DOLLYWOOD & Splash Country
Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Herschend Family Entertainment
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(7/3/20) Dollywood - Screamscape Shows What It Is Like To Visit in 2020 (MORE...)
(6/18/20) A Detailed Look At What Dollywood 2020 Is Like This Week
(6/16/20) Dollywood Passholder Preview Day Reports (MORE...)
(6/4/20) Dollywood To Reopen Theme Park, Waterpark and DreamMore Resort This Month (MORE...)
(5/28/20) Dollywood Updates Special Event Schedule for 2020 (MORE...)
Dixie Stampede (2016) Review
FireChaser Express - Grand Opening & Review
Dolly’s Splash Country Waterpark - Official Screamscape Review
Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort - Official Screamscape Review
General Park News - (7/3/20) According to a reader who just visited Dollywood again this week and reports back that while the crowds were still very light, it appears there has been a slight change to the park’s mask wearing policy. They noticed that the ride ops had changed their procedure and were now asking riders to wear their masks while on the rides.
If you haven’t had a chance you read my detailed report about what a visit to Dollywood is like in 2020, make the jump over to BlooLoop to give it a quick read. I’ve also finally put together my video report from the day as well so you can get a look around the park for yourself.
(6/18/20) A great report that goes into much detail about what’s going on at Dollywood can be found over at Coaster101. While the park is allowing guests to remove masks during select thrill rides still, it does look like they have set up the park well in all other aspects of guest safety in a COVID-19 world. The article goes into detail about how distancing is working out on most major rides and attractions, and mentions that guests are being given sanitizer on their hands just before boarding any coaster, so everyone rides with the cleanest hands possible. Then once an hour they pause operations to clean and disinfect the trains before opening up once again.
(6/16/20) Dollywood reopened for passholders on Monday, and while the park policy says that masks are to be worn, the reports sent in so far show that the mask rule does not appear to be heavily enforced. This included a photo of a loaded Tennessee Tornado train in the station where every single rider had apparently pulled their mask down around their neck, or had taken them off completely. As per Dollywood’s earlier safety statement, they did say that guests may be allowed to remove masks to ride certain rides, so this isn’t unexpected, but from what we’ve seen from other park’s who have opened so far, this is the rate exception, as most others are requiring them to be worn at all times. As for the rest of the park, as this was just the first day I’m sure they’ll get their procedures worked out to enforce the policy throughout the park soon. After all, this is all new to everyone, so lets wait and see, as typically Dollywood has pretty high standards.
(6/4/20) Dollywood has announced that they will reopen Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country waterpark to the public on June 17th. The parks will also open on June 15 and 16, 2020 for Season Passholder exclusive days. They have also confirmed that Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa will also reopen to guests starting June 10th.
Reservations are required in advance to visit the park, face masks are to be worn at all times within the parks (except when told you can remove them to eat or ride select attractions) and all guests must pass a temperature screening before entry.
(5/28/20) While Dollywood has not yet announced anything about a possible reopening date, I suspect we should hear something one way or the other between now and early June. That said, the park did make an update to their festival plans for the year. Previously the park had planned to premier a new “Flower & Food Festival” event that would take place from May 8 to June 14th. According to the update on the website the event has now been rescheduled to take place “This Summer”. The site also lists the Summer Celebration event (extended night hours, fireworks, etc..) taking place June 20 through Aug. 2, 2020.
(5/17/20) While Dollywood has still not set an official date to reopen the theme park, the Tennessee government has set May 22nd as the start of the next phase of reopening in the state that will allow for race tracks, large museums and theme parks to reopen, as well as allowing further capacity for on-site dining at restaurants in the state.
I would imagine that Dollywood will make a statement about their own future plans, one way or the other, later this week as the relaxed rules are put into effect.
(4/29/20) While Dollywood isn’t ready to list a possible reopening date for the theme park, they did announce that current season passholders will now be able to use their 2020 passes through to June 1, 2021.
This next part is just speculation on my part, but since Dollywood didn’t open for the season in March as intended, one might assume that the June 1st, 2021 extension date for season passes may be an indication that the park might be hoping to reopen around June 1st, 2020 if all goes well. Just a theory, and nothing more...
(4/26/20) Dollywood fans… I know that if there is one thing you are missing right now, other than the chance to see Dolly herself, you are likely having a serious need to stuff some of Dollywood’s famous cinnamon bread into your mouth. Travel + Leisure has come to the rescue, claiming that they were able to secure the decadent recipe from Dollywood. Follow the link to try your hand at making your very own Dollywood Cinnamon Bread at home.
(4/25/20) It has been confirmed that the Pigeon Forge area is set to be the first major attraction area to begin to reopen to tourists starting on May 1st. I had a discussion a week ago with a few people about how I felt the area could very likely be the first to reopen with Tennessee set to end restrictions on April 30th. The Pigeon Forge / Gatlinburg area is fairly remote and located a good distance away from any area of urban density, which is where the coronavirus thrives, so much so that the local area has been relatively untouched by the virus thus far.
As much as I hate to say it, all eyes in the industry will be watching this area, as it will serve as a major test case to determine when and how other attractions should re-open.
Dollywood itself will stay closed, but will also be watching with great interest and if things still look positive as the weeks go on, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dollywood itself try to open 4-6 weeks later. There is one big thing to keep in mind when it comes to Dollywood that sets it apart from most other theme parks, the average age of the staff. Unlike most parks who hire mostly high school and college age students, Dollywood has a huge percentage of staff who are much older who not only operate a number of the restaurants and gift shops, but also most of the arts and crafts stands throughout the park. So expect Dollywood to go the extra mile to protect their highly valued staff who could be at higher risk from the virus.
(4/20/20) Dolly has posted a new video aimed at the park’s season passholders over the weekend. While the message is that “brighter days are ahead” and to be patient, the local news also reports being told that Dollywood will begin furloughing their staff starting Monday.
(4/14/20) While Dollywood hasn’t posted a status update in awhile on their website, the park did speak with the local news in Knoxville and reported that the park was going into “hibernation mode”. Until they have a clear reopening-date the park is keeping minimal staff to maintain “business continuity” with all employees remaining active doing so at a 50% salary reduction. All additional staff are being put on furlough but the company will continue to pay their health care premiums.
In other news, one of the two Bald Eagle eggs hatched on Easter Sunday. You can try to catch it on the webcam or see some photos and details posted here.
(4/8/20) Dollywood currently has a live webcam focused on their Eagle Mountain Sanctuary where two rare Bald Eagle eggs are expected to hatch sometime this week. You can view the webcam yourself night or day by clicking here.
(4/3/20) If you haven’t seen it yet, Dolly Parton has begun a series of new programming last night where she will be reading bedtime stories to children from the Imagination Library. This will take place every Thursday evening at 7pm EST for 10 weeks, with the first reading having taken place last night. You can watch Goodnight with Dolly on the official Imagination Library website or check out the first episode embedded below.
(3/23/20) Dollywood has posted a new update saying that based on the current state of things, they now don’t expect to be able to open Dollywood for the season until sometime in May. In addition they are now suspending operations of the Dollywood DreamMore Resort as well.
(3/17/20) A few readers asked if Dollywood’s Festival of Nations event would still continue if the park is able to reopen before the original slated end of the event on April 20th. According to Dollywood, many of the musical groups asked to be released from their contracts so the performers could return to their home countries and Dollywood granted these requests. So while it was not every group, the end result will essentially see the Festival of Nations event canceled for the 2020 season.
(3/13/20-UPDATED) While Dollywood did open today for their Passholder Preview Day, the park has just announced that they too will delay their grand public opening for the next two weeks. The plan is now to open for the season on March 28, but as always, those plans could change between now and then.
The nearby Dolly Parton’s Stampede and Pirates Voyage dinner shows will also close starting March 16. Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa and Dollywood Smoky Mountain Cabins will remain open however.
(3/13/20) Dollywood is still opening today for Passholder Preview Day, and is holding fast to their plans to open to all guests for the season on Satuday. But due to “an abundance of caution” they did postpone the planned media day announcement and activities that were scheduled to happen today.
As best said by Dolly herself, “The exciting economic news we planned to share does not seem appropriate based on what is going on. It doesn’t feel right,” Dolly said. “We need to focus on good health and praying for those who are affected. We know brighter days are ahead.”
Well said and we look forward to hearing the news when the time is right.
(3/11/20) Guests to Dollywood this season can expect to enjoy Thunderhead a little more, as it was reported that about 800 feet of the coaster’s track was replaced over the off-season. In addition to the 600-700 feet of track that was replaced during last year’s closure, this means just under half of the ride’s 3,230 ft of track has been replaced so far, and they plan to continue the work over the next few years until it has all been done.
(3/4/20) An interesting post was made on Facebook late last week by nearby attraction, Parrot Mountain. According to the post, “We’re sad to say that our Parrot Mountain sign on the mountain will no longer be up.. We were leasing the property where the sign was located & Dollywood has purchased that property & would not let us keep the “Parrot Mountain “ sign on the mountain. We’re saddened about it but nothing has changed at Parrot Mountain & we’re excited to be opening for our 19th Season this upcoming Saturday”
If you have visited Dollywood, I’m sure you’ve seen the Parrot Mountain sign near the top of a nearby mountain on the left as you make the turn into McCarter Hollow Rd. The sign essentially looked over the Splash Country parking lot, but is located up on a hillside where there are many other rental cabin properties. Down the hill, to the left of the sign is the predicted location for the second Dollywood Resort Hotel, so it would make sense for Dollywood to look into buying all the undeveloped property around this area for future development, or the addition of their own self-contained rental cabin property perhaps in the future.
(2/27/20) Dollywood has announced that at a presentation on March 13th to kick off the park’s 35th Anniversary Season Grand Opening, Dolly Parton will be on hand to make a special announcement. Dolly will unveil the details about “the largest investment plan in Dollywood history” as well as to go over what’s happening for the park’s 2020 season, and the start of this year’s Festival of Nations event.
Now before all the fanboys and girls start to dream of a giga coasters in the hills, I’ve got to point out a few important things. For starters… Dollywood has frequently used the phrases “biggest investment” and “largest investment” over the years for many projects, including Wild Eagle, Wildwood Grove and more. That said, if you carefully read the quote from the park, it says “largest investment plan” in the park’s history, and a plan is much more than a single year’s new capital expansion. In fact the last time that I can find that this exact phrasing was used was back in 2013 when Dolly announced that they would be undertaking a 10-Year / $300 million investment plan into Dollywood.
While we haven’t quite finished the 10-year term mentioned, the previous $300 million investment plan has resulted in Firechaser Express, the DreamMore Resort, Lightning Rod, Drop Line, Whistlepunk Chaser, Wildwood Grove, RiverRush, TailSpin Racer and a slew of other improvements to both Dollywood and Splash Country.
So with all this in mind and the fact that Dollywood has already begun to file planning documents to the local agencies for a second resort property, I’m expecting that this announcement could very well be to announce an early start to another long-term investment plan into the Dollywood resort of new attractions for both parks as well as the second resort. So the question is, how much will they spend this time? $350 million? $400? Maybe even $500 between now and 2030? Either way, I think we may be able to call this the Dollywood Decade!
(5/15/19) This week I shared my latest thoughts all about the Dollywood Resort and how their mission of putting the “family experience” front and center in everything they do, and decided to share this vision with our friends over a BlooLoop as well. Read on and learn what drives every new experience at the Dollywood Resort.
2020 - 35th Anniversary - (10/22/19) Dollywood has announced a few more dates for other returning special events coming to the park in 2020 for the 35th anniversary season.
The season will begin on March 14 - April 20 with the return of the Festival of Nations event that will feature a stage productions of Namaste India, Ole!, Drumstruck, JigJam and Invaders Steel Orchestra, plus the return of popular International Food items.
Next is Dollywood’s Barbeque & Bluegrass presented by BUSH’S from April 24 through May 3, followed by the return of The Gazillion Bubbles Show from June 20 through Aug. 2, and Rock the Smokies returning on Aug. 22. This will be followed by the return of the Great Pumpkin LimiNights and Southern Gospel Jubilee events in the fall and then Smoky Mountain Christmas.
(10/19/19) Dollywood is planning a new five-week long festival to take place at the park in Spring 2020 called Flower & Food Festival. This will take place between May 8 and June 14, 2020 and coincide with the park’s 35th anniversary.
Look for colorful displays of blooming spring flowers and stunning 10-15 foot tall topiaries to be found throughout the park along with an assortment of ultra drool-inducing Smoky Mountain dishes to try at every turn.
Dolly describes it best, “When I was just a little girl, spring was a wondrous time,” Parton explained. “Everything came to life – flowers bloomed in the meadow near our house, and the Dogwood, red bud and fruit trees blossomed with the sweetest smells. I imagined having my own special field of flowers that were a fragrant home to my favorite animal friends in the woods. Now, my Dollywood becomes that special place with everything made of flowers – I can’t wait to share it with everyone just in time for our 35th season!”
2021 - Wildwood Grove Dark Ride - Rumor - (2/28/20) We’ve been sent a couple of interesting tidbits that seem to point towards a possible new dark ride coming to Wildwood Grove in 2021 or 2022. First of all some new whispers on the Screamscape Spy Network report that the park may have been in talks with Sally Corp to bring this new dark ride project to life, though this doesn’t mean Sally is the only one involved. For example a team of companies, including Sally, all worked together to bring the Justice League dark ride to life for Six Flags, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see this project also a mix of sorts.
Also tied into this rumor is a new guest survey Dollywood is sending out, asking guests about a new family ride experience in development where 6-riders would compete against each other to collect ‘items’ during the ride. I think they may be pitching a few different name variants on this one, but so far I’ve heard “Undergrove Quest” and “Cryrstal Cavern”.
The plot is you are enlisted to help a “rock-hound” character in search of the long-lost “Hidden Crystal Cavern” that is full of rare gems. Guests will use an on-board device to collect these gems and see who can get the most by the end, but beware… you never know what hidden dangers you might encounter along the way!
Quite a few other dark ride concepts were pitched in the various new attraction surveys we posted about below, but this one seems to be a mix of some of the various elements of those rides, but given it’s own unique story instead.
2022/2023 - New Roller Coaster - (2/29/20) Time to look into the Magic 8 ball regarding the future of Dollywood. While I reported the rumor about a dark ride in the works for the park, I can’t ignore all you roller coaster loving people out there, and neither will Dollywood. If the rumors are true, Dollywood is working on plans for their next big coaster, and from the sound of things it will be a crowd pleaser. This is something that many have been dreaming about for some time now, and it looks like Dollywood is looking into adding a Hypercoaster style coaster to the park, their way… which can only mean they’ll go the extra mile like they did with Lightning Rod and Wild Eagle, and make this sucker fly through the hills and trees, leaving as much of the natural smoky mountain landscape as possible intact.
While everyone will assume they would go to B&M for this, there is the issue that Dollywood sits within the area exclusive range of Carowinds and Six Flags over Georgia, and neither Intimidator or Goliath are 20 years old yet. Of course I’d love to see something unique, like the first Hyper-Inverted, or perhaps they could work a loop-hole and make it a floorless coaster with a Hyper style layout, and maybe add an inversion or two. The other rumor, once we’ve actually heard whispers start mentioning, is that Herschend could tap Mack Rides once again after opening Time Machine at Silver Dollar City, but ask them to create something more like DC Rivals.
Again… just rumors about possible developments at this point, but I wouldn’t expect to see anything until 2022 or 2023 at this point, so stay tuned!
(Feb 2019) An early rumor claims that Dollywood may be looking to build their next major coaster as a Phase 2 expansion to the 2019 project. Manufacturers are being looked at, but rumor has it they may be leaning towards B&M simply for a reliability standpoint. What kind of coaster may be up in the air as well, though after just opening Fire Chaser Express and Lightning Rod, they definitely are not looking to have another launched coaster at this point. While a B&M Hyper may be considered a likely choice, I believe Dollywood is too close to Carowinds and Six Flags over Georgia for that to happen with the typical B&M contracts that prevent similar coasters from being built too close together too soon. A B&M Inverted may be a possibly however, even though Carowinds has one as well, simply because Afterburn was built in 1999, and by 2020 enough time should have passed to allow for it. Plus I think it would be kind of cute to open the rumored family inverted coaster in 2019… and then follow it up with a monster sized version that could run wild through the mountainside and trees, much like Alpengeist at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
That’s just a dream on my part however, Dollywood could very well opt to go with an entirely different manufacturer to get a Hyper or anything else they want. Stay tuned while we listed for more rumors on the wind.
Future Developments - New Attractions Survey - (4/10/19) Screamscape sources tell us that Dollywood is looking into more than just ideas for a new coaster… the park is also conducting guest surveys asking about a variety of dark ride themes and concepts (see images) they are considering for the park, as well as a Flying Theater attraction and even a “interactive walk-through immersive experience”... for the later one they show images from Universal’s Poseidon’s Fury.
(4/6/19) Screamscape sources tell us Dollywood was sending out guest surveys again this week to get reactions to a variety of new attraction concepts. One of the most exciting to all your thrill ride nuts out there may be for a new “Indoor Coaster” experience, one that would offer a “2 - 4 minute thrill experience” along with a high level of themeing that would mix slower scenes with animatronics, lighting effects and projection mapping with the high-speed thrill sections in order to tell a story.
They also ask about other new coaster concept as well however, including an out & back traditional Hypercoaster (over 200ft tall, 60mph, full of air-time hills) with an on-board soundtrack, as well as a Spinning Coaster experience, in which the intent is to make something similar to Time Traveler from Silver Dollar City, which came from Mack Rides.
The other concepts are more entertainment related, including a possible Summer Daytime parade concept that would include Macy’s style balloon floats as well as a Christmas Candlelight Nativity show experience.
???? - Second Dollywood Hotel - Planning - (11/27/19) Screamscape first reported that Dollywood was preparing plans to add a second resort hotel a little over a year ago (see below) and now we finally have an update on the project. According to the local news the theme park submitted a preliminary site plan to Pigeon Forge showing a 310-room hotel project with a 325-seat restaurant as well as conference space that would be located somewhere between the current DreamMore Resort and Dollywood’s Splash Country waterpark.
When approaching the current DreamMore Resort, as you reach the top of the first drive-way segment, you have to make a left turn to get into the DreamMore parking lot, but you may have noticed that the drive-way road continues on straight for another 10-15 feet before ending in the brush. That road will be extended to lead up to a round-about that will split traffic between the meeting space and guest room ends of the new resort property.
(11/12/18) During an interview with the local news Dolly Parton where they discuss a new Netflix series she is working on as well as the new Glacier Ridge addition to Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas, Dolly let another interesting detail slip out. While discussing meetings they have each season to go over what guests like, don’t like, and what people would really like to have added to Dollywood, they decided that they need to build another hotel. According to Dolly, "…just like we’re going to build a new resort because our resort stays busy all the time!”
If you haven’t seen it yet, Screamscape has stayed at and reviewed Dollywood’s Dreammore Resort and we loved it! You can see our official review and photos here.