Park begins 37th season on March 12
PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (Thursday, February 24, 2022) — Many Dollywood Parks & Resorts guests ask what happens during the winter months at the popular Pigeon Forge destination. For many employees across the company’s properties, the “off season” is anything but time off. With several projects occurring simultaneously this winter, a number of new sights will greet guests when the park opens to all season passholders March 11 for Season Passholder Day and March 12 for the general public.
Yesterday, members of the media toured Dollywood, Dollywood’s Splash Country and the newest property in the company’s portfolio, the under-construction Dollywood’s HeartSong Lodge & Resort. Eugene Naughton, The Dollywood Company President, led the tour and explained why the projects are crucial to maintaining the company’s growing reputation as a top national destination.
“As the stature of Dollywood—and our area in general—continues to increase, our guests’ expectations elevate also,” said Naughton. “Last off season, we completed several projects that were designed to enhance the guest experience to a greater level. Additionally, we identified several other projects that we were able to complete during the 2021 operating season, like the reconstruction of Hickory House BBQ to maximize efficiencies and decrease wait times.
“We selected a number of projects for this off season that we felt were crucial for the guest experience and for park infrastructure in general. Guests will start to notice the changes as soon as they drive onto the property. We’ve reconfigured our parking complex to better utilize the lots at both Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country to provide a more efficient experience for guests as they enter our property.”
The principal change guests will see is the swapping of the guest traffic lanes with the tram lanes, which removes previous points of intersection between the two. The multi-property parking complex now employs a one-way circuit which eliminates the two-way traffic pattern of the old parking lot layout. Also, the addition of two extra parking toll booths (four attendants), as well as more staging lanes for the toll booths, will result in a reduction of time spent waiting to enter the property.
Other projects throughout the Dollywood theme park property include the renovation of Iron Horse Pizza (formerly known as Victoria’s Pizza) to include greater production capacity and more seating space for guests. The Emporium also receives a complete makeover, providing a modern shopping experience as guests look to find unique Dollywood keepsakes.
As guests have continued to ask for more room to provide spacing in the park, two buildings have been removed to allow for wider walkways —the former Eagle Shop (part of the second phase of the Craftsman’s Valley widening project) and the former Christmas Cottage in Rivertown Junction. Additionally, the tunnel connecting lower Craftsman’s Valley to The Village has been removed, with the final result providing guests a location to spread out—perhaps while enjoying a loaf of cinnamon bread from the nearby Grist Mill—and have an up-close and unobstructed view of the Dollywood Express as it passes by.
“As our park continues to expand, we must regularly address the areas of the park that have been here longer,” Naughton explained. “We put much thought into every project we undertake, considering guest appeal, current practicality and future lifespan to determine what takes precedence. We know the mine tunnel was a popular landmark for guests, but its removal was necessary at this time. We feel the new widened pathway will offer a great place to watch the Dollywood Express—which is one of our most popular attractions—as it leaves and returns to The Village. I hope we’ll have generations of guests who make fond memories in this area.”
The construction projects are not limited to Dollywood theme park, however. Little Creek Falls, one of the first attractions guests may notice when visiting Dollywood’s Splash Country, is undergoing a makeover. When the park opens in May, the area will be transformed into a splash pad, making the area more accessible and able to provide years of play and fun for people of all abilities.
Members of the media also visited the site of Dollywood’s HeartSong Lodge & Resort as construction continues toward its slated opening in fall 2023. The first project in the 10-year, $500 million expansion plan announced in June 2021, HeartSong Lodge & Resort ushers in a new period of growth for The Dollywood Company. The 302-room, five-story resort will be a one-of-a-kind getaway that welcomes the outdoors in thanks to high ceilings, exposed beams and natural layered textures.
Dollywood’s 37th season is one of excitement thanks to returning guest favorites, new experiences to enjoy and the fun of one of America’s best theme parks.
Dollywood’s Flower & Food Festival presented by Covenant Health (April 22- June 5) delights guests with hundreds of thousands of brilliant flowers, truly bringing spring in the Smokies alive throughout the park. In 2022, this event blooms with even more fun and discovery around every corner, thanks to several new larger-than-life Mosaicultures floral sculptures. Returning guest-favorite Mosaicultures include the butterfly umbrella, various animal scenes and Dolly’s mother sewing together the Coat of Many Colors. Guests again are greeted by a stunning visual upon arrival, as hundreds of colorful umbrellas are suspended above Showstreet to create a dazzling “Umbrella Sky.” In addition to the beautiful flowers, a wide-selection of culinary creations abound to delight guests’ taste buds with a menu full of items inspired by spring in the Smokies. This event was named the inaugural winner of the IAPPA (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) Brass Ring Award for Best New Food and Beverage Festival or Special Event in 2021.
Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration (June 18-Aug. 7) is a festive summertime event that features unique family experiences that can only be found in the heart of the Smokies. With extended operating hours each evening, families can ride Dollywood’s world-class roller coasters, including Lightning Rod and Wild Eagle all day and well into the night. After rave reviews following its debut in 2021, Dollywood’s Sweet Summer Nights—a first-of-its-kind within the industry—returns with a show that combines hundreds of high-tech drones with a world-class fireworks show to put an exclamation point on the evening. During the day, guests also can enjoy one of the most popular Dollywood shows of all time, Gazillion Bubble Show: Aurora. This awe-inspiring show promises to leave every child and child-at-heart with a smile on their face, thanks to “gazillions” of bubbles and guest interactions that make up every performance. New and unique elements throughout the park enhance the summer fun for guests with new decor elements like the all-new Kite Sky, unexpected splash and play elements, colorful kids play activities in The Village, a bubble foam party in Wilderness Pass, and an unparalleled and interactive art installation that invites guests to spin on life-size tops in Wildwood Grove.
A family tradition for many families, Dollywood’s Harvest Festival presented by Humana (Sept. 23- Oct. 29) celebrates the beauty of fall in the Smokies with thousands of carved pumpkins, spirited performances from talented artists and the fun of Great Pumpkin LumiNights presented by Covenant Health. Great Pumpkin LumiNights, which previously has been named the best theme park harvest event in the world, features elaborate displays that create the picture-perfect photo op for families to enjoy. New in 2022, guests will have a hoot in Craftsman’s Valley as it transforms into Hoot Owl Hollow with owl-themed displays both in the park and suspended in the trees above.
It has earned one of the industry’s highest awards—the Golden Ticket—for 13 years, and once guests enter the gates, they understand why Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana (Nov. 5, 2022- Jan. 1, 2023) is the perfect place to get in the Christmas spirit. Wander through the park’s more than five million holiday lights, enjoy the festive holiday performances and warm Christmas atmosphere or taste the holiday-themed food, and it is easy to see why it has become a family tradition for so many.
With so much new to experience in 2022, it is the perfect season for a Dollywood season pass. To accommodate the ever-evolving needs of Dollywood guests, a new season pass structure featuring several new pass types has been created to allow more options for visitors to tailor their experience.
The Dollywood Silver Season Pass starts at $149 and includes two Bring-a-Friend Free tickets and a discount on Dollywood lodging. For just $55 more, guests can opt for the Dollywood Gold Season Pass. The Gold Pass—which is priced $30 less than a 2021 Gold Season Pass—represents a tremendous value for guests thanks to Saturday Early Ride Time for the passholder, four Bring-A-Friend Free tickets, and discounts on dining, merchandise, and lodging. In addition, the Gold Pass provides free parking, various other discounts and access to special “Golden Events,” exclusive events just for Gold and Diamond passholders. Only the named passholder can receive the perks associated with each pass type. Diamond Season Passes, which provide a premium experience for guests, have already sold out for the 2022 season.
Gold and Diamond Pass Holders can take advantage of another exciting new perk created for the 2022 season, Dollywood’s new daily “Golden Hours.” During the first hour of each operating day, Gold and Diamond Season Passes will operate just like TimeSaver passes, allowing the named passholder expedited boarding on Dollywood’s world-class rides and attractions.
For more information about Dollywood’s 2022 season or season passes, please visit Dollywood.com or download the Dollywood app.
About Dollywood Parks & Resorts: A highly-awarded and widely-recognized leader in the amusement industry, The Dollywood Company consists of the 160-acre Dollywood theme park; the 35-acre Dollywood’s Splash Country; Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa; and Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins. Currently under construction, Dollywood’s HeartSong Lodge & Resort is scheduled for completion in 2023. As unique as its namesake and owner Dolly Parton, Dollywood is the 2010 Applause Award winner, the theme park industry’s highest accolade; winner of 45 Golden Ticket Awards; and recipient of 28 Brass Ring Awards for Live Entertainment (more than any other theme park in the world). The park is located near Great Smoky Mountains National Park and has been named a top-three U.S. theme park by USA Today on multiple occasions and a top-10 world theme park by TripAdvisor. Dollywood is open mid-March through early January and offers rides and attractions, shows and crafters authentic to the East Tennessee region. Dollywood’s Splash Country, recognized by the Travel Channel and TripAdvisor as one of the country’s most beautiful water parks, operates from mid-May to Labor Day. Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa, a favorite of USA Today voters and TripAdvisor reviewers, provides guests with spectacular mountain views and family-friendly amenities next door to Dollywood theme park and Dollywood’s Splash Country. Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins offers luxurious cabin accommodations overlooking Dollywood. For more information, visit dollywood.com. Operating days and hours vary.