February 24, 2023
As we round out the month of love, I have a Dollywood list of things to love. Sure, the first images that pop into my mind when I think of “February” and “love” are chocolate, roses and cheesy rom-coms, but love comes in all shapes and forms. I love my family, my friends, my favorite sweet snacks and especially my Dollywood. And why not? There’s a lot to love, especially when I look at the upcoming season. Here are just a few things to love about Dollywood in 2023.
There’s no secret to what has you buzzing: Ned’s search for “Big Bear” coming to life through our newest roller coaster, Big Bear Mountain. This coaster is family-friendly in so many ways: the minimum height requirement is 39 inches, its top speed is 48 mph and there are NO inversions. It’s the first Dollywood coaster to ever feature on-board audio, the longest attraction in Dollywood history (nearly 4,000 ft. long) and it features three launches. Best of all, the lore behind the ride captures the adventurer’s spirit; Ned’s search for the elusive Big Bear is a legend that keeps on growing.
As soon as we’re able to take a breath following the excitement from Big Bear Mountain, here comes Dollywood to take our breath away again with the opening of HeartSong Lodge & Resort. The resort honors everything that makes the Smokies special while inviting you to experience the wonders of finding your own heart song. Just a few attributes to “love” about the resort include a 4,000 square ft., four-story atrium lobby with large, lantern-inspired windows, a beautiful two-story tone fireplace, an acoustics music room inspired by Dolly, plus so much more.
Dolly’s left her mark on all of the Dollywood Parks & Resorts properties, and there’s a few different ways to immerse yourself into her childhood or better understand how dearly she holds the Smoky Mountains and surrounding area in her heart. Whether it’s visiting a replica of her childhood home at Dollywood, admiring her “Dream Box” containing an unreleased Dolly song at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa or enjoying how we’ve incorporated Dolly’s home - the Smoky Mountains – into Dollywood’s Splash Country’s design, there are many different ways to connect with Dolly when you visit.
One element that so many of us love about Dollywood is how we’ve adopted and incorporated the Smokies as a defining characteristic of what makes our properties unique. Many of Dollywood’s award-winning shows feature callouts or representation of the surrounding mountains, while you can see the famous clouds rolling off the hills from your room at our resorts.
Visit during the Harvest Festival presented by Humana and you might see trees covered in beautiful orange, red and yellow leaves on the trees around the parks.
Between award-winning festivals and a brand-new celebration, there’s a lot going in around the parks and resorts in 2023! We’ll kick things off March 11 – April 8 with the I Will Always Love You Celebration, where we’ll celebrate the 50th anniversary of Dolly writing one of her most iconic hits by hosting a Celebrity Concert Series, a Showstreet Songwriters Showcase and more.
The Flower & Food Festival presented by Covenant Health returns, and with it comes the beautiful garden sculptures, garden-fresh food flavors and more than one million vibrant flowers.
Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration runs June 17 – Aug. 6 and brings back the engaging Gazillion Bubble Show and nighttime drone show on top of our longest operating hours of the season at Dollywood.
The Harvest Festival and fan-favorite Great Pumpkin LumiNights presented by Covenant Health both return from Sept. 20 – Oct. 30 and make for a perfect nighttime experience, while you might see the beautiful changing leaves if you time a visit well.
A 14-time Golden Ticket Winner for Best Christmas Event, Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana will warm your heart with both some tasty hot chocolate offerings and world-famous live shows from Nov. 4 – Jan. 6, 2024. The festival features more than six million lights around the park, an LED lights show displayed on a massive Christmas Tree and a festive feel.
If you meet someone who isn’t as familiar with Dollywood, they likely can associate us with one of three things: Dolly Parton, the Smoky Mountains or our famous cinnamon bread. There really isn’t anything like eating a slice from a fresh loaf (or two, if you’re like me and take an extra one home) from the Grist Mill. Pairing a bite with some buttercream icing or apple butter is just icing on the cake – or in this case, the loaf.
This is one of my favorite reasons to love Dollywood this season – nearly three weeks of more Dollywood time! The additional days have been added in various initiatives across the calendar; the Flower & Food Festival has a few more days, as do both Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration and Harvest Festival. An even cooler note about the calendar changes? There are additional days to visit Dollywood after Christmas; the park closed on Jan. 1, 2023 to end last season, but is open through Jan. 6, 2024 to end the upcoming season.
Dollywood Season Passes are a great way to see our parks multiple times throughout the season, especially if you love to visit during multiple festivals. The potential savings are really eye-popping; if you were to buy a single one-day ticket during each festival and the I Will Always Love You Celebration, the total cost would sit at $445, plus tax. With a Silver Pass (which costs $159, plus tax) that alone is a savings of $286, plus tax.
What’s nice about Season Passes is that there are options that allow you to choose the best plan for you and your loved ones: if you’re visiting the park frequently throughout the season and seeing multiple festivals, especially if you’ll visit multiple times during December or January, consider a Gold Pass. In addition to free parking, anyone with a Gold Pass has access to Golden Hours and Golden Events; Golden Hours are the first hour of operation of ANY operating day at the park in which Gold Passholders can use their pass like a TimeSaver Pass in order to enter rides via the TimeSaver entrance to save time riding in the first hour of the day. Golden Events happen throughout the season, and they can range from Q&As with featured performers, early access to festivals and even special events when the Dreamer-in-Chief comes to town. Purchasing a Gold Pass now also comes with two Bring-a-Friend Free tickets with NO blackout dates throughout the season, a change from last season at Dollywood.
If you visit the park a few times a year and aren’t as interested in Golden Hours, Golden Events or visiting around the holidays, consider a Silver Pass. Silver Passholders still get access to all festivals, get a $5 discount on one-day tickets, and also receive two Bring-a-Friend Free tickets – subject to select blackout dates. It’s important to keep in mind that Silver Passes have blackout dates from Nov. 22, 2023 – Jan. 6, 2024, so consider those dates carefully when looking at pass options.
What if you’re also interested in visiting Dollywood’s Splash Country? Well, great news – each season pass type can be turned into a two-park pass for just $55 more (plus tax). Gold Passholders even get $15 discounts on Retreats and $5 discounts on Canopies.
Lastly, if you have a child born in 2018 or 2019, did you know you can register them for a FREE year full of Dollywood and Splash Country? Enter the Pre-K Imagination Pass, which allows for visits for all of 2023 at both Dollywood and Splash Country. All you need to do is register your Pre-K child and then bring a photocopy of their birth certificate or passport the first time you visit either park.