Dollywood, located in Pigeon Forge, TN, is one of the top 50 most frequented theme parks in the world. The theme park bears name of country music’s Dolly Parton, and is visited annually by over two million guests. Recently, the major theme park and resort has introduced a calming room for children with Autism. Dollywood is the first theme park in the world to introduce this type of space.
The calming room is designed with low lighting, comfortable seating, and items meant to soothe children who may experience sensory overload, like weighted blankets and tents. Children with autism and their parents can retreat and take a break from the crowds, loud noises, rides, and bright lights of the theme park. For many children with autism, the sensory inputs and atmosphere of a theme park can quickly become overwhelming. A calming room allows children and their families a chance to relax, extend their stay, and have an overall better experience in the park.
Dollywood has been getting outstanding feedback since they’ve implemented their calming room. Parents of children with autism know the difference a quiet, relaxing place can make in the level of enjoyment for their child. Because of the praise Dollywood is receiving in regard to their calming room, other theme parks are likely to follow this trend and become more accommodating to families of people with differing abilities. We hope to see this trend in calming rooms move beyond theme parks and into other public places.