Dollywood opening day [2022]: Live announcements from inside the park

Dolly Parton on stage at dollywood on preview day

Dolly Parton takes the stage to make a few big announcements on Dollywood Preview Day 2022 (photos by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

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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.

Heartsong is being constructed beside dreammore
Dollywood’s HeartSong Lodge & Resort is set to open in fall 2023 (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

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.

A tour bus parked outside of DreamMore
A tour bus parked outside of DreamMore (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

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.

dollywood toll booths
Dollywood added two extra toll booths to reduce entrance time (image courtesy of Dollywood)

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.

Iron Horse Pizza was formally the location of Victoria’s Pizza (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

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.

Dollywood Emporium
The Emporium received a major facelift this year (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

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.

A new walkway where the tunnel used to be
There is now a paved walkway where the tunnel used to be connecting Craftsman’s Valley to the Village (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

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.

Read Also: Dollywood Inventor’s Mansion: The story of the house on the hill

Construction at Dollywood's Splash Country
When Dollywood’s Splash Country opens in May, guests will see a new splash pad area (image courtesy of Dollywood)

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.

dragonflier
Dollywood is rumored to be getting a new ride near the Dragonflier (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

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.

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

It’s speculation currently, but it appears the “multi-generational rollercoaster” just might be that record-breaker.

Dolly Parton on Stage at Dollywood
Dolly Parton greets guests on Preview Day at Dollywood (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

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.

Harvest Festival

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.

Read Also: Tips and tricks for Dollywood: 9 things to know before you go

Fire Chaser Express
The Fire Chaser Express coaster at Dollywood (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

How much are Dollywood season passes [2022]?

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.

Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at [email protected] for questions or comments.

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14 thoughts on “Dollywood opening day [2022]: Live announcements from inside the park”

  1. Please bring back the Festival of Nations and the Southern Gospel Groups. Thanks

  2. If they changed the bring-a-friend free tickets to be able to use ANY day (currently can’t use them on Fridays and Saturdays and maybe Sundays, then I may would consider renewing our season passes….but because of that, in addition to having a ridiculously low staff ratio and having ALOT of snack places closed this year, we will likely not renew…

  3. If they changed the bring-a-friend free tickets to be able to use ANY day (currently can’t use them on Fridays and Saturdays and maybe Sundays, then I may would consider renewing our season passes….but because of that, in addition to having a ridiculously low staff ratio and having ALOT of snack places closed and extremely LONG wait times to get some food this year, we will likely not renew…

  4. My husband and I can’t wait to visit Dollywood again. It’s been three years since we were last there.

  5. I was there this summer and I was extremely disappointed with the prices they charge to get in none of the attractions are open half the rides were not running only one food stand was open I won’t be going back it was our first family vacation in over 10 years and we had three different families from three different states come in just to go there with us and I was so looking forward to it I sure hope she Makes some serious upgrades

  6. We have been purchasing season passes for 17 years.
    The lights this Christmas are less colorful than they were last year. Too many clear lights. The big trees are clear lights and there use to be a lot of red, blue and green trees.
    Bring a friend passes only used M -Thur. Is not good either.
    Thanks

  7. Need to change the bring a friend to certain weekends like before, a lot of us work mon thru fri and the weekends are the only time we can come. Haven’t used free passes for 2 years now. Also please bring back festival of nations. It is truly missed

  8. First time we have ever been to Dollywood at Christmas! Absolutely beautiful! I hope to go back again sometime soon! Would love to go for Fall Festival time!

  9. My husband and I are VERY disappointed that the Gospel and Harvest Festival is not returning. We usually attend all the festivals, but that one was always our favorite! PLEASE reconsider! Also miss Festival of Nations, but understand.

  10. Looking forward to 2022!
    1. BAF need to be able to be used anytime…. Friends can meet us on Friday and Saturdays. 2021, we did not use any BAF. We will have 6 each in 2022, but I doubt we use any unless we go by chance during the week and just give them away…. Please let passholders use BAF anytime except maybe during local spring/fall breaks etc…
    2 Please bring back Bluegrass and BBQ… I know scheduling might be difficult, but this truly has to be a favorite of 1000’s. Thanks for all that you did this year during a very difficult time. We enjoyed our visits. Food lines were kinda long, but we understand. Praying that 2022 has a smooth opening, that all employees can return and that everything will be open including food trucks, great addition.

  11. You need more shows for the older people. I loved Fire on the Mountain and would love to see it back at Dollywood. Prices have raised and it’s hard to bring a large family to Dollywood.

  12. Don’t know why you stopped Bbq and Bluegrass?? I also ended up with 3 useless Bring a friend passes due to all the restrictions.

  13. Multi year season passholder. Need to remove weekend restrictions on bring a friend. Reopen closed Grannie Ogles restaurant.

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