Dollywood Won Three Golden Ticket Awards and 2019 USA TODAY 10Best!

Dollywood Won Three Golden Ticket Awards and 2019 USA TODAY 10Best!

I told you that Dollywood is the best theme park! Look at the awards they're winning, Dollywood Earns Three Golden Ticket Awards, and Dollywood's Great Pumpkin LumiNights has won the 2019 USA TODAY 10Best! Well deserved!

Check out more about this award-winning theme park!

Dollywood Won Three Golden Ticket Awards and 2019 USA TODAY 10Best!


Dollywood's Great Pumpkin LumiNights has won the 2019 USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice travel award for Best Theme Park Halloween Event, thanks to the votes of park supporters from around the country.

Entering its third season this year, Great Pumpkin LumiNights—part of Dollywood's Harvest Festival presented by Humana (Sept. 27-Nov. 2)—has become a new Smoky Mountain tradition with family-friendly activities that are sure to please kids of every age. Dollywood stays open until 9 p.m. each evening (closed Oct. 22 & 29) allowing families more time to enjoy the glow of thousands of carved pumpkins throughout the park.

The 10Best Readers' Choice Awards include nominees chosen by a panel of relevant experts. The public voting happens digitally on the website. After four weeks of voting, the results are revealed. Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights finished second to Dollywood, with Halloween Haunt at Kings Island third. The complete top-10 can be found on the website.

"We knew Great Pumpkin LumiNights was a hit during the first few evenings of the event in 2017," said Pete Owens, Dollywood Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations. "We received a lot of great feedback from guests about how much they liked it, but also about what we could add and change to make it even better. Last year, we doubled the size of Great Pumpkin LumiNights by putting in a number of new displays, and this year the event grows even larger with the addition of Wildwood Grove, which includes the harvest story experience at the Wildwood Tree.

"Awards like these give us the opportunity to share with the world what our guests already know," he continued. "The memories made and experiences shared at Dollywood really are unlike anything found elsewhere. We hope new guests will come to see why this event has earned the title of best in the country!"

Great Pumpkin LumiNights grows again in 2019, stretching into the newly-opened Wildwood Grove. In addition to the pumpkin displays, the Wildwood Tree tells a Smoky Mountain harvest story multiple times each evening. The Plaza at Wilderness Pass also serves as the main centerpiece for the event with an area for character interaction, additional displays and a 40 ft. tall pumpkin tree.

Families will bask in the glow of thousands of intricately-carved pumpkins as they wander through displays throughout Dollywood's Timber Canyon, Wilderness Pass and upper Craftsman's Valley areas. Beyond the impressive displays, guests can find several exciting activities to create thrilling memories together.

Dollywood's Harvest Festival also includes several hundred performances by award-winning Southern gospel artists, making the Harvest Festival's Southern Gospel Jubilee the genre's largest event in America. Dollywood guests also can enjoy the spectacular artistry of visiting crafters from across the country or sample the special harvest-themed food items from Dollywood's award-winning foods team. Each day is a picture-perfect opportunity for families to enjoy the experiences of a Smoky Mountain harvest!

Dollywood Won Three Golden Ticket Awards and 2019 USA TODAY 10Best!


Dollywood certainly has earned a number of major accolades in recent years, and the Smoky Mountain theme park won three more on Saturday night during Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Awards ceremony held at Silverwood theme park in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Dollywood earned finalist placement in seven total categories and won more awards than any other park.

Two categories Dollywood has dominated for a number of years—Best Shows and Friendliest Park—have been retired and replaced with new categories. Best Guest Experience combines the previous Friendliest Park award with the Cleanest Park award into one prestigious new category. On Saturday night, Dollywood became the inaugural winner for Best Guest Experience of any theme park in the world. The park's expansive new Wildwood Grove also won Best Kids' Area for the first time, while the Smoky Mountain Christmas festival earned its 12th consecutive win for Best Christmas Event. Dollywood is the only park in the world to ever win the Christmas award.

"I'm so proud of what we've been able to accomplish here since we opened Dollywood in 1986," Dolly Parton said. "First, we've been able to provide so many jobs to the great people who live here in the Smokies. Second, I wanted the world to know how beautiful this area truly is. I've been able to travel the world and see so many great things, but in the end, the Smokies are where my heart sings. I wanted to give folks the world over a reason to come here and see it for themselves.

"We don't do what we do to win awards," she continued. "They are nice, but we do it because we want to provide families an escape to a beautiful place where they can forget about all the things going on in their daily lives and truly enjoy each other."

According to Craig Ross, President of The Dollywood Company, the addition of Wildwood Grove and Dollywood's strong heritage of family fun certainly led to the park's impressive showing. Wildwood Grove's immersive theme and design, mix of unique outdoor and indoor attractions, as well as the one-of-a-kind Wildwood Tree experience have all combined to create this extraordinary new area.

"Dolly wanted Wildwood Grove to truly reflect the experiences she had as a little girl growing up here in the Great Smoky Mountains," Ross stated. "As we started to develop the area and she began telling stories—some we had heard and some we hadn't—we knew kids were going to love exploring the wilderness of Wildwood Grove she had dreamed up. The attractions included in this tremendous land were selected because they reminded her of those same dreams and memories she had from her childhood. The Golden Ticket for Best Kids' Area reinforces what guests have been telling us since it opened; Wildwood Grove is a place where families can laugh, play and make memories together."

Pete Owens, Vice-President of Marketing and Public Relations, shared why Dollywood has long been known as one of the most enjoyable theme park experiences in the world.

"Winning the Golden Ticket for Best Guest Experience further solidifies what we've known for so long," he began. "The Dollywood experience provides guests a genuinely friendly, clean and warm environment to create memories they will be able to share forever. From our welcoming hosts and picturesque natural surroundings to our unique attractions, entertainment and food, Dollywood offers an experience that is hard to find elsewhere."

Dollywood also had Top Ten (finalist) positions in four additional categories:

  • Best Food, second place
  • Best Park, second place
  • Most Beautiful Park, third place
  • Best Wooden Coaster for Lightning Rod, seventh place

"It has been fascinating to observe the results over the past two decades. I have watched Dollywood ascend from a great regional theme park to a world-famous destination," said Amusement Today's Tim Baldwin, Golden Ticket Awards Communications Coordinator. "That continual climb has been the result of offering an outstanding product at all levels — food, shows, innovative rides and a fantastic atmosphere. Dollywood is just the complete package! It has been inspiring to watch the park trying to continue to better itself — and it is succeeding in a huge way. The fact that they are recognized in numerous categories is testimony to that."

Calculated from an international poll conducted by Amusement Today, the industry's leading trade publication, the Golden Ticket Awards are the results of a detailed survey sent to a database of experienced and well-traveled amusement park fans around the world in balanced geographical regions. Voters are asked to rate the "best" in a number of categories such as best parks, roller coasters, water rides, kids' area, food and more. 

The Golden Ticket Awards are the most sought after awards in the business of amusements and attractions. The awards have become the subject of much discussion by park aficionados the world over and garnered mentions in such notable media outlets as USA Today and the Chicago Tribune, and by the late radio newsman Paul Harvey. The awards also were the topic of a one-hour Travel Channel documentary.

There are still a number of great opportunities for guests to enjoy what has arguably become the biggest season in Dollywood's history. Dollywood's Harvest Festival presented by Humana features the return of an even larger Great Pumpkin LumiNights, which includes new experiences in Wildwood Grove! Additionally, more than 600 Southern gospel concerts take place throughout the festival.

Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana, now the 12-time winner for Best Christmas event, features the second year of Glacier Ridge, as well as the first year of Christmas in Wildwood Grove. Now boasting five million spectacular lights, Smoky Mountain Christmas puts guests in the holiday spirit with stunning lights displays, tantalizing food options, traditional shows and fun experiences like the Parade of Many Colors and Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer and friends.

Make sure to plan your next trip to Dollywood!  Also, check out all my posts about our experiences at Dollywood.

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