Dollywood’s namesake, Dolly Parton herself, kicked off the 2022 season today with a special event just for season passholders and media invitees. The singer, songwriter, actress, humanitarian, and writer made several appearances during the day while updating fans on what’s new from both Dolly Parton and Dollywood. Here’s a look at the fun in store throughout 2022 at Dollywood, including a look at what’s new.
Inside the Celebrity Theater, Dolly Parton started the event with a message of hope for the people of Ukraine before sharing what’s new in her world outside of the theme park. Her debut fiction novel Run, Rose, Run, co-authored by James Patterson, was just released alongside a companion album and there are plans to adapt the story into a film, with Dolly hoping to play Ruthanna Ryder, a character based on herself. Later this year, Dolly will release a gospel album and plans to make a concert film to go alongside it, which she hopes to film in part at Dollywood.
On to the theme park, Dollywood will continue to offer its award-winning seasonal events, with new and returning fan-favorite elements returning. Several new larger-than-life Mosaicultures floral sculptures will make their debut at this year’s Flower & Food Festival (April 22nd – June 5th). This summer will mark the return of Gazillion Bubble Show: Aurora, with Melody Yang putting on a condensed version of the show during the preview and even putting Dolly Parton inside a giant bubble. Other new sights and experiences coming to the Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration (June 18th -August 7th) include Kite Sky, splash and play elements, a bubble foam party in Wilderness Pass, and an interactive art installation where guests can spin on life-size tops. This fall, Dollywood’s Harvest Festival (September 23rd – October 29th) adds Hoot Owl Hollow, new owl-themed displays. Nothing new was announced for the popular Smoky Mountain Christmas, but few things are better than the holidays at Dollywood (November 5th – January 1st).
Dolly also talked about a few upcoming accommodations that will be available in the future. The HeartSong Lodge & Resort is on track to open in 2023, giving guests a more rustic resort experience near the DreamMore Resort and Spa. Speaking of DreamMore, a special new experience is also in the works, known as “Suite 1986” (a nod to the year the theme park became Dollywood). This suite is actually that country music superstar’s most recent tour bus and guests can stay inside it! Dolly’s previous tour bus is on display as a walk-through attraction inside the park.
The presentation ended with a live performance of Dolly’s new song “Big Dreams and Faded Jeans” off the album Run, Rose, Run. Dolly Parton also appeared in a drive-by parade through the park.
Dollywood also had big dreams to make getting around easier. This starts with your arrival experience, with two new booths added to the toll plaza for the 2022 season, speeding up the entry experience for guests arriving by car (as opposed to the resort shuttle). The parking lot was also reconfigured, removing intersections with the parking lot tram.
The flagship store, Dollywood Emporium, has been completely redesigned on the inside. The shop sits between the two park entrances and also acts as an optional exit to the park.
The ceiling is decorated with giant multicolored butterflies and contains one large centralized bank of check-out registers.
Whether you’re looking for a Dollywood keepsake, or something to celebrate your Dolly Parton fandom, the Dollywood Emporium’s new merchandise displays make it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for.
A new dining location is scheduled to open this season, although it is delayed due to supply chain issues with equipment. Iron Horse Pizza, located across from the Dollywood Express Train Depot in The Village, will offer pizza and salads, with an adjacent outdoor seating area with shade.
You can call the next couple of changes “Addition by subtraction.” The Silver Dollar City tunnel has been removed, opening up a spacious walkway that connects Craftsman’s Valley to The Village, offering new views of the park while walking. Craftsman’s Valley also lost the Eagle Shop to widen the walkways. Another store, the Christmas Cottage in Rivertown Junction, was removed for the same reason.
Towards the end of the day, Dolly Parton rode through the park in a mini-parade, waiving to Dollywood’s treasured passholders as the park ushers in its 27th operating season. Speaking of season passes, if you’d like to experience all of Dollywood’s seasonal festivals and take in the year-round grandeur of the great Smokey Mountains, the park offers several season pass types and you can save if you purchase a pass before March 20th when prices go up.
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. Visit dollywood.com/Tickets/Season-Passes to learn more.
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