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Weekend edition March 10, 2023 | Shannon Smith

Dollywood opens 2023 season with new roller coaster, themed celebration

Dolly's been working 9 to 5 to get her theme park ready to open for the 2023 season. Here's what you can expect if you visit Dollywood this spring.

Dollywood opens on Saturday, March 11 for the 2023 season.

Instead of the Flower and Food Festival kicking off the Sevierville theme park’s opening like it has the past few years, visitors will now celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of Dolly’s biggest hits, I Will Always Love You, during an all-new event.

This festive celebration will commemorate the art of songwriting and the stories behind the songs. In addition to honoring Dolly’s iconic status as a songwriter, the event will recognize a number of noted and up-and-coming singers and songwriters with performances throughout the park. Look for special park décor, limited-time merchandise, and more. That will run through April 8, and the Flower and Food Festival will return on April 21.

On the ride side, a brand new roller coaster called Big Bear Mountain will open in May. Dolly made the announcement herself at Dollywood Friday.

Big Bear Mountain will be the longest coaster at Dollywood, taking guests of all ages on an unforgettable family-friendly expedition in search of the Big Bear. Circling Wildwood Grove for nearly two minutes on 3,990 feet of track, this gigantic coaster is a first of its kind at Dollywood with onboard audio.

Dolly also unveiled plans for a state-of-the-art guest attraction that showcases her legendary life and career. The experience is planned for a 2024 opening in the area surrounding and including the former Chasing Rainbows museum.

Dollywood made facility upgrades throughout the park. They’ve increased accessibility with a new wheelchair ramp for the Dollywood Express train. There are also two new service dog relief areas behind the Village Carousel and by the Frogs & Fireflies in Wildwood Grove, adding the park’s total to four.

The new 302-room HeartSong Lodge & Resort, the newest element of the company’s growing hospitality program, will begin accepting bookings in June for stays starting in November. From spacious accommodations to well-planned amenities, guests can enjoy a variety of spaces to recharge and relax. The resort also features the HeartSong Meeting and Event Center which features 26,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor meeting space.

If growing Dollywood Parks & Resorts with both a thrilling new roller coaster and a world-class resort isn’t enough to prove 2023 is the biggest season ever, the park operating calendar grows this year with an additional 21 days of operation as compared to the 2022 calendar.

“I think everyone knows that I try to dream big dreams no matter what I’m doing,” Dolly explained, “and with everything happening at my Dollywood this year, this may be some of my biggest dreaming yet! We’re going to open a BIG ride and a BIG resort, even the calendar got bigger this year! Eugene (Naughton, Dollywood Parks & Resort President) better get ready for my next big dreams because everybody knows I like trying to outdo myself! But seriously, this is going to be a really special year for all of our guests here at Dollywood.”

For tickets, season passes, and more information, click here.

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