Dollywood certainly has earned a number of major accolades in recent years, and the Smoky Mountain theme park won three more on Saturday night during
Dollywood certainly has earned a number of major accolades in recent years, and the Smoky Mountain theme park won three more on Saturday night during Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards ceremony held at Silverwood theme park in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Dollywood earned finalist placement in seven total categories and won more awards than any other park.
Two categories Dollywood has dominated for a number of years—Best Shows and Friendliest Park—have been retired and replaced with new categories. Best Guest Experience combines the previous Friendliest Park award with the Cleanest Park award into one prestigious new category. On Saturday night, Dollywood became the inaugural winner for Best Guest Experience of any theme park in the world. The park’s expansive new Wildwood Grove also won Best Kids’ Area for the first time, while the Smoky Mountain Christmas festival earned its 12th consecutive win for Best Christmas Event. Dollywood is the only park in the world to ever win the Christmas award.
“I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish here since we opened Dollywood in 1986,” Dolly Parton said. “First, we’ve been able to provide so many jobs to the great people who live here in the Smokies. Second, I wanted the world to know how beautiful this area truly is. I’ve been able to travel the world and see so many great things, but in the end, the Smokies are where my heart sings. I wanted to give folks the world over a reason to come here and see it for themselves.
“We don’t do what we do to win awards,” she continued. “They are nice, but we do it because we want to provide families an escape to a beautiful place where they can forget about all the things going on in their daily lives and truly enjoy each other.”
According to Craig Ross, President of The Dollywood Company, the addition of Wildwood Grove and Dollywood’s strong heritage of family fun certainly led to the park’s impressive showing. Wildwood Grove’s immersive theme and design, mix of unique outdoor and indoor attractions, as well as the one-of-a-kind Wildwood Tree experience have all combined to create this extraordinary new area.
“Dolly wanted Wildwood Grove to truly reflect the experiences she had as a little girl growing up here in the Great Smoky Mountains,” Ross stated. “As we started to develop the area and she began telling stories—some we had heard and some we hadn’t—we knew kids were going to love exploring the wilderness of Wildwood Grove she had dreamed up. The attractions included in this tremendous land were selected because they reminded her of those same dreams and memories she had from her childhood. The Golden Ticket for Best Kids’ Area reinforces what guests have been telling us since it opened; Wildwood Grove is a place where families can laugh, play and make memories together.”
Pete Owens, Vice-President of Marketing and Public Relations, shared why Dollywood has long been known as one of the most enjoyable theme park experiences in the world.
“Winning the Golden Ticket for Best Guest Experience further solidifies what we’ve known for so long,” he began. “The Dollywood experience provides guests a genuinely friendly, clean and warm environment to create memories they will be able to share forever. From our welcoming hosts and picturesque natural surroundings to our unique attractions, entertainment and food, Dollywood offers an experience that is hard to find elsewhere.”
Dollywood also had Top Ten (finalist) positions in four additional categories:
· Best Food, second place;
· Best Park, second place;
· Most Beautiful Park, third place;
· Best Wooden Coaster for Lightning Rod, seventh place.
“It has been fascinating to observe the results over the past two decades. I have watched Dollywood ascend from a great regional theme park to a world-famous destination,” said Amusement Today’s Tim Baldwin, Golden Ticket Awards Communications Coordinator. “That continual climb has been the result of offering an outstanding product at all levels — food, shows, innovative rides and a fantastic atmosphere. Dollywood is just the complete package! It has been inspiring to watch the park trying to continue to better itself — and it is succeeding in a huge way. The fact that they are recognized in numerous categories is testimony to that.”
Calculated from an international poll conducted by Amusement Today, the industry’s leading trade publication, the Golden Ticket Awards are the results of a detailed survey sent to a database of experienced and well-traveled amusement park fans around the world in balanced geographical regions. Voters are asked to rate the “best” in a number of categories such as best parks, roller coasters, water rides, kids’ area, food and more.
The Golden Ticket Awards are the most sought after awards in the business of amusements and attractions. The awards have become the subject of much discussion by park aficionados the world over and garnered mentions in such notable media outlets as USA Today and the Chicago Tribune, and by the late radio newsman Paul Harvey. The awards also were the topic of a one-hour Travel Channel documentary.
There are still a number of great opportunities for guests to enjoy what has arguably become the biggest season in Dollywood’s history. Dollywood’s Harvest Festival presented by Humana features the return of an even larger Great Pumpkin LumiNights, which includes new experiences in Wildwood Grove! Additionally, more than 600 Southern gospel concerts take place throughout the festival.
Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana, now the 12-time winner for Best Christmas event, features the second year of Glacier Ridge, as well as the first year of Christmas in Wildwood Grove. Now boasting five million spectacular lights, Smoky Mountain Christmas puts guests in the holiday spirit with stunning lights displays, tantalizing food options, traditional shows and fun experiences like the Parade of Many Colors and Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer and friends.