Have You Been Naughty or Nice? The Santa Experience at Dollywood!

Have you been naughty or nice this year? A quick trip to Santa’s cabin at Dollywood will reveal the answer and guarantee a magical experience for the entire family!

During the Christmas 2020 season, Dollywood’s hosts brilliantly pivoted in the midst of the pandemic to bring Christmas magic to families at the park. Thankfully, this incredible tradition has continued into 2021 so even more children (and adults!) can enjoy this unique Santa experience.

We stumbled upon the Santa experience early in the Christmas 2020 season, so we were all in for a shock when the big list was revealed at the end of the visit! I just took my daughters up to the park to see Santa again for the 2021 season, and it was even more magical for all of us a second time around!

So, what does the Santa experience entail? As I’ve been sharing with friends, it’s easy to describe the event with the classic “Five Ws” – who, what, where, when and why!


Santa, his workshop elves and your entire family!


A charming encounter where your family can fully experience the magic of Santa. Before meeting the jolly big guy, your children will interact with Santa’s elves, discuss Christmas wishes and what they’ve done so far in the park that day. Once you get inside the building’s staging area, children will have an opportunity to write a magical wish list to Santa and drop it in the special “Letters to Santa” mailbox! After letters are signed, sealed and dropped off, it’s time to be transported to a winter wonderland!

Guests are invited to enter Heartsong Theater where they will walk through an enchanted, snowy indoor forest, stumble upon Santa’s Dollywood cabin, and peek in on his daily activities. You’ll watch Santa check trinkets in his office, review children’s wish lists and check the naughty and nice list. I bet you’ll find some very special names on that list!


Inside the transformed Heartsong Theater, across from the train depot. The queue to enter forms along the ramp on the right side of the building.


On all operating days during Smoky Mountain Christmas festival until Dec. 23. This experience begins when the park opens and closes at 8 p.m. Santa does take a break in the middle of the day. I recommend making a beeline for the big guy and going early! Santa’s List…Naughty or Nice is very popular, and there is often quite a few people in line.


Why this experience? You can stand in line and wait to see Santa anywhere this holiday season but at Dollywood, you get to chat with elves, write letters, drop them off and fully experience an enchanted, snowy forest while a holiday message from Dolly plays over the snow. I will never forget the excitement in my daughter’s eyes the first time she spied her name on the “nice” list. This is a chance to make a forever memory with the whole family!

Insider Tips

Are you traveling with a friend or family member who doesn’t need to check the naughty or nice list? The Mistletones perform directly across from Heartsong Theater. This is an amazing chance to rest your feet and hear incredible Christmas tunes.

Upon exiting Heartsong Theater, take a minute to go view your Santa photos and purchase prints or other holiday photo displays. The building is clearly labeled and is directly across from the theater. Or, you can find them at Flashbulb Photo next to the Dollywood Emporium as you exit.

By | 2022-01-04T12:38:03-05:00 November 24th, 2021|Festivals|0 Comments

About the Author:

Lindsay was born in Illinois but moved to East Tennessee in 1986 just months before Dollywood opened for the first time. Lindsay finished her K-12 education in Knoxville and then enrolled at the University of Tennessee. After finishing her Bachelor's and Master's degrees, Lindsay started her dream job of teaching high school chemistry. Lindsay's husband and two young daughters are always up for a Dollywood adventure, and Lindsay is happy to plan the trip! When Lindsay isn't at school or in Wildwood Grove, she enjoys serving her community as a sustainer with the Junior League of Knoxville, cheering on the Vols or on the lake with her family.
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