Dollywood to open for the season

PIGEON FORGE (WATE) – Dollywood is preparing for its season opening for its theme park.

The park will open this weekend. There are multiple ticket options, from one day admission to season passes. Visitors can enjoy rides and shows at Dollywood. Festival of Nations starts opening weekend and ends April 9.

Friday was a day all about smiles, fun and family. It’s fitting because this year’s theme at Dollywood is “The year of the family.”

“It’s great, we’ll be able to get together every weekend or when we have time as a family to come out here and spend the day,” said Timothy Urey of Powell.

Families with season passes got a sneak peek of what’s to come at the park. Many made a list of what they’ll do this season.

“Well I always enjoy the roller coasters and they have a new, I guess it’s like a drop tower at this park. Didn’t really get a chance to ride the new roller coaster last year very often, so I want to do that again some more,” said Steven Moore of Greenville, South Carolina.

“I’m really excited to have it because there are so many new rides to try at Dollywood that I haven’t tried before and I’m actually getting over my fear of going upside down in roller coasters,” added Ella Urey, 12.

For some, a season pass to Dollywood was a Christmas present or a gift to themselves.

“We became empty nesters and we decided we just need to be able to be spontaneous, have fun, do things. We do day trips and we come up for weekends,” said Patty Moore.

While many braved the cold on Friday, they’re happy to be here and see what’s in store.

“That’s what Dollywood is about anyway. Dolly came from a big family. We’re from a big family. We love being with our children, we love being with our grandkids,” said Johnny Boyd of Mt. Juliet.

Also, two new attractions will open later in the season. Dropline is a 230-foot free fall experience. Whistle Punk Chaser is a junior coaster.

During the pre-season opening, Dollywood President Craig Ross gave a breakdown of the financial impact the park has made since 2013.

“It’s quite impressive what a young girl has done to impact the lives of so many people,” he said.

A study was done in 2013 finding Dollywood supports more than 12,000 jobs inside and outside of the park, as well as established a $1.1 billion impact on the community, which has been growing each year.

“We are outpacing our plan. we are currently supporting throughout all of our activity, both direct and indirect, 19,000 jobs within this community. So it has grown from 12 to 19,000 in four years’ time,” said Ross.

Related: Dollywood adding new attractions, helping Sevier County economy

Research estimates, in 2017, the park is making at $1.5 billion impact.

“Our new plan will have us in about another five to seven years supporting 24,000 jobs within this community,” said Ross.

The park is working on continually growing, getting people to stay in Sevier County and support a number of other shops, restaurants, and attractions.

“The Atlanta and the Nashville markets last year, through the addition of the DreamMore resort were up over 20 percent. So, we’re reaching further out, we’re bringing more new customers into the area. We’re bringing families closer together,” said Ross.

For tickets or information on hours, visit Dollywood’s website.

Many are excited to see this kind of good news and future. “Who would’ve thought after what happened late November that we’d be standing here sharing this information,” added Ross.

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