March 01, 2022
When the world entered a global pandemic, Dollywood made more than 700 operational changes to safely open and continue serving guests. With that much change, our phone lines have been very busy as our team has answered thousands of questions. We're hopeful that 2022 brings more clarity. Let's start with this blog. I want to answer your questions when it comes to what you should expect when you visit Dollywood Parks and Resorts properties this year.
The first thing we want you to know is about masks and reservations. Since the onset of the pandemic, Dollywood has closely monitored and assessed virus rates, public health recommendations, regulatory requirements and agency guidance to inform and implement our safety protocols. Given the latest information we have and the recent decline in infection rates and hospitalizations, the determination has been made to adjust our COVID-19 requirements. At this time, masking is optional for employees and guests, regardless of vaccination status and reservations will no longer be needed. We will honor previously-made reservations. The safety and wellbeing of our hosts and guests remains our top priority. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and may make additional changes, if necessary.
I'm really excited about your entry experience this year. In the off season, we've reconfigured the parking lot and added toll booths. We should be able to move more people into the park quicker than we ever have before. Traffic will be all one-way, so there will be no cross traffic nor pedestrians to worry about. (Watch for another blog showing you what it will look like. Coming soon!)
Then, because we'll be moving crowds at a quicker pace, we're ready to expedite the security check, too! We invested in a new advanced security screening system that will allow people to simply walk through without emptying bags and pockets. If our teams see anything they need to check more closely, we'll let you know, but otherwise, it should be a seamless process. (And parents everywhere rejoiced; no unloading strollers!)
I know one of the big questions we're all wondering about is what the labor market will do in 2022. I can tell you that I'm confident that Dollywood has been very strategic when it comes to recruitment. We are doing everything we can to staff our properties. Learn what Dollywood has been doing to fill open positions.
Many of our guests are crossing their fingers for the return of Granny Ogle's Ham N Beans this season. I'm here to tell you that you don't have to wish. It's coming back! Don't panic when you don't see it open in March. Our culinary team is opening its locations in phases. Here's where you can expect to eat when we first open:
Aunt Granny's Restaurant
Front Porch Cafe©
Till & Harvest
Dogs N Taters
You'll see food trucks again this season! I want to make a quick note about Till & Harvest. Because of staffing and supply chain challenges, we had to shift the menu last year. It's our hope to move back to Mexican/American this year, but we will open it with burgers, chicken tenders and fries. Iron Horse Pizza will be our newly re-branded restaurant across from the train depot. We're still waiting on some equipment to arrive, so it will open soon! Here's an update I know you're going to love: for Season Passholders with the Unlimited Souvenir Mug, you will see self-serve refill stations now! You don't have to get in line to get a drink.
While you're celebrating that, hopefully, you'll notice there are improved queue lines as well. Efficiency is the goal!
When Dollywood opens, the entertainment lineup includes lots of familiar faces as well as a surprise! First, I'll list guests' perennial favorites that will be on the show schedule: A Brighter Day, Smoky Mountain String Band, The Tones, Wild Roots, Kingdom Heirs, Heartsong: The Movie, as well as roaming characters Frances, Miss Lillian, Apple Jack, Flit and Flutter and Benjamin Bear.
Hang tight! Dreamland Drive-In, Forever Country and Harmonies of the Heart will open a few weeks later during Flower & Food Festival. (You can even expect a new show and special entertainment to be a part of our spring festival. More info to come soon!) Now, back to the surprise I mentioned for entertainment when the park opens. We are offering an acoustic music series in Pines Theater from Passholder Preview Day (March 11) through April 15. Here's the lineup:
March 11-13 Marty Haggard
March 14 & 16 The Young Fables
March 18-19 James Carothers
March 20-21 Aaron Vance
March 23 The Mike Snodgrass Band
March 25-26 Cruz and Molly Contreras
March 27-28 Roberta Lea
March 30 The Mike Snodgrass Band
April 1-2 Sam Gyllenhaal Band
April 3-4 Victoria Venier
April 6 & 8 Monroeville
April 9-11 Anita Cochran
April 12-13 Kate and Corey
April 14-15 Kenny and Amanda Smith
If you love our entertainment, you know that there's much more beyond what I've covered. Stay tuned for details about the rest of the year!
We anticipate all attractions will open when the park opens. Yes, though it may be chilly, even the water rides will be open in 10 days!
Dollywood's flagship merchandise shop has a new look. The Emporium received a full renovation to improve processes. Now that it's modernized, we're even going to be able to pull out portable point of sale systems during peak times and expedite your shopping experience.
Hey, moms! Thanks to our friends at Covenant Health, our Baby Care Centers got some love while you were away this off season. Not only will you love the comfy new furniture, it's also sweetly-decorated. It's a great respite when you need to nurse or pump!
We hope you love our festivals as much as we do, and we're excited to grow each event bigger and better this season. I highly recommend visiting during each festival because they all offer such unique, immersive experiences. Flower & Food Festival presented by Covenant Health- April 22 - June 5 Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration presented by Bush's Beans- June 18 - Aug. 7 Harvest Festival presented by Humana- Sept. 23 - Oct. 29 Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana- Nov. 5 - Jan. 1
We are hopeful we'll get to see Dolly more this season than we did in the past couple of years. Her schedule is pretty busy, but right now, we expect we'll enjoy visiting with her at least a few times in 2022! On that note, I want to be sure you know that Chasing Rainbows Museum will close for the 2022 season as we take time to reimagine future possibilities for the attraction. By offering a special glimpse of some of Dolly's most unique memorabilia, Chasing Rainbows has provided guests with countless memories throughout its history. We are excited about telling Dolly's story in a new way in the future; we will share additional details about the experience at a later date.
Dollywood is such an exciting place to be. We've been blessed with some great seasons, but the best is yet to come. If you haven't seen our off-season update video, check it out!
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