Dolly Parton seems to be front and center just about everywhere you look. From her headline-making halftime show on the Thanksgiving game between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Commanders, to appearances for her latest album, Rockstar, it’s hard to ignore the force of nature that is Dolly Parton. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to live Dolly’s life on the road, you can do so by staying the night at Suite 1986, the icon’s former tour-bus-turned-accommodation that is parked permanently at the Dollywood DreamMore Resort and Spa in Pigeon Forge.
Like millions of other Americans, I’m a Dolly fan. It’s hard not to love the five-foot-tall music icon. Not only was she a pioneer in making country music mainstream, but she has charmed fans along the way with her unique blend of sass and style. I recently had the chance to tour Suite 1986 and see how the Queen of Country enjoyed life on the road.
Suite 1986 is named for the year Dollywood opened. The 45-foot Prevost bus was Dolly’s home on the road from 2008 to 2022, and also the spot where she wrote her “Backwoods Barbie” album and the musical 9 to 5. Dolly does not enjoy flying, so for 13 years she crisscrossed the country in her beloved bus, which she affectionately dubbed her “gypsy wagon.”
The interiors of Suite 1986 were decorated by Dolly and her sisters, and are a true reflection of her personal style. She had murals hand-painted on the walls of the bus depicting wayfaring wanderers, wagons and crystal balls, interpreting her life on the road. When the bus was converted to Suite 1986, it was suggested the murals be covered with plexiglas in order to preserve them. But Dolly put a stop to that, telling Dollywood executives, “I don’t want it to be like a museum for guests, I want it to be authentic.”
The interiors of Suite 1986 are a rich blend of jewel-toned fabrics and glitzy accents. Since the singer preferred to stay on the bus overnight instead of hotels, she added some comforts of home, like a full-sized refrigerator that had to be brought in through the windshield of the bus in order to fit. She also added a tiny Dolly-sized bathtub to one of the bathrooms. The living area of the bus includes a full kitchen, dining nook, bathroom, and sitting area. Two closets showcase Dolly’s elaborate costumes, jewelry, and bedazzled stiletto heels.
Toward the rear of the bus, a bunk wall features patchwork textiles reminiscent of the star’s hit “Coat of Many Colors.” Dolly’s personal bedroom and bathroom occupy the back of Suite 1986. In true Dolly style, the bedroom is painted from top to bottom in pinks and purples, with a dedicated vanity area and double-sized built in bed. The piece de resistance is a former closet space that was converted into a glass-fronted wig cabinet.
Suite 1986 sleeps two guests, though anyone who books the experience also has access to a room at the DreamMore Resort for overflow guests. Guests of Suite 1986 also receive complimentary park tickets, dinner show reservations, and a Pink Jeep tour.
A VIP Dining experience provided by one of the resort’s chefs is also part of a Suite 1986 stay. The menu is inspired by Dolly’s favorite dishes like smoked ribs and brisket, crispy fried chicken, whiskey-glazed shrimp, buttermilk biscuits and Southern-style sides. For dessert, guests will naturally be served Dolly’s favorite, banana pudding.
Living like Dolly does not come cheap. A stay on Suite 1986 starts at $10,000 for two nights, with all profits going directly to the Dollywood Foundation and Parton’s literary philanthropy, Imagination Library. For serious Dolly Parton fans, it’s the ultimate behind-the-scenes experience.