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Tournament quarterfinals: Smoky Mountain Christmas vs. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

By Robert Niles
Published: March 28, 2011 at 9:00 AM
The calendar says March, but it's time to think about Christmas, with today's quarterfinal match-up in the 2011 Theme Park Insider Tournament: America's Best Theme Park Event.

Dollywood fans rallied to push the park's Smoky Mountain Christmas to one of the top two seeds in the round of the eight. Meanwhile, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party had to defeat Universal Studios Florida's Rock the Universe in a second-round match-up to advance to the quarterfinals.

In terms of attendance, Tennessee's Dollywood falls well behind the Magic Kingdom, which is the world's most populate theme park. But fans' passion counts in an online poll, and Dollywood fans have shown that they love their park every bit as much as Disney fans love theirs'.

So which will it be? The holiday-themed live musical shows of Dollywood or the fireworks and parades of Disney World? Smoky Mountain hospitality or Disney magic? These are the last two Christmas events in our tournament, so I think it's fair to say that the winner here can be called the nation's best theme park Christmas event.


As always, comments welcomed. We'd especially love to hear from anyone who's been to both of these events.

Come back tomorrow for our final quarterfinal match, as Universal Studios Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights takes on Mickey's Halloween Party at Disneyland.

Readers' Opinions

From 74.82.64.160 on March 28, 2011 at 11:05 AM
Voted Dollywood. These are my reasons:

-Celebrates the TRUE meaning of Christmas!
-4 Million Christmas lights
-7 unique Christmas shows
-Polar Express 4-D Experience/ride
-Santa's workshop with "larger than life" sized toys
-Breakfast with Santa
-Seasonal additions to their food menu's like freshly made hot apple cider, bigger buffets, etc.
-Plus they constantly add new things every year! (In 2011 they premiere Dollywood's Christmas on Ice!)

-Also they have won "Best Christmas Event" from Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Awards all 3 years they have had the award category, with MORE THAN DOUBLE the votes Magic Kingdom gets!

That is why I voted for Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas!

From 173.247.1.223 on March 28, 2011 at 11:46 AM
We have done Christmas time in Dollywood. It was nice. Cold! But really nice. We had a wonderful time. We have never been able to do Mickey's Christmas party but have done the Halloween one several times. Love it. So, we would LOVE to try the Christmas one. And are actually planning to in 2012. Honestly I do not think you can compare and pick one of the two because they are 2 totally different experiences.
From 71.236.90.36 on March 28, 2011 at 11:58 AM
Having done both, I agree they are really different experiences. That being said however I must say that we always leave Dollywood's Smokey Mountain Christmas really feeling in the true spirit of Christmas. It is truly a "Feel Good" event and one we love to attend.
From 146.126.61.241 on March 28, 2011 at 12:14 PM
I absolutely love the Dollywood Christmas - we have been there several christmas's. we have also never been the the Mickey's Christmas we plan to do that this year. so for now I pick Dollywoods christmas only because I have not experienced the Mickey's Christmas.
From 184.43.34.163 on March 28, 2011 at 1:24 PM
I've only been to Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas and my family loves it and has made quite a tradition in this. We have not missed a year in 5 years. It's absolutely beautiful and the shows are amazing.
From 72.149.242.99 on March 28, 2011 at 2:04 PM
My family has experienced both. Dollywood has a true feeling of Christmas.
From 166.205.12.231 on March 28, 2011 at 2:39 PM
We love Dollywood's Christmas celebration. Just feels like what Christmas should be.
From 75.71.58.20 on March 28, 2011 at 3:35 PM
I've been to both multiple times and HANDS DOWN, it's Dollywood. While Mickey's Party is nice, it's just not Christmas-y enough for me. And the Christmas Mickey does seem to promote is too commercial for my tastes. Dollywood shows the true meaning of Christmas. At Disney I just feel like another number, like I'm just a 'giant $' walking around. At Dollywood, I always feel like I'm surrounded by family everywhere I look.

Dollywood, you've got my vote on this one!

From 75.130.78.126 on March 28, 2011 at 4:12 PM
We have been to both and in all honesty Dollywood is much more enjoyable. It has the feeling of an old fashioned, down home Christmas. It has the feeling of peace on earth and good will towards men. It is actually the best Christmas I have ever seen. It is beautiful and the lights are amazing. The hospitality is awesome and it is where we plan to start a family tradition. Dolly's good nature and loving kindness is very evident in Dollywood. It is DOLLYWOOD ALL THE WAY!!!
From 72.51.165.28 on March 28, 2011 at 4:17 PM
Love Dollywood's Christmas. Has the true meaning of Christmas, shows are wonderful, costs less than Mickey's. We are season pass holders, due basically to the SM Christmas at Dollywood!
From 71.254.64.40 on March 28, 2011 at 6:07 PM
I have been to both and Dollywood IS 100% better than Disney. I suppose it is hard to decorate with warm weather. DOLLYWOOD hands down!!
From 32.179.8.90 on March 28, 2011 at 6:18 PM
I have been to both. Dollywood is wholesome family entertainment. The workers treat you like family. The shows are all family oriented, not robotic. You feel like they are doing the show just for YOU. I love Dollywood. I like Disney World.
From Steven Lee on March 28, 2011 at 7:17 PM
Voted for Dollywood. Basically for all the reasons stated above the dedication and time they put into the event shows! Plus every time I visit when I leave I feel as if I am truly in the Christmas spirit!
From 71.12.5.222 on March 28, 2011 at 10:40 PM
I love Dollywood! It is a family tradition of ours to go and celebrate a weekend there. Usually the first weekend of December is when we visit! Dollywood celebrates the true meaning of Christmas and for that alone they have my vote, but their amazing shows, Christmas lights and staying true to their roots of a good down home family experience is why they have my vote! If you have not been here at Christmas you are missing out!
From Joshua Counsil on March 29, 2011 at 10:49 PM
Wow! Dollywood knocks out Disney. I wonder if the Dollywood blog made an announcement about the tournament - most of the commenters are anonymous (that's a change).

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