Before I start this blog, I’ll go ahead and admit the obvious. Working at Dollywood is pretty cool. There I’ve said it, now we can all move on! With that statement hanging out there, let me follow up. As part of our jobs, we get the exciting honor of sharing news with you about our upcoming projects and events. Today has been one of those very exciting times.
Dolly visited today to share our plans for 2018, and let’s just say, the spotlight is going to be shining bright on Dollywood’s entertainment next year! Because the park was closed today, media and park employees—hosts as we call ourselves—were able to see what she has in store. This was a nice treat for the hosts, as they usually are working during most of our media events.
Calling it a “Season of Showstoppers,” Dolly announced an entertainment lineup which represents an investment $1 million greater than any season-long entertainment schedule in our history. The names performing here next year reads like a nomination list from an awards ceremony. Combined, the headlining artists performing at Dollywood in 2018 have 42 gold albums, 18 platinum albums, 30 Grammys, 14 Country Music Association Awards, 10 American Country Music Awards, five American Music Association Awards and 62 Dove Awards.
“Music is the universal language that unites all of us,” Dolly said. “It celebrates our people, our families and our communities. I’ve made music my life’s work because I feel each and every one of us has a special song to sing. I’ve made sure that here at my Dollywood, we use music to encourage and inspire those songs in each and every one of our shows.”
It begins with Festival of Nations (March 17-April 9) which includes headliners National Dance Company of Siberia, The Flamenco Kings starring Los Vivancos, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Hailing from South Africa, internationally-known Grammy award-winning group Ladysmith Black Mambazo—who worked with Dolly on her 1996 album Treasures—has teamed with Paul Simon, Sarah McLachlan, Emmylou Harris, and many more.
April plays host to a number of stellar performances during the all-new Spring Mix music series (April 11-29). Dollywood guests can expect performances by Dollywood entertainment alumnus Suzy Bogguss, T.G. Sheppard, Pam Tillis, Crystal Gayle, Connie Smith and Shenandoah during the first week of the event. The second week plays host to artists such as Amy Grant, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Larnelle Harris, David Phelps and comedienne Chonda Pierce – also known as “The Queen of Clean.”
Classic artists like The Marshall Tucker Band (Can’t You See and Heard it in a Love Song), The Drifters (Under the Boardwalk and Save the Last Dance for Me), Debby Boone (You Light Up My Life), The Atlanta Rhythm Section (So Into You and Imaginary Lover), Firefall (Just Remember I Love You and You Are the Woman), and Al Stewart (The Year of the Cat and Song on the Radio) entertain park guests during the final week of the event. We will announce the individual concert dates and show times as we get closer to that event.
Already one of the nation’s best bluegrass events, Dollywood’s Barbeque & Bluegrass (May 25- June 10) adds an extra week of concerts from the biggest names in the business. There will be hundreds of performances during the festival with headline shows from Grammy and IBMA winner Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, and IMBA winners Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, Dailey & Vincent, and many more.
Families have a multitude of world-renowned options to keep them entertained during Dollywood’s Summer Celebration. iLuminate, finalists on America’s Got Talent in 2011, bring their electrified glow-in-the-dark costumes to DP’s Celebrity Theater to perform dynamic dance routines and illusions to thrill guests. Summer 2018 also sees international touring sensation DRUMLine Live! visit the park with riveting rhythms, bold beats and ear-grabbing energy. Developed by the consultants of the hit 2002 movie Drumline, the band featured in this exhilarating show creates a synchronized musical masterpiece for guests—it’s more than just the typical halftime performance! Dan Dunn—America’s favorite speed painter—brings his innovative and mesmerizing PaintJam to Dollywood. Audiences will be astonished as he creates stunning works of art on a spinning 360-degree canvas, while he dances and moves throughout the performance.
Our popular Rock the Smokies moves to August 25 with TobyMac and Crowder serving as headliners, with a number of other artists performing throughout the park. Dollywood’s Harvest Festival presented by Humana (Sept. 28 – Nov. 3) provides more fall family fun with the expansion of the new guest-favorite Great Pumpkin LumiNights and the largest Southern gospel event in America. Our 2018 season again ends with America’s favorite theme park holiday event, Smoky Mountain Christmas. Voted as the best theme park Christmas event for a decade, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana (Nov. 10, 2018 – Jan. 5, 2019) features four million spectacular lights, classic holiday entertainment—including Christmas in the Smokies and It’s a Wonderful Life—Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Friends, and the heartwarming Parade of Many Colors.
Dollywood won the 2017 Golden Ticket from Amusement Today for Best Entertainment at any theme park in the world. The honor was the ninth consecutive triumph for us in that category. With Dolly’s commitment to entertainment in 2018, we’re hoping to lead the way in securing our 10th victory!