Dollywood: A VIP Tour

Dollywood: A VIP Tour

I recently visited Dollywood for the first time in March 2023, during its special opening weekend. Visiting Dollywood has been on my bucket list for years. So my friends Paul, Jaime, and I decided to visit this special place and splurge for the VIP tour. We were pleasantly surprised by how much this experience made us feel like royalty. We had two personal guides (one was in training), but we also received front-of-the-line ride access, a meal, and even a little gift from Dolly Parton herself. This experience exceeded all of my expectations. Not only did I get to see the park with fresh eyes, but I also learned about its history and saw how much it means to Dolly. 

Dollywood sign
Opening Weekend at Dollywood
Danielle, Jaime, and Paul in front of Dollywood's hanging artwork
Danielle, Jaime, and Paul

Betsy was in charge of organizing our day, and she reached out to Paul a few days before our tour to ask about our preferences. Paul mentioned that he wasn’t fond of thrill rides, but Jaime and I were excited to try the coasters. Paul said that he would likely be carrying our bags during the trip. However, one thing we all agreed on was that we wanted to try the famous cinnamon bread.

Our original tour guide couldn’t make it, so we were introduced to Betsy and Cameron. They both were exceptional in several ways. They took the time to educate us on each attraction and showed us many hidden gems around the park. 

Our day began with a warm welcome from Betsy and Cameron, who had already prepared ponchos for us due to the heavy rain. As it was opening week, Betsy informed us that Dolly would be around the park and helped us prioritize seeing her. Their passion for the theme park made this experience feel like we were visiting someone’s home. 

When Betsy discovered where Dolly would be, she got us seats for the outstanding new show “From The Heart – The Life and Music of Dolly Parton,” which I believe may make it to Broadway sometime in the future. At the show’s end, Dolly came out on stage and greeted all of us. She thanked us for visiting during the opening weekend, especially on a wet day. Seeing her in real life and being only a few rows away from this larger-than-life icon felt like a dream come true.

Dolly Parton at Dollywood
Dolly Parton!
Dollywood's From the Heart
“From The Heart – The Life and Music of Dolly Parton”

After the show, Betsy made sure that my friend Jaime and I had a chance to ride every single coaster. The most memorable ride for me was Wild Eagle, where the rain turned into a water ride, and we were completely soaked by the end. To avoid getting rain in my eyes at 61 mph, I kept my poncho on, which made for a priceless photo. Betsy diligently monitored the radio for updates on ride closures due to the rain, which allowed us to take advantage of every opportunity to ride. Their attentiveness and dedication made our experience truly unforgettable. Additionally, Betsy and Cameron took photos of us throughout the day to capture our special experience. They also made sure we had plenty of breaks for water and restroom stops.

Ride photo from the Wild Eagle
A wet ride on Wild Eagle
Jaime, Danielle, and Paul in front of Dollywood's Wild Eagle

One cannot forget the culinary delights of Dollywood, especially the legendary cinnamon bread from the Grist Mill. During one of our breaks, Betsy slipped away and returned with this famous treat, warm and rich with cinnamon—every bite was a piece of Dollywood’s soul, making the experience even more special. We even took a peek inside the Grist Mill and saw them making these unforgettable loaves.

Danielle eating Dollywood's Cinnamon Bread
Dollywood Cinnamon Bread
Dollywood Cinnamon Bread

Throughout the day, Betsy and Cameron went above and beyond to ensure we didn’t miss a thing. We met some of Dollywood’s most beloved characters, like Apple Jack and the Chicken Lady, each adding their unique flair and humor to our experience. Their interactions were entertaining and provided that quintessential Dollywood charm, making our visit feel even more personal and engaging.

Jaime giving a coloring book to Dollywood's Chicken Lady
Jaime, Dollywood's Apple Jack, Paul, and Danielle

Adding a special touch to our visit, my friend Jaime brought along little coloring books she had hand-drawn featuring various Dollywood icons. These books were our way of giving back to the beautiful staff and characters who made our day memorable. This gesture deeply touched the employees and opened up even more interactions with some of the park’s best personnel. Betsy and Cameron facilitated these moments, ensuring we had the opportunity to distribute the coloring books and share smiles all around. If you find yourself wanting your own PDF copy, please DM her, and she will be happy to share. I love coloring these digitally. 

Jamie's coloring book in front of the sign for Dollywood's Lightning Rod
Jaime giving a coloring book to a Dollywood employee

We decided to eat at Aunt Granny’s (which is what Dolly’s nieces and nephews call her) for our meal. They offer all-you-can-eat downhome southern cooking, and we had a great time with our guides, who stayed awhile and chatted with us while we enjoyed dinner. Another perk of having a VIP tour guide is that they use their employee discount when purchasing something, which makes a big difference. It was also convenient to have our purchases sent to the park entrance for pickup.

All the food at Aunt Granny's
Aunt Granny's menu

Overall, the VIP tour is an amazing choice to make your visit special. It’s perfect for avoiding crowds and ensuring you get the most out of your visit. Betsy and Cameron were fantastic guides. If you go and are fortunate enough to get Betsy or Cameron, tell them Paul, Jaime, and Danielle sent you.

Paul, Jamie, Danielle and the Dollywood VIP hosts

So how much does it cost, and what’s included?

The cost is $299 per person, and Gold and Diamond Season Passholders save $20 and $30 off on this tour.

What’s included in this tour?

  • Personal VIP tour guide for up to 8 consecutive hours at Dollywood
  • Complimentary preferred parking
  • Collectible lanyard
  • Front-of-the-line access to all attractions
  • Reserved premium seating at participating shows
  • Complimentary meal of your choosing from Aunt Granny’s Restaurant or Front Porch Café
  • Behind-the-scenes access (if applicable)
  • Package pick up and delivery to the front desk at your Dollywood Resort (if applicable)

If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind combination of thrilling entertainment, heartfelt charm, and breathtaking natural beauty, then visiting Dollywood is an absolute must. This special park is nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and it offers something for everyone. From world-class roller coasters and captivating live shows to artisan crafts and seasonal festivals, Dollywood provides a rich, immersive experience that celebrates the spirit of the Southern Appalachians.

Robert F. Thomas Chapel
Danielle in front of the Dollywood sign
Dollywood's hanging artwork

Beyond the rides and attractions, the park’s scenic beauty and the warm hospitality of its staff make every visit feel like coming home. Whether you’re sampling the legendary cinnamon bread, exploring hidden park gems with a VIP tour, or simply soaking in the views of the surrounding mountains, Dollywood promises unforgettable memories for visitors of all ages.

So why not make your next adventure to Dollywood and discover why it’s not just a theme park but a cherished destination where every corner holds a story waiting to be told?

Dollywood Express
Danielle Ernest is a dynamic digital strategist and innovative content creator, boasting 14 years of enriching experience that spans various facets of the digital landscape. Her career embarked on a magical note at Disneyland, where she excelled as a Cast Member, setting the foundation for her exceptional journey in digital storytelling.