Behind the scenes look: Dollywood Christmas preparations now underway

Crews are busy setting the stage for holiday festivities (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)
Crews are busy setting the stage for holiday festivities (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

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It’s a sight that we aren’t used to seeing at Dollywood: Colorful spring flowers set against the backdrop of Christmas lights. But 2020 has just been that kind of a year.

Plans for Dollywood’s seasonal events are officially underway inside the park with decor from the delayed spring Flower and Food event being taken down to make room for the Harvest Festival, Great Pumpkin Luminights and the Smoky Mountain Christmas celebration.

Plans for Dollywood’s seasonal events are officially underway inside the park with decor from the delayed spring Flower and Food event being taken down to make room for upcoming seasonal festivities (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

Now on a reduced fall schedule (the park will be closed Tuesday-Thursday for the entire month of August and most of September), crews are busy setting the stage for holiday festivities and working around the clock to deliver guests the quality experience they’ve come to expect from seasonal Dollywood events.

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas event is an award-winning event, having achieved the title of “Best Theme Park Christmas Event in the World” from Amusement Today for 12 consecutive years.

Read More: Dollywood insider’s guide: 9 tips and tricks to know before you go

Matt Young is the Events Manager for The Dollywood Company (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)
Matt Young is the Events Manager for The Dollywood Company (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

When does Dollywood decorate for Christmas?

According to Dollywood Events Manager Matt Young, it’s no easy feat hanging up over 5 million Christmas lights while simultaneously preparing for fall events and offering park-goers an uninterrupted experience.

“We started in mid-June full force with our lighting crew,” says Young. “We start at night and keep hanging lights on days we are closed, overnights and early mornings all the way until we open for Christmas.”

The entire process takes almost 5 months from start to finish to install each year.

“When you come to Dollywood during Christmas, you should know that we are still offering all the lights and decorations that create that Christmas experience,” says Young. “We want you to come to the park and take a break from all the craziness going on in the world. Create memories worth repeating and fun times with family.”

The entire process of hanging Christmas lights at Dollywood takes almost 5 months from start to finish to install each year (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)
The entire process of hanging Christmas lights at Dollywood takes almost 5 months from start to finish to install each year (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

What’s new this year at Dollywood’s holiday festivals?

When visiting the park this holiday season, guests will be welcomed by both familiar sights, as well as a few new surprises.

Young estimates that there will be almost 12,000 illuminated pumpkins in the park this year during the Harvest Festival’s Luminights event, including an all new display in the Wildwood Grove section. Young also let it slip that they will be bringing in some of the largest pumpkins that Dollywood has ever seen this year.

Young also confirmed the return of the wildly popular Glacier Ridge exhibit to this year’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Event, albeit slightly more spread out this year to encourage social distancing, and hinted at a brand-new look for Rivertown and Craftman’s Valley but remained tight-lipped on the details.

Crews are working around the clock to string up over 5 million Christmas lights in preparation for Smoky Mountain Christmas at Dollywood (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)
Crews are working around the clock to string up over 5 million Christmas lights in preparation for Smoky Mountain Christmas at Dollywood (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

“Rivertown and Craftsman’s Valley are going to get a new look this year – it’s been redesigned to have a more specific feel and its own theme,” says Young. “I don’t want to share exactly what that is right now because we want you to come back and see it first hand and experience it for yourself.”

Detail-oriented park goers may also appreciate a all-new lighting technology being used to wrap the trees this year.

“We have a new type of light that we are putting on the trees… it’s a thicker gauge wire that puts out more lumens of light. They are called ‘expandables’ and they actually grow with the tree.”

When visiting the park this holiday season, guests will be welcomed by both familiar sights, as well as a few new surprises (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)
When visiting the park this holiday season, guests will be welcomed by both familiar sights, as well as a few new surprises (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

When will Dollywood’s seasonal events begin?

Dollywood’s Harvest Festival is set to begin September 25 and run through October 31. Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas will follow soon after starting November 7 through January 3, 2021.  

For a full park schedule, more information or to buy tickets, visit Dollywood.com.

It’s a sight that we aren’t used to seeing at Dollywood: Colorful spring flowers set against the backdrop of Christmas lights. But 2020 has just been that kind of a year (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)
It’s a sight that we aren’t used to seeing at Dollywood: Colorful spring flowers set against the backdrop of Christmas lights. But 2020 has just been that kind of a year (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

How to get discounted Dollywood tickets

There are currently two ways to save on general admission Dollywood tickets.

1. Everyday Heroes Appreciation Days

In celebration of the many frontline workers, first responders, public employees and military who faithfully serve our country and communities, Dollywood’s Everyday Heroes Appreciation Days provides qualifying guests the opportunity to buy a one-day Dollywood admission ticket online for just $39 plus tax.

The online-only offer can be purchased now for a limited time and is valid for use now-Sept. 21. Frontline employees need a special redemption code — available from their employer — to complete the transaction. Eligible employees interested in the program should encourage their employers to fill out an online form (Dollywood.com/EssentialSignUp) to request a redemption code for their company. 

Everyday Heroes may purchase up to six $39 one-day admission tickets to Dollywood as part of the program. Additionally, they can receive rates as low as $129 per night at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa.

2. Everyone Pays Kids Price promotion

Dollywood officials also are extending another popular offer that asks the age-old question, “Why do kids get to have all the fun?” Thanks to the Everyone Pays Kids Price promotion, anyone who purchases a regular one-day admission online beginning now can do so at a child’s ticket price of just $69.00. This ticket is valid through Sept. 21. 

To add to the value of the Everyone Pays Kids Price promotion, each ticket purchased as part of the offer includes a Dollywood refillable drink mug.

The mug is valid for unlimited $.99 cold refills through Jan. 2, 2021. It is a great value for everyone looking to squeeze a little more fun out of the summer months.

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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