Dollywood is a fantastic place for families, couples, and friends. There is so much to do—you might want to visit multiple days! Because it’s such an immersive park, with plenty of things to do, we want to make sure you have a chance to visit these five places you might have missed.
- SGMA Hall of Fame and Museum
Located just inside the entrance near the stroller/rider height check area in Showstreet (#14 on your park map), the Southern Gospel Music Association has a museum dedicated to the achievements and memories of pioneers in the gospel music genre. Inside the museum, you’ll find handwritten songs, a recreation of a church choir room, a replica of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet bus, clothing and instruments, songbooks and records, and more memorabilia. There is also a wall dedicated to the Hall of Famers. Every year a new set of music greats gets inducted. You can easily spend a couple of hours looking around at everything. Before you leave, check out the store onsite. They sell CDs and old vinyl records.
- Chasing Rainbows Museum
This museum is dedicated to the life and history of Dolly Parton. If you’ve ever wanted to see a Grammy up close and personal, or one of her many bedazzled gowns, you should check this out. As you enter, you’ll get an introduction from Dolly herself, right from her recreated home attic space. You’ll view collections, read stories, see some of her handwritten lyrics, and view an enormous selection of memorabilia. There is also an area on the first floor that has listening stations where you can hear Dolly’s music. Make sure you allot enough time to get the most out of the museum, as it does close an hour before the park closes. It’s located in the Adventures in Imagination area, at #135 on your park map.
- Tennessee Country Home
This small two-room cabin is situated in the Rivertown Junction area of Dollywood (#91 on your park map). It’s a replica of Dolly Parton’s childhood home (the original is in Locust Ridge). You’ll see how very little she had as a child, including missing out on things we take for granted today, like running water and electricity. Still, she had what matters most—love. It’s amazing to think that Dolly, her parents, and her 10 brothers and sisters called this little cabin home. The cabin itself was built by Dolly’s brother, and her mother reproduced the interior. Inside the cabin are original family items.
- Eagle Mountain Sanctuary
You might miss Eagle Mountain (#54) as it blends into the rest of the backdrop of the park, nestled in the Smoky Mountains. Make sure you stop and check it out because it is home to the country’s largest exhibit of non-releasable bald eagles. There are five different enclosures. The largest is home to birds without mates that have physical disabilities. If the birds decide to mate (they mate for life) then they get their own private enclosure. Three different enclosures house the mated pairs, along with a few that are off-site at an American Eagle Foundation facility. The last enclosure is home to bald eagles that can’t fly at all, such as those that have amputated wings. If you want to get up-close-and-personal with a bald eagle, then you should grab a front-row seat at the Wings of America Birds of Prey show. It’s held daily from mid-March through late October in Craftsman’s Valley.
- Dollywood Express
Running every hour, plan on arriving at The Village at the half-hour to get a seat on the train that will take you on a 20-minute excursion around the park. The Dollywood Express (#101 on your park map) is an experience in America’s history, besides getting unique vantage points of all of the Dollywood attractions. It’s a real coal-fired steam engine (burning two tons of coal daily) that had a long life before it came to Dollywood and is Dollywood’s oldest attraction for that very reason. The train originally was built for the US Army Transportation Corps by Baldwin in 1938 and is the older of the two trains at Dollywood. The name you might hear on your ride, “2-8-2” or “Mikado,” comes from the wheel arrangements of two leading wheels, eight driving wheels, and two trailing wheels. It was the first 2-8-2 owned by White Pass in the Yukon, Alaska, where it was stationed during World War II. It was retired in 1963 and then bought by Silver Dollar City before it became Dollywood. Dubbed “Cinderella” from the cinders that fly past.
We hope this gave you some ideas of what to do when you are at Dollywood that are a few steps away from a traditional theme park visit. What do you like to do at Dollywood that people might not know about or visit as often? Any little hidden gems you can highlight for us? Let us know in the comments section below.
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