American amusement parks have taken to creating little scavenger hunts for their guests.
I don’t know why, but many do.
Sometimes it’s organized like the Wilderness Explorer program at Animal Kingdom.
Other times, it’s a bit more random, like the ongoing hunt for hidden Mickeys across the Disney parks.
I suppose even the most organized amusement park or theme park comes with some mandatory downtime.
Either you’re waiting in line for a ride or trying to eat somewhere or holding a spot for a parade.
If you’re like our group, there are some who like the wilder rides and some who don’t. So, you spend time waiting to meet up again.
During these times of boredom, you need something to do other than people watching or doom scrolling through your social media accounts.
And so we find ways to occupy our minds.
Do signs have meaning at Dollywood?
At Dollywood, the unofficial scavenger hunt comes with a bit of a twist. It’s a scavenger hunt for guests and a way to honor long-time employees all at the same time.
Back in 2016, Dollywood began a program to honor its 30-year employees, which Dollywood calls hosts, by placing their names into theming around the park.
These signs – like an advertisement for Mountain Motif Afghans made by Sharon Childress or a wanted poster for Tim Berry – add to the overall feel of the park.
They also give the frequent visitors little Easter eggs to be found.
Dollywood’s expert blogger and Public Relations director Wes Ramey explains:
“Throughout Dollywood, you’ll see new, themed signs which blend seamlessly into the area of the park in which the sign is found. The fun part is that each sign is about one of our 30-year hosts.”
“Once a host reaches this milestone, they answer a few questions for Justin Newberry, our Sign Shop Team Lead, about their time working at Dollywood, their start date, favorite memories, hobbies and more. Justin takes this information and creates a uniquely-themed sign that is then placed in the park. Currently, there are more than 35 signs in the park.”
An unofficial bonus Easter egg challenge
Unofficial bonus points are available if you’re able to find the person behind the sign.
Johnnie Crawford, who passed away recently, would have been easy to find.
She worked at Dolly’s Chasing Rainbows Museum as a greeter and never missed a day of work, according to her obituary.
She started at Dollywood in 1986 when she retired from her career. Crawford’s sign for a flower shop is located near the employee entrance.
Some employees would be harder to find, and we don’t recommend trying.
Berry, for instance, is the vice president of HR who started in 1986 making apple butter at Applejacks.
Berry’s wanted poster, by the way, lists his bounty at $86,000 as a nod to the year he joined the team.
But there’s more synergy even than that.
“He also was one of the characters who robbed the Dollywood Express as it made its way up to the train loop. Each of these things is commemorated on his sign, which can be found in The Village. Be on the lookout! There is an $86,000 reward for his capture.”
More historical signs at Dollywood
Some of the signs at Dollywood celebrate more of the history of the park.
Don Turner – named conductor of the Thunder Express – has a sign near where the old coaster of the same name began and several of the signs pay tribute to Silver Dollar City and Gold Rush Junction, the names of the park before it became Dollywood.
Ramey notes Rodney Pearson’s sign pays tribute to the location of the former Silver Dollar Saloon which today is the porch at Temple’s Warehouse & Dry Goods.
Of course, not all the signs you see at Dollywood celebrate the hosts. The Dentist Dr. I.B. Painless is unlikely to be an actual Dollywood employee.
The same for Alexander Shott and John Nott. “Nott was shot and Shott was not – In this case, it is better to be Shott than Nott!”
There were 35 signs in the park at the time of Ramey’s writing.
That number has surely grown in the ensuing seasons.
Where can you find the Dollywood employee signs?
That’s the good news. You don’t really have to go out of your way.
As you spend your day going through the park, keep your eyes up and your head on a swivel.
Snap a picture of each one you find and see how many at the end of the day that you’ve come across.
If you want to get a good jump on things, check out the area near the Dollywood Express where there’s a healthy cluster of signs just waiting to be found.
If you’re planning a trip to Dollywood to find these Easter eggs, be sure to check Tripster for discounts on tickets.
Do you or someone you know have a sign at Dollywood? Let us know in the comments.