SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A new season at Dollywood officially gets underway starting Friday.
The park will hold its annual season passholder event Friday, March 12 before opening to the general public for the 2021 season on Saturday.
You can expect to see a lot of changes at the park this year. Several projects to improve the guest experience were completed during the off-season, including putting new tracks on four roller coasters.
“If you’re one of the people that like to put their hands up in the air when they’re riding down that hill, then you’ll get a chance to do it consistently now,” Dollywood Company President Eugene Naughton said.
Lightning Rod was up and running Friday afternoon.
It was the most anticipated opening of the day, by far.
“We are most excited about River Rampage and Lightning Rod. Lightning Rod was closed last year, so we’re excited to have it back open this year,” Carissa McConnell, a guest from Cleveland, Tennessee, said.
Rollercoaster enthusiasts were excited to ride the attraction after it had been closed on and off for a while.
“This is my number one coaster in the world and I haven’t ridden it in three years and so I am very excited for the air time,” Anthony Dean, a guest from Asheville, North Carolina, said.
Dean had been waiting in line for a few hours before the coaster reopened Friday afternoon.
After the ride, he was ecstatic.
“That was amazing. It was way better than before. This part right here, the quad down that you can see it is so much stronger than it ever has been,” Dean said.
Mystery Mine is one of the other coasters getting an upgrade.
As of opening day, it was not open.
Hosts expect it to be up and running within the next few weeks.
The blacksmith shop has been moved to a larger space that will also make room for a new seating area near Hickory House. With the move, the storefront has room for bigger and better activities.
“We’re going to be able to do things that we did in the 1880s and things that they’re doing right now with gas forges and the welding that they’re doing,” said Dollywood vice president of marketing and public relations Pete Owens.
A new experience the Blacksmith Shop will offer is guests being able to make their own knives, however that wasn’t available at the opening.
Dollywood hosts said that will be available in about a month.
Guests were definitely aware of the extra space, especially in Craftsman’s Valley and by the Back Porch Theater.
There were more places to sit and eat.
“In years past, we would get a corn dog and get over and sat on those rocks cause there really wasn’t any place to sit if all these seats were taken at the show. So yeah it’s a big difference,” John Fraley, visiting from Kentucky, said.
Over at Hickory House, park guests will notice some new items on the menu, like the brisket sandwich.
The fries are also a new style this year at Hickory House.
Of course, singing is a big part of Dollywood, and the 2021 season is no different.
In fact, guests can expect more shows at the start of the season because indoor performances are back.
The Dream Song Theater reopened, and that’s where guests can find Harmonies of the Heart featuring Dolly’s family.
Her nieces and cousin, along with a family friend, sing some of Dolly’s hit songs and tell stories about the family.
Harmonies of the Heart is just one of several groups singing around Dollywood for guests to check out and enjoy.
Park events, like the Flower and Food Festival, will also return this season. The festival will take place from April 23 through June 7.
Masks are required and capacity will still be limited.