Behind the Scenes: Dollywood’s Wardrobe Department

One of the things those of us who love Dollywood enjoy most about the park is the unique atmosphere. An invaluable element that contributes to the charm of the Dollywood properties is not only the friendliness of the employees, but also their themed costumes.

So what is it like to dress 3800 Dollywood hosts?  I sat down with Angie Davis, the Wardrobe Manager who has worked in this department for 27 years, to find out.  The six employees in this department costume all the people who work at Dollywood, Dollywood’s Splash Country, Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa and Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins.

Each host receives three complete outfits in the summer and three for the winter season. Common uniforms consist of a shirt, pants and a vest or a dress and pinafore. Two hundred of the hosts change costumes five or more times a year due to the different seasonal festivals and parades at the park.

I asked Angie to describe a typical workday in the Wardrobe Department and was amazed to hear what this small department accomplishes over the course of a day! Their busiest time is between February and May when there are a lot of new employees. That’s when they fit between 30-40 hosts with their new costumes every morning Monday through Saturday from 7-8 a.m. Then, while those new hosts attend Orientation until 2 p.m., Angie and her team get to work. The wardrobe hosts are always ready to hand over those newly-altered costumes when the hosts return.  Angie said they hem up to 150 pairs of pants per day during this time!

Additionally, the Wardrobe team can expect 25 to 35 hosts to come by to check out an item they may have forgotten that day. Not surprisingly, the most-forgotten items are small pieces like hats and nametags.

The rest of the day is dedicated to production (making costumes from scratch), alterations, and laundry. They also continually check sizes and restock shelves to make sure they have enough costumes for the needs they anticipate will arise. Angie noted that last year they did 6,983 alterations and made 12,812 dresses and pinafores – wow!

This small team even costumes all of the craft vendors who come in for Dollywood’s Harvest Festival to ensure that everyone working at the park is in theme.

I came away awed by the incredible organization and creativity of this amazing department. Next time you are at one of the Dollywood properties, make sure to notice the little details of the hosts’ costumes – for example, in the Miss Lillian’s Smokehouse, the hosts have chickens on their dresses to honor Miss Lillian, Dollywood’s famous “chicken lady,” and the delicious fried chicken served by that restaurant.  The hosts wear poodle skirts in Red’s Drive-In (which has a 50’s diner theme) and at the Sweet Shoppe, you will find dresses and vests made of a colorful fabric covered in sweet treats.  At the Barnstormer ride, you will find the ride attendants dressed in plaid shirts, red ball caps with a “Co-op” patch and blue jeans, adding to the ambiance of that ride. It’s just another layer of detail that makes Dollywood such a special place!

By | 2018-09-17T16:44:54-04:00 September 17th, 2018|Behind the Scenes|0 Comments

About the Author:

Kelly Harb (Dollywood Insider 2018-2021) has lived in Knoxville since 1986 – the year she married her beloved Richard and the year Dollywood became Dollywood! She and Richard also have an adult son and daughter, two in-law children (their favorites) and the great JOY of three grandchildren, ages 6, 4 and 1 years old– all of whom also are huge Dollywood fans! Kelly grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi. Her father was an NFL referee. As a parent, she spent thousands of hours in bleachers at sporting events watching her children - from 4-year-old soccer, to middle school volleyball to college football – more than 15 different sports in all. She traveled to every corner of the globe during her husband’s stint working for Bible Study Fellowship. Kelly’s favorite things to do include Bible study, girl time, reading, traveling, Broadway musicals, shopping, leading young married groups with her husband, and best of all, spending time with her family – preferably at a theme park!
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