I’m a theme-park journalist who visited Dolly Parton’s Stampede, a famous dinner show in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
During a visit to Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s theme park in Tennessee, we went to Dolly Parton’s Stampede, a famous dinner show that’s just a five-minute drive away from the park.
Dolly Parton’s Stampede — which also has a sister location in Branson, Missouri — was inspired by the country singer’s fond childhood memories of spending time around the kitchen table with her family. Operating for decades, the experience includes a live show and a multi-course meal served in an arena.
Dolly Parton’s Stampede is open for dinner. The experience costs $69.99 per adult and $34.99 per child (if they’re between the ages of 3 and 9). Reservations can be made in advance online, over the phone, or in person at the box office.
Upon arrival, we were surprised that we could visit the horses before they performed in the show.
The dinner show is located in a large building that’s also home to the Horse Walk, a pre-show introduction to the animals.
Just before check-in, we were able to visit the horses in a row of open-air stables and take photos with them. It was a memorable way to begin the dinner experience.
Once we checked in, we waited for our table in a large saloon.
We arrived early so that we could enjoy the multi-level saloon, where guests waited to be seated for dinner.
The Western-themed space — which has plenty of seating, a lot of games, interactive audio-animatronic characters, and a self-playing piano — made us feel like we were in an old-time frontier town.
It was a fun space to explore, and it made the wait go by quickly.
I indulged and ordered one of the signature boot-shaped cups.
The saloon has a bar that serves a variety of beer, cocktails, and moonshine.
I couldn’t resist ordering one of the dinner show’s signature boot-shaped glasses to keep as a souvenir.
We then made our way inside the arena for dinner and the show.
Dinner takes place inside a 35,000-square-foot arena. Guests sit stadium-style in an oval shape, which allows them to have optimal views of the live show in the center.
We started our meal with the famous creamy soup.
The meal began with a bowl of the dinner show’s original creamy soup and a hot, homemade biscuit that was wonderfully flaky. The savory, delicious soup was the perfect starter since it wasn’t heavy.
Keeping with the Old West theme, the servers did not provide guests with spoons. Instead, the soup was in a bowl with a large handle.
The dish is so popular that guests can order a mix of it from the gift shop.
The live performances, from aerialists’ routines to horseback riding, were a major highlight.
A live show took place in front of us in the arena throughout the meal. It combined music and storytelling, with live performers and a total of 32 horses.
The incredibly talented horseback riders were a highlight of the production, and comedy bits and pyrotechnics kept guests engaged. The aerialists’ performance to one of Parton’s songs was another high point.
The LED backdrop wall completed the immersive experience.
I was really impressed by the massive LED backdrop wall, which changed throughout the performances and depicted different scenes from the Great Plains.
When the wall combined with physical set pieces, twinkling lights, and water features, it made the entire experience feel immersive.
The entrée portions were very generously sized.
The entrée course included a whole rotisserie chicken, hickory smoked barbecued pork loin, corn on the cob, and an herb-basted potato.
The portion sizes were very generous. We could try every item or pick and choose which ones we desired.
Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options are also available at Dolly Parton’s Stampede. The vegetarian feast includes some items from the regular menu in addition to fire-roasted veggies, quinoa, and multigrain rice.
The chicken was my favorite part of the main course.
Hands down, my favorite dish in the entrée course was the whole rotisserie chicken. The meat was incredibly tender and moist, but the main highlight was the signature spice rub on the outside.
I enjoyed the other dishes but kept going back for more of the chicken.
The final course was an apple turnover, which was a refreshingly light dessert.
For the dessert course, we had an apple turnover. This hot, flaky treat was a unique twist on a traditional Southern apple pie.
I appreciated having a lighter dessert, as opposed to cake or ice cream, after eating such a large meal.
During this time, the production played a song written and recorded by Parton.
My party of two spent $160 on the experience and left completely full.
I absolutely loved the meal and was particularly surprised by how delicious the entrée course was. Although the menu was prix fixe, it had a nice variety of dishes to satisfy even picky eaters.
The show was highly entertaining, family-friendly, and unlike anything I’d ever experienced before.
I loved the small touches that honored Parton throughout the experience, such as including her music in the performances.