PIGEON FORGE – For the first time since 2019, Dolly Parton welcomed Dollywood season ticket holders and members of the media to a special preview on Friday.
The 37th season of Dollywood is set to officially open Saturday noon. This later opening time was announced on Friday due to weather concerns, and the park’s website urged visitors to check for updates before heading to Dollywood.
Parton revealed details about several of her latest projects, shared a special video about the upcoming season, and even got “bubbled” by Melody Yang, whose “Gazillion Bubble Show: Aurora” will return to the park during the Smokey Mountain. Summer celebration (June 18-August 7).
Parton ended the event by sharing “Big Dreams and Faded Jeans”, one of the songs from her new album, “Run, Rose, Run”, which accompanies the book of the same name which she co-wrote with James Patterson.
“I can’t believe it’s been over two years since the last time we were together here in Dollywood,” Parton, 76, said. “It’s good to be on this stage again. I missed seeing you and I missed being here.
As usual, Parton weaved humor and recognition into much of his stage time. But she also took a serious turn early on asking everyone to pray for Ukraine and its people.
“It’s a sad thing to watch,” Parton said.
Parton’s dress on Friday had a bit of shine and glimmer, but nothing close to the mirror-covered outfit she caused a stir in while hosting the 57th Annual Country Music Awards in Las Vegas last week.
“Have you seen my shiny glass dress?” Parton said, adding that a reporter asked her how one sits in a glass-covered jumpsuit. “I said, ‘Very carefully.’ And it is the truth.
Parton thanked fans for sticking with Dollywood throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Even during COVID, we managed to do well,” Parton said. “Of course we followed all the rules.”
Parton talked a bit about the novel she co-wrote with Patterson and said she thinks her best way to contribute is to write songs to make it into a soundtrack of sorts.
“It’s about a young girl running towards something, but running away from something,” Parton said, adding that there could be a movie based on the book, and if so, she will play a character in the film.
Guests likely noticed several new sights as they toured the park on Friday, with many projects being undertaken simultaneously during a busy off-season.
From now until April 15, visitors to the park can enjoy some of the region’s most captivating artists and songwriters during a five-week program of acoustic performances at the Pines Theater. Artists like The Young Fables (March 14 and 16), Teea Goans (March 25 and 26), Monroeville (April 6 and 8) and many more make up this new entertainment offering.
Several festivals will fill the 2022 season:
• Dollywood’s Flower & Food Festival (April 22-June 5) was named the inaugural winner of the IAPPA (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) Brass Ring Award for Best New Food Festival or Special Event and drinks in 2021.
• Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration (June 18-August 7), featuring Dollywood’s Sweet Summer Nights — an industry-first show — which combines hundreds of high-tech drones with a fireworks display of world class to put an exclamation mark on the evening.
During the day, guests can also enjoy one of the most popular Dollywood shows of all time, “Gazillion Bubble Show: Aurora”. This awe-inspiring show promises to leave every kid and kid at heart with a smile on their face, thanks to the “gazillions” of bubbles and guest interactions that make up each performance.
• Dollywood’s Rock the Smokies returns August 27 with performances throughout the park by many of the biggest names in contemporary Christian music.
• A tradition for many families, Dollywood’s Harvest Festival (September 23-October 29) celebrates the beauty of fall in the Smokies with thousands of carved pumpkins, lively performances by talented performers and Great Pumpkin fun. LumiNights, previously called the best theme park harvest event in the world. New for 2022, guests will love Craftsman’s Valley as it transforms into Hoot Owl Hollow with owl-themed exhibits both in the park and suspended in the trees above.
• It has won one of the industry’s highest accolades – the Golden Ticket – for 13 years, and once guests walk through the doors, they understand why Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas (November 5, 2022 – November 1 January 2023) is the perfect place to get into the Christmas mood.
For more information on Dollywood’s 2022 season, visit Dollywood.com or download the Dollywood app.