We ride, eat, and play at Dollywood all day, but do you ever stop to think what happens there at night? I mean – who cleans that sticky piece of gum off the concrete or vacuums the autumn leaves before they form piles in Timber Canyon? The sun, as well as every guest, disappears each evening, but the responsibility to get the park “show ready” before the next morning falls to a special team of amazing Dollywood hosts. I was able to get these answers and more when I sat down with Grounds Supervisor Bobby Johnson to get the inside scoop on all things “Dollywood After Dark.”
One Crew, One Operation, Lots of Late Nights
It is easy to look from the outside and assume night crew operations are “easy, peasy, lemon squeezy,” but after talking with Johnson, I quickly found out that was definitely not the case. My first surprise: the number of crew members! With Dollywood totaling 150 acres at the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, I would have thought there would be 20 or 30 of employees needed after hours to get everything done, but boy, was I wrong! Each night, eight (yes, only EIGHT!) crew members are responsible for returning Dollywood to its pristine condition, and if you are like me, the math just doesn’t add up.
The easiest way to solve the equation: efficiency. Each member of the night crew is responsible for certain tasks in their respective areas. Because they work four to five nights a week on this designated area, they are able to minimize the time spent with each duty, overall making it a smooth-sailing operation. As for the specifics, well – just hold on. That’s up next!
Wow – They Do That?!
To state it simply, there is no task too little for the night crew. From bailing cardboard boxes to moving pallets full of material, the night crew plays a major role in keeping Dollywood as clean as it is fun. In specific duties, one crew member is in charge of pressure washing well-traveled areas like Showstreet and Rivertown Junction every night. You may not think about it, but what about those ice creams stains and spills in front of the Sweet Shoppe? Yep, he gets those, too.
The remaining seven members complete the same type of tasks (basically anything that involves cleaning, moving, and organizing) in their own area of the park. When I asked Johnson the most challenging of these tasks, his answer without hesitation was trash. Every dumpster is filled to the brim from restaurants, shops, and shows each day, and while not a glamorous job, the park would not be able to function properly without the night crew members sacrificing themselves–or better yet, their noses!
If you want to learn more about how Dollywood’s trash gets recycled, check out a blog we did recently – our county is home to one of the best composting and recycling programs in the world.
A Summer Worth Sweating
Just like every job, the night crew also experiences some extremely slow and way-too-fast shifts. During the summer season, though, they have a much heavier work load since Dollywood’s Splash Country is also open. Both parks experience higher attendance and longer park hours, especially on weekends, and this mimics the hours worked and type of work performed. The crew members clock in at 7 p.m. at Dollywood’s Splash Country and clock out at 6 a.m. over at Dollywood. Props to these individuals, my friend, because I call those prime sleeping hours!
It’s the Crew for You!
After learning everything about “Dollywood After Dark,” I have no doubts that joining the night crew would be a terrific job. The team is very welcoming, embraces values held throughout the park, and respects each individual’s work. And while these industrious hosts may not have significant one-on-one guest interaction, the impact they make on memories for guests can last a lifetime.