January is a great time to hit the reset button and refocus on priorities. At our theme park, that’s included on our list of things to do this winter, too!
The very day after we bid our final guests of the 2020 season goodbye, dozens of crews hit the pavement with marching orders in-hand. Dollywood’s off-season is a short 68 days. (I say short because that’s only nine and a half weeks to get major construction projects accomplished!) I’ve heard that we have more construction going on this off-season than in years past, so I walked through the park to survey all the happenings to share with you. Here’s what I can tell you:
Christmas is coming down. It takes months to hang all the lights and decor—and it takes months to get it all down. You won’t see a trace when you join us for our re-opening in March, but as of now, the giant Christmas tree in The Plaza at Wilderness Pass is being disassembled, lifts are parked near tall structures and trees and hosts are removing millions of lights by hand all over the park. We re-use all of our lights because they are LED bulbs now. How efficient!
And, don’t forget the Christmas lights on the Dollywood Express! On my route, I stopped in the train shop and saw the engineers pulling off lights that line the engines. The train crew will focus their attention on Engine 70 this off-season because 192 got most of their effort last year.
I saw lots of new wood already in place. Being an outdoor theme park, we typically replace about five miles worth of lumber! This year, our Maintenance and Construction crew says it will likely be more than that. Just think about all the tracking on rides like Thunderhead! I also saw fresh railings, fencing, and paneling.
I know. I know. You want me to get back to telling you more about the work on our rides. Each attraction has scheduled maintenance we do in the off-season to ensure everything runs in top shape. This off-season, Lightning Rod, Mystery Mine and Thunderhead are getting lots of attention. I’m looking forward to telling you more about that soon. Yes, I’m going to hold you in suspense for now!
Many of the items on our off-season to-do list come directly from you, our guests. We listen. When there’s a request we can accommodate, we try to do so. We always hear that guests want more shade and seating. In Rivertown Junction, Dogs N Taters is gaining seating as well as more tables and chairs in Craftsman’s Valley. That’s where you’ll see our Blacksmith & Foundry have been relocated so we can provide more space (that is, elbow room and additional seats) for our Hickory House eatery. There will be a new covered area for dining. Meanwhile, this is a peek inside the new location for our blacksmith shop.
It’s only Jan. 14, so there’s lots of work yet to be done. I’ll keep you updated as we move closer to opening day!