Dreams Come True at Dollywood

Thank you to our lovely friends down at Dollywood for hosting us for a few days to show us all the exciting things that are coming in 2023!

dreams come true at dollywood

If you’ve been following us at the Louisville Mom Collective for a while, you know we just love Dollywood! Each year, the hosts at Dollywood invite a group of moms from Sister Sites of City Mom Collective for a getaway and to get a sneak peek at the season to come. It’s one of personal favorite times of year, as I LOVE this annual trip and truly believe that dreams come true at Dollywood. We got so many pictures and videos from this trip that there was no way we could fit it all in this one blog post. Make sure to check out our Reels and our Dollywood Highlight over on our LMC Instagram page to see even more of our fun!!



We started off running from the moment we checked in – our City Mom Collective itinerary was full of adventures! We started with a tour of the DreamMore Resort & Spa and were welcomed with a beautiful and coveted I Will Always Love You Celebration tote bag filled with Dollywood and DreamMore goodies! I truly felt like a VIP! After the tour, I had just enough time to grab a much needed pick-me-up from the resort’s very own Starbucks located at the DM Pantry! Next on the agenda: Pink Jeep Tours!


This year, Pink Jeep Tours gave us a chance to explore more of the Smokies by visiting the Ogle homestead and learning more about pioneer life and also stretching our legs with a 0.1 mile hike to Cataract Falls! The weather was absolutely perfect and truly brought me back to my childhood Smoky Mountains Spring break memories! It is so fun how the knowledgeable guides of the Pink Jeep Tours can you take you on an identical route as another Jeep, but the experience can be so different due to their unique take on the culture and history of the Smokies and their own rich personal stories!

Our group’s guide had a deep affection for the bears of the Smokies, and we learned more than we ever dreamed about those big, furry guys! But, most of us were thankful that we didn’t come face-to-face with one… I would have loved to see one at a distance though! We didn’t get to do the off-roading part because we were in a rush to get to our next adventure, but that just gives us even more to look forward to next time. The Pink Jeep Tours are a fun moms day out activity or can be a thrilling family outing – anyone older than four years old can ride!

dreams come true at dollywood - pink jeep tours and pirates voyage dinner show


When I found out that we moms were going to the Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show, I was so excited because it hasn’t been open during our events the previous two years. This show was definitely worth the wait! We were greeted and ushered in behind the scenes and got to see some of the performers rehearsing their trampoline stunts. We also got a sneak peek of the delicious food we were about to enjoy and got to meet Captain Black Beard himself!

The friendly staff really took care of us and even offered to swap out my meal for a vegetarian one (I usually try to eat vegetarian), but I wanted the “full experience”, so I went ahead with the standard meal. Creamy vegetable soup, melt-in-your-mouth buttermilk biscuits, savory fried chicken, ham, sweet corn on the cob, the most deliciously seasoned potatoes skin, and the most scrumptious peach turnover – all washed down with a mason jar of sweet tea! I was so hungry from the drive to the DreamMore that morning and then our hike in the Smokies that I ate every bite!

Pirates Voyage was truly an entertaining dinner show and an immersive experience that began before you even set foot in the theatre with the gift shop full of pirate loot and WANTED posters in the entry, and even the opportunity to join the crew by getting a pirate or mermaid makeover! The set itself is visually captivating with the pirate ships and water elements. The show was interactive and had everyone in the audience cheering for their pirate crew: Sapphire Crew vs, the Crimson Crew. This show had everything from the special effects, stunts, mermaids, acrobatics, sword fighting, skeletons, lightning, strobe effects, fog, pyrotechnics, fire, and even animal performers: macaws, dogs, and seals!

The audience even had a chance to participate in some of the challenges. I’m looking forward to someday bringing my boys. Even though they are young and very active, the show is so visually stunning with so much going on, I think they will be absolutely captivated. Plus, the yummy food should help keep them in their seats! I think it would be so much fun to join the crew with my boys – they can get their pirate makeovers, and I can get my mermaid makeover! And moms, there’s also the option to add on some adult beverages that you can order on your phone and have delivered directly to your seat! Talk about convenience!



The next morning, we were treated to good ole southern hospitality at the breakfast buffet at Song & Hearth where I gobbled up the perfect omelet and piping hot fresh French toast, fruit, and of course – my mom fuel: coffee!! And boy did I need it that morning, because Amber (Dollywood’s PR and our main host) had us booked in for a day full of walking!


First stop: The HeartSong Construction Tour. The HeartSong Lodge & Resort is opening this coming Fall of 2023. If you want to get a picture of what staying there will feel like, think less “Dolly Parton” and more “rustic mountain retreat”. Rather than like Dolly’s home away from home at the DreamMore Resort & Spa next door, it was dreamt up to be a tribute to the Smoky Mountains that Dolly loves and wants to share with all of us. The team emphasized that they don’t want parents to use the “don’t” word here. All too often, I find myself chiding my own children, “Don’t touch that!” But, the Dollywood team wants everyone, even the littlest of travelers, to feel at home and for families to feel welcome here. We were privileged to be one of the groups for a special media tour and got to hear from the construction team!

We donned our “construction chic” hard hats and entered the lodge! We got to see the atrium, which will be beautiful with a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace, ample room for gathering and relaxing, and a huge window giving a gorgeous view of the mountains while bathing the room in natural light. We also saw the event space, which can accommodate up to 730 guests! My favorite part of the tour was getting to peek inside one of the guest rooms. With the bunks and king bed, a whole family can comfortably stay together. I love the balcony that you can walk out on for a beautiful view of what will be the grounds and the pool area. My favorite part of the room was the charming mural of a daytime mountain scene with a mama bear and her cub. It’s beautiful, cozy, and whimsical. The details are everything!


Perhaps my favorite part of the entire trip was a special lunch at the Front Porch Café. Upon walking in, we were greeted by the friendly staff and offered refreshing glasses of fruity bubble tea – both blueberry and mango! The chefs described their delicious creations, which were on display, and then we walked through the line and selected our tastings. Everything was so delicious and a great preview of Flower and Food – and two strawberry desserts from the upcoming once in a lifetime I Will Always Love You Celebration I hope to be able to return for during my sons’ Spring break. I especially loved the salad shakers for a lighter, more refreshing option. I love kale, and the lime vinaigrette was so flavorful! I also really liked the crab dip and chicken street tacos!

dreams come true at dollywood big bear mountain and heartsong resort coming soon


Next, we toured Big Bear Mountain. “Big” is one of the key words! It’s not a super high coaster (which is good since it is touted as a family ride!), but it seems to stretch from one side of the park to the other, giving you a unique view of the entire park! I totally believe it when they claim it is the longest coaster in history! The roller coaster itself is complete – the tracks have all been laid, but the scene still needs to be set. We got to hear from the construction team about the progress of the coaster and the story behind it. It features Ned and Big Bear, legendary frenemies. On the loooong walk to get to the queue, there were several WANTED posters plastered on poles for Big Bear himself!

The team described Big Bear Mountain as a family thrill coaster, which you don’t generally hear together in the same sentence, but that is what this coaster will be. A thrill ride that can keep the whole family together. They want it to be a pivotal memory for kids – their first big roller coaster – and I want this to be my boys’ first big coaster, too! I want it to be a core memory for them! With three launches, lots of drops, twists and turns, and tummy flutters – I’m sure it’s going to become a fast family favorite. The ride itself is about one minute and 40 seconds long, but as the team described, the experience really begins the moment you enter the queue with the rich theme and story. I’m all about themes, so this really gets me excited about riding this coaster hopefully this Fall at Harvest Festival to celebrate my birthday!


We stopped at the Smoky Creek Leather shop in Craftman’s Valley- an oft missed little nook in Dollywood and one of its hidden gems. The man was so friendly and knowledgeable about his craft, and we had the chance to hand stamp our own initials onto leather keychains. He then stamped a butterfly on them for us for a bit of “Dolly” flair and stained them for us! I know my boys will be jealous and will want to make their own when we come back to the park as a family! Many of us chose our first initials instead of our last (so our families wouldn’t be as tempted to steal them from us!). 🙂


We then did a quick tour of Dollywood’s Splash Country, which was fun because I had never seen it in person before! Of course, the park wasn’t at its full splendor since the trees were bare and no flowers were in bloom, but the water slides looked thrilling. Make sure to watch this YouTube video by our Sister Site up the road, Cincinnati Mom Collective, to see Splash Country in all its glory at the height of Summer.

With low height minimums, there’s so much my two older boys can do – the wave pool, tube slides, body slides, splash pad, family raft rides, and even a water coaster! Amber Davis told us that there are many areas of Splash Country that many guests never discover, such as The Cascades, which is a great area for families with little ones to camp out for the day. She showed us one of the retreats you can rent that will change the way you waterpark. You get a ceiling fan, shade, couches, tables, fridge stocked with water bottles and drinks, snacks, TV, and even food delivered to your retreat! I hope to be able to come for the Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration, set up our home base at a retreat in The Cascades, and see the Summer Celebration elements they bring over into the waterpark from the theme park next door.

dreams come true at dollywood theme parks and dreammore resort


After a full morning of walking, we had all worked up quite an appetite! We were treated to personal pizzas from the DM Pantry and ate in the main lobby’s cozy living room. I truly felt at home. After dinner, I spent some time with my family – we took a walk outside where the warm breeze had me feeling major Spring break vibes… in the middle of February! It almost felt like we were at the beach! We participated in Camp DW‘s S’mores by the wood burning fire pit – perfect dessert. The boys had so much fun roasting their marshmallows, and one of the staff members helped me relearn the Cotton Eye Joe Dance!

My oldest then played some cornhole and spent time on the playground with his younger brother. We also went into the barn for Bedtime Stories. A host read us a book by the fire about rainbows, and the baby and my three-year-old listened intently. It’s so fun that they feature books from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library for this story time that families can enjoy together! The perfect way to end a busy day!



On our last morning, we had breakfast in the conference room at the DreamMore and heard from some more of the Dollywood team about upcoming festivals, the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You, marketing to locals and out-of-towners (like me!), and some up-and-coming things at Dollywood – some photo renderings of The HeartSong Lodge & Resort, Big Bear Mountain, and a brand new Dolly Parton experience opening in 2024! So many reasons to return!!

The season pass options for the 2023 season were also introduced as well as a giveaway opportunity for the City Mom Collective sites (stay tuned later in March of 2023). Before we even checked out, I was already dreaming of our next visit and making plans for our return to the DreamMore Resort & Spa and our first family adventure in Dollywood! Make sure to read my post from last year, Dollywood Parks & Resorts {Go for Gold!}! Start planning your own visit today!

Did you know Dollywood Season Passes get you discounts outside of Dollywood Parks & Resorts?! Around Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, you get discounts at Titanic, Ripley’s Attractions, Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Attraction, Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show, and Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud. Right here in Louisville, you get discounts to Kentucky Kingdom & Hurricane Bay!!!



dollywood logo

rachel whims louisville mom collectiveRachel Whims has been an integral part of the Louisville Mom Collective since our founding in 2020. She is a mom of three little boys and is one of the biggest Dollywood fans you’ll ever meet! She loves getting the chance to join other Mom Collectives from all over the region to enjoy behind-the-scenes fun at Dollywood’s resorts, parks, and other properties each year. She truly believes dreams come true at Dollywood!


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