What’s New at Dollywood? 7 Big Changes in 2023

dollywood logo during I will always love you celebration

The I Will Always Love You Celebration runs now through April 8 (photo by Alaina O'Neal/TheSmokies.com)

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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:


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dolly parton performs "I will always love you" in front of 50th anniversary logo
Dolly Parton performs her hit “I Will Always Love You” during a media event on Friday (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

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.

chasing rainbows museum that is currently closed
The season-opening event also revealed plans for the Chasing Rainbows museum, which will remain closed for the 2023 season (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

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. 

Read Also: Big Changes Coming To Dollywood’s Chasing Rainbows

Butterfly Strings store at Dollywood
There’s also a brand new merchandise store in the park in 2023 (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

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.

Construction on big bear mountain shows large boulders and orange coaster tracks
Construction crews work on Big Bear Mountain at Dollywood in March 2023 (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

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.

Read Also: Big Bear Mountain at Dollywood: Opening Date, What To Expect [2023]

a rendering of HeartSong Resort
HeartSong Lodge & Resort will open in November (rendering courtesy of The Dollywood Company)

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.

building for wheelchair rentals at dollywood
The stroller, ECV and wheelchair rental location has moved (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

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.

pink sky at dollywood during 50th anniversary celebration
The I Will Always Love You Celebration features a picturesque pink sky (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

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.

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.

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.

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

How much are Dollywood season passes [2023]?

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.


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Photo of author


Alaina O'Neal

Alaina is the owner and founder of Alaina Media LLC, a freelance graphic design agency, the owner and founder of BoardGameChick.com, and the co-founder of TheSmokies.com LLC – a media company that specializes in regional travel sites.

14 thoughts on “What’s New at Dollywood? 7 Big Changes in 2023”

  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.

  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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