Smoky Mountain Christmas – Dollywood – 2018

Sean: One of the country’s very best holiday events is Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas. The event does a great job combining classic lights around the park with impeccable entertainment and that Dollywood touch! Over 5 million lights and several well-designed areas up in the beautiful Smoky Mountains, let’s explore Smoky Mountain Christmas!

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Here we are! One of the country’s best holiday events, a park entirely covered in lights with lots of character! Every building is decked in lights with utmost precision. 

As you make your way through the park the level of precision and cleanliness becomes apparent. Dollywood knows what they’re doing with this event!

Here’s one of the park’s table service dine-in restaurants!

One of my favorite spots during Smoky Mountain Christmas is right near the Grist Mill!

The use of classic lights to outline some of the older-looking buildings at the park really gives Craftsman’s Valley a realistic and classic feel. 

Look at the beautiful Grist Mill. This is where you get yourself some amazing cinnamon bread! – It’s a must!

Let’s head into Craftsman’s Valley.

Classic and simple, lots of shopping, food, and meet ‘n greets with Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer! 

To meet Rudolph and his friends, you head over to Holly Jolly Junction, next to Daredevil Falls.

A little further ahead, right near Blazing Fury is the beginning of Smoky Mountain Christmas’ big new attraction: Glacier Ridge! 

Glacier Ridge stretches all the way from Blazing Fury to past Thunderhead, that’s a very big stretch. It made me wonder if perhaps it was too big of an area to feel consistent. 

I was wrong, the entire area is beautiful and filled with different shows and sections while maintaining an icy feel. 

Between Blazing Fury and Tennessee Tornado is a Glacier Ridge show simulating a snow storm, it’s beautiful.

Due to the insane cold the first day of our visit Tennessee Tornado never opened, neither did any other coaster (besides the indoor-Blazing Fury), but it sure looked lovely!

As we mentioned above, the area is consistent and stretches all the way around, in the middle of Glacier Ridge is the Plaza at Wilderness Pass, which replaced the park’s splash battle. Let’s make our way over there from Firechaser Express, as seen below (if you squint).

Wild Eagle hides in the background and is an amazing night ride with views of all the lights around the park!

Here we are! The Plaza at Wilderness Pass, a new special event venue between Mystery Mine and Wild Eagle! Home to the park’s biggest Christmas tree, lots of seating, and nice landscaping. A perfect spot to enjoy Smoky Mountain Christmas.

A beautiful entryway to the plaza is a perfect photo-op! To be fair, I really am not missing the ride that used to be here. This plaza offers a perfect little meeting spot, relaxing place between the major coasters of the park! Every evening there is a synchronized show around the Christmas tree, make sure to check it out!

In the distance we spot Mystery Mine, the ride that is best decorated during Smoky Mountain Christmas! Let’s go check it out!

The complete super structure is outlined with lights, and it is beautiful. Since the launch of Glacier Ridge some additional scenery and lights have been added such as the snow flakes!

One last look at the Plaza at Wilderness Pass before we move on to Timber Canyon!

Unfortunately Mystery Mine was closed during our entire stay due to the cold temperatures, luckily it doubled as its own off-ride attraction. 

A lot of Mystery Mine takes place indoor, the buildings offer a great canvas for Glacier Ridge light displays.

We aim to come back later this year to ride Mystery Mine, let’s just hope its warm enough out!

From Mystery Mine we move on to Drop Line, one of the rides that actually operates in any temperature, it doesn’t go down ’til the temperature drops below 5 degrees Fahrenheit!

Around Drop Line a wonderful display of polar bears and white trees over the water, one of many awesome Glacier Ridge displays. 

Drop Line is one of our favorite Smoky Mountain Christmas attractions! Awesome views and quite an intense drop ride!

On the way down from Thunderhead to the front of the park a tunnel of lights marks the other end of Glacier Ridge.

And that was Glacier Ridge, Smoky Mountain Christmas’ new-for-2018 area that occupies most of the park!

Glacier Ridge is an amazing new part of the event, but Smoky Mountain Christmas wouldn’t be as good as it is without a pure touch of Dolly. For that we have the Parade of Many Colors!

The parade is by no means Disney level, but that’s precisely what makes it so Dollywood. Cute displays, small floats, amazingly kind staff members, and not an over-the-top production that is a time commitment!

The small scale of the parade allows for guests to appreciate the sheer size of the event, as the entirety of Dollywood is covered in lights. 

Of course all your typical Christmas themed floats are part of the parade, decked in lights with individual speakers playing Christmas music. 

Santa Claus is also a Dolly fan, so he stopped by as well.

These elves were definitely my favorite part of this wonderful parade. They were just so adorable and unusual. Again, this parade is like no other. 

Gingerbread house float? Of course!

The parade starts by the Pine Theater next to Lightning Rod, crosses the bridge and makes its way to The Village (where the train station is located).

Several floats are pure Dolly, and make the parade that much better. There’s no way you don’t absolutely love Dolly Parton and her presence throughout the park just creates a very unique environment. 


There are quite a few floats and actors, though none of it is very large, the audience is really into it, and at the end of the day, that’s really all you need for an event like this. Atmosphere.

We say goodbye to the final float and the fact that it’s 28 degrees out, and will head back to the hotel soon. 

Let’s take a final look at all the beautifully lit up buildings around the entrance of the park. 

It is so peaceful and beautiful, if you get the chance to visit this amazing event, you will not be disappointed! 

Let’s say goodnight to Dollywood and the Palace Theater, which is home to the event’s main show: It’s A Wonderful Life! 

New for Dollywood next year is Wildwood Grove, the largest expansion in the history of the park and will come with a brand new Vekoma suspended coaster. Check out our construction update, here!

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