With the help of Dolly Parton, Dollywood pulled out all the stops to kick off its 30th anniversary season, on Friday, March 20.
In a ceremony filled with performances and videos, Dolly Parton announced that the theme park is bringing back Showcase with the Stars series, which will benefit the country music star's non-profit Imagination Library. Parton hopes to raise $1 million through the Showcase with the Stars.
She also talked about the economic impact of the park and plans this summer for the opening of her on-site resort. Dollywood is the largest seasonal employer in Sevier County.
"Any little part that I can play that might help this county makes me feel like i'm doing something for Mom and Daddy and for my family and bringing honor to them, " Parton told 10News' Beth Haynes.
Her appearance in the Showcase with the Star will be the first time in 10 years that Dolly has performed in the park.
Parton will headline the concert series as the first act on Aug. 8 and 9. Kenny Rogers will close the series, and Dollywood will announce other performers as the event draws closer.
Tickets for the concert series aren't available yet, and season ticket holders will get the first opportunity to purchase tickets. The park will notify media and fans when tickets become available.
DreamMore boasts more than 300 family-friendly rooms, two pools, a lazy river, a splash park, fitness room, spa, and restaurant. The starting price for rooms is $179 a night.
Dolly Parton told 10News that she had been dreaming of this type of resort since Dollywood opened 30 years ago. The multi-million-dollar project is expected to bring more than 2,000 jobs to Sevier County. Dollywood is a huge employer in East Tennessee and the largest seasonal employer in Sevier County.
Since the park 30 years ago, 75 million guests have visited the park, making it the No. 1 paid attraction in Tennessee. Dollywood is the most honored theme park in the industry.
"Every year we get together, and we talk about what would be great for the families. So we've got more land, and we've got more space, and we've got more dreams. So we'll be letting you know when we do some other things," Parton said during Friday's ceremony. "We've got some new announcements to make later in the summer when we open for homecoming weekend. We'll be announcing a few more things we're going to do in expansion. But we just wanted to create more things for more families: more fun, more rides, more food, more music."
The resort is the big news for Dollywood this year, but of course, all aspects of the park that people love - the rides, shows, music and food - are still going strong. Plus, festivals throughout the season will create new experiences for guests: the first one of the season is the Festival of Nations.
Starting on Saturday, March 21, guests can get a taste of exciting cultures from around the world right here in the Smokies, including Rhythm of the Dance, Los Pampas Gaucho, Timber and the Grammy award-winning Mariachi Divas. The Festival of Nations continues through April 20.
A new event this year is Rock the Smokies, which is a day-long Christian music festival in September featuring Third Day, For King and County along with other artists yet to be announced.
Another festival, Barbeque and Bluegrass, will return at the end of May and continue until the beginning of June. The Great American Summer is also back with the fireworks show and extended hours. This fall, the National Southern Gospel and Harvest Celebration will kick off. And don't forget Smoky Mountain Christmas in November and December, when Dollywood transforms into a winter wonderland filled with holiday lights and themed shows.