Dollywood edges out Disney for favorite theme park: survey

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Hello, Dolly!

Dollywood has edged out Disney for favorite theme park, according to a survey from the National Amusement Park Historical Association.

The NAPHA releases a survey every year that includes categories like “most beautiful theme park,” “favorite traditional theme park” and “favorite wooden roller coaster,” and Dolly Parton’s eponymous park came out on top for “favorite theme park” overall. 

The Tennessee staple beat out both Disney World in Florida, which came in at second, while Disneyland in California took third. 

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The park also won the top prize for having the top new attraction with its Big Bear Mountain roller coaster. 

The rankings were from NAPHA’s 38th annual survey of the country’s theme parks that covered the 2023 season, voted on by park enthusiasts. 

“Look at The Dolly Parton Experience, which we opened less than two weeks ago,” Dollywood President Eugene Naughton said in a release, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. “It is an industry-leading offering that follows closely behind two spectacular additions last year: the greatest new ride in the industry, Big Bear Mountain, and one of the top resort properties at any theme park, HeartSong Lodge & Resort.”

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He attributed Dollywood’s success to prioritizing the guest experience and investing in new rides and attractions. 

The average NAPHA member has been to more than 100 theme parks in the U.S. and globally, the newspaper reported. 

Dollywood first opened in 1986, 15 years after Disney World. Disneyland, which revolutionized modern theme parks, opened in 1955. 

“At Dollywood we celebrate the best of life as we light up the Smokies with rides, slides, music, food and laughter – day and night,” Dollywood says on its website. “We invite you to our Tennessee home where you can hold on tight to those you love most in the great outdoors in each beautiful season of the year. Start planning now!”

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Dollywood is located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, not far from where the country star herself was born. 

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