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Calling all Dollywood fans: Friday, March 16 marks the Dollywood 2018 season opening! Of course, as your trusted Dollywood Insider, I will be there with my family experiencing all things Dolly Parton (yes, she’ll be there too) and getting a taste (literally) of everything that’s in store for the coming Dollywood season.
If you’re planning on heading to Dollywood this year too, whether for the season opener or at any time during the 2018 season, here is what you NEED to know to be prepared.
Dollywood 2018 Season Opening Day
9 am: Dollywood opens for Season Ticket holders
Why is this important? Because season ticket holders get in an hour before everyone else, and that has two benefits (besides better parking):
1. Early Ride Time
2. Get wristbands for the showcase with Dolly (see more info below)
Speaking of traffic, plan to arrive well in advance of the time you plan to walk through the gates as traffic congestion increases when Dolly Parton is in town.
10:30 am = Dollywood 2018 Season Showcase
You will want to plan to join Dolly Parton as she kicks off Dollywood’s “Season of Showstoppers” with a 2018 entertainment showcase of what we can expect for the year, featuring performers from Festival of Nations and the new Spring Mix music series. Among the artists currently scheduled to participate are Orleans, Janie Fricke and Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Only people with wristbands will be allowed in the theater for the Showcase, and I’m anticipating that the majority of wristbands will already be given out by the time the park opens to the general public at 10 am, so get in line early if this is something you want to see.
Newly Remodeled Aunt Granny’s Buffet
The beloved Aunt Granny’s Restaurant has been remodeled for the 2018 season, but still features one of the biggest all-you-care-to-eat buffets around! I will be one of the first to experience this favorite dining location in Rivertown Junction, so follow along on social media to get your first look on Friday.
While prices can change without notice, it looks like it still remains a great value:
All-You-Care-To-Eat Lunch & Dinner Buffet including drink
Regular (Ages 10+) – $16.99
Child (Ages 4-9) – $8.99
Season of Showstoppers
Yes, the Dollywood 2018 season is known as the “Season of Showstoppers”. In addition to the new festival plaza at Wilderness Pass, you’ll notice an incredible array of performers this year. Sure, Dollywood has always been known for their entertainment, but they’re really kicking it up a notch this year. Here is what you can expect for the upcoming season:
Festival of Nations returns for its 18th year: March 16 – April 9
* 3 world-renowned headliners all new to Dollywood
* National Dance Company of Siberia
* Los Vivancos
* Grammy award winners Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Guests also can find food from around the globe at various locations throughout Dollywood. Items include Elote with Pimente Espelette, Citrus Ancho & Coca-Cola Braised Beef Tostada, Lamb or Chicken Gyros, Crepe Suzette, Pad Thai and much more!
All-new Spring Mix Music Series: April 11-29
Of course, Dollywood’s Festival of Nations sets the stage for a show-stopping 2018 season, but the park celebrates the arrival of spring with the all-new Spring Mix Music Series April 11-29. Spring Mix includes performances by artists including The Marshall Tucker Band, Amy Grant, Pam Tillis, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Crystal Gayle and more.
The Spring Mix music styles will feature something different each week:
Dollywood’s Barbeque & Bluegrass: May 25-June 10
Dollywood’s Barbeque & Bluegrass includes more than 350 performances by the best in bluegrass, while the park’s Summer Celebration features iLuminate, DRUMLine Live and Dan Dunn’s PaintJam. This is one week longer than last year, so there’s even more time to enjoy the good food and great music!
Dollywood’s Summer Season: June 16-Aug. 5
Extended hours and nightly fireworks shows are the highlight Dollywood’s summer season.
Dollywood’s Harvest Festival: Sept. 28-Nov. 3
Dollywood’s Harvest Festival presented by Humana features Southern gospel’s greatest performers alongside the second year for the guest-favorite Great Pumpkin LumiNights.
Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas: Nov. 10-Jan. 5, 2019
Dollywood’s 2018 season concludes with the ten-time winner for Best Theme Park Christmas Event, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana.
And it goes without saying that a season pass is still the best deal if you want to enjoy all of these great offerings. If there has ever been a year to take advantage of the value of a Dollywood season pass, this is it. With a number of new entertainment options (all included with park admission) available throughout the season, you’ll certainly want to make several return visits in 2018.
Of course, if you decide a season pass isn’t for you, new ticket options are customizable: now you can decide if you want to spend one day, two days, etc – without buying a season pass – if you still want a multi-day option.
Dollywood’s Splash Country
Don’t forget, Dollywood is a destination, not just a theme park. Dollywood’s Splash Country opens on May 19 and is one of our family’s favorite reasons to visit in the spring and summer.
So there you have it! Everything you need to know about the Dollywood 2018 Season Opening. What questions do you have for me? Leave your comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them LIVE while at the park for you. Of course, you can always check out the Dollywood Insider page for more great tips from Dollywood fans like me.