Dollywood is closed, and for that reason, it felt very fitting that there was snow on the ground when I walked the park to see the off-season projects already underway.
Our operating calendar takes us through the first of the new year, but we close shortly thereafter because it can get pretty chilly in the Smoky Mountains during January and February.
It’s a short break, though, because we’ll be ready to host guests again March 12. (Season Passholders will get to enjoy Passholder Preview Day on March 11!) The project list is lengthy for a tight timeline of 66 days.
I know you’re eager to know more, so I’ll jump right in.
The Parking Lot
Before you ever see inside the gates, you will notice something big is happening in the parking lot. Actually, you probably already know this if you visited us during the latter part of 2021.
This is great news because we’re working on improving the expediency of your entry. We’re moving the toll booth plaza to allow space for additional booths. That’s the work that you may have noticed in Lot F.
I’ll write another blog specifically about the new parking experience because the route is improving and will take you a different way. Stay tuned for more details!
Once you enter Dollywood, you won’t go far before you’ll notice more renovations. The Dollywood Emporium is getting a facelift. You’ll enjoy the aesthetic update as well as how much easier it will be for Dollywood hosts to stock shelves with the merchandise you love.
Taking Down Christmas
When you return for a spring visit, Christmas décor will be gone. It takes months to get it up (we start in June or July) and it takes months to get it down (we start the first day of the off-season and are still sweeping away trimming debris until the day before the park reopens). When you’re the 13-time winner of Best Christmas Event for the Golden Ticket Awards, you go ALL out to deck the whole park. There’s a lot of work to do!
I spotted some general maintenance, too. Remember, Dollywood is nestled into the foothills of the Smokies. There are a lot of trees, which I know you love for their natural shade as well as the beauty! We are constantly trimming trees and we get a lot of this work taken care of during our off season.
Opening Up Walkways
One of the improvements we really appreciated in 2021 is more open walkways. We took some notes from guest feedback and agreed that elbow room is a good thing. We made some walkways wider and loved the result, so expect to see more of that in 2022. We can better utilize some spaces around the park and create more outdoor seating for restaurants. A needed update includes removing the old cave between The Village and Craftsman’s Valley. While some may find it nostalgic, we can get better use of this area with a redesign.
Speaking of better use of space, we have our eyes on Victoria’s Pizza this off-season. When renovating kitchens, we always want to improve efficiency for our hosts, which means quicker line speed for our guests. We’re going to enlarge this eatery and create more seating. If it helps you understand how much space is under construction, there was work happening to both Victoria’s and the former Tin Type Photos building. And, if you’re familiar with the renovations we made to Hickory House, I bet you’re excited to hear that we’re working on Victoria’s now. We’re excited about the potential for our culinary service opportunities as Dollywood grows this season and beyond.
This is your first update. There’s a lot happening as we get ready for a fantastic 2022 season. I haven’t even told you about the work at Dollywood’s Splash Country. That’s coming in another blog. Check back soon!