PIGEON FORGE (WATE) - It's all about food, family and endless shows at Dollywood this season. The theme park opened it's gates Friday for 2013 and of course that meant Dolly Parton was in town to kick everything off.
In the middle of a preview of one of park's six new shows, Parton greeted and entertained the crowd as only she can, bellowing out, "Welcome to Dollywood!," followed by her signature laugh.
As thousands braved the below average temperatures for opening day, things were warming up inside the Celebrity Theatre where we were treated to a preview of this year's fireworks show. That show is new this year and will wrap up each summer night at the park.
There is also a new theater that will be home to the "My People" show. It will regularly feature Parton's brother and sister.
Later in the day, Parton and her uncle Bill Owens cut the ribbon on a new exhibit. It honors Owens, who was Dolly's first manager. "I used to go in Pigeon Forge and play my guitar in front a gift shop, but this is a little bit better than that," said Owens.
Park managers are also focusing on more food options this year. There is even a passport that helps guide you through 100 culinary choices. Dolly told us it's simple, food and family just go together, "Food is always important with me and family. Not sure what order that comes in." She laughed and continued, "If I can have food with my family, that's perfect."
It's not all new offerings, there are some improvements to old favorites like the Gristmill cinnamon bread. A new oven means more production and less of a chance they will run out of this favorite during your next trip.
As for the rides, all of your traditional favorites are up and running, weather permitting. The new Wild Eagle helped Dollywood have a record setting year last year. This year's new attraction, The Riverrush, will be sure to bring in thrill seekers, but chances are there is one person who will just sit back and watch. Dolly told us, "I will never be on the rides. I never have, I never will. People always try to con me into it."