well as additional details on current park expansion projects and ride information.