PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WATE) — Dolly Parton was in Pigeon Forge on Friday as her Dollywood theme park began its 38th season.
Dollywood season passholders were welcomed into the theme park on Friday, March 10 as part of a preview day plus a special appearance by Parton. She shared what visitors can expect for the 2023 season, including the park’s newest attraction, Big Bear Mountain.
The 2023 season will be 258 days long, which is 21 more days than the 2022 season.
Events happening in the 2023 season include:
- The I Will Always Love You Celebration – March 11 to April 8
- The Flower & Food Festival – April 21 to June 4
- The Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration – June 17 to Aug. 4
- The Harvest Festival – Sept. 20 to Oct. 30
Friday’s passholder event kicked off Dollywood’s opening of the “I Will Always Love You Celebration,” which honors the 50th anniversary of Parton writing one of her most iconic songs.
Parton shared an update on Big Bear Mountain. The video shared at the event was a virtual ride of the rollercoaster and ended saying that Big Bear Mountain will open in May.
“I think that is really gonna be something great! Now, y’all know as well as you know my name, I’m not gonna be ridin’ that thing,” Parton told season passholders. “‘Cause I don’t ride the rides. I always say, I don’t want my hair to fly off right on national television or something.”
While Parton won’t be caught on Big Bear Mountain, she said she would be back in May to help open the ride and to wave at riders leaving the station.
Parton also shared an update on HeartSong Lodge and Resort, which will start taking reservations in June. Parton said she was excited about the resort and that she will be back for the Grand Opening celebration in November, just before the Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival.
While Parton was explaining what was coming in the 2023 season, she also offered a sneak peek of what fans could expect in the 2024 season.
“Do you want to hear a little secret? You know, I can give you a sneak peek on what we’re gonna expect in 2024 in the Chasing Rainbows area,” Parton told season pass holders.
Parton also shared a video that said the new experience would be a multifaced approach to telling her story. One of these would be the new Dolly Museum, which the video said was an “up-close look at Dolly’s most treasured things.”
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With an exterior decorated in fabulous, colorful butterflies, it’s still what will be on the inside that counts. The video promised the museum will have family keepsakes, career mementos, and a special storytelling experience for guests.
Parton closed out her announcements by singing “I Will Always Love You” for the pass holders.
The park was open Friday for season passholders only. The first day for all ticketholders was Saturday, March 11 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Find the full schedule here.
Dollywood’s Splash Country will be open for the 2023 season from May 13 to Sept. 10.