It’s not uncommon to wonder what happens during the winter months at Dollywood.
But for many employees across the company’s properties, the “off-season” means anything but time off.
It means cleaning, decorating, remodeling and building.
And on Friday, March 11 – Season Passholder Preview Day (which doubled as Media Day) – guests got their first look at some of this year’s major updates as well as a few big announcements.
The park opens Saturday, March 12 to the general public.
1. HeartSong Lodge & Resort will open in fall 2023
On preview day, Dolly confirmed that HeartSong Lodge & Resort, the latest addition to Dolly’s empire, will be opening in fall 2023.
Last week, during a media-only event at Dollywood, Eugene Naughton, Dollywood Company President, led a tour at the construction site of the new property.
He explained why the projects are crucial to maintaining the company’s growing reputation as a top national destination.
“As the stature of Dollywood — and our area in general — continues to increase, our guests’ expectations elevate also,” said Naughton.
Dollywood announced a 10-year, $500 million expansion plan in June 2021.
As the first project of this plan, HeartSong Lodge & Resort ushers in a new period of growth for The Dollywood Company. The 302-room, five-story resort will be a one-of-a-kind getaway for guests.
It will feature high ceilings, exposed beams and natural layered textures.
2. The 1986 Suite: Guests can now stay in Dolly’s tour bus
Another big announcement was the addition of the most unique lodging option we’ve ever seen: The 1986 Suite.
Named after the year that Dollywood originally opened to the public, The 1986 Suite is actually one of Dolly’s retired tour buses.
The 1986 Suite is not to be confused with the older Dolly Tour Bus currently on-site at Dollywood, which will remain on Dollywood property for the foreseeable future.
While details of the cost and location have not yet been made available, in the media package, the bus was shown to be parked outside of DreamMore – Dollywood’s flagship resort.
3. Parking lot updates have been made to help resolve congestion issues
The principal change guests will see at the actual park in 2022 is 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, Dollywood added two extra parking toll booths (four attendants), as well as more staging lanes for the toll booths, which will result in a reduction of time spent waiting to enter the property.
4. Renovation of Iron Horse Pizza (formerly Victoria’s Pizza)
Other projects throughout the Dollywood theme park property include the renovation of Iron Horse Pizza (formerly known as Victoria’s Pizza) to include greater production capacity and more seating space for guests.
Extra seating includes covered outdoor seating with scenic views of the park.
5. The Emporium has received a makeover
The Emporium has also received a complete makeover, providing a modern shopping experience as guests look to find unique Dollywood keepsakes.
6. Three structures have been removed from the park
As guests have continued to ask for more room to provide 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 and have an up-close and unobstructed view of the Dollywood Express as it passes by.
7. Changes coming to Dollywood’s Splash Country
Construction projects weren’t limited to the Dollywood theme park and the resorts.
Little Creek Falls, one of the first attractions guests see when visiting Dollywood’s Splash Country, is currently undergoing a makeover.
When Splash Country opens in May, the area will be transformed into a splash pad, making the area more accessible and able to provide years of play and fun for people of all abilities.
Is Dollywood building a new roller coaster?
No official announcements have yet been made about a new roller coaster at Dollywood.
However, plans for a massive new family attraction in Wildwood Grove have been approved by the Pigeon Forge Planning Commission.
According to preliminary documents filed with the city, Dollywood is planning a massive attraction that will be located next to the Dragonflier.
The new attraction appears to run parallel behind the Black Bear Trail. It appears to extend almost the entire length of Wildwood Grove before turning back and returning to the starting location.
The documents don’t indicate the ride is a rollercoaster, calling it simply “Family Attraction 2023”.
However, The Mountain Press reports that during a June 17, 2021 Pigeon Forge City Council meeting that Dollywood President Eugene Naughton mentioned plans for a “multi-generational rollercoaster” set to open in 2023 during a larger discussion of planned expansions.
Judging simply by the plans and comparing relative size to other coasters in the park, the possible multi-generational rollercoaster would be among the longest rides in the park.
When announcing the second Dollywood resort, HeartSong, officials indicated a record-breaking attraction would be coming in 2023.
It’s speculation currently, but it appears the “multi-generational rollercoaster” just might be that record-breaker.
When will Dollywood open in 2022?
The 2022 season at Dollywood will begin on March 12, 2022 for the general public. Season passholders will enjoy an early preview on Friday, March 11.
Flower and Food Festival
The Flower and Food Festival – presented by Covenant Health – will run from April 22 through June 5.
It will include several new Mosiaculture (larger than life floral sculpture) displays, increasing the colorful footprint of the event.
It’s a tough act for Dollywood’s chefs to follow, but the other half of the Flower & Food Festival will bring a wide variety of delicacies to the park.
Sweet Summer Nights
One of 2021’s biggest successes, the Sweet Summer Nights Drone and Fireworks Show, will be bigger and better in 2022, Dollywood officials said.
The Intel Drone Light Shows combines hundreds of drones lighting the mountain night sky with traditional fireworks.
Sweet Summer Nights – which also includes a nightly dance party featuring sweaty, exhausted guests – will take place from June 18 through Aug. 7.
Also, guess who’s back? That’s right, it’s bubbles, baby.
The Gazillion Bubble Show: Aurora will entertain the young and the young at heart.
Covenant returns in the fall, sponsoring the Great Pumpkin LumiNights, which has been named the best theme park harvest event in the world.
Editor’s note: Hey Covenant, it’s obvious you like sponsoring things. Reach out, we have some ideas … wink.
New in 2022, guests in Craftsman’s Valley will enjoy Hoot Owl Hollow, featuring a number of owl-themed displays in the park and up in the trees. It’s all part of the Harvest Festival, presented by Humana.
Editor’s note: Hey Humana, same deal … wink.
The Harvest Festival will run from Sept. 23 through Oct. 29, 2022.
Smoky Mountain Christmas
The season wraps with another Smoky Mountain Christmas – presented by Humana.
Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana will run from Nov. 5 through Jan. 1, 2023.
It is the perfect place to get in the Christmas spirit.
In a perfect world, we’re going to Dollywood at least once a season – or four times in a year.
And that’s where the new pass types come in.
How much are Dollywood season passes ?
A new season pass structure now features several new pass types for visitors.
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. The Gold 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.
For more information about Dollywood’s 2022 season or season passes, please visit their website.
If you need just a one-day ticket to Dollywood, be sure to check Tripster for discounts when you purchase.
Are you looking forward to Dollywood in 2022? Let us know in the comments below.