PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WLOS) — Dollywood is celebrating opening weekend for the theme park’s 38th season this weekend -- and kicking things off Friday, March 10 was none other than Dolly herself.
The park's season pass holder and media preview Friday was made all that sweeter with the park's namesake joining the celebration in the flesh.
“It’s going to be a busy year, but before we take a deeper look into all that, I just want to say thank you for Dollywood’s best year ever in 2022,” Dolly Parton said to the crowd.
DOLLY PARTON REVEALS PLANS FOR NEW HEARTSONG LODGE AND RESORT
Dollywood will unveil two major projects in 2023. The HeartSong Lodge & Resort will open with more than 300 rooms in November, and bookings for the resort will begin in June.
The Big Bear Mountain roller coaster is expected to open in May.
“I think that is really going to be something great," Parton said to the crowd. "Now, y’all know as well as you know my name, I’m not going to be riding that thing.”
Fans and pass holders lined up early Friday morning for a chance to gain admission to the opening weekend presentation.
“We woke up at 5 a.m. to get here today,” said Danielle Shelton.
“We were in the parking lot at 6:30, and we were the first car in line, so we sat there until they let us in,” said Kathleen Cagle.
Once inside, they were treated to a special performance of Parton’s hit, "I Will Always Love You."
“We’re kicking off this year celebrating songwriting and songwriters -- and 50 years ago, I wrote a little song that’s been pretty good to me; it’s called 'I Will Always Love You.' Remember that one?” Parton asked the crowd as an eruption of cheers broke out.