Dolly Parton Kicks Off Dollywood’s 37th Season in Style During March 11 Season Passholder and Media Preview Day
Photos provided by Curtis Hilbun
Dolly Parton welcomed Dollywood season passholders and members of the media during a special preview day event on March 11, setting the tone for what will be a thrilling 2022 at the Pigeon Forge park. With new festival elements throughout the year and a number of projects throughout the property designed to enhance the guest experience, Dollywood’s 37th season is on track to be one of its best.
Dolly updated the assembled media and guests about several of her latest projects, shared a special video look at the season ahead, and was even “put inside a bubble” by Melody Yang whose “Gazillion Bubble Show: Aurora” will return to the park during Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration (June 18 – August 7). Dolly finished the event by sharing “Big Dreams and Faded Jeans,” one of the songs from her new album “Run, Rose, Run,” which accompanies the book she co-authored with James Patterson by the same name.
“I can’t believe it’s been two years since the last time we’ve been together here at Dollywood,” Dolly shared. “I’ve missed seeing everyone, but I can promise you I’ve been staying busy and working a lot more than ‘9 to 5.’ And all of our guests have certainly been keeping everyone here at Dollywood busy the last two years, and I want to thank everybody who has visited for their support the last two years.
“Dollywood and the Smokies truly are a special place, and I’m just proud that so many people are wanting to come to these beautiful mountains to experience all of God’s beauty and find out why this area has become so popular. Once they come, they might just not want to leave my Smoky Mountain home!”
Park guests probably noticed several new sights as they toured the park, with many projects undertaken simultaneously during what was a very busy off season. Eugene Naughton, President of The Dollywood Company, is eager for guests to enjoy everything the park has to offer this year.
“Our teams have worked so hard over the off season on all these projects, but we believe they’re going to notice an improvement immediately. While they aren’t headline-grabbing projects like a new attraction or resort, the work we’ve done through the off season plays a pivotal role in the guest experience.
“During the last two years we’ve placed a lot of focus on those things that you might not immediately think about in terms of affecting someone’s visit, but once our guests see them, they tell us they are the things that really make a difference. For example, as soon as guests drive into the reconfigured parking complex, they are going to see how we’ve implemented a number of changes designed to provide a more efficient entry and exit process. Across our properties we’ve selected the things that are crucial for guest experience and park infrastructure in general.”
The main change guests will see is in the new parking complex—highlighted by 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. The Dollywood Emporium also receives a complete renovation, providing a modern shopping experience as guests look to find unique Dollywood keepsakes.
As guests have continued to ask for more 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.
New Experiences and Returning Favorites
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.
From now until April 15, park guests can enjoy some of the region’s most engaging performers and songwriters during a five-week schedule of acoustic performances in the Pines Theater. Artists like The Young Fables (March 14 & 16), Teea Goans (March 25 & 26), Monroeville (April 6 & 8), and more make up this new entertainment offering.
Dollywood’s Flower & Food Festival
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
Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration (June 18 – August 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.
Dollywood’s Rock the Smokies
Dollywood’s Rock the Smokies returns August 27 with performances throughout the park by several of contemporary Christian music’s biggest names. By combining all the adventure of a day at the park with great music, Dollywood has crafted a unique event packed with fun for all ages. A ticket purchase includes admission to Dollywood, with discounts available for groups, season passholders and guests who order tickets early. Artists and additional details will be announced at a later date.
Dollywood’s Harvest Festival
A tradition for many families, Dollywood’s Harvest Festival presented by Humana (September 23 – October 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 (Novemver 5, 2022 – January 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.
New Season Pass Structure
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. Prices go up after March 20. 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.
Plan Your Visit
For more information about Dollywood’s 2022 season, please visit Dollywood.com or download the Dollywood app.