For many employees across Dollywood’s properties, the “off-season” means anything but time off.
It means cleaning, decorating, remodeling and building.
And on Friday, March 10 – 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.
Below are some of the big changes the Dollywood theme park has in store for us in 2023:
Area Deals and Discounts
Subscribe to our newsletter and we will instantly deliver the best area discounts to your inbox.
1. I Will Always Love You Celebration
This new celebration is an event that honors the 50th anniversary of Dolly writing the iconic song.
The new festival will feature photo ops, special limited-time 50th-anniversary merchandise, a pink sparkly sky and live entertainment throughout the park.
There will be park-wide shows that feature Wild Roots, Harmonies of the Heart and A Brighter Day.
As part of the festival, the Celebrity Concert Series will include:
- Natalie Grant (March 11)
- Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder (March 18)
- Jo Dee Messina (March 25)
- Larry, Steve & Rudy: The Gatlin Brothers (April 1)
- Lauren Alaina (April 8)
The festival runs now through April 8, 2023.
2. Plans for Chasing Rainbows unveiled
During the event, Dolly also unveiled plans for a state-of-the-art guest attraction that showcases her legendary life and career.
“I think everyone knows that I try to dream big dreams no matter what I’m doing,” Parton explained. “And with everything happening at my Dollywood this year, this may be some of my biggest dreaming yet!”
The experience is planned for a 2024 opening in the area surrounding and including the former Chasing Rainbows museum.
3. Butterfly Strings Music Store
This all-new store at Dollywood holds a tribute to Dolly’s influence on country music.
It has apparel, gifts and other merchandise. And it’s perfect to go along with the I Will Always Love You Celebration.
You can find it in Rivertown Junction next to the Back Porch Theater.
4. The new Big Bear Mountain roller coaster
During the Preview Day event, Dolly confirmed that the much-anticipated opening of the Big Bear Mountain roller coaster will be coming in May.
She said she’ll be back to mark the occasion. However, don’t expect to see her on the ride.
“Y’all know I’m not gonna be on that,” Parton quipped at a prior event. “If I go on that thing, you’ll find one of my wigs on top of a tree.”
The new ride will be the longest and largest roller coaster in the park. It passes through a waterfall, has three separate launches and features onboard audio.
This ride is part of the $500 million expansion plan that was first announced in 2021.
The new coaster will be located in Wildwood Grove. Riders can expect to look for the legendary bear in May.
5. HeartSong Lodge & Resort will open in the fall
On preview day, Dolly also confirmed that HeartSong Lodge & Resort, the latest addition to Dolly’s empire, will be opening in November.
The new resort is a crucial piece to maintaining the company’s growing reputation as a top national destination.
HeartSong Lodge & Resort ushers in a new period of growth for The Dollywood Company. The 302-room resort will be a one-of-a-kind getaway for guests.
It will feature high ceilings, exposed beams and natural layered textures. Guests can begin making reservations in June.
It is the second resort in The Dollywood Company franchise, following the DreamMore Resort and Spa.
6. More operating days in the calendar
To help guests enjoy it all, the theme park will offer more operating days in the 2023 season.
The park operating calendar is growing this year with an additional 21 days of operation as compared to the 2022 calendar.
When making plans, be sure to check the hours and operation days on the Dollywood calendar here.
7. Other layout changes and updates
While the above were the big ticket items, frequent Dollywood guests may notice that a few other changes have been made.
For example, the rental annex for strollers, ECV and wheelchair rentals as well as the TimeSaver Center has been moved to Showstreet.
Also, the Smoky Mountain Christmas Shop has a new location as well.
When visiting the park, be sure to download the Dollywood app for showtimes and a park map.
When will Dollywood open in 2023?
The 2023 season at Dollywood began on March 11 for the general public. Season passholders enjoyed an early preview on Friday, March 10.
Flower and Food Festival
The Flower and Food Festival – presented by Covenant Health – will run from April 21 through June 11.
It will include several Mosiaculture (larger-than-life floral sculpture) displays.
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 Dollywood’s biggest successes, the Sweet Summer Nights Drone and Fireworks Show, will be bigger and better in 2023.
The guest favorite “Gazillion Bubble Show: Aurora” show returns to deliver a mesmerizing “pop” of excitement to guests in the Celebrity Theater.
The summer festival runs from June 17 through Aug. 6, 2023.
Covenant returns in the fall, sponsoring the Great Pumpkin LumiNights, which has been named the best theme park harvest event in the world.
The event will feature 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.
The fall festival will run from Sept. 20 through Oct. 30, 2023.
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. 4 through Jan. 6, 2024.
It is the perfect place to get in the Christmas spirit.
And in a perfect world, we’re going to Dollywood at least once a season – or four times in a year.
And that’s where season passes come in.
How much are Dollywood season passes ?
The Dollywood Silver Season Pass starts at $164 and includes two Bring-a-Friend Free tickets and a discount on one-day tickets.
For just $65 more, guests can opt for the Dollywood Gold Season Pass. The Gold Pass represents tremendous value for guests thanks to the two Bring-a-Friend Free tickets and a 15% discount on food and merch.
However, the most notable difference between the two passes is blackout dates.
The Gold Season Pass has no blackout dates, but the Silver Season Pass does.
For more information about Dollywood’s 2023 season or season passes, please visit their website.
If you need just a one-day or two-day ticket to Dollywood, be sure to take a look at Tripster for discounts or package deals.
Are you looking forward to Dollywood in 2023? Let us know in the comments below.