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Watauga County Educator Meredith Jones Serves as Dollywood Insider

The “Insider” selection committee had to realize that Meredith Jones, with her bubbly personality and love for life, is a perfect choice to excite others about Dollywood. Photo submitted.

By Sherrie Norris 

For local educator, Meredith Jones, being selected to serve as one of 20 “Dollywood Insiders” is one of life’s greatest adventures.

Longtime teacher and current Director of Middle Grades Education with the Watauga County Schools, wife of “Coach” Bobby Jones, mother of three boys —twins Brock and Bowen, and their little brother, Baylon, Jones is part of a group she described as “regular people who love Dollywood and who love sharing our tips and knowledge of the park with others so that they can have an enjoyable experience.”

Now in her second year, Jones said, “It’s so exciting to be a Dollywood Insider!” 

So, how does one become an “insider,” we asked?

Interested individuals go through a selection process, she described, which includes completing an application, writing a sample blog, submitting a video about why they want to be part of the group, and then being interviewed by the Dollywood public relations staff.

Meredith Jones is pictured first row, second from left, at the park chapel with her fellow “Dollywood Insiders,” she loves representing the Pigeon Forge theme park and its related properties. Photo submitted.

Hundreds of people apply each year, according to the Dollywood website.

It’s an honor, Jones said. “It’s something very special to me, because my family has made so many special memories at Dollywood. We have been pass-holders for several years now, and we love visiting the properties and enjoying all that Dollywood has to offer —including Dollywood’s Splash Country, Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa. “The environment is so warm and friendly, and it truly offers something for everyone,” she described. “It is truly a happy place for me, so I love getting to share that with other people. It is a place that, when I go there, I just forget about the stress of real life and I am able to just have fun with my family. I want others to have the opportunity to make those types of memories with their loved ones!”

While not a paid position, Jones decided to apply for it simply because it sounded like a lot of fun. And fun it is, she readily admitted — not only for herself, but also for her husband and sons.

“We all love to go to Dollywood,” she said. “The twins, Brock and Bowen, like a lot of the intermediate rides and a few of the family-friendly coasters. Baylon really likes the children’s rides in the Country Fair and in Wildwood Grove. Everyone in our family enjoys seeing the Kingdom Heirs show and a few of the other shows, too, such as A Brighter Day and Heartsong. We are all mesmerized by the lights during the Harvest Festival and Smoky Mountain Christmas celebrations. And of course, all of us love to ride the train and eat the cinnamon bread!”

There are a few expectations to fulfilling the role of “Insider,” for Jones, including regular visits to the park, publicly sharing her experiences, and writing or producing blogs or vlogs each year that she serves.

A ride on the Dollywood Express is a perfect way for the Jones family to take a breather during their frequent trips to the Pigeon Forge theme park. Photo submitted.

“We are invited to media events to help share the good things happening at the parks,” she described. “If we have a particular interest in something that we want to share, Dollywood will help us with setting up interviews.” 

As an example, Jones shared, “I really love the gospel group, Kingdom Heirs, and I wanted to share their story. I was able to get scheduled for an interview with them so I could share their story.” 

And of course, a big question we just had to ask, “Have you been able to meet Dolly?”

And her reply? “Unfortunately no. I have had the privilege of attending two media events where she was present, but I did not get to actually meet her.”

A term of service for insiders is usually just one year, but they can serve two years, at most, “then we rotate off for a year or two before applying again.” 

Jones first served from August 2021 through August 2022, but that just wasn’t enough, she said. “I enjoyed it so much, I applied again and was accepted for a second term that will run through this summer.”

Is anyone else from this area an Insider, we asked? “No, the only other North Carolinian is Jeremy Chandler from the Winston Salem area. Most others are from Tennessee and a few from Alabama.”

How often does she go to Dollywood?

“We try to go at least once a month, and definitely at least once during every major festival at the park,”  she said. “During the summer, we make sure to visit Splash Country at least a few days each time. We usually end up staying at the DreamMore Resort and Spa once a year for a special occasion.”

Another part about this adventure that Jones loves, she said, “Is meeting such interesting and engaging people who also love Dollywood as much as I do! I have made some lovely friends from around the southeast as we have done this together. We will often collaborate and help each other with our blogs, as well as see each other at events.”

To learn more about the life of Meredith Jones outside the school system and “inside” the gates of Dollywood properties, as well as her fellow “insiders,” visit  https://www.dollywood.com/insiders

You can also search the blogs if you are looking for information on a certain topic.

Regardless of the season or special occasion, “Insider” Meredith Jones loves the opportunity to experience life at Dollywood — and to share it with others. Photo submitted.

Dollywood’s Introduction to Meredith Jones, as seen on the theme park’s website: 

A North Carolina native, Meredith has lived in the Boone area since 1997, when she came to Appalachian State as a student. Life is never dull when she is spending time with her husband, twin 11-year-old boys and 2-year-old son. Her days are full supporting teachers and students as a school district administrator, running a small business and enjoying friends and family. You can follow her adventures on Instagram. Her family has been visiting Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country for the past six years, and it has become a big part of family life. Special occasions are often celebrated at the resort and the two parks, and day trips to the parks are a regular occurrence. While at the parks, you can find her on rides, browsing in her favorite shops, snacking on cinnamon bread and loving every moment. She is so excited to share her love for all things Dollywood with you, so your family can make wonderful memories, too!