Dollywood’s opening signals end of winter, start of tourist season

Mar. 18, 2013 @ 11:57 PM

One of the nice things about the seasonal opening of Dollywood is that it signals the arrival of spring. And while we didn’t have an extreme winter, it is nice to think it’s behind us.

Dollywood opens for the new year on Saturday. There is no major new ride to announce, but that’s OK. There have been quite a few of those in recent years. There will be new shows to debut during 2013, and the Festival of Nations that kicks off the season is always thrilling and popular, but let’s face it: Dollywood begins 2013 without a major new announcement.

So what? It remains the most popular ticketed destination in the state. The great rides you enjoyed last year will be operating this year. The flowers are in bloom, the staff as friendly as ever and the stroll through the grounds remains pleasant and exhilarating. Dolly Parton will be in the park during the weekend to usher in the season.

Since it opened in 1986 Dollywood, a partnership between Parton and Herschend Family Entertainment, has steadily improved its offerings and value. With her name recognition and promotional skills, it soon became a must-see destination. You might be surprised to know the celebrities that have enjoyed the park or performed there.

Dollywood is not Sevier County’s only draw, of course. We have the national park, Ripley’s operations, go-cart tracks, theaters and more. But it is fair to say Dollywood packs the biggest punch. An estimated 2.5 million people visit every year. While here they stay in our hotels, dine in our restaurants and visit our other attractions. That’s an impressive calling card for one business.

It’s great to have the amusement park back for another season. The turnstiles will be clicking and the trams jammed with visitors excited to see the park and discover its amenities. This is going to be a great year for tourism in Sevier County. The fun begins this week.