Dollywood (Pigeon Forge, TN)

Taste a slice of autumnal Americana at Dollywood
Dollywood (Pigeon Forge, TN)
Dollywood's Harvest Celebration features music, crafts, and frightening rides. (courtesy, Dollywood)

In fall, Dollywood delivers a triple crown of delights: brilliant foliage, an outdoor crafts festival, and Gospel performances during the park's National Gospel and Harvest Celebration. Megastar Dolly Parton founded the theme park in the hills of her hometown, just five miles north of the Gatlinburg entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a paradise for leaf peepers each autumn.

In Dollywood during October, Appalachian heritage and music hold equal sway to monster rides. The park offers daily demonstrations of blacksmithing, glass blowing, and other skills, and holds one of the region's largest craft shows. Thrill rides include the Tennessee Tornado, a roller coaster that drops riders a stomach-churning 128 feet at speeds up to 65 mph, and Thunderhead, a wooden coaster with 100-foot drops and speeds up to 55 mph. Young kids hang out at Lil' Loggers' Landing, a lumberjack-themed play area, and the Busy Bees ride.

True to its roots, Dollywood's about the music. And sounds aren't all country, either, although the "Kinfolks Show," a tribute to Dolly, has enough twang to go around. Toe-tap through "Dreamland Drive-In," a fifties and sixties rock 'n' roll revival, then stop by Naomi and the Wood Brothers' lively bluegrass show.

(865-428-9488;'s resident family expert Candyce Stapen has written the book on family travel, having authored some 1,400 travel articles and 27 books, 26 of them on family travel. She is the winner of the 2004 "Caribbean Travel Writer of the Year for North America" award and a three-time winner of the Society of American Travel Writers' Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism award. Her articles have appeared in publications including Nick Jr , FamilyFun , Parents , Better Homes & Gardens , Conde Nast Traveler , National Geographic Traveler , and the Family Travel Network , among others. Her book, the National Geographic Guide to Caribbean Family Vacations is available from

Published: 5 Oct 2006 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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