For so many of our hosts across all of our properties, Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country are not just places they work. Like so many of our guests, our parks are places they visited as kids and somewhere they created their own family memories.
Alonna Mason and Maayla Carrier both grew up coming to the parks and that’s what drew them not only to be hosts but to be lifeguards.
“I came here as a kid growing up and actually had a close call in the wave pool once,” said Alonna. The lifeguards who helped Alonna at Dollywood’s Splash Country that day made a lasting impression on her. “Growing up, I thought maybe I’ll work at Dollywood’s Splash Country someday, because I’ve been coming here my whole life,” she said. “I really wanted a job that was doing something meaningful.”
Today, Alonna works alongside Makayla on the Aquatics Team as a lifeguard at both Dollywood’s Splash Country and Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa. The Aquatics Team lifeguards keep families safe at both properties.
Our Aquatics Team is truly top-notch, and that is not an exaggeration. Each year, the team is audited multiple times by Ellis & Associates, a third-party company that specializes in international aquatic safety and management. In 2020, Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa earned EXCEEDS (meaning the team received highest marks in all categories) during each of these unannounced audits. Not only that, but the resort also received its first Golden Guard Award!
Destiny Jenkins had exceptional scanning, guest interaction and attentiveness, thus receiving the coveted Golden Guard award, presented to the top 1% of audited lifeguards around the world. This is a huge honor, and we could not be prouder of Destiny and the entire team. That’s not to mention the EXCEEDs awards that Splash Country won as well!
“Our main goal is to be proactive and preventative, so any measure we can take and put in place to stop something before it happens is our main goal,” said Alonna. “But it’s nice and it’s rewarding when you get a chance to use your skills, and you get to send that person home safely.”
One way the resort and waterpark try to prevent water emergencies is by providing free life jackets for guests. Another way is by reminding parents to keep a close eye on their children.
“Something that I would really encourage is anytime that parents are around water with their children, is that they should be in the water with their kids, especially young ones or weaker swimmers,” said MaKayla. “Just because you put a life jacket on them doesn’t mean that they’re okay and that they’re going to stay afloat. We have rescued kids with a life jacket on, because they lack that upper body strength to keep themselves in the upright position.”
The team’s number one priority is keeping guests safe, but they also try to help guests create happy, lasting memories.
“My favorite part about being here at the resort is the slower pace here,” said MaKayla. “Over here, yes, we have to be alert, but it’s a little bit calmer, and you have the opportunity to make more guest connections.”
And those connections are what Alonna loves about working at the resort, too. “Over here, if you work multiple days in a row, you’ll see the same families, so you’re like ‘Hi, how are you today? What did you today? Did you make it to so-and-so in town?’”
I hope when you visit Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa, you take time to relax and enjoy our beautiful indoor and outdoor pools. I also hope you feel safe and confident knowing that our incredible Aquatics Team is trained and committed to keeping you and your family safe during your stay. If you consider all these, it’s pretty sure that Dollywood will be added to your list of things to do this summer!