Dollywood Theme Park

Festival Of Nations Kicks Off Dollywood’s Biggest Season Ever

Published March 12, 2019 / Last Updated March 12, 2019

Two new headline acts and World Passport to Food highlight season opener

Dollywood’s thrilling 2019 season begins with one of the park’s greatest Festival of Nations lineups ever! The event, which runs March 16-April 14, features exhilarating new headline shows, the return of the Passport to Food and special cooking demonstrations, including opportunities to see world-renowned Chef Pepin whip up his favorite dishes. Season pass holders can visit a special preview day event on March 15.

Guests can experience the spirit of the Smokies at Dollywood while also taking a trip around the globe thanks to authentic glimpses into a number of fascinating cultures. It’s a vibrant and exciting way to celebrate spring break!

New Headline Acts

Cuba Vibra!Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba is a fusion dance and music company that mixes Hispanic and Caribbean cultures into each performance. Considered to include some of the best performers from Cuba, the group has been together for more than 25 years and has entertained on five continents. Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba can be found in DP’s Celebrity Theater.

Billed as the first interactive drum-theater experience, Drumstruck leaves families laughing and creating memories to remember for years to come. As guests enter Showstreet Palace Theater, they will find drums placed in each seat throughout the venue. Members of the audience use these drums to become part of the show, playing along with the performance on stage. This high-energy production weaves South African music and culture with West African rhythms.

Passport to Food

This expanded international menu lets guests enjoy savory and sweet delights from a number of countries, including grilled beef skewers from Trinidad, poutine and fried cheese curds from Canada, and beef bulgogi nachos over wonton chips from South Korea. A number of refreshing drinks also are available and serve as the perfect complement to the delectable dishes available as part of the passport. A wide range of international pastries and desserts tempt those with a sweet tooth.

Chef Pepin, a well-known celebrity chef from Cuba, hosts several cooking demonstrations during the opening weekend of the festival, while additional chefs share their secrets each subsequent weekend during Festival of Nations. Cooking demonstrations currently are scheduled to take place each Saturday and Sunday at noon and 2 p.m. in Dollywood’s Market Square area.

Dollywood’s 2019 Festival of Nations Lineup

Invaders Steel Orchestra- One of the world’s oldest and most respected steel drum bands, Invaders Steel Orchestra celebrates more than 75 years of creating festive music for audiences around the world. This guest-favorite group returns to Dollywood to bring the tropical sounds of the Caribbean to the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. While the songs they play are familiar, the unique sounds of Invaders Steel Orchestra’s drums will transport guests to a sandy beach far away.
Location: The Valley Theater

Atahualpa – Hailing from Ecuador, Atahualpa combines native Incan instruments with contemporary backups to celebrate the history and culture of the Andes Mountains. Atahualpa’s mix of songs includes contemporary music, South American dance rhythms, and the traditional music of the Andes. Through their sharing of music, culture, and heritage, Atahualpa hopes to promote brotherhood, friendship and peace to all the people of the world.
Location: Showstreet Gazebo

De Temps Antan – Traveling from Quebec, Canada, De Temps Antan explores and performs the time-honored melodies from Quebec’s musical past. This talented trio combines contemporary music, uncontrolled laughter, deep-routed couplets and sudden, impromptu shifts for memorable songs that speak to the familiar rhythms of yesteryear.
Location: Back Porch Theater (Performing March 16- 24)

Les Grands Hurleurs – Les Grands Hurleurs of Quebec, Canada has pushed boundaries and incorporate a variety of musical influences for their own special sound. Paying respect to their traditional roots while creating original music, this trio flirts with classical, Manouche, electronica and folk music for shows that bring audiences alive. Prepare to experience a musical journey with groovy, energetic and swing styles.
Location: Back Porch Theater (Performing March 27- April 14)

More 2019 Fun!

The largest expansion in the park’s history, Wildwood Grove, opens this spring to provide families with thrilling new experiences and attractions for guests to explore together. Summer kicks off with Dollywood’s Barbeque & Bluegrass (May 24- June 2), while the park’s Summer Celebration (June 22- Aug. 4) features later hours and the first chance to experience the wonder of Wildwood Grove at night. Dollywood’s Harvest Festival presented by Humana (Sept. 27-Nov. 2) features Southern gospel’s greatest performers alongside the guest-favorite Great Pumpkin LumiNights. Dollywood’s 2019 season concludes with the eleven-time winner for Best Theme Park Christmas Event, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana, Nov. 9-Jan. 4, 2020.

If there has ever been a year to take advantage of the value of a Dollywood season pass, this is it. With the opening of Wildwood Grove and a vast amount of entertainment and festivals (all included with park admission) available throughout the season, guests certainly will want to make several return visits in 2019.

Guests can learn more about Dollywood’s biggest season ever by visiting Dollywood.com or calling 1-800-DOLLYWOOD.

Mike KuczmarskiFestival Of Nations Kicks Off Dollywood’s Biggest Season Ever

Watch Wildwood Grove Construction Video Tour With Amber Davis

Published March 1, 2019 / Last Updated March 1, 2019

Team Dolly

Team Dolly is a collaboration of writers, editors, and publishers assembled by Dolly Parton Productions. Each member is dedicated to accurately publishing the latest news and historical archives of the living legend that is Dolly Rebecca Parton.

Managing Editor - Jacob Timmons
Senior Editor - Amanda Webb
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman

Dollywood’s New Media & Digital Publicist, Amber Davis, takes us on a Wildwood Grove Construction tour!

The construction for Wildwood Grove – Dollywood’s largest expansion in park history – is currently underway, and everyone is getting excited for its opening this spring!

“Despite the extremely wet weather, Wildwood Grove construction is on track for its scheduled May opening!” said Amber Davis, Dollywood’s new Media & Digital Publicist. “I’ve said it before, but because it’s such a big deal, I’ll emphasize it again: this new land is the park’s largest expansion since Dollywood opened.”

Until now, excited park fans have only seen concept art and read about the 11 new attractions planned for Wildwood Grove. As opening day approaches, Dollywood is sharing a closer look at the progress of this historic expansion. Amber said,

“As we sit three months out, it’s time to SHOW you the progress. Yes, you can check the construction cam any time, but I know you’d like to see it closer than a bird’s eye view.”

Come along with Amber Davis as she takes you on a video tour of Wildwood Grove construction.

About the Author: Amber Davis

A photo of Amber Davis

Amber Davis – Media and Digital Publicist

Amber Davis is in the thick of navigating life as a working mom. She regularly balances meetings and tantrums — from her children, not coworkers. Growing up in Knoxville, Amber visited Dollywood and Sevier County often and now loves to share the same experiences with her own young family.

Team DollyWatch Wildwood Grove Construction Video Tour With Amber Davis

Dollywood’s Wildwood Grove Coming In 2019

Published February 3, 2019 / Last Updated February 10, 2019

Team Dolly

Team Dolly is a collaboration of writers, editors, and publishers assembled by Dolly Parton Productions. Each member is dedicated to accurately publishing the latest news and historical archives of the living legend that is Dolly Rebecca Parton.

Managing Editor - Jacob Timmons
Senior Editor - Amanda Webb
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman

Dollywood announces its largest expansion in park history with the new Wildwood Grove, slated to open in 2019.

Wildwood Grove, the largest capital investment in Dollywood’s 32-year history, is slated to open in 2019 and provides an adventurous journey for guests to explore, imagine and play together as a family.

The adventure begins as soon as guests enter Wildwood Grove through the massive hollow trunk of a fallen tree. Once inside this delightful place, a remarkable world is unveiled to families through their own imaginations.

The Wildwood Tree—a tree unlike any other—serves as the centerpiece of the area. It grows from a cluster of natural rock and boulders, and offers a natural platform for performances throughout the day and night. The green, leafy canopy is adorned with thousands of butterflies that dance playfully in the breeze. As the sun sinks in the sky, Wildwood Grove glows warmly as lanterns and lights glimmer like cheerful fireflies. Once darkness falls, the area sparkles as the Wildwood Tree comes to life each evening in a unique nighttime show that features the butterflies glowing in a kaleidoscope of spectacular color.

 

Six new ride attractions await guests eager to explore this captivating land. Those attractions include:

The Dragonflier— This thrilling suspended roller coaster lets guests soar with a dragonfly as it dips and darts along the gushing geysers and lush landscape of Wildwood Grove.
Black Bear Trail— Riders hop on the back of these friendly bears for a spirited trek through their natural habitat. Families will enjoy meandering through the woods of this unique Smoky Mountain experience.
Sycamore Swing— Guests aboard this thrilling “leaf boat” swing back and forth just like a leaf falling from a giant sycamore tree.
Treetop Tower— This family tower gives guests a sky-high view of Wildwood Grove as they soar nearly 40 feet in the air. Riders, seated inside giant acorns, spin around the top of a tall oak tree before gently drifting back to the grove floor.
The Mad Mockingbird— Tennessee’s state bird—the mockingbird—gives visitors a lift as it flies in a high speed circle around a tall tree. Riders control their ride experience by moving a sail as the birds rush above the ground.
Frogs and Fireflies—These friendly frogs hop up and down as they chase each other around the lily pad trying to catch the flickering fireflies fluttering from the tall reeds and grasses. Adventurous guests can hop aboard for this riveting race.

Play options abound inside Wildwood Grove. Hidden Hollow, a 4,000 sq. ft. indoor play space, provides a climate-controlled area for families looking to recharge before their next big adventure. With climbing structures, slides and multiple games, play time here is full of exploration. Another refreshing stop for play is at Wildwood Creek where numerous pop jets, splashing pools and more await. There, guests also can discover their musical side thanks to the various “instruments” available to play.

New Friends

Several new friends await guests to the area. In the tradition of the Wildwood butterflies before them, Flit and Flutter—Wildwood Grove’s butterfly ambassadors of beauty and grace—dutifully watch over the Wildwood Tree. While each has their own distinct personality, both Flit and Flutter enjoy interacting with visitors to Wildwood Grove. Guests also can meet Benjamin Bear, a playful friend who loves to explore the grove with new visitors.

New Dining

Wildwood Grove’s featured dining establishment, named Till & Harvest, offers another great option from Dollywood’s award-winning foods team. Visitors can order from a selection of Southwest fresh favorites, including burritos, salads and more, all with a Southern twist. In addition to traditional entrees and a topping bar with assorted salsas, guests can add items like pulled pork and fresh coleslaw to their selections. A walk-up window provides sweet treats like churros and ice cream.

As with most areas of Dollywood, Wildwood Grove takes advantage of the natural beauty of the surrounding Smoky Mountains. Nearly $1 million has been planned for landscaping the area, with more than 400 trees and 1,000 shrubs helping transform this space into a lush and relaxing spot hidden within the foothills of the Smokies.

For more information about Dollywood, please visit www.dollywood.com, call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD or download the Dollywood App.

Team DollyDollywood’s Wildwood Grove Coming In 2019

Happy Birthday To Two Of Dollywood’s Famous Leading Ladies

Published November 1, 2018 / Last Updated November 1, 2018

Team Dolly

Team Dolly is a collaboration of writers, editors, and publishers assembled by Dolly Parton Productions. Each member is dedicated to accurately publishing the latest news and historical archives of the living legend that is Dolly Rebecca Parton.

Managing Editor - Jacob Timmons
Senior Editor - Amanda Webb
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman

Happy Birthday to Dollywood’s Klondike Katie and Cinderella!

Two of Dollywood’s most famous leading ladies celebrated milestone birthdays this year. Katie celebrates her 75th, while “Cindy” enjoys the big 8-0 this season. Both ladies have the opportunity to entertain thousands of Dollywood guests each season, and their performances turn heads and garner waves of admiration wherever the track takes them.

They both admirably served in the U.S. Army during World War II, but now enjoy their retirement years at the world’s friendliest theme park. Their “warm” demeanors certainly are welcomed here.

The two Baldwin coal-fired steam trains—Klondike Katie, No. 192, and Cinderella, No. 70—were built in 1943 and 1938 respectively by Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia. Both trains served in Alaska during World War II, transporting troops and lumber on various missions across what would become the 49th U.S. state. Both engines were still in use when they were purchased from the Army. The two locomotives now work together to serve guests as The Dollywood Express, one of the park’s signature attractions.

Klondike Katie has worked most of the season while her co-worker Cinderella underwent a months-long refresh. She now looks much like she did back in 1938, with similar cosmetics and a font type close to what would have been on her originally. Just in time for Dollywood’s Harvest Festival presented by Humana (now- Nov. 3), both Cinderella and Klondike Katie are ready to charge full steam ahead into the park’s busy fall and Christmas seasons.

Maintaining The Dollywood Express

Dollywood Express Team Lead Tim Smith says maintaining the workhorses is a labor of love for his team. For many of them, their current jobs were dreams many years in the making. Smith has had an interest in steam trains his whole life, working at the North Carolina Transportation Museum, as well as Tweetsie Railroad (located in Blowing Rock, North Carolina). He moved west and worked at the Durango and Silverton Railroad in Durango, Colorado and the Virginia and Truckee Railroad in Virginia City, Nevada. He desired to move closer to home and in 2015 accepted his current position at Dollywood.

“We do most of the work ourselves,” the North Wilkesboro, North Carolina native said. “It gives our group a sense of pride in what we do to know we’re able to keep these trains running and give our guests memories they’re always going to hold on to. We can do most of the maintenance work here, but there are things we send out to others to help us with from time to time. We have an iron caster in LaFollette (Tennessee) that can do most of the ironwork we need. Klondike Katie’s sister (engine No. 190) is at Tweetsie Railroad; they have the equipment needed to work on our drive wheels.”

When Klondike Katie first arrived in Pigeon Forge in 1961, the area looked much different. She anchored a new attraction that had just been built that provided visitors with a five-mile journey through the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. In the early years, there was not even a workshop to house Klondike Katie. After several changes of ownership, the small park was acquired in 1977 by Jack and Pete Herschend of the Branson, Missouri-based Herschend Enterprises. Owners of Silver Dollar City in Branson, the brothers renamed the park Silver Dollar City, Tennessee. The big steam engine was acquired as part of the sale.

That same year, the Herschends acquired engine 70 and shipped her to the park to work alongside No. 192. After Dolly Parton and the Herschends formed Dollywood in 1986, and the number of visitors continued to climb, the two locomotives continued faithfully serving. For thousands of guests, The Dollywood Express is their main reason for visiting. Smith and his hardworking team balance a tricky schedule to ensure the engines receive the maintenance they need, while also staying operational for park guests each day.

“Our hardest part is balancing the demand of the park schedule with the needed maintenance,” Smith explained. “We try to do our maintenance when the park is closed so we don’t inconvenience our guests. We try not to do major projects when the park is open, but there are times that we have to do it. It probably upsets us more than it does the guests because we love how it feels when you take them up the mountain and they come back with smiles on their faces. On those rare days when we do have to undertake major maintenance, I assure you our team is probably more unhappy about it than the guests. But we work hard to stay on our schedule and make sure as much as we can is taken care of when the park is closed.”

And while most folks may think maintenance stops with the locomotives, the crew in the train shop also has to maintain the tracks and the passenger cars. It adds up to a great deal of work each season.

“The train shop annually replaces around 200-300 crossties out of the nearly 6,000 ties in the track,” Smith continued. “We occasionally replace entire sections of the track during the winter months. The locomotives, cars and tracks are looked over constantly looking for anything unusual by the team. We generally try to do our most extensive maintenance during the winter. The cars are inspected top to bottom and repainted each winter. Each locomotive is checked over inside and out. Some winters we may be just replacing a few rod brasses and then some winters we may have the whole engine disassembled.”

For the untrained eye (and ear), it may be hard to tell the two apart, except for the numbers emblazoned on their sides. For the many locomotive enthusiasts who visit the park, as well as the Dollywood hosts who work alongside them every day, each has its own personality. Klondike Katie originally was built for speed, while Cinderella had more power and torque to pull heavier loads. In addition to the visual cues, the engines sound very different; especially as they begin their climb out of the Dollywood Express Train Depot for the 20-minute roundtrip experience. Even the folks who work on the pair have their favorite—they just don’t let the other engine know it. Even Smith does a great job of hiding which is his “true” favorite.

“I generally tell folks that ask me that my favorite is the one that is running,” he said with a laugh. “Klondike Katie is my sentimental favorite since it is the park’s original engine; I also spent 15 years operating her sister engine 190 at Tweetsie Railroad. But, I would have to say #70 is my favorite of the two to operate.”

No matter which locomotive is pulling the train, The Dollywood Express is a guest-favorite for many who visit the park. Happy Birthday, Klondike Katie and Cinderella!

Plan your next ride aboard The Dollywood Express at Dollywood.com

 

Team DollyHappy Birthday To Two Of Dollywood’s Famous Leading Ladies

Dollywood Hosts Light The Way 5k Walk/run Nov. 16

Published November 1, 2018 / Last Updated November 1, 2018

Team Dolly

Team Dolly is a collaboration of writers, editors, and publishers assembled by Dolly Parton Productions. Each member is dedicated to accurately publishing the latest news and historical archives of the living legend that is Dolly Rebecca Parton.

Managing Editor - Jacob Timmons
Senior Editor - Amanda Webb
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman

Light The Way 5k proceeds benefit Keep Sevier Beautiful & Share It Forward, an assistance program for Dollywood employees.

Participants in the seventh annual Light the Way 5K Run/Walk get to see Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas festival in a different light – actually five million lights – as the theme park hosts this special event on Friday, Nov. 16 beginning at 11:18 p.m.

Light the Way 5K at DollywoodProceeds from the event benefit Keep Sevier Beautiful (KSB) and the Share It Forward (SIF) program at Dollywood. KSB, an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, is a volunteer-based organization which focuses on waste reduction/recycling, litter prevention and beautifying public spaces through education and community-based programs.

KSB’s goal is to protect the natural beauty of the area that millions of visitors come to see each year. SIF is a non-profit organization to serve The Dollywood Company employees and their families through a variety of quality programs. SIF programming is funded primarily through employee donations which are matched dollar for dollar by The Dollywood Company and, up to specified limits, by the shareholders of Herschend Family Entertainment, the park’s operating partner.

“The beauty of Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas festival combined with the challenge of a course that only a theme park can provide makes Light the Way a one-of-a-kind event for runners and walkers,” said Aaron Newberry, Executive Director of Share It Forward. “But most importantly, this event helps provide our non-profit organizations with financial assistance just before the holidays,” added Lisa Bryant, Executive Director of Keep Sevier Beautiful.

Light the Way 5K Run/Walk participants are treated to a unique course decorated by the park’s five million Christmas lights, beginning their journey at Dollywood’s preferred parking entrance, traversing through the parking lot and then winding through the theme park.

The certified race will be chip timed and managed by Scenic City Multi-Sports. Awards will be presented to the top three overall for male and female participants.

Pre-registration is encouraged for the Light the Way 5K as the race is limited to 2,018 participants. Registration fee until race day is $45. Register online at www.lighttheway5k.net. Race day registration takes place from 11 a.m. -10 p.m. at the front gate area at Dollywood’s Splash Country.

For more information, email info@keepsevierbeautiful.org or visit Light The Way 5k.

Team DollyDollywood Hosts Light The Way 5k Walk/run Nov. 16