Dolly Parton Makes Official Decision on Future of Dollywood Theme Park Post Sudden Closure

in Theme Parks

Dolly Parton performs on stage on the left, and on the right, a sign at Dollywood Theme Park's entrance announces the park is closed.

Credit: Edited by Inside the Magic

If you are a fan of Dollywood, we have some major news for you.

Dollywood's Newest Resort, HeartSong Lodge & Resort concept art
Credit: Dollywood

Dollywood is a renowned theme park located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. It is one of the premier tourist destinations in the Southeastern United States and recently achieved the highest “Come Back” score among over 450 landmarks worldwide. Established in 1986, Dollywood is known for its unique blend of thrilling rides, captivating shows, and Appalachian charm.

The park is named after its co-owner, the legendary country music singer and actress Dolly Parton. Dollywood holds a special significance to Dolly Parton, as it is a tribute to her upbringing in the Smoky Mountains and her love for the region’s culture and heritage. Dolly Parton has been actively involved in the park’s development and continues to lend her creative vision to its attractions and entertainment offerings.

Dolly Parton Dollywood
Credit: Dollywood

Over the years, Dollywood has expanded and evolved into a world-class theme park with over 40 rides and attractions, including roller coasters, water rides, and family-friendly experiences. One of the park’s most popular attractions is the Thunderhead wooden roller coaster, known for its thrilling twists and turns through the forested terrain of the Smokies.

Another iconic ride at Dollywood is the Mystery Mine coaster, which combines high-speed thrills with immersive theming, taking riders on a thrilling journey through an abandoned mine shaft. The Tennessee Tornado coaster also offers adrenaline-pumping loops and twists, while the Wild Eagle coaster provides a unique flying sensation as riders soar through the air like eagles.

Dollywood also features a variety of family-friendly rides, live entertainment shows, and cultural exhibits celebrating the rich history and traditions of the Appalachian region.

Guests ride Lightning Rod at Dollywood
Credit: Dollywood

With the park attracting millions of guests each year, it was shocking to hear of the unprecedented closure that was announced just days ago. Due to severe weather in the area, Dollywood made the choice to close its gates. Now, we have an update on the park’s upcoming status.

Lately, owner of the theme park Dolly Parton known for many things, including being a godmother to Miley Cyrus, has been making headlines due to her story of breaking one major rule at the Grand Ole Opry.

“Nobody ever told me that you couldn’t do anything you wanted to do,” Parton said in the book “Dolly “by Alanna Nash. “I just always thought, ‘Well, all you gotta do is just go there and if you sing well, you can be on the Grand Ole Opry.’ Gettin’ the nerve was probably the hardest part, but we were always blessed with more nerve than sense anyway.”

Parton did not know that a singer could not just go backstage and walk out and perform, but she managed to do it anyway.

“Ott Devine said that I was too young, but now I know it was just rules — you can’t just walk in and be on the Grand Ole Opry,” she said. “But I didn’t give up that easy. And my uncle and me kept talkin’ to everybody backstage, worryin’ ’em to death, I’m sure.”

Ultimately, another performer, Jimmy C. Newman, offered her his spot. Manager Ott Devine might not have approved, but she managed to bypass him.

“Her name was not on the list,” Devine said. “I turned her down because we had a policy against using children that age. You had to be eighteen years old, an adult. She just sneaked in there with Jimmy.”

Well, it is Parton’s resilience that has left Dollywood to be such a success, even after enduring terrifying incidents such as destructive theme park fires. 

While the park did shutter its gates last week, it is once again fully operational. 

Now, Dollywood has spoken out on the future of the Dolly Parton Experience, the new attraction that is coming to Dollywood with high demand.

During the anticipated high-demand period for the new attraction’s initial opening from May 24 to June 2, visitors will need a timed entry ticket for admission.

Dollywood Sign
Credit: Dollywood

These free entry tickets grant access to Songteller and Behind the Seams. However, they won’t be necessary for Dreamsong Theater, Precious Memories, Dolly’s Fan Shop, or the adjacent restrooms.

Starting May 14 at 2:00 p.m., guests can register for a timed entry ticket. Time slots are available on a first-come, first-served basis between 10:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. from May 24 to June 2, with no ticket needed after 5:00 p.m. A standby line will also be available.

On the chosen day and time slot, visitors will enter the park as usual by scanning their park admission at the turnstiles. Once inside, they’ll proceed to the entry point of the Dolly Parton Experience near Jukebox Junction during their selected 30-minute window, where they’ll present their area entry ticket. There’s a 15-minute grace period for tardiness.

Once inside, guests can stay as long as they wish!

The Dolly Parton Experience will immerse guests in interactive elements that recreate Dolly’s journey from Locust Ridge to stages worldwide. Spanning multiple buildings, the experience covers her iconic career, the inspiration behind her biggest dreams, the significance of family, and a curated exhibit showcasing her evolving style. Three times larger than the former Chasing Rainbows Museum, the Dolly Parton Experience offers more Dolly than ever before.

The entire Adventures in Imagination area has been transformed to accommodate the new Dolly Parton Experience. Within this reimagined themed area, visitors will encounter three unique experiences—Songteller, Behind The Seams, and Precious Memories—each meticulously designed to present Dolly’s story in a fresh light. Additionally, a new merchandise location and Dolly’s mobile home will be available in a new location.

While Parton’s presence in the parks is only continuing to grow, her public presence is about to shrink.

Dolly Parton
credit: Pipilongstockings, Flickr

Dolly Parton and husband Carl Dean tied the knot in 1966, a time before Dolly’s meteoric rise to country music superstardom. They were young, Dolly at 20 and Carl at 23, and their love has endured for an impressive 58 years.

While Dolly’s career flourished on the road, Carl kept a low profile, preferring the quiet life at home. However, their dynamic shifted in 2017 when Carl received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Dolly, ever devoted, made the decision to scale back her touring and public appearances to be closer to him in their East Tennessee home.

Recent reports suggest Dolly Parton may be putting her career on hold altogether to focus on Carl’s well-being as he battles Alzheimer’s. This would mean fewer public appearances and media interactions for the beloved singer.

Have you ever wanted to visit Dollywood? 

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