Dollywood Showcases Progress on Dollywood’s HeartSong Lodge and Projects Around Park During “Off-Season”

On Wednesday, we were invited as part of a special hard hat tour to check out the various projects going on during the “off-season” at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.  We got to look at a new attraction for smaller children coming to Dollywood’s Splash Country, the various projects around Dollywood, and even a look at the construction of the second resort in Dollywood’s portfolio, Dollywood’s HeartSong Lodge and Resort.

While many of us in the media thought the area we first encountered, seen in the surrounding photos, would be the main entrance, it is actually the transportation hub. This is where resort guests will be able to hop aboard the Dollywood Trolleys and head to Dollywood or Dollywood’s Splash Country.

Though it was announced several months ago, on this day, we were able to stand in what will be the lobby of the new 302 room resort and heard more details about what is to come. .

When complete, the lobby area will be a four story atrium with a large fireplace that will welcome visitors.

The area below will be the entrance of the resort, so imagine pulling up to this area in the fall of 2023 when the resort is complete and being welcomed to the new hotel.

Take special note of this area, as a previously released piece of art showcases that this will become a fireplace that extends to the roof of the lobby.

Over here, we find what will be the elevator bank to the new resort, taking guests to their rooms which will comparable in size to those at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort, except with one striking difference. The rooms at Dollywood’s HeartSong Lodge will feature balconies and patios. Perfect since the lobby level of this new resort sits at the same elevation as that of the top floor of Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort.

Thanks to the magic of satellite maps, I can show you where they drove us into the mountains, and Dollywood’s HeartSong Lodge will be located down the road from Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa as the road will be extended. I should also note that this is only hotel #2 under construction right now. Dollywood has already announced a master plan that consists of 5 hotels and a campground with over half a billion dollars being invested into the destination to help draw more people to Pigeon Forge and the surrounding areas.

Now from the new hotel, we head down the mountain toward Dollywood’s…..parking lot? Dollywood President Eugene Naughton shared, “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 (which will allow for four more attendants helping visitors through), as well as more staging lanes for the toll booths, will result in a reduction of time spent waiting to enter the property.

Guests leaving the park will also notice that the tram stop they are used to is now completely gone and has been relocated further down the path for pickup and shuttle back to their car location.

Once through the parking lot, guests will also find a streamlined arrival experience thanks to the installation of new security checks where guests don’t have to stop and have their bags searched, but are allowed to go through detectors with their belongings, similar to what has already been installed nearby at stadiums, and similar to systems in place at Walt Disney World and other parks.

Over at the Emporium, the park’s largest gift shop which also serves as the exit to the park, guests will find a completely new, modern interior, as well as a completely new and modernized experience with a central bank of cashiers and checkouts, as well as the installation of a mobile purchasing option.

Why do I have this picture of a roof? Well, by the time the park opens for the season, a butterfly that will be perfect for Instagramming on your way out of the park will be in place.

Victoria’s Pizza, a popular place to grab some food while waiting for a trip aboard the iconic Dollywood Express, has been removed and is being reworked into the new Iron Horse Pizza, which will still be a popular space to hang out and eat before a train ride, but will also be more open and accessible to the guests who wish to enjoy.

We previously reported about the removal of the landmark Silver Dollar Mine tunnel at the park,

which you can read here, but that was one part of a larger project to respond to guests who have continued to ask for more room to provide spacing in the park. As part of these efforts, 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.

Dollywood President Eugene Naughton explains: “As our park continues to expand, we must regularly address the areas of the park that have been here longer. 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.”    

Park projects aren’t just limited to Dollywood. Let’s head over to Dollywood’s Splash Country, where their “off-season” continues with work around the park.

Guests will also notice that one of the first attractions that they encounter when entering the park, Little Creek Falls, has been transformed into a zero-entry splash pad that will make the area more accessible and allow the space to provide years of play and fun for guests of all abilities. The area will also play host to younger children in the hopes that older children seek out the Bear Mountain Fire Tower attraction.

One thing that Dollywood is becoming increasingly known for are their incredible seasonal festivals throughout the year. As the park gets ready to begin their season, they are also ramping up towards Dollywood’s Flower and Food Festival, which runs from April 22nd through June 5th. This year, this event will play host to even more fun and discovery around every corner, with 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. Hundreds of colorful umbrellas will once again be 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. Take a look at some of the offerings coming for this year’s event below.

Dollywood’s Flower and Food Festival was even 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.

The Food and Flower Festival isn’t the only event that takes place throughout the year. 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 (running 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. 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.


The award winning Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana, running from November 5th, 2022 through January 1st, 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.


Take a look at one of the park’s amazing light displays as it appeared in 2021 below:  

With all the events going on throughout the year, it’s no surprise that Diamond Season Passes, which provide a premium experience for guests, have already sold out for the 2022 season. Also new this year, Gold and Diamond Pass Holders can take advantage of an exciting new perk, 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. More information about tickets and season passes, as well as Dollywood, Dollywood’s Splash Country, Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort, and more can be found at the official website here.

Tony Betti
Originally from California where he studied a dying artform (hand-drawn animation), Tony has spent most of his adult life in the theme parks of Orlando. When he’s not writing for LP, he’s usually watching and studying something animated or arguing about “the good ole’ days” at the parks.