Dollywood hosts are the heart and soul of Dollywood. The definition of “host” is a person who receives or entertains others as guests and this definition could not be truer for the staff at Dollywood. From the moment you step through the gates until the moment you return to your car on the tram after a fun day, hosts are with you every step of the day. They are always there ensuring you have the best experience at Dollywood. Hosts see and do so much within the park, I was curious to find out what they think guests should know.
Jared is a team lead in Parking. He just celebrated his first year working at Dollywood. He started as an intern, was then with the Helping Hands Team (more on that below) and is now in parking. Jared says, “Parking is a misunderstood art. It’s more than just finding a spot and parking. We look at it as an art based off how our team operates to get people out and in. It’s possible on a busy day Dollywood guests may park at Dollywood’s Splash Country. Patience is a virtue. If you look at the people we move, only about 13% of guests takes other modes of transportation (walking, being dropped off or trolley), everyone else we bring in from the parking lots. There have been challenges with COVID, but it’s gone well. Just be patient. If you see us, wave!”
Kayla is a performer, currently with the Gem Tones. This is her fourth consecutive season, but she has been at Dollywood off and on since 2013, always as an entertainer. Kayla wants guests to know that, “Guests don’t realize how much we feed off the audience’s energy, including applause and smiles. We love when we see a group a people that obviously are enjoying the show. Right now, with all of the shows outside, it is much more intimate, and we are really seeing each and every person that is watching our show.”
Lisa is in her fifth season on the Culinary Team. She started at Aunt Granny’s Restaurant, moved to Miss Lillian’s Smokehouse, on to Granny Ogle’s Ham ‘n Beans, was responsible for all food in Wildwood Grove last season and then over the winter was promoted to an area manager. “I think that one thing I have noticed from comments,” Lisa says, “is sometimes the guests feel like there is not as much Dolly as they expected when they get to the park. However, I think the one thing they don’t know is that you literally can’t take a step in this park without running in to her. Most people don’t know that Aunt Granny is the name Dolly is called by all of her nieces and nephews. Granny Ogle is named after her childhood best friend’s mother. Red’s Drive-In is named after the first place in Sevier County that Dolly had a hamburger. We have studied over all of Dolly’s recipe books and things she puts out to develop the foods in each food location. Any food that we are developing, we always go back and link to Dolly somehow. Most of our inspiration for food has come from finding out things Dolly likes.”
Lorie and Justin are on the Merchandise Team. The most important thing they want guests to know is Package Pickup! “At any shop in the park, you can purchase something and have it sent to the Emporium to be picked up on your way out,” said Lorie and Justin. “It applies to anything of any size, including a stuffed animal that is won in a carnival game. It is important to understand that you can purchase at any time of day but you can only pick up packages during certain hours. This information will be on your Package Pickup slip. If a guest is staying at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa, the packages can be sent to the resort. Dollywood also can ship packages to your home for an additional charge. If you get home and realize you really want something you saw, you can call and have it shipped to your home. Just call 1-800-Dollywood! This works for refunds too, if you get your item home and find it’s ripped or broken, please call.”
Dalton is in Operations, which covers absolutely everything outside of parking, culinary, entertainment and merchandise. He crowd-sourced info from many teammates and these are things they felt were important for guests to know, including ride inspections. Guests will see ride attendants riding the rides every so often, and this is not [just] for fun. The ride attendants are trained to listen and to watch for anything unusual. This is always done every two hours or anytime there is any deviation in operation. Another important feature at Dollywood is the Helping Hands Team. This is a leadership team trained in all areas of the park. These hosts work daily, property-wide, to aid every department. This team is trained to jump in and assist wherever necessary. Guests can spot these hosts wearing bright blue polos, so say hello when you spot them and thank them for stepping in to help! And the last thing Dalton wanted to remind guests of is to utilize the Dollywood App! Dollywood has wi-fi, so be sure to use the GPS feature inside the app to easily get to anywhere you want to go within the park!
Here are a few bonus items from various park teams that hosts want you to know:
I encourage you to get to know some hosts on your next trip to Dollywood. They love what they do and want you to have the best experience possible!