Dollywood is a one-of-a-kind family-friendly destination that boasts that there is truly something for everyone once you enter through the welcome gates at Showstreet. From rides for even the smallest tykes in Wildwood Grove to the steep hills of the Lightning Rod, there’s a ride that can bring joy to anyone in your family, no matter their age. And the same can be said about the Dollywood Entertainment offerings. From age 1 to 101, there’s a little something for everyone on the Dollywood show schedule.
The Pre-K Kiddos
Let’s face it: kids want to ride rides. The under 10 set is more interested in how fast they can go on FireChaser Express than they are about sitting still for a 50-minute theater show (unless it’s one of those hot summer days when the AC feels amazing.) Dollywood has a few great show options that are tailored to the younger crowd and are great spots to stop and get a rest while enjoying music and stories they’ll love. Heartsong Theater is a big hit amongst this crowd as it showcases a few incredible options. The first is Heartsong, in which Dolly shares her story of growing up in the Great Smoky Mountains. With floating butterflies above their heads, a surprise splash or two and falling leaves, this production brings the sights and sounds of the smokies to life—and is only 20 minutes long! This theater is also home to the Imagination Playhouse and the stories of the Imagination Library. Each year, three stories from the Imagination Library collection are told on stage, and it’s wildly popular with children familiar with the classic tales of the “Little Engine That Could” and even Dolly’s own children’s book, “Coat of Many Colors” based on her famous song. These are also 20 minutes long, and they are perfect for a break in between the rides of Country Fair.
These shows play throughout the day through the summer, so you could see up to four different shows a day in this one part of the park.
Tweens and Teens
I remember the days of being a tween at a theme park. I just wanted to ride as many roller coasters as I could in one day, and it was hard to get me off Thunderhead. But Dollywood also has a few great options that even the most ride-obsessed teen will love. The Tones are an a capella-style group that sing classic hits but modern pop songs as well. The last time I saw them, they sang songs by Shakira and tunes from “The Greatest Showman.” They play a great mix of music that is probably already streaming in your teen’s music player. Another great option for the younger set is Forever Country. This show features music from popular country artists like Garth Brooks and Martina McBride, and almost every song is something you would hear if you turned on your radio dial to your favorite country station. Plus, the dancing at this show is fun to watch for the TikTok crowd.
The Kids at Heart
Being an adult and growing up doesn’t mean that Dollywood doesn’t have a show for us! Dollywood has a few shows that are popular with those of us old enough to pay taxes and wise enough to plan our families’ vacations in East Tennessee. If you are a fan of Southern gospel music, then you must make sure to visit The Kingdom Heirs during your visit to Dollywood. They are the resident gospel group of the park, and they perform a 30-minute set four to five times a day at Showstreet Palace Theater. Every show is different, so this would be a great one to see multiple times in one day.
My personal favorite theater show is Dreamland Drive-In. This show tells the story of a group of friends in the 1950s as they grow up hanging out at the title restaurant. Together, they learn about adulthood and the strength of enduring friendship. This show is perfect to see with your parents who may have grown up during this decade or with your best friend who you spent weekends hanging out with at the local café with as a kid. Clocking in at 55 minutes, though, this one might be a little long for the younger crowd, so gauge your child’s attention span when placing this one on the schedule.
Each festival also offers a lot of great shows for different ages as well. Springtime brought us Bloom! and “A Brighter Day” at the Back Porch theater, and summertime brings back the beloved drone show for another year. At Christmas, The Kingdom Heirs turn their show into a spectacular of gospel hymns, and “Christmas in the Smokies” is a Dollywood family tradition. And throughout the year, you will see artists pop up to perform at different locations throughout the park, like The Hall Sisters at the Robert F. Thomas Chapel. No matter what the season, you can always find a show that is just the right fit for everyone in your family.