Courtesy of Wes Ramey/The Dollywood Company

The theme park has opened its doors for the 2018 season. 

Talia Avakian
March 16, 2018

Dollywood, a theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, that’s partially owned by Dolly Parton, kicked off its 2018 season on Friday, March 16, with Parton promising guests a “Season of Showstoppers” to look forward to.

The 150-acres theme park is the state’s top-ticketed attraction, according to park representatives, and draws in around 2.5 million visitors a year thanks to its array of top-notch musical entertainment, wooden attractions, and demonstrations from local craftsmen that take you into the heart of the area’s history.

While visitors can already look forward to famed attractions like the Lightning Rod, the world’s fastest wooden coaster, Parton has also announced a slew of new events thanks to an additional $1 million spent on entertainment, according to Fox 5.

Here’s what you need to know about the theme park as it kicks of its 33rd season in 2018.

What are the new attractions coming in 2018?

The park opened several new rides last year that have become popular, including the Drop Line, which takes guests on 230-foot drop, and the Whistle Punk Chaser, a wooden coaster made for children that offers a series of twists and turns.

In addition to the rides remaning a major draw to the park, Parton has announced several new musical performers for the 2018 season.

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The first event will be the Festival of Nations, which highlights cultures from across the globe through song and dance and runs from March 17 to April 9. The National Dance Company of Siberia, The Flamenco Kinds, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo are headlining, and there will be performances from Invaders Steel Orchestra, Irish bluegrass group JigJam, and German stilt dancers Zebra Stelzentheater.

The park’s Spring Mix music series, running from April 11-29, will include artists like Amy Grant, The Blind Boys of Alabama, and music from The Marshall Tucker Band, The Drifters, Debby Boone, and Al Stewart during the final week of performances.

In addition, an extra week will be added to the Barbeque and Bluegrass event from May 25-June 10, where you can catch live bluegrass performances from artists like Rhonda Vincent and The Rage.

The park will also be bringing iLuminate, known for their glow-in-the-dark performances on America’s Got Talent, to the Celebrity Theater in the park. Drum lovers can enjoy music from Drumline Live, created by the consultants of the 2002 movie, Drumline.

What other attractions will you find in Dollywood?

The park is already home to more than 40 attractions. These include the Lightning Rod, which is also the world’s first wooden launch coaster, and the Dollywood Express, a 110-ton, coal-fired steam engine that takes you through the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Courtesy of Wes Ramey/The Dollywood Company

Besides its variety of rides, the park also has a 30,000-square-foot eagle sanctuary, roads made to model those you’d find in the 1950s, and classic events like the Smoky Mountain Christmas, which includes four million lights that illuminate holiday performances and parades.

Ticket options vary and start at a one-day theme park pass for $69, a two-day pass for $89, and a three-day pass for $99.

When did Dollywood open and how is Dolly Parton involved?

Though Dollywood started official operations on May 3, 1986, the park’s roots can be traced as far back as 1961 when it was called Rebel Railroad, park representatives explain.

In the 1960s, two brothers from North Carolina started operating a small attraction in the area that featured a coal-fired steam train called Klondike Katie, a blacksmith shop, and a saloon that drew people interested in the Smoky Mountain area.

From the 1970s through the 1980s, the park underwent several ownership changes and the addition of attractions like outdoor theaters and children’s rides when Parton officially joined the theme park business in 1986.

The 72-year-old artist was originally born in Locust Ridge, Tennessee, in the Great Smoky Mountains, drawing on her memories of the area as a child to create rides you’ll find in the park like the Lightning Rod.

Where is Dollywood located? 

Dollywood is located near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

The park spans 150 acres across the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains and has a 300-room resort, the DreamMore Resort and Spa, which sits on 20 acres directly next to the theme park. From here, guests can enjoy views of the mountains straight from their rooms.

Courtesy of Wes Ramey/The Dollywood Company

Guests can also stay at the Dollywood Smoky Mountain Cabins, which are tucked away in the Smoky Mountains near Gatlinburg. The cabins range in size from cozy accommodations made to fit just two to cabins that can sleep up to 34 guests.

Courtesy of Wes Ramey/The Dollywood Company

Dollywood also has a water park, Dollywood's Splash Country, adjacent to the theme park that includes 35 acres of water attractions across the foothills of the mountains. 

Besides the theme park itself, Pigeon Forge is home to variety of outdoor activities connected to the park, like the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster, which is the longest alpine coaster in the country at over a mile long, and The Island, where you can ride a Ferris wheel 200 feet in the air to see mesmerizing views over the city and park.

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