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The Dolly Parton Experience Is Coming to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge
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Coming in May 2024, it's the Dolly Parton Experience. Packed with interactive elements, its sure to be a larger than life attraction – just like Parton herself. It will be located at her eponymous Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

According to park press relations, the experience will be immersive as well as involving. It will be located across several buildings, and will include exhibits designed to span her career, including “the inspiration and results of her biggest dreams, the importance of her family, and even a curated exhibit that highlights Dolly's signature style through the years.”

The new attraction will replace what is currently the Chasing Rainbows Museum at Dollywood. However, it is being constructed to be three times as large, transforming the entire Adventures in Imagination area of the park into the new Dolly Parton Experience.

Conceptualized to be “a one-of-a-kind immersive storytelling experience that will offer visitors an overview of Dolly's journey and epic achievements,” per the park, it will include “an up-close look at Dolly's most-treasured things: family keepsakes and career mementos. Surrounded by video imagery and pristine sound, Dolly's voice will transport you as she tells the story herself.”

The experience will include anecdotes from her childhood presented at the Tennessee Mountain Home, an exploration of both her faith and family at Dreamsong Theater, and a walk-through display of her glittering wardrobe.

The goal is to make guests feel as if they were following the star's path on a journey from her childhood home on Locust Ridge to performances at major music venues worldwide. Covering both her career trajectory and personal life and beliefs, it will encompass her family, her fashion, and her music.

In a press release, Parton relates that she's “as excited about that as almost anything that we've done in years and years, and in a personal way, maybe more so, because that's about my life, and my journey through life with my music, with my clothes, with my family, and all the things, the trials and tribulations and all the joys and all the accolades and all the things that I've seen through the years.” Putting her excitement in the hands of the park's creative team, she adds that “everybody's just done a great job.”  

Also new at Dollywood in 2024 is the updated Lightning Rod coaster. The update provides the ride with a new high-speed chain lift. The park will remove Lightning Rod's current linear synchronous motor (LMS) launch system this fall. The LMS is located at the ride's first ascent. Replacing it will be the high-speed chain lift is planned to make the ride a smoother and more efficiently operating experience.

The Dollywood PR team says, “Despite the removal of the launch system, once the coaster trains reach the first drop, the ride experience remains identical to the current format,” which is one coaster fans love.  

The park recently just enjoyed some other changes. Dollywood's new HeartSong Lodge & Resort opened on November 3rd, and in May 2023, the park's $25 million Big Bear Mountain coaster from Vekoma opened. It is the park's longest roller coaster so far at 3,990-feet in length.

Heartsong marks the second resort in Parton's quiver. It differs greatly from the glam DreamMore resort which opened in 2015. This new 302-room location resembles a mountain lodge, including stained glass butterfly wings soaring over the atrium ceiling, synchronized fireflies that flare on the hallway carpets and in bathroom mirrors, and videos of the Smoky Mountains streaming behind the hotel's front desk. An in-room sound machine allows guests to be soothed to sleep with sounds like crickets, rushing water, a crackling bonfire, and bird songs.

Heartsong will also be home to higher end Southern meals at its restaurant Ember & Elm; nightly s'mores making; and campfire sing-a-longs. Room options include bunk beds in family suites.

2024 will also bring a host of events to the park, including the “I Will Always Love You” Music Festival, scheduled for Mar. 9 – Apr. 14, which will include a “Paradise Road” stage show, a sing-along of Dolly songs, and a new show titled “Trio,” built upon Parton's collaborative 1987 album with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt.

Following the music, Dollywood's Flower & Food Festival will bring large scale mosaic sculptural blooms along with massive amounts of nature's floral beauty and specialty dining to the park from Apr. 19 – June 9; while come summer, Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration will run June 15 – Aug. 11, with returning musical performance productions. Dollywood's Sweet Summer Nights will also bring drone and fireworks shows, and the “Gazillion Bubble Show” bubbles up in the park's Celebrity Theater. The park's Harvest Festival will return from Sept. 9 – Oct. 28, replete with illuminated pumpkins, regional artisans, and lighting displays of all kinds. Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas, which runs Nov. 1, 2024 – Jan. 5, 2025, brings dazzling holiday lights back to the park – some 6 million of them.

In 2024, Dollywood will also be open to welcome its guests for more days – 280 operating days, an increase by 23 days over the 2023 operating schedule. The park will reopen for the 2024 season – which marks its 39th – on March 8th, for passholders only, with other guests admitted starting the next day. It's the earliest opening date in the park's history.

Plans are also afoot for Parton to open a museum, at an unnamed date ahead, to be located away from the park - in Nashville. Potentially, according to Parton, it may be part of a larger complex, a “Dolly Center.”
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