The amazing and vast selection of dining options at Dollywood Parks and Resort is often what brings guests to (and back to) the park. Dollywood has something for everyone from the kickin’ pork rinds in Craftsman’s Valley to the down-home country cooking at Aunt Granny’s – there are foods and feasts galore and there is always service with a smile. But in the time of COVID-19, many of us are more cautious of daily interactions and want to ensure the health and safety of our nearest and dearests, so let’s discover the great steps taken by Dollywood to make your dining experiences just as memorable, only now there is a dash more convenience and caution.
After the reopening of the park on June 15, things weren’t quite as they once were. Initially, some dining options weren’t on the table (ha!), and additional, cautionary measures were in place throughout the park. The changes are evident – fewer seats available, fewer menu options and condiments by request (rather than everyone grabbing what they want from a community supply). All sensible steps to ensure you can eat while maintaining a good social distance from other diners and cut down on high-touch areas.
Sit Down Meals
Granny Ogle’s Ham N Beans recently welcomed back diners. Not only does Dollywood have guest safety at the top of their priority list, host safety is just as important. After a little re-configuring to provide more room for social distancing in the kitchen, the country-cooking eatery is back to serving Southern classics.
In Rivertown Junction, Aunt Granny’s Restaurant is coordinating a different strategy. Known as an all-you-care-to-eat buffet, Dollywood has had to pivot to family style dining. Same great food. A great, new experience.
So, now rather than the “help yourself” approach, it’s more of “how can we help you?” game plan, ensuring a safe and reduced-contact environment.
One of my favorite places to eat at Dollywood is Red’s Drive-In. I love the design and set up of the 1950’s style diner, the music, the menu, the milkshakes! All meals and experiences there have been incredible, whether we are dining inside, or out under the awnings and umbrellas – it is our go-to for midday meals. Knowing how popular this spot is and that the kitchen serves consistently delicious food, I was delighted to see that a new dining feature has been rolled out at Red’s that saves you time and keeps you safe. The “Skip the Line” option gives you the freedom of ordering ahead! Select which package you would like (options are a wrap pack or burger bundles, available for two or four people), choose a convenient 15-minute window to pick up your order and enjoy. We tried this out on our latest visit and loved how fast service was, and the packages are fantastic – all of them come with your choice of side, a soft drink and a cookie. If you’re wanting to save time or plan your day ahead, this dining option is an absolute must. If you don’t order ahead, you may remember Red’s previously allowed you to dress your own burger with the toppings. Now, a friendly host is ready to hand you a small package with all the toppings so you may top your burger yourself at your own table and without touching community serve ware.
Snacks and Concessions
I think it’s the beverage and snack stops that are the true culinary heroes of Dollywood! They keep guests hydrated and fueled, making sure we are ready to take on any ride, explore every shop (both retail and crafts), and get through any show or performance. Like the restaurants, hosts working refreshment stands are also taking steps to stay protected – and protect you! PPE is readily available to all the hosts, and they are sure to wear them correctly, and at all times. It is a huge comfort knowing that just stopping for water or a soda is a safe experience at Dollywood.
As ever, the comfort and happiness of guests is the top priority of the hosts across the entire Dollywood family of experiences. By implementing such proven policies and procedures, Dollywood Park and Resort are making huge steps to ensure a safe dining environment. These simple yet effective protocols are in place to allow the park to remain open, at a time where fun, laughter and good food are welcome. So, the next time you’re at the gates, tickets in hand and raring to go, rest assured that these new policies and procedures are in place to keep your dining experiences safe, clean, and just as special.