What Is New At Dollywood: 2021

Recently, I had the privilege of attending a pre-season press event at Dollywood. Dollywood’s President, Eugene Naughton; Vice President, Pete Owens, Public Relations Director, Wes Ramey, and other Dollywood team members led a small group from the media around the park to discuss the park’s new enhancements and overall Guest experience improvements being offered during Dollywood’s upcoming 36th Season – beginning March 13, 2021.

Dollywood Lightning Rod Roller Coaster Hill
Image courtesy Dollywood. © Dollywood

The highly rated Dollywood Theme Park, as you can imagine, will have a long list of entertainment and show offerings this coming season. This season’s theme of their Flower and Food Festival will be ‘Melodies of Spring’ which will feature a series of Southern gospel groups and contemporary Christian artists including: Matthew West, Big Daddy Weave, Sidewalk Prophets, the Rhett Walk Band and many more. Dollywood’s own performers will be showcased including the Harmonies of the Heart and Brighter Day shows.

Dollywood’s 2021 season is packed with events throughout the year such as: Dollywood’s Summer Celebration (June 25 – July 31); Dollywood’s Harvest Festival running from September 24 through October 30th which include’s Dollywood’s Great Pumpkin LumiNights; and the season closing events such as Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas being held November 6 through January 2, 2022.

We can’t discuss visiting theme parks without mentioning Dollywood’s 2021 culinary offerings. This season, as a part of their Flower & Food Festival, Guests will have the option to purchase a Flower & Food Festival Dining Day Pass. The Day Pass will allow Guests to “partake in multiple entrees at a number of culinary locations during the springtime event.” The media attending were able some of the culinary offerings, and I highly suggest the Cuban sandwich with plantain chips and mango salsa and the mini-funnel cakes with Chantilly cream and drizzled lavender honey.

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Dollywood’s enhancements – speaking our language here at ThemeParkArchitect.com – include several capital construction projects focused on enhancing the Guest experience. First, in the attractions realm Dollywood’s Lightning Rod roller coaster opens this season with a modified track structural profile across most – not all – of its track length. Dollywood has made extensive track structural improvements, re-engineered using the steel ‘Ibox’ and a wood stack ‘Topper Track’ installed by the coaster’s original manufacturer GCI Coasters. These track improvements will offer riders a more smooth ride with less anticipated downtime.

As many know, for theme parks the off-season is a time when theme park operators tackle annual preventative maintenance (PM) projects. Dollywood is currently finalizing a host of Guest improvement upgrades and modifications which is a part of their annual maintenance regimen. New roofs are being installed, their annual full re-painting of 15% of all Dollywood’s facilities is wrapping up, and replacement of an impressive 5 miles of exterior wood cladding, flooring, and other wood architectural wood details.

Carpenter working outside offseason at Dollywood

In addition to the facility improvements, Guests will enjoy upgrades to select areas of Dollywood’s Area Development and promenades. The promenade widening efforts allow for better Guest flow in and around select areas of the theme park, with some widening efforts including the removal of portions of existing facility assets to accommodate this effort.

Based on Guest feedback, Dollywood is adding additional exterior covered dining seating locations near Dogs N Taters and the Hickory House. The area development modifications have caused the relocation of Dollywood’s blacksmith shop to its former location across Craftsman’s Valley adjacent to the newly renovated Robert F. Thomas Chapel.

You don’t want to miss the upcoming 36th Season at Dollywood! Check out Dollywood’s season passes being offered at a special pre-season pricing. Season Pass holders are being offered a special Season Passholder day on March 12, 2021 – one day prior to the season opening date of March 13th. Season Pass prices will go up on March 14th, 2021. For more information visit Dollywood.com.

About the Author J. Daniel Jenkins, AIA, NCARB is a licensed Architect, Theme Park Design Consultant, and former Senior Project Design Manager at Walt Disney Imagineering with over twenty years of subject matter expertise and design team leadership experience. Jenkins is the creator of themeparkarchitect.com who's goal is to teach individuals about theme park architecture and design, how to become theme park architects and designers, and discuss themed entertainment industry related topics. For nearly a decade, Mr. Jenkins has worked in the themed entertainment industry on new themed entertainment attractions, theme park lands, and new theme parks. Upon leaving Walt Disney Imagineering, Jenkins started his own Design Management Consulting company where he has consulted with and provided subject matter expertise and project leadership for new, confidential projects for several themed entertainment companies. Mr. Jenkins holds a five-year Master of Architecture degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design and a Virtual Design and Construction Certificate from Stanford University.
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