My party of 2 spent $160 for Dolly Parton’s famous dinner show, and it was unlike anything I’d ever experienced in my life

Dolly Parton’s Stampede has amazing food and live performances.Carly Caramanna

  • I’m a theme-park journalist who ate at Dolly Parton’s Stampede, a dinner show near Dollywood.

  • The menu was prix fixe, and my party of two spent a total of $160 on our three-course meals.

  • The experience was pricey, but we loved our meals and the live entertainment.

I’m a theme-park journalist who visited Dolly Parton’s Stampede, a famous dinner show in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Carly posing for a selfie in front of the Dollywood entrance sign

Dollywood is one of my favorite theme parks.Carly Caramanna

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.

Dolly Parton's Stampede horse walk in the stables

Guests could walk through the stables before the show.Carly Caramanna

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.

Dolly Parton's Stampede saloon with characters in the center

The saloon made the wait go by quickly.Carly Caramanna

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.

Dolly Parton's Stampede boot drink on bar counter

I ordered a drink in a boot-shaped cup.Carly Caramanna

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.

Dolly Parton's Stampede arena

We had a great view of the performers.Carly Caramanna

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.

The menu is prix fixe, and the meal includes an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert.

Dolly Parton's Stampede plate and menu on counter

The menu had a variety of options for all types of eaters.Carly Caramanna

The themed dining experience includes a Southern-style, three-course feast. Unlimited soft drinks and iced teas are factored into the price.

The servers brought everything to our seats, making it convenient to enjoy the show while we ate.

We started our meal with the famous creamy soup.

soup and biscuit appetizer from Dolly Parton's Stampede

The soup was creamy and delicious.Carly Caramanna

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.

Dolly Parton's Stampede aerialist on show

We enjoyed live performances during our meal.Carly Caramanna

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.

led wall in Dolly Parton's Stampede

The LED wall changed throughout the performances.Carly Caramanna

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.

Dolly Parton's Stampede entree meats on plate

The entries at Dolly Parton’s Stampede were filling.Carly Caramanna

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.

Dolly Parton's Stampede whole rotisserie kitchen

The chicken was the standout part of the meal.Carly Caramanna

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.

apple pie dessert at Dolly Parton's Stampede

The dessert was light, flaky, and delicious.Carly Caramanna

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.

dolly parton photo on wall at dolly parton's stampede

I loved the little Dolly Parton-themed details throughout the show.Carly Caramanna

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.

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