Numerous projects enhance Dollywood guest experience for 2021 and beyond

By | February 25, 2021

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. — While no one could have predicted how Dollywood’s 35th anniversary season would begin in 2020, a strong finish to the year—coupled with extremely positive guest reviews of the overall park experience—means employees are gearing up for a busy 2021 season. Members of the media today toured Dollywood to see firsthand what guests can expect when the park opens for its exclusive Season Passholder Day on March 12 and for the general public on March 13. 

As one would expect from Dolly Parton’s theme park, entertainment plays a crucial role in what guests will enjoy during the park’s 36th season. New during this year’s Flower & Food Festival presented by Covenant Health (April 23-June 7), the Melodies of Spring concert series features contemporary Christian artists, Southern gospel groups and other fresh and inspiring acts all appearing inside DP’s Celebrity Theater. Among the artists currently scheduled are Matthew West, Big Daddy Weave, I AM THEY, Rebecca St. James, Sidewalk Prophets, the Rhett Walker Band, Triumphant Quartet and many more.

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Several shows featuring Dollywood’s own performers debut when the park opens in March, including Harmonies of the Heart—featuring Dolly’s family—and A Brighter Day, an inspiring show that delights guests with uplifting favorites at the Back Porch Theater. In The Village, Dollywood’s talented The Tones offer a fresh acapella take on today’s current hits. Performances of all three will continue until the fall.

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Known for its quality creations, Dollywood’s culinary team continues to craft tantalizing treats for guests all season long. Among the team’s new offerings for 2021 is the Flower & Food Festival Dining Day Pass, which allows guests to partake in multiple entrees at a number of culinary locations during the springtime event. Among the items available during the festival are lobster rolls, hand-breaded fish and chips, Cuban sandwiches with plantain chips and mango salsa, as well as mini-funnel cakes with Chantilly cream and drizzled lavender honey.  

Officials also detailed the rest of the park’s festival calendar for 2021, noting that additional exciting announcements would be made during the course of the year. Guests visiting during the park’s warmer months can enjoy Dollywood’s Summer Celebration (June 25-July 31), which is—just as the name implies—a celebration of family fun and laughter at a place everyone enjoys. With later nighttime hours, families can ride Dollywood’s world-class roller coasters all day and well into the night.

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Later in the season, Dollywood’s Harvest Festival presented by Humana (Sept. 24-Oct. 30)—named by readers of USA Today as the best theme park harvest event in the world—provides bushels of fun thanks to everyone’s favorite Smoky Mountain tradition, Dollywood’s Great Pumpkin LumiNights presented by Covenant Health. Dollywood stays open late each evening, giving families more time to enjoy the glow of thousands of carved pumpkins throughout the park. During the day, guests can expect a packed concert schedule, with hundreds of performances across several genres occurring during the festival.

The season ends with the event that has set the standard for theme park holiday events, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana (Nov. 6- Jan. 2, 2022). It’s the perfect place to get in the Christmas spirit with more than five million holiday lights, festive and warm holiday performances, a traditional Christmas atmosphere, and the comforting tastes of classic holiday-themed food. It is easy to see why it has become a family favorite for so many.

Crews also are undertaking a number of construction projects designed to enhance the guest experience. After modifications made late last season and during the winter, Dollywood’s Lightning Rod roller coaster opens this season featuring a hybrid track structure that includes both a wood stack “Topper Track” and a steel “Ibox” track installed by the ride’s manufacturer.

Based on guest feedback requesting additional locations to sit and enjoy the park’s award-winning culinary offerings, large structures near two of Dollywood’s most-popular dining locations have been removed, allowing for the addition of two large sitting areas. Guests will find more room to relax and enjoy their meals at Dogs N Taters, as well as the Hickory House. With the addition of more seating near Hickory House, Dollywood’s blacksmith shop will move just across Craftsman’s Valley to its former location adjacent to the Robert F. Thomas Chapel. Work is ongoing at the chapel as well, with a new roof, footings and more occurring to the iconic structure. The chapel was originally built on site and dedicated to the memory of Dr. Robert F. Thomas on May 26, 1973. 

In addition to the special projects throughout Dollywood, construction crews also are undertaking a number of routine jobs that take place each off-season, including the replacing of roofs, siding and flooring throughout the park. Teams will use around five miles worth of lumber as they work to complete these projects. Crews also will repave several walkways in the park, another project that takes place each off-season. Additionally, 15% of Dollywood’s buildings will receive a full re-paint, while everything across the park below waist-height will be repainted, another task that takes place each season.

With so much excitement planned for 2021, Dollywood season passes are a must-have and currently are offered at special pre-season pricing. Not only can current passholders attend Season Passholder Day on March 12, but they also receive additional benefits like Bring-A-Friend Free Passes. Prices go up on Sunday, March 14 so now is the time to purchase. For 2020 season passholders who have yet to extend their passes beyond the June 15 expiration date, a special extension price currently is available as well, but that price also goes up after March 14.