The thing about a place with a legacy like Dollywood is that even as progress rolls through, and even as things change, little snippets of the past survive.
Sometimes these little slivers of what was remain purposefully, a little tribute shared among the knowing.
Other times it’s more practical. It might be leaving a piece of an old relic simply because it’s too difficult to remove. Maybe it’s so far out of the way, few would notice.
And sometimes, it’s purely an accident. Little things that were overlooked or forgotten long enough that there’s no point in going back and erasing it from the park.
Top 5 Dollywood Easter eggs, hidden secrets
Located in the Great Smoky Mountains, Dollywood is an overwhelming sensory experience with sights and sounds and smells that dazzle and amaze.
And so, you can walk through the park time and again and never notice the little things, the forgotten things, the things hidden specifically for the hyper-observant.
It’s a perfect place for a scavenger hunt. A place where you can test your observational skills while they are being bombarded with pleasant distractions.
There are probably more than a dozen things in the park that could be considered Easter eggs.
Many of the more obvious ones are about Dolly’s life. From the butterflies that she once chased as a child to the replica of her childhood home and the theme park’s real-life chapel, named after the doctor that delivered Dolly, there are so many things to explore for your “Easter egg hunt”.
Below you will find some of our favorite hidden Dollywood Easter eggs.
And don’t forget, if you are currently planning an upcoming visit to the park, be sure to check Tripster for discounts.
5. The location of the Inventor’s Mansion
Back in the early days of Silver Dollar City – think late 70s – the park was much smaller than it is now.
It was essentially two sections.
On one side was Craftsman’s Valley with Blazing Fury and the Flooded Mine. On the other side was the County Fair with the railroad, the Log Flume and the Cloud Grabber. In the middle, at the entrance to the park, was the Inventor’s Mansion.
A static attraction, the Inventor’s Mansion was essentially a funhouse. Select rooms were inverted, there were mirrored walls and other dizzying effects.
There was also a waterfall that was great for cooling off in the back. An early advertisement for the Mansion promised a mystical concoction that defies gravity through its “mad, unbelievable inventions and contraptions”.
When Dollywood replaced Silver Dollar City, the Inventor’s Mansion became home to Dolly’s Rags to Riches Museum.
Then, as the park expanded, the mansion that had been at the center of things found itself hidden away in the back, above the cave connecting the Valley to the Fair.
It was the outer edge of the park and no one could figure out what to do with it. When the Chasing Rainbows Museum eliminated the need for the Rags to Riches Museum, the building fell vacant.
Prior to the 2018 season, much of the old mansion was torn down. Until recently, you could still see parts of the old building on the hill.
Today, sadly, this one isn’t as much of an Easter egg as it used to be. The remains of the old structure no longer remain. However, this wide walkway will always serve as a reminder for those who remember the life of the park before Dollywood.
4. Flooded Mine references
Hidden Flooded Mine references are another remnant of the pre-Dollywood days.
The Flooded Mine was a popular ride back in the days of Silver Dollar City. In fact, its sister ride remains active at the Silver Dollar City park in Branson, Missouri still today.
It was a float ride through a mine that featured prisoners working in and trying to escape from a flood. In the mid-90s, it was removed to clear the way for Daredevil Falls. But memories of the Flooded Mine linger.
On the Blazing Fury, you’ll spot a boarded-up sign that reads “Flooded Mine” and “Danger Keep Out”. There’s also a tombstone for Charlie Turner, who perished in the Flooded Mine.
Also in the cave that connects Craftsman’s Valley to the County Fair, you can see a marker referring to a tragic flood in 1879 that trapped many miners for days. Across the wall is a plaque that honors the miners of Silver Dollar City, Tenn.
3. Dolly Parton’s secret apartment
This one’s a bit more than just an Easter egg. For many years, I had several close friends who worked in the park. Each swore to me that Dolly would occasionally visit the park incognito.
Without her glam fashion, wigs and make-up, Dolly could (allegedly) visit the park unbothered, keeping an eye on things from a paying customer’s perspective.
If you find an undercover Dolly at the park, you win all scavenger hunts for the rest of time. But please, don’t bother her. She’s on a mission.
The next best thing to finding Dolly in the park might be finding the former location of the old apartment she kept as a getaway, if necessary.
For years, everyone who knew someone at the park claimed Dolly had a secret apartment above Apple Jack’s sandwich shop over by the River Rapids ride.
Now, if it’s true, it wasn’t much of a secret. But before the 2018 season, the restaurant was torn down and replaced with some covered outdoor seating. If Dolly still has a secret apartment in the park, it’s a much better-kept secret than before.
However, with the DreamMore Resort and Spa just minutes away, there may not be a need to keep a secret Dolly getaway in the park at all.
2. Dolly’s Dream Box at DreamMore
Speaking of DreamMore, when the resort was opened, Dolly wanted to do something extra special and created something of a time capsule. You can see the Dream Box on display at the resort.
The mystery box is made of chestnut. And the contents are only known to Dolly including a song she’s written that will be released in 2046.
1. Longtime employee signage
This one is easy to miss by new guests who visit the park.
A couple of years ago, Dollywood began honoring employees with 30 or more years of service at the park with their own themed signs.
Dexter Manning’s sign, for instance, declares him the fastest courier in the Smoky Mountains. Sharon Childress’s sign offers her mountain motif Afghans for sale. The signs also incorporate the employees’ (or “hosts” as Dollywood calls them) start date.
For instance, Tim Berry’s wanted poster offers an $86,000 reward.
I suppose you could also look for the actual hosts that go with their sign, but that seems like a scavenger hunt for a different day.
Are you planning to visit Dollywood in Pigeon Forge soon? Check Tripster for discounts when you book your ticket.
Did you know about any of these Dollywood Easter eggs? Do you know of any that we missed? Let us know your favorite Easter eggs around the Smokies in the comments below.