After visiting dozens of dinner shows over the years, I can definitively say nothing tops Dolly Parton’s Stampede. Located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee just down the street from Dollywood, I recently got a chance to see their Christmas show and can’t say enough good things about it. However, it’s probably not for the reasons you may think.
For starters, the show in itself is amazing. It features 32 horses in a fast-paced performance that lasts a little over ninety minutes. The riders can do some amazing tricks on horseback that I’ve never seen in any other show like this. During the regular season, Stampede also features buffalo and longhorn steers.
During Christmas, Dolly Parton’s Stampede uses camels and sheep for a nativity scene instead of the buffalo and longhorns. The holiday show transforms not only the arena but the pre-show room and the exterior into a full Christmas display. There has to be a ton of work that goes into transitioning the entire venue into a winter wonderland.
In addition to having the best food at any dinner show I’ve ever been to, the real reason I love Dolly Parton’s Stampede? It is a well-oiled machine. The 1200 seat arena is designed for maximum efficiency. There truly is no bad seat in the house. Even the furthest seat away is only 25 feet from the arena!
During the busy season, Christmas at Dolly Parton’s Stampede can perform up to five shows a day! Which is incredible considering just how tightly they run their operation. During my visit, there was a 6:00 pm and an 8:30 pm show. Pre-show entertainment starts at 5:00 pm with the bluegrass band Mountain Ruckus entertaining the crowd until about 5:45 when they start loading the theater.
As our 6:00 pm show gets started, the crew cleans up the pre-show room and gets the area prepped for the 8:30 pm showtime to come in. Before 7:00 pm, they start opening the doors to that pre-show area again while the 6:00 pm show is about halfway through. As the first show finishes, the team clears the 1200 seat arena and turns it around in less than 20 minutes!
Keep in mind, the crew in the back is also cooking for 1200 people per show! That’s a very fast turnaround time to cook for that many people and I can’t even wrap my head around how they can keep up that pace for five shows a day during peak season.
Without question, if you’re in Pigeon Forge you must visit Dolly’s Stampede. It truly is great. However, while you’re watching the show, pay attention to how fast the crew is moving in the arena to prep, clean and get all the food out to everyone as it goes on. It really is a show in itself! My hat is off to all the cast and crew of this operation. I’ve never seen a harder working bunch at any dinner attraction.
Also worth mentioning, Dolly Parton’s Celebration! dinner show is running their final season just down the road from Stampede. The Christmas themed variety show will end on January 5th, 2019. Currently, if you’re looking to see both shows, they are running a discount to see them while you’re in Pigeon Forge. On January 6th, one day after Celebration! closes, they begin construction on Dolly Parton’s Pirates Voyage dinner show slated to open Spring 2019.
This will be a sister show to Dolly Parton’s Pirates Voyage dinner show currently running in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina since 2011. And yes, the new show will feature a Christmas version in late 2019! We can’t wait to visit when they open! If you’d like more information on any of these shows, visit this link.
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Images Copyright: Dolly Parton’s Stampede