PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WATE) - Season pass holders got to experience all the new sights, sounds and savory food ahead of Dollywood's 2019 opening. The park opening their gates for everyone Saturday, March 16th.
On Friday, there was a buzz early in the morning as season pass holders from all over our region and throughout the country waited in line to visit Dollywood.
"I got here at 7:30 and I'm ecstatic," said Blake Meadows from Loudon County, "It's just a magical place. It's my happy place. Every time I'm upset and come here, it just makes me happy."
The Fischers are from Pennsylvania and planned their vacation around Dollywood's opening day for the 2019 season.
"We're staying an extra day. We've been here all week just so we can come back two days in a row," said Celeste Fischer.
Their family already has plans for Saturday.
"Cinnamon bread," said Teresa Fischer.
"Roller coasters," added Scott Fischer.
"Really the entertainment too," added Maria Conner.
Entertainers from around the world, coming back for Festival of Nations, which is a program that has run nearly 20-years.
Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba is a fusion dance and music company that mixes Hispanic and Caribbean cultures into each performance.
Drumstruck is high-energy production weaves South African music and culture with West African rhythms.
"I'm really excited about this one because it's very audience involved. There's going to be a drum in every seat in the theater," said Dollywood Publicist, Amber Davis.
Another aspect of Festival of Nations that's new is a food passport, where guests can get stamps for each dish they try from another country.
"Her thought was 'I've been so blessed to travel the world.' And so Dolly wanted to bring that here to Dollywood," added Davis.
Many saying this will be an historic year for the park with new headliners, such as Wildwood Grove opening in May. But for visitors, they say it simply feels like coming home again.
"We already have reservations made for Thanksgiving weekend," said Celeste Fischer.
"Last year we came about 20 timmes, so I'm hoping maybe 30 this time," added Meadows.
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