Dollywood to offer free tuition and books to employees

Published 3:50 pm Wednesday, February 9, 2022


Dollywood’s parent company is picking up the education tab for all of its employees, beginning this year.

Herschend Enterprises is the operating partner of Dollywood and the nation’s largest privately-owned themed attractions corporation. This week the company announced it will cover 100% of employees’ tuition, fees and books for employees who wish to further their education. And they aren’t stopping with Pigeon Forge locations.

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Herschend’s GROW U is expected to launch Feb. 24 to provide educational opportunities for 11,000 seasonal, part-time and full-time employees across the corporation’s 25 U.S. attractions. That includes Dollywood Parks and Resorts in Pigeon Forge; Pink Adventure Tours in Tennessee, Arizona and Nevada; Wild Adventures in Georgia; Adventure Aquarium in New Jersey; Silver Dollar City in Missouri; as well as Kentucky Kingdom and Newport Aquarium in Kentucky.

“We know when our hosts are happy and feel cared for that they are going to pass that along to our guests,” said Eugene Naughton, President of The Dollywood Company. “The creation of the program allows another avenue for us to care for our hosts.

“One of The Dollywood Foundation’s key tenets is to ‘learn more.’ This program is created with that very tenet in mind. We want our hosts to develop themselves through advanced learning to fulfill the foundation’s other tenets: care more, dream more, and be more. When our hosts strive to grow themselves, it makes our business and our community a truly better place.

“Whether it’s to pursue a new dream or advance their career with us, we care about our employees’ personal and professional growth, because we believe that their futures should be grown with love, not loans,” said Andrew Wexler, CEO of Herschend Enterprises. “Our team members’ success is our success — and that’s why we’re thrilled to make this benefit available to all, regardless of their role in the company and without the burden of debt.”

Under the GROW U program, employees will have access to diploma, degree and certificate programs across 30 learning partners. Programs will be offered in business administration and leadership, culinary, finance, technology, and marketing.

Additionally, the company will provide partial funding, up to $5,250/year, for 150 additional programs in fields including hospitality, engineering, human resources and art design.

Guild Education powers the GROW U program. Guild Education provides similar programs to employees of Taco Bell, Disney, Lowe’s, Walmart and more.

Hosts are eligible to enroll in the GROW U program on their first day of employment.

Positions are available for the entire length of the 2022 operating season, as well as shorter peak season openings. Applicants must be 14 years of age or older. For more information about working at Dollywood Parks & Resorts, visit