I don’t think I really have to explain to you that working at a theme park is pretty cool. I mean, even on your worst day, you still get to say, “I work in a theme park.” But we’re lucky because we work at (yes, I’m biased) one of the best theme parks in the world. We have a number of really great benefits and we are treated well. We’re also lucky because it truly feels like a family here. I have many close friends I work with, and when someone in the park is hurting or sick for some reason, we rally around each other because that’s what families do.
I say all this to explain that Dollywood is a truly special place. We have a number of hosts (what employees here are called because we host you as our special guests during your visit) who started the first year the park was Dollywood in 1986. There are several more who worked here when the park was Silver Dollar City. Talk about commitment, passion and love for your job!
Two years ago, a new program was created for hosts who have been employed for more than 30 years. If you have visited Dollywood, you know our teams go to great lengths to truly immerse guests through authentic theming. They always put fun “Easter Eggs” in the park for guests to find during their visit. With this new program, we hosts can get in on the fun as well.
Throughout Dollywood, you’ll see new, themed signs which blend seamlessly in to 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.
For example, you may have met Johnnie Crawford if you’ve visited Dolly’s Chasing Rainbows Museum. Ms. Johnnie serves as a greeter and started at Dollywood in 1986 after she retired from her day job (She turns 91 this year!). Her sign is located near the museum at one of the gates where employees enter and exit the park. The sign is themed as a flower shop advertisement and has Ms. Johnnie’s name displayed prominently across the top. Even more fun, the year the host started is hidden in the sign. If you look on Ms. Johnnie’s sign, you’ll notice the flower shop is open from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., referencing that she started in ’86.
While in high school, Tim Berry, our Vice President of Human Resources, started during Dollywood’s inaugural season. One of Tim’s first jobs was making apple butter at Apple Jack’s. 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 (Tim started in 1986).
I’ve already decided my goal is to make it to 30 years, because I want one of these signs. I’ve only got 25 years to go!
If you are ready to start the path to earning your 30 year host sign, check out dollywoodjobs.com to see what may interest you. We also have some job fairs coming up in late February and early March, so go make an interview appointment now and maybe you’ll also have one of these signs in a few decades!
- The Flooded Mine host sign is currently located where the entrance to the ride was previously located.
- The Thunder Express sign is located where the old Thunder Express roller coaster began.
- Rodney Pearson’s sign pays tribute to the former footprint of the Silver Dollar Saloon which is located on the porch at Temple’s Warehouse & Dry Goods.
- Several signs reference Goldrush Junction or Silver Dollar City, the names of the park before it became Dollywood.
- There’s a fun story behind most of the signs you see at Dollywood, click here to find out more!