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Amber Vanderslice

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Published: April 28, 2009

Location: Dollywood is located southeast of Knoxville, Tennessee and just north of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You can get driving directions by clicking the Dollywood link on Theme Park Insider's Google map of U.S. theme parks.

History: The theme park currently known as Dollywood started out in 1961 as a small Civil War-themed tourist attraction called "Rebel Railroad". Rebel Railroad's main component was the steam train, but there were also other interesting things on the property such as an old time saloon and general store.

In the late 1960s, the name was changed to "Goldrush Junction", and the Civil War theme gave way to a Wild West theme. The Cleveland Browns football team purchased Goldrush Junction in 1970 and expanded the park with a log flume and several other small rides.

In 1976, Jack and Pete Herschend of Branson, Missouri bought the park from the Cleveland Browns and the following season changed the name from Goldrush Junction to "Silver Dollar City Tennessee", as a sister park to the Herschends' original Silver Dollar City in Branson.

Dolly Parton joined the Herschend brothers in 1986 when she bought into the theme park and redeveloped it as Dollywood. Since then, it has grown to become Tennessee's number one tourist attraction.


Tickets: Buy online. Always try to buy your tickets in advance, to save time when you get to the park.

If you enter the park after 3pm, you can return on the next day for free. (*valid March - October)

Reservations: Dollywood offers a Q-bot ride reservation system, for an additional per-person charge.

If long lines are a concern, the Q2Q reservation system can be worth the money on busy days. It will usually allow guests to visit two attractions in the time they might otherwise visit one, and will grant reserved seating for in park entertainment.

Otherwise, turn left when you enter the park and take the pathway up to Timber Canyon and start your day with the roller coasters before turning to the musical shows later in the day. Consult the show schedules available when you enter the park.

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