The way we’ve built our society, summer is our reward.
We learn from a young age that the calendar doesn’t really begin in January.
It really starts in late August, early September with a long road of confinement and responsibilities ahead.
Summer is the carrot at the end of the stick.
Even as we get older and our lives are no longer built around school and most of us keep plowing ahead with obligations, summer remains a mystical, somewhat mythical time of euphoric release, of escape and blessed freedom.
The summer of 2021 is not different, but somehow completely different.
We haven’t been cooped up for just nine months; many of us have been cooped up for much longer.
The need to be free and normal and to release months of pent-up stress may be greater than any summer in several generations.
In short, we need this summer. We need it something fierce.
That’s where Dollywood steps in.
It’s clear that park officials spent the downtime in planning mode.
What’s new at Dollywood this summer?
The leadership at Dollywood, which impresses each season with its vision and forethought, is at it again.
They’ve launched a summer-themed event that endeavors to meet the massive need for people to have fun.
It’s summer 2021, baby, and Dollywood is gonna dazzle you – and get you to dance.
The new Sweet Summer Nights drone show
Park officials announced Dollywood’s Summer Celebration, which will take place through July 31, highlighted by a technological marvel that will certainly be replicated at theme parks across the country.
Sweet Summer Nights is the centerpiece of several new show offerings in the park this summer.
Described as a multi-sensory drone light show that creates a symphony of lights in the sky above the Pigeon Forge park, the effect is something akin to living animation combined with a fireworks show.
Each night, weather permitting, Intel Drone Light Shows will launch 400 drones, each capable of producing a full spectrum of color. These drones will light the night sky in multiple formations that move in sync with a choreographed fireworks show.
In a press release, Dollywood’s marketers called the effect “epic”.
And while I typically cringe at press-release hyperbole, having seen the drones sync up to form a butterfly flapping its wings to Dolly’s “I Will Always Love You,” I think “epic” is the right word.
To be honest, the closing showstoppers have been one of the places Dollywood struggles.
The Dollywood parades have always felt, to me, a little chintzy. But this show seems to be part of a concerted effort, alongside the Great Pumpkin LumiNights, to create memorable night time events.
It truly is something to amaze the entire family.
If the drone show was the only new thing for the summer, it would be enough.
But there’s a lot more.
The Sweet Summer Nights dance party
If you’ve ever been at Dollywood and thought, “It’s been a long, hot day. You know what I need? I need to DANCE!” then Sweet Summer Nights has the event for you.
Dollywood has brought in a DJ and “energetic” dancers, which is significantly better than lethargic dancers, I suppose, to form a dance party on the streets of Wildwood Grove, immediately preceding the drone show.
Two brand new summer shows: Good Vibes and Forever Country
In addition, the entertainment team is debuting two new shows this summer.
Good Vibes will be at the Back Porch Theater. Guests are treated to a musical journey through the rhythms of classic and contemporary tunes.
“It’s about celebrating positivity, counting blessings, and simply enjoying life and happiness,” officials said.
The Valley Theater is now home to Forever Country, an energetic look at the changing landscape of country music in the late 80s, 90s and early 2000s.
Guests can expect to hear popular hits from artists like Garth Brooks and Shania Twain, as well as a nod to several popular dance songs, including Dolly’s “Romeo” and Brooks and Dunn’s “Boot Scootin’ Boogie.”
Imagination Playhouse to showcase Imagination Library books
For the kids, Imagination Playhouse will showcase three favorite books from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, including “Coat of Many Colors,” based on Parton’s song and children’s book of the same name.
“Coat of Many Colors” and “Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon” feature sing-along songs that kids of all ages will enjoy. Everyone’s favorite, “The Little Engine That Could,” also comes to the stage with a delightful reminder of what can happen with just a little bit of determination.
Dollywood Summer Celebration operating hours
Dollywood’s Summer Celebration will run from June 25 to July 31. Dollywood will be open daily from 10 am to 9:30 pm.
Dollywood summer deals
There are two great ways to save on your next trip to Dollywood for their Summer Celebration.
Dollywood is currently offering a variety of specials including resort bundles and pre-purchased meal packages. For the latest deals, check out the special offers page on the Dollywood website.
Guests may also want to check out Dollywood’s Tripster page which sometimes offers deals and discounts on general admission tickets.
Have you been to the Dollywood Summer Celebration? What did you think of the event? Let us know in the comments!