Dollywood’s 2018 season has begun! Lots of updates and additions took place during winter to get Dollywood ready for the year ahead, which has been proclaimed a “Season of Showstoppers.” It’s a fitting description for everything going on because not only does Dollywood do an incredible job of celebrating every season of the year with its own distinctive and festive decor, but they also incorporate truly show-stopping entertainment and attractions to go along with the fun and festive atmosphere. This year, I have to say that Dollywood has truly “kicked it up a notch” – or a few!
It was my pleasure to explore some of the updates and additions on opening day so I can share my “Top Four Things Not to Miss at Dollywood this Year!”
The Plaza at Wilderness Pass
This year Dollywood invested more money than they ever have in entertainment. One of the things I’m most excited about is a beautiful new venue within the park called “The Plaza at Wilderness Pass.”
It’s located between Mystery Mine and FireChaser Express, and is a great spot to relax in the comfortable rocking chairs, take photos by the fountain, and allow the kids to stretch out, run around, and enjoy themselves in the gorgeous open spaces! It will also house various festival elements throughout the year.
Aunt Granny’s Restaurant Presented by Lodge
Did you know that “Aunt Granny” is actually another name for Dolly Parton? It’s true! This “all-you-care-to-eat buffet-style” restaurant is a nod to the special nickname that Dolly’s nieces and nephews have always called her. And, just like Dolly loves to nourish the souls and stomachs of her nieces and nephews, Aunt Granny’s will nourish yours with its loving attention to detail – from the nostalgic and fresh decor to the delicious and filling dishes on its delightful buffet!
Thanks to Dollywood’s new and unique partnership with the iconic Tennessee brand, Lodge Manufacturing Company, maker of cast iron cookware, Aunt Granny’s has designed a number of changes to create a bright and airy space where you’ll be pleased to relax and enjoy new and traditional “home-cooked” Southern foods like fried chicken, potatoes and gravy, cornbread, apple cobbler, and roasts from the new carving station. The Lodge cookware adorns charming displays throughout the restaurant, lending to the “industrial farmhouse” vibe.
Mountain Laurel HOME
You might not think of Dollywood as a shopping mecca – but it is! I love to do my holiday and birthday gift shopping at the park, believe it or not, and this year I will most likely find most of the gifts I buy at Mountain Laurel HOME (formerly known as White Water Nature Shop).
This shop, located just across the street from Aunt Granny’s and Dolly’s Tennessee Mountain Home in Rivertown Junction, has been newly updated with ALL new inventory. And I want it all for my own home, too!
The beautifully-redesigned and restocked shop has been outfitted by an extremely talented Dollywood employee who first began working at this shop when it was a quilt store. The shop’s new offerings have been inspired by the beautiful Smoky Mountains and it also boasts a very eclectic and upscale sensibility.
I was delighted to find out that I could find both higher end items for home and cabin decor, as well as affordable gifts. Whether you are shopping to accessorize your home, farmhouse, or cabin, or looking to find the perfect gift for someone who seems to have everything, you won’t be disappointed here.
Mountain Laurel HOME is the only shop where you can find the shop’s own unique brand of scented candles, called “Mountain Laurels.” I was advised to test out “Sweet Tea,” sure to be one of your new personal favorites, too.
This is also the only shop where you will find my favorite new gift to both give and receive – Dolly mugs! These simply elegant white mugs have many of our favorite Dolly Parton quotes, such as “Poured Myself a Cup of Ambition” and “I Will Always Love You” etched upon them. I can’t think of a better way to start the day than with a cup of coffee and ambition with Dolly!
After you’ve shopped to your heart’s content in Mountain Laurel HOME, be sure to stop just across the street to shop at the newly outfitted Rivertown Garden & Gifts, formerly known as Rivertown Trading. It is now filled with beautiful things for your home garden, porch, or sunroom.
The sentimental favorite “Heartsong, The Movie” has undergone some highly anticipated updates for the 2018 Season of Showstoppers. This short video about Dolly is now entering its 25th season.
As you enter the theater, I think it resembles a beautiful chapel you might find in the Smoky Mountains, you feel like you have stepped back to a time when things were much simpler and more peaceful. Your heartstrings will surely feel a tug as the sights, sounds, and scents fill your senses.
This well-loved theatrical attraction, which is near and dear in the hearts of many Dolly fans, has thankfully received some “love and attention” in the off-season and is now outfitted with new foliage, new (and newly scented for all of your senses!) effects, and is now presented in High Definition.