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Dollywood is Reopening! Here’s What You Need to Know for 2021!

It’s the day we’ve all been waiting for… or at least in my family and just about every other family in East Tennessee and surrounding areas. Dollywood will be open for the 2021 season on March 13!

dollywood sign, rollercoasters with text dollywood is reopening

Prior to your visit, be sure to read about all the changes as well as Dollywood hours of operation!

Dollywood Reopening on March 13th

Dollywood is set to open for Season Pass holders only on March 12th for Passholder Preview Day. The park will be open from 10 am – 6 pm.

Dollywood will be open for all guests starting, Saturday March 13th.

“We are excited to get open and to welcome families back to the Great Smoky Mountains. Brighter Days are here!” Dolly Parton said.

family on dollywood ride

I had the chance to visit Dollywood this week to see the construction that happens during the off season to get ready for opening day. Crews are hard at work making changes that you might not even notice visually, but will make a big impact on guest experience.

constructions around dollywood

In fact, these changes are being made because of you! If you have ever visited Dollywood, you’ve likely been emailed a survey. Dollywood takes feedback very seriously and has implemented a lot of that into the parks’ 36th season!

Here are some changes that Dollywood is making for 2021:

Space – and lots of it! Walkways have been opened up to create more space around the park. They’ve even removed a couple of shops to make more space.

Eating Areas – Dollywood boasts a ton of restaurants and the food is excellent, as you know if you’ve been. But, guest experience surveys showed that people wanted more places to sit and eat the delicious Dollywood food.

They listened. Dollywood is adding 2 larger eating areas to the park – the first being near Dogs N Taters, which will feature tables with umbrellas. The 2nd is a larger, covered eating area near Hickory House. Now, you’ll be able to enjoy your food and watch observe the Eagle Sanctuary.

new construction

New Experiences in Craftsman’s Valley – The iconic blacksmith shop is being moved into the barn that used to house the pottery shop. This is an expansion and will also include a “Make Your Own Knife” area! This is sure to be a guest favorite when it opens.

Update to the Iconic Robert F. Thomas Chapel – This is one of those updates that you likely won’t notice, but the chapel is receiving a new roof, new footings, and update to the outer wood. This chapel is definitely one to be preserved because it makes the theme park super unique and it made my list of Things You Didn’t Know About Dollywood – do you know why?!

dollywood chapel construction

Painting – I was surprised to learn that everything in Dollywood waist-height is repainted in the off-season. That’s a lot of paint! Additionally, 15% of Dollywood’s buildings receive a full re-paint. This is one reason why everything always looks so clean and well maintained at the park.

Lastly, and one of the most exciting changes for me, is the update to Lightning Rod. The coaster is a fan favorite, but saw a lot of downtime since it’s debut in 2016. Crews have modified the track structure, which will ultimately mean the ride will be up more than it’s down!

dollywood rollercoaster lightning rod with yellow car and old gas pumps

Flower & Food Festival is the first festival of the 2021 season will kick off on April 23rd and run through June 7th. It’s one that you definitely don’t want to miss. You can read more about the Flower & Food Festival here.

funnel cake waffle with cream and flowers dollywood flower and food festival food item

Dollywood is keeping with the health and safety protocol that was put into place last year. You’ll definitely want to check out these major changes to how the park will operate until further notice. You can find all the changes here, but I’ve highlighted some of the most important below:

  • All guests will be required to wear a mask. Guests under 3 do not have to. There are also times where a mask is not required, such as when eating and on certain rides. Please see the complete rules about masks on the Dollywood website.
  • Social Distancing will apply. This means the park’s capacity will be limited. In order to comply with lower attendance numbers, single day Dollywood tickets will be sold for a particular day only.
  • Season Pass holders will be required to make a reservation for the day they want to visit. Please see below for more about Dollywood reservations.
  • All guests will have their temperature taken prior to entry. Any guest with a fever above 100.4 will not be allowed into the park, as well as any guests who were traveling with them.
  • Restaurants and shops will be open with limited capacity. Some Dollywood rides will also be operating at lower capacity.
  • Thankfully indoor theaters WILL be open for the 2021 season, with some modifications like every other row will be closed and parties will be separated by 2-3 seats in the theater.
  • All operations will adhere to the Tennessee Pledge and state operational restrictions. 
dollywood market square

Dollywood Season Pass Reservation Information

If you are a Dollywood Season Passholder, you can still have unlimited visits to the park in 2021, but you need to make a reservation to be guaranteed entry because of capacity requirements.

Dollywood Season Passes explained

This is the system Dollywood implemented last year and is continuing as of now. Here are the latest details on the Dollywood Season Pass Reservation system:

  • You can still just show up and get entry into Dollywood with a 2021 season pass, however, if capacity has already been reached [and it can be reached before the park even opens because of how Dollywood tickets are being sold now], you will not be able to enter. That’s why you’re encouraged to make a reservation.
  • There are no limits to the reservations that you can make as a Season Pass holder.
  • Reservations are open up to 45 days in advance.
  • You can make a reservation for multiple days, but each day has to be reserved itself.
  • Dollywood encourages season pass holders who want to visit on a weekend, to put in their reservations as soon as possible – at least 2 weeks in advance. This is a recommendation, not a requirement, but capacity is met much faster on weekends.
dollywood train and grist mill with flowers

If you have any other questions about the Dollywood Season Pass Reservation system, be sure to check out their FAQ page here.

dollywood showstreet palace theater with text visiting dollywood in 2021

Have questions about Dollywood reopening? Let me know and I’ll try to find the answers for you!

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I am trying to make reservations for Sunday october 31, 2021. Will the park be open and can I get tickets