Our family recently had the opportunity to visit Dollywood, and we were able to enjoy it to our fullest potential. My kids seek adventure, enjoy new attractions, and are balls of energy, but we often reach a point when everything can feel a bit overwhelming. Whether it’s too much to process, overwhelmed senses, or not feeling in control, we often need to take a break and slow things down so we can enjoy our day together.
Thankfully, there is an option for families like ours right within Dollywood. Last year, the park opened a calming room to help kids with sensory overloads. Having concerns about being able to decompress and address our specific needs privately may have deterred us in the past, but now we’re able to share new experiences as a family.
Judy Toth, Dollywood’s Ride Accessibility Center coordinator, recognized this issue and addressed it so that Dollywood’s warm and inclusive atmosphere can be extended and felt for all families that visit. The first park in the world to design a room specifically for families with autism or other special needs, the calming room is available for up to 30 minutes and offers a recovery from sensory overload in a relaxing and appropriate setting.
Upon entering the room, I immediately took notice of the soothing color scheme. As a registered nurse and mom who understands that every child has a threshold and that’s what makes us all unique and special, the calming room provides a supportive and soothing haven.
The room’s purposeful features include:
Low lighting options
Soft and inviting, over-sized bean bag chair
Fiber Optic strand lights
Option to play music
Small table with chairs
A mindful initiative that is truly appreciated, we simply spoke to an attendant at the Ride Accessibility Center for assistance. I could feel the intent from the well-trained staff throughout our experience and time in Dollywood’s calming room.
Some of my family went off to enjoy the famous fresh-baked cinnamon bread at the Grist Mill while my son and I privately took the break that was needed to calm down and relax. We felt the efforts that went into creating this room, and we appreciate Dollywood’s sensitivity in providing an option that will benefit so many families.
*Dollywood’s calming room has been created for the purpose of helping our guests with special needs who may have sensory overload while visiting our park. The calming room is a quiet, relaxing environment where the guest and his/her family can feel safe and at ease. To find out more, please call 1-800-365-5996 to speak with our Ride Accessibility Center. When you visit Dollywood, stop by the Ride Accessibility Center adjacent to the Dollywood Emporium.