Dollywood invited the media to view the safety precautions put into place, including requiring face masks for all guests, at the Pigeon Forge amusement park amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Knoxville News Sentinel

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified some rides that will be closed. The rides in the Country Fair area will be open and operating at a reduced capacity to comply with social distancing.

On Friday, a band practiced outside as workers planted flowers to prepare for the reopening of Dollywood’s 35th season amid the coronavirus pandemic and the Flower & Food Festival. 

The park’s original opening date in March was postponed because of concerns about COVID-19, but last week park officials announced that it would be reopening in phases beginning Monday, when season pass holders will be allowed to enter.

Part of Dollywood’s phased reopening includes more than 700 operational changes across the park, which Knox News got to see first-hand. Pete Owens, vice president of marketing and public relations, said he’s confident that the precautions being taken will protect everyone in the park.

What to expect during reopening

As soon as parkgoers arrive, the new policies take effect, starting with temperature checks and health screenings. 

Guests will be asked four questions about their well being and have their temperature checked before loading onto the park’s trolleys. If a visitor’s temperature is 100.4℉ or higher, they’ll be asked to leave and be given a rain check for their day pass.

Other noticeable changes at the entrance include plenty of signage encouraging guests to wear masks and maintain social distancing. The turnstile arms have also been removed to limit contact. 

“Relaxation zones” are also new in the park. These special sections are located in every major part of the park and allow guests to relax without a mask. Each zone will be marked with signage, have a worker present and will have enough room for social distancing. 

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More: Dollywood opens next week for 35th season: What’s new at Pigeon Forge theme park in 2020

Dining will remain mostly the same, but floor stickers will represent six feet for lines. Buffet restaurants including Aunt Granny’s and Miss Lillian’s Smokehouse will switch to family-style meals at spaced tables. There will be no self-service drinks in the park anymore, and instead, canned drinks will be distributed. Doors will also be open to limit contact on handles.


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There will not be any indoor shows during the first phase of Dollywood’s reopening. However, visitors can still enjoy outdoor music with spaced seating. Some previously indoor shows will also be moved outside. 

On top of all of these changes, Dollywood has installed portable hand washing stations throughout the park, provided 250 hand sanitizer locations and will frequently disinfect areas that are prone to be touched often, like handles and rails. 

When exiting the park, guests can use any of three exits at the Emporium, turnstile area and the groups entrance.

More information about Dollywood’s phased reopening is available at

Mask rules

Parkgoers are expected to wear masks throughout the park during their visit with some exceptions.

Masks are to be worn at all times unless visitors are under the age of 3, are riding a “high thrill” ride or water ride, are eating, are in an open spot at Splash Country or are staying in a relaxation zone. Guests that do not have masks will be given one when they enter.

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Ambassadors will be stationed around the park and in the relaxation zones to answer questions, listen to feedback about Dollywood’s protocols and remind people to wear their masks and social distance. 

Owens said that the park is not trying to “enforce” mask-wearing, but rather encourage visitors to wear a mask for the safety of others. 

How rides will work

The rides in the park will reopen except for the Lumberjack Lifts. Also, an indoor play area will be closed. 

Some line queues will be blocked off to better control the flow of people onto rides. When guests reach the end of the line, they will only be seated with people in their family or group. Rides will operate at 50% capacity, and the Dollywood Express will likely have an even smaller capacity.

Sanitizer will be available before and after visitors’ rides. In addition, some rides will be disinfected between trips. 

Despite the extra precaution, Owens ensured Knox News that wait times would actually be less than what they were before COVID-19. 

The TimeSaver program will still be available for DreamMore Resort guests, and limited quantities of passes will be available for purchase at the park. 


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Flower & Food Festival

Dollywood’s first Flower & Food Festival, presented by Covenant Health, begins on reopening day. The beautiful spring showcase includes plant sculptures, special food menus and colorful floral displays around the park. 

Parkgoers will immediately see the festival’s theme as they walk past the turnstiles and in front of the decorated Dollywood sign for a photo opportunity. Then, turning right onto Show Street, guests will have some much-needed shade under the multicolored “Umbrella Sky,” which includes about 600 umbrellas suspended overhead. The whimsical and shady spot was created by Dollywood employees. 

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The largest sculpture is right around the corner and portrays Dolly Parton’s mother, Avie Lee, surrounded by butterflies, sewing the infamous “Coat of Many Colors.” It stands at 14 feet tall and is the center of Market Square.

The dishes during the festival include fresh recipes like chili lime skirt steak, zucchini fritters, pork sliders with pineapple chutney and more. Some of the featured desserts are toasted coconut cupcakes, blueberry tarts and chocolate ganache brownies. Special drinks will include strawberry guava, blueberry lavender lemonade and watermelon lime fresca.

The Flower & Food Festival is expected to last through the summer. 

Ticket info

Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash County will reopen June 17. Season pass holders can visit early on June 15 and 16. 

Social distancing guidelines will limit the capacity of the parks daily, so Dollywood officials are requiring that season pass holders reserve the date and time they wish to visit. General admission guests must purchase a date-based ticket.

Reservations can be made at and on the Dollywood app.

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