Dollywood

Dollywood rumors 2022: 4 predictions about new rides, expansions

I love a good mystery.

I love piecing together evidence and trying to figure out the big twist of a “who done it” movie before it’s revealed.

Perhaps that’s why I’m always dreaming about what might be next for Dolly Parton’s Pigeon Forge empire.

And I’m drawn to wild internet theories, rumors and predictions like a moth to a flame.

Some theories are more evidence-based than others. But each is as tantalizing as the next.

And so, I thought it might be fun to share some of those rumors in this article.

But before we begin, I want to make one important note. 

None of these rumors have been confirmed by The Dollywood Company or employees. Zero. Zip. Nunca.

In fact, during our latest trip to Dollywood, we tried to confirm some of these rumors with park employees. Most hosts didn’t seem to know anything more than we did about what Dolly and fam might have in store.

So for the time being, the following are in fact, simply rumors and fan-favorite predictions.

With that out of the way, let’s dive in.

1. A major expansion for Wildwood Grove (Likelihood: High)

In 2018, CoasterForce interviewed Pete Owens, Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations at Dollywood. The interview took place at a preview event for Wildwood Grove. 

A relatively forgotten detail from that interview is Owens’s mention of Wildwood Grove, phase two.

“This is phase one. With phase one and phase two, it’s about 13 acres total. So it’s a big area,” said Owens in the interview.

For reference, Wildwood Grove’s current footprint is only about six acres.

This means that additional expansions to this area are capable of more than doubling that current footprint.

And an expansion would undoubtedly include new rides and new attractions.

2. A new dark ride at Wildwood Grove (Likelihood: High)

One of the hottest rumors regarding a possible Wildwood Grove expansion includes the addition of a new dark ride.

This theory comes from numerous Dollywood fans who claim to have received a park survey in 2019. 

Screenshots that appear to be from that survey have been shared in multiple places on the internet. You can view those images in the video below.

The screenshots detail a variety of potential high-level concepts for the would-be ride.

Potential names for the ride include Tennessee Thomas and the Legend of Mystery Map, Spelunking in the Smokies, Greenbrier Cove Gold, Blackbear Mountain and Firefly Frenzy. 

And it makes sense. Aside from Blazing Fury, dark rides are rather lacking in the park. If you can really consider Blazing Fury a “dark ride”, that is.

Dark rides are also growing in popularity at other theme parks across the nation with a varying degree of thrill level. 

Dark ride examples include Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Universal, Men in Black (also at Universal) and Disney’s Avatar River Ride.

A new dark ride would also give guests a ridable attraction that can remain open when it rains. And it rains a lot in East Tennessee.

Recent comments from park officials following the Heartsong Resort announcement confirm that a new ride (or rides) are in fact coming to Dollywood as early as 2023.

Read Also: When will HeartSong open? A look at Dollywood’s newest resort

Phrases like “multigenerational coaster” and “record-breaking attraction” have been thrown around in interviews. But honestly, they could be referring to anything.

This brings us to our next theory.

3. A new roller coaster (Likelihood: Low/Moderate)

This theory seems to be more lacking in evidence than the previous two. Regardless, the internet seems to think they’re onto something. 

But then again, the internet also rebirthed flat-earth theory. So we can’t really say there’s a great track record for accuracy.

Regardless, this is what the internet thinks it knows (so far) about a possible new Dollywood roller coaster.

An attendee from the closed-to-the-general-public Virtual No Coaster Con this year held by American Coaster Enthusiasts reported on Twitter that a “new ride at Dollywood [is] coming from a manufacturer they haven’t worked with before.” 

While that new ride might also be a reference to the aforementioned Wildwood Grove dark ride – we’re looking at you Sally Dark Ride –  some speculate it might also mean that another coaster could be in the works.

A logical location for that coaster would be either in the massive spot held by the defunct Slidewinder or in the new Wildwood Grove expansion. 

Theme Park Predictions speculates in the video below that Dollywood might be building either a new Intamin Coaster (similar to Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts) or a Mack coaster (like Silver Dollar City’s Time Traveler) or a Hyper coaster.

4. Dollywood switching to a year-round schedule (Likelihood: Low)

This one comes from a recent tweet that caught my eye. 

Out of all of the rumors and predictions listed in this article, I think it’s safe to say this has the lowest probability of coming to fruition. And almost no basis in actual fact whatsoever.

But it feels so good to dream, we couldn’t help but include it in this list.

“A new Dollywood survey was emailed to me about Leisure Attractions, including questions about a festival between Christmas and spring-themed to Dolly. I wonder if this means that they will be open year-round starting as soon as 2023,” reads the tweet.

While this tweet reeks of either being fabricated or breaking an NDA, it’s still an incredible idea.

What makes this theory unlikely

For the uninitiated, Dollywood is a seasonal theme park. 

Their regular season runs from March-December. They are typically closed from January through the second week of March.

Breaking that tradition would fundamentally change not only park operations but the face of tourism in the Smokies altogether.

Those of us who stick around for the “off-season” in January and February know that Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg nearly turn into ghost towns during the week. 

Several attractions follow Dollywood’s suit and close altogether. Other attractions switch to a weekend-only schedule.

If Dollywood were to go full-time, they could instantly increase tourist traffic to the area by a significant margin. This would also make way for other area attractions and restaurants to expand their seasonal operations to match.

And who wouldn’t love a Dolly Fest?

But even if the park was seriously considering such a feat, I doubt it would happen anytime soon. A change like that won’t happen overnight. 

We’d likely see a slow ramp-up (with an extended season) to start. It would be a smarter way to test out the viability of a winter season before diving in head first.

What do you think of our predictions? Would you love to see Dollywood be open year-round? Let us know in the comments section below.

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What not to do at Dollywood; 8 tips from a local

I love going to Dollywood. As a kid, I was lucky enough to grow up within an hour driving distance of the theme park, and my parents would often buy season passes for the family.

Because of this, the Pigeon Forge theme park has a very special place in my heart. But as an adult, I realize that Dollywood still holds its own even when compared to some of the other highly regarded American theme parks.

I feel a sense of true glee when I find out a friend has never been, and I want to swiftly whisk them away to the happiest place on earth.

I often have a list of recommendations. Those are a dime a dozen, though.

If you want some real Dollywood tips, here’s the most important items: What not to do at the Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.:

Ride cubbies at Blazing Fury hold loose items for guests while they ride (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)
Ride cubbies at Blazing Fury hold loose items for guests while they ride (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

8. Don’t spend a bunch of money on lockers

Dollywood is a park that really pays attention to the little details and values guest experience.

So on a vast majority of the rides in the theme park, you’ll find little cubby areas where you can stash your stuff while you ride.

Sure, there are lockers, too. But I can honestly say I’ve never used one.

While Dollywood (or this website, for that matter) is not liable for property left in the cubby, I’ve never had an issue with lost items (knock on wood).

But here’s a bonus tip: If you decide to go the cubby route, bring a waterproof pouch for your cell phone and keys because on some rides, like River Rampage, you may have to take your stuff with you. And you will get wet.

7. Don’t show up without a reservation

This tip mostly applies to the 2020-2021 season, as the capacity at Dollywood is limited.

Dollywood hasn’t announced just how limited it is, and while they did stop requiring reservations toward the end of last season, it’s a good idea to play it safe and book your tickets ahead of time.

You can make a reservation by purchasing a dated ticket.

Tripster is one way to book that may sometimes save you a couple bucks on the price of admission.

Bonus tip: If you forget to make a reservation and capacity is limited, try again around 5 pm. Dollywood lets more guests in as other guests leave.

6. Don’t carry souvenirs around the park all day

If your kids want to play some games in Country Fair or someone in your party wants to do some shopping around the park, try to steer them in that direction toward the end of the day.

Theme parks aren’t fun if you feel like a pack mule.

Read Also: Dollywood souvenir mugs: What to know before you buy

The TimeSaver pass starts at $44 for 10, or $54 for unlimited (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)
The TimeSaver pass starts at $44 (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

5. Don’t buy a TimeSaver pass (right away)

I can’t speak for everyone. There are different types of vacationers.

If you have the budget and are absolutely set on seeing everything in the park in one day, then a TimeSaver pass might be right for you.

What is a TimeSaver pass, you ask?

You may be familiar with the concept, but each theme park is a little different. And even Dollywood’s terms and conditions may vary from year to year.

For example, new in 2021, Dollywood is removing limitations on how many times you can use TimeSaver pass for its most popular rides.

Generally, the TimeSaver pass ($44 plus tax) gets you expedited entrances eight times throughout the day on your choice of rides.

The TimeSaver Unlimited pass ($59 plus tax) gets you unlimited access to expedited entry at all participating rides and attractions.

But is a TimeSaver pass worth it?

And the answer is, it depends. But Dollywood makes it easy to view wait times for its rides, and I’ve rarely seen any wait time go much above one hour.

And heck, it’s not uncommon, in my experience, to ride a ride over and over again because there was virtually no wait.

There are many days that I’ve been to the park that a TimeSaver pass would be unnecessary, in my opinion. You may want to consider scoping it out before shelling out the cash.

However, the TimeSaver passes are sold in limited quantities, so it’s possible they can sell out.

It’s a risk you take.

Wild Eagle at Dollywood
Dollywood has some of the best coasters in the nation, including the Wild Eagle, my personal favorite (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

4. Don’t try to experience the park in one day on your first visit

Dollywood has a lot to offer. I would argue that some of its coasters rival some of the best in the world.

Genuinely, the Wild Eagle is probably my favorite of all time, and I’ve been to the major places – Universal, Six Flags, Disney, the works.

But Dollywood is more than just rides and coasters. They also offer shows (some of which feature Dolly Parton’s family members), exceptionally good theme park food and immersive experiences that are worth checking out.

If you try to do the theme park in one single day, you might be missing out. But then again, this could depend on what type of vacationer you are.

Read Also: Can you do Dollywood in one day? This guide will help you decide

3. Don’t forget to download the Dollywood app

The Dollywood app helps you find rides, shops and restaurants based on your location.

It even has a “Friend Finder” feature in case anyone in your group splits off during the day.

It’s one of the most helpful theme park apps I’ve ever downloaded, so don’t skip out just to save some space on your phone.

2. Don’t miss out on the complimentary water

Tennessee is humid, y’all.

But luckily, the folks at Dollywood don’t want you to get dehydrated, so just about any kiosk that is able, will give you a free iced tap water on request.

Here’s a pro-tip: Carry around a refillable screw-top bottle in which to dump the complimentary water into.

Dollywood crew won’t be able to handle your water bottle directly as they would be seen as less than sanitary, but I often request a couple of water cups at a time just to pour them into the more bag-friendly, screw-top bottle for easier transport.

1. Don’t make fun of the Blazing Fury

Blazing Fury is an iconic ride that should basically be required (for able-bodied people) upon admission to the park.

Yes, it’s a bit older. Yes, your kids might ask “Is that it?” or complain that they “don’t get it”.

But as one of the park’s first rides, it holds a special place in the hearts of frequent park-goers for its easter eggs, hand-painted decorations and lines that we all love to quote.

The world may be a crazy place, but us Dollywood fans know some truths are constant: Molly’s about to jump, Luther has a weak back and the stables are on fire.

Read Also: Dollywood rides ranked: 10 best coasters and rides in the park

So please don’t say mean things about Blazing Fury. Them’s fightin’ words.

Do you agree with our list? Let us know in the comments.