PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WJHL)- With summertime upon us and kids out of school, families are getting ready to create lasting memories. Dollywood is one spot that’s close enough to the Tri-Cities for a day trip or a weekend of fun.
Only an hour and 45 minutes from Johnson City, from rides to shows and food favorites, Dollywood has something to offer for everyone in the family.
Dollywood is hosting its Flower & Food Festival until June 11. Parkgoers can see over one million blooms in curated sculptures and more.
“We tend to take into things that happen in our area- Like you see the bears, the raccoons, the ducks,” said Senior Operations Manager in Charge, Chris Houser. “Butterflies are always important to our festival as it’s an important part of our brand.”
One of the most iconic sculptures is of Dolly Parton’s mom sewing the coat of many colors.
“You have the two butterflies here that are essentially pulling up colors to bring to her to sew just as these are pulling out colors so that’s what that represents,” Houser explained of the sculpture.
You can’t have this festival without food. The park is offering a “Tasting Pass,” where parkgoers can taste five festival foods, hand selected by the Executive Chef for one price.
“We have booth number one- which actually has Cubans and then they have a Mexican Corn Salad Shaker,” explained Executive Chef Chris Seabrook. “When we move to Market Square- you’ll have a loaded potato tornado- which is actually a potato that we turn on the stick- cheese sauce bacon, scallions- so that’s very delicious and then on the other side we do the tacos.”
The Flower & Food Festival is happening through June 11. Then Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration begins June 17.
And when you’re in the park, you have to ride the newest and longest roller coaster, Big Bear Mountain. The thrill ride lasts two minutes with three separate launches and a top speed of 48 miles per hour. You’ll join a guided search for the big bear from the moment you step in line until you get off the ride.
“One of our brand pillars is to be authentically smoky mountain and really that’s because of our tribute to Dolly,” said Dollywood President Eugene Naughton. “She loves where she grew up and we want to make sure the things we activate all of the attractions and experience honor her love of the smoky mountains and that’s why we used the lure of searching for the big bear.”
The entire family can go on the search for big bear- its minimum height requirement is only 39 inches.
And if you need to cool off, head across the street to Splash Country. The water park is open seven days a week through the summer.