Blog

Posted on 4/30/2020

The Enchanting History of Dollywood


There’s a lot of history down south, even the amusement parks can’t escape it. Dollywood wasn’t always the premier Pigeon Forge theme park it is today. And unlike theme parks like Disneyland which have remained consistently branded despite multiple changes, Dollywood is nearly unrecognizable from its original incarnation.

REBEL RAILROAD

Dollywood got its start as the Rebel Railroad in 1961. (In case you were wondering, the word “rebel” refers to the term often self-applied by Confederate soldiers and supporters during the Civil War.)
This early incarnation of Dollywood was more of a one-trick pony. Guests would ride through a fake “Old Western Town” on a coal-fired steam train as scripted events unfolded around them. Most of these events involved staged robberies or attacks.

GOLDRUSH JUNCTION

In 1970, ownership of Rebel Railroad changed hands, and the park was renamed Goldrush Junction before being expanded. One of the main new attractions at Goldrush Junction was the ability to pan for actual gold, hence the name rebranding.

In addition to this “strike it rich” idea, Goldrush Junction added rides aimed at children as well as several theaters and an expanded campground and cabin area. Dollywood was growing.

SILVER DOLLAR CITY

Less than a decade later, Goldrush Junction was sold again and once again renamed, although the money-themed naming continued. Silver Dollar City (so named because its new owners already owned a successful theme park with that name and they understood the importance of strong branding) once again set its sights on expanding.

This is where Dollywood’s famous shows started to creep into the picture. To preserve the park’s small town feel, the new owners invested heavily in craft booths and shows in addition to the expected new rides and attractions. It’s worth noting that Silver Dollar City added Dollywood's first indoor roller coaster dark ride, Blazing Fury, which is still popular today! (Don’t worry, the ride has been updated and serviced many times since its inception forty years ago!)

DOLLYWOOD

And so we’ve caught up to the present day. Since 1986, Dollywood has been a household name. And this time around, there was no change in ownership. Dolly Parton partnered with the owners of Silver Dollar City to expand the park, but there was no outright purchase. Think of it more like an artistic collaboration.

The biggest difference since Dolly Parton came around? Lots and lots of new roller coasters!

They say there’s a great story around every corner in Tennessee if you only know where to look!

Previous 11 Iconic Places to See in Gatlinburg There’s a Real Life Fairy House in the Smoky Mountains Next
Image for Smoky Mountain Cabins
Explore
Smoky Mountain Cabins
Smoky Mountain Cabins
View All of Our Vacation Rentals
Read More
Image for Pigeon Forge Cabins
Explore
Pigeon Forge Cabins
Pigeon Forge Cabins
View Our Cabins in Pigeon Forge
Read More
Image for Gatlinburg Cabins
Explore
Gatlinburg Cabins
Gatlinburg Cabins
View Our Cabins in Gatlinburg
Read More
Image for Cabin Management
Explore
Cabin Management
Cabin Management
Learn More About Joining Us
Read More
Image for Things To Do
Explore
Things To Do
Things To Do
View all of the fun things to see and do in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg
Read More