Dollywood on Wednesday provided a construction tour for members of the press two weeks prior to its season opening (see video overview from the park here or in the media player above). Thanks to Dollymania.net correspondent Jason Worley for the following notes from the presentations:
The park will lift all COVID restrictions starting March 11.
The resort master plan includes five resorts and one campground.
Half of the new HeartSong Resort rooms will have outside balconies.
First on park housing for park employees opens in May and phase 2 with 400 more beds has already started.
Security and parking changes are being made in response to guest feedback.
Seven parking toll booths instead of the current five will be available and have moved 1,000 back to improve traffic flow. These changes will allow 1,600 more cars per hour to pass through the entrance than before.
The parking lot will be a one-way round circuit instead of previous two-way traffic.
Two new parking lots will be added over the next 10 years.
The tram pick-up has been moved to where handicapped parking started.
Front gate security will be handled by Evolve, the same vendor used by the NFL, and it will allow for pockets, bags, and strollers to no longer have to be unloaded at entrance.
The Emporium has been completely gutted and will feature new cashier stations and a large butterfly on the ceiling.
New food at Front Porch: spicy Korean meatballs, seafood mac & cheese, Korean beef bulgogi nachos, Cuban sandwich, loaded smoked mac & cheese, smoked rubbed chicken leg, Latin chicken and andouille skillet, herb smoked chicken wings, bbq beef brisket sliders
Flower and Food Festival won Brass Ring award from IAAPA
Flower and Food expanding into Craftsman's Valley
New show called Bloom with sway poll dancers in Adventures in Imagination
New attraction called Dolly's Butterfly Garden during Flower and Food
Summer Celebration will feature hundreds of kites flying overhead, world's largest foam pit for kids of all ages, and new 10 foot tall water hose style spray fountain in Market Square with pop up entertainment
Great Pumpkin Illuminights will expand to new area called Hoot Owl Holler with over 500 owls
30% more lights at Christmas and every wreath and all garland will be lit
Chalk art returning for summer
Gazillion bubbles coming back
Free lunch for all employees
Victoria's Pizza now Ironhorse Pizza and has been completely renovated and expanded
They also explained that the old mine tunnel was removed because a landslide over the season winter break made the structure unstable.
Latest On 'Run, Rose, Run'
Spotify this week debuted a new Bookcast function, where a podcast-like serialization of an audio book combines with music to tell a story, with Dolly and James Patterson's Run, Rose, Run as the first selection. Check out the first two episodes here or in the media player above. In related news, the book's companion album of the same name earned a four-star review from The Scotsmanhere.
Kelly Clarkson To Honor Dolly On ACMs Kelly Clarkson announced on her show Wednesday that she will be performing on this year's Academy of Country Music Awards March 7 as part of a tribute to co-host Dolly. No word on what Clarkson will sing, but she noted she recently recorded a duet of "9 to 5" with Dolly, and she posted to social media the footage of the announcement here. Remember to watch the show from home this year you must be an Amazon Prime Video subscriber. Free 30-day trial subscriptions are available here.
U.S. Chart Updates Ultimate Dolly Parton holds steady No. 44 country albums this week, the Feb. 26 Billboard numbers released Wednesday showed.
Feb. 23: Dolly Returning To Dollywood, Museum Closing For basically the first time in two and a half years, Dolly is expected to make public appearances at her theme park next month, officials there confirmed Tuesday to Dollymania.net. The visits are expected for Dollywood opening weekend March 11-12.
As per usual, the park will not release details of her exact schedule in advance, but it was previously reported that a media event will be held on Season Passholder Preview Day March 11, which will double as the park's first Golden Event with exclusive admission for Gold and Diamond passholders, and historically Dolly has made an appearance at that media event in the past, usually returning for show pop-ins and a park tour the following day when it is first open to the general public.
Other than a quick pop in to see her family show once last season when she had been on park prior to its public opening that day for Good Morning America live shots, Dolly has not made a public appearance at the park since her Netflix premieres were held there in October 2019. Due to COVID precautions, her appearances at 2020's opening weekend were cancelled at the last minute and the park closed for several months. Once it re-opened, she did not make any public appearances that season and only made appearances the following season in private when the park was closed to the public (with the exception of stopping in at the family show that one time).
Dolly's return to the park comes amid a piece of news that saddened many fans on social media Tuesday that its famous Chasing Rainbows Museum documenting Dolly's life and career will be closed for the 2022 season. It is expected to re-open in a revised form at some yet-to-be-determined date in the future.
In a statement, the park explained: "Chasing Rainbows Museum will close for the 2022 season as we take time to reimagine future possibilities for the attraction. By offering a special glimpse of some of Dolly's most unique memorabilia, Chasing Rainbows has provided guests with countless memories throughout its history. We are excited about telling Dolly's story in a new way in the future; we will share additional details about the experience at a later date."
Unofficial sources have told Dollymania that Dolly may display her costumes and awards in Nashville sometime in the future, while a re-opened future Dollywood museum might focus more on her role in the history of the park and her appearances there over time.
Finally, some fans have been asking for some details regarding the new pass structure this year and park officials confirmed Diamond Passes were being offered in a limited number and have sold out, and for those lucky enough to have received Platinum Passes at the park's 20th anniversary they will continue to carry the benefits of a Gold Pass under the new Silver, Gold, Diamond tier structure.
Don't forget that longtime Dottie Rambo manager Larry Ferguson's entertainment interview program, Mr. Nashville Talks will premiere its long-awaited Dolly interview on Wednesday. Check out their YouTube channel here and tune in for Dolly's interview at 9 a.m. Eastern here or in the media player above. A promotional spot for the episode is available on Facebook here or in the media player below.
'Run, Rose, Run' Review, Interview Published Check out a new review of Dolly and James Patterson's Run, Rose, Run from The Financial Timeshere. And Entertainment Weekly offers an interview with the pair here. In related news, the Academy of Country Music on Tuesday announced Kelsea Ballerini will join Dolly at the March 7 ACM Awards to perform "Big Dreams and Faded Jeans" from the book's companion album. Dolly, who is hosting the awards on Amazon Prime Video, had previously announced she was to sing the song on the show, but the addition of Ballerini is new. She plays the lead in the audio book version of the novel, while Dolly plays her mentor. (The awards show is only available to Amazon Prime subscribers, but free 30-day trial subscriptions are available here!)
Feb. 21: 'Dance With,' 'Boyfriend' 12-Inches Released Digitally
Perhaps in celebration of her recent nomination for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Sony Music on Friday released digitally for the first time ever two of her 12-inch dance single Eps from the decade she recorded in the genre: the disco-heavy Dance With Dolly EP for "Baby I'm Burning" and "I Wanna Fall In Love" from 1978 and the Potential New Boyfriend EP from 1983 with long and short versions of the remixed song plus instrumentals of each version. Watch them on YouTube here and here or in the media players, and download from Amazon for Dance With Dolly EP or Potential New Boyfriend EP.
ACM Ticket Prices Drop The Academy of Country Music over the weekend lowered unsold tickets for the March 7 awards show in Las Vegas hosted by Dolly, with many being decreased down to $40. Remember to watch the show from home this year you must be an Amazon Prime Video subscriber. Free 30-day trial subscriptions are available here.
U.K. Chart Updates Very Best Of Dolly Parton Vol. 1 re-enters the British top 100 streaming albums this week at No. 100, it was revealed Friday. On the U.K. country compilations albums chart, The Complete Trio Collection Deluxe dips one to No. 7, Emmylou Harris's Original Album Series: Volume 1 (with two Dolly covers, one track with Dolly harmony and one track with Trio harmony by Dolly and Linda Ronstadt) inches up three to No. 15 and Harris' Original Album Series: Volume 2 (featuring one track with Dolly harmony and two tracks with Trio harmony by Dolly and Linda Ronstadt) drops three to No. 19.
Feb. 17: New Book Interviews Released, Appearances Scheduled
The push to promote Dolly and James Patterson's Run, Rose, Run novel is running full steam ahead, with an interview on Talk Shop Live with the two of them that was streamed on Wednesday here or in the media player above. They published an excerpt in Peoplehere this week, and Dolly was interviewed by The Hollywood Reporterhere about the project and the plans discussed a few other places already that a film adaptation is coming. The pair also announced a virtual speech that will serve as charity RevolutionHer's celebration of International Women's Day on March 8 (tickets are available here for $15 for 30-day playback of the program or larger amounts to include copies of the book, coffee mug, and other swag.
Latest On ACM Awards Hosting Duties The Academy of Country Music on Wednesday released a promo interview here for her hosting the show next month. She told Billboardhere she will be singing "Big Dreams and Faded Jeans" on the program (and joked that if she is inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year she'll put out a rock album).
Movie On Dolly Impersonator Moving Forward Rose Byrne spoke with Variety this week about her upcoming film Seriously Red about a Dolly impersonator, set to premiere at South By Southwest. Read it here.
Imagination Libary Funding Sought In Washington Dolly's Imagination Library appears ready to add Washington state to the list of states where the program is statewide. The Chronicle reports here that the House has passed a bill funding the program there.
Dolly's Niece Makes 'Moonshiners' Show Dolly's niece, Danielle Parton, was recently featured on the show Moonshiners about her new line of alcohol, Girl Shine. Learn more from Distractifyhere.
Dolly Helps Lauren Alaina's Opry Induction Lauren Alaina was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry over the weekend, and Dolly welcomed her with a videotaped message, Music Mayhem Magazine reported here.
Dollywood Opening Weekend Approaches Dollywood is less than a month away from its 2022 season opening, and the park has announced its media showcase this year on season passholder preview day March 11 in DP's Celebrity Theater will be the first Golden Event of the new tiered season pass structure, with only Gold and Diamond Passholders allowed to attend instead of the previous practice of handing out admission armbands to all who lined up at the front gates early enough that morning. Also, capacity will remain reduced this season and reservations are recommended, including for the preview day. The park opens to the general public March 12. No announcement has been made of whether Dolly will make any appearances opening weekend or not, as she has not made public appearances at the park since 2019 due to COVID-19 precautions.
U.S., U.K. Chart Updates Ultimate Dolly Parton dips one spot to No. 44 country albums this week, the Feb. 19 Billboard numbers released Tuesday showed. Overseas, Very Best Of Dolly Parton Vol. 1 falls back off the British top 100 streaming albums, down from No. 92, while The Grass Is Blue and Jolene fall off the top 20 country albums chart, down from No. 13 and No. 12, respectively. On the U.K. country compilations albums chart there, The Complete Trio Collection Deluxe gains one to No. 6, Emmylou Harris's Original Album Series: Volume 1 (with two Dolly covers, one track with Dolly harmony and one track with Trio harmony by Dolly and Linda Ronstadt) and Harris' Original Album Series: Volume 2 (featuring one track with Dolly harmony and two tracks with Trio harmony by Dolly and Linda Ronstadt) both re-enter the top 20, at No. 18 and No. 16, respectively. Elsewhere on the same list, while The Essential Dolly Parton falls four to No. 9, while Ultimate Dolly Parton and Gold: Dolly Parton fall off the top 20 country compilations albums chart list, down from No. 14 and No. 19, respectively.
Super Bowl Commercial Wrap-Up Dolly's Super Bowl commercial for TMobile made some best of the Bowl lists and some worst lists, just like her SquareSpace commercial did last year. Check out the full music video from Miley Cyrus with a Dolly appearance here and watch Dolly's portion of the commercial here or in the media player below. Check out what Billboard had to say about the commercial here and Ad Agehere.
Feb. 10: Dolly, Miley In Super Bowl T-Mobile Ad
Dolly and goddaughter Miley Cyrus will star in T-Mobile's Super Bowl commercial this year, the telecommunications network announced Wednesday. In a preview released here and in the media player above, Dolly tells her – over the mobile phone, of course – that Miley has a voice and should use it. Miley is then shown writing lyrics and wonders to herself aloud, "What would Dolly do?" The full commercial, which is apparently called "Do It For The Phones," since that is what the preview was titled, will air during Sunday's big game.
Dollywood's Free College Makes The News Dolly was trending on social media Wednesday thanks to all major media outlets picking up the announcement from Dollywood that the park will begin Feb. 24 covering 100 percent of tuition, fees, and books for its full-time, part-time, and seasonal employees to pursue higher education from their first day of employment. "Our goal at Dollywood Parks and Resorts is to provide the best possible experience for both our guests and our hosts," said Eugene Naughton, President of The Dollywood Company. "We know when our hosts are happy and feel cared for that they are going to pass that along to our guests. The creation of the program allows another avenue for us to care for our hosts. One of The Dollywood Foundation's key tenets is to 'learn more.' This program is created with that very tenet in mind. We want our hosts to develop themselves through advanced learning to fulfill the foundation's other tenets: care more, dream more, and be more. When our hosts strive to grow themselves, it makes our business and our community a truly better place. We care about our hosts' development and we want their future to grow because of love—not loans." GROW U will offer more than 100 diploma, degree, and certificate programs across 30 learning partners at 100 percent cost in fields such as business administration, culinary, finance, technology, and marketing in addition to partial funding of up to $5,250 per year for 150 additional programs including hospitality, engineering, human resources, and art design. Classes are managed through a partnership with education platform Guild Education.
Patterson Book Q&A At TalkShopLive Added Dolly and James Patterson have added another event on their Run, Rose, Run virtual book tour: a Q&A session with celebrity journalist Nancy O'Dell on TalkShopLive at 3 p.m. Eastern Feb. 16. The retail outlet TalkShopLive also announced 20 of the copies of the book sold through them will be randomly selected for autographing by Dolly and Patterson, and they will also be offering an exclusive violet vinyl pressing of the companion album. Watch the announcement here. In addition, Parnassus Books revealed here that their store last week was used by the two authors to tape an interview for CBS Sunday Morning for a March 6 broadcast. Also, Dolly announced on Wednesday that the companion album's second single, "Blue Bonnet Breeze," will be released on Friday.
U.S. Chart Updates Ultimate Dolly Parton moves up one place to No. 43 country albums this week, the Feb. 12 Billboard numbers released Tuesday showed.
Dolly's Two ACM Co-Hosts Announced The ACM Awards this week announced that Dolly's co-hosts for the March 7 awards program on Amazon Prime Video will be Gabby Barrett and Jimmie Allen. You must be an Amazon Prime subscriber to watch the show, but a 30-day FREE trial preview which will still be on the night the awards show airs is available for enrollment here.
Feb. 5: Dolly Hosting March ACMs In Vegas The Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards on Thursday announced Dolly will serve as primary host for the 57th annual awards, which instead of being on broadcast television this year will stream live without commercial interruption on Amazon Prime Video at 8 p.m. Eastern March 7 from Las Vegas. She will be joined by two co-hosts to be announced in the future. She last hosted the ACMs solo in 2000. Tickets are on sale now via Ticketmaster here for public audience to the show. In a press release, Dolly said: "I am so excited to be hosting the ACM Awards on March 7 from Vegas. Watch for us because we're going to have some fun." ACM CEO Damon Whiteside continued: "We are honored to welcome Dolly Parton back to be the centerpiece of this landmark 57th Academy of Country Music Awards show at Allegiant Stadium. Dolly is the most iconic and multi-talented artist of all-time, and we are proud that she is a friend and supporter of the Academy, a previous host and a 13-time Academy of Country Music Award recipient." The show will be only available for Amazon Prime Video subscribers. For a free 30-day trial subscription, enroll here.
Dolly, Patterson To Host 'Virtual Book Tour' Dolly and James Patterson on Friday announced an upcoming virtual book tour to promote their novel Run, Rose, Run. Tickets will need to be purchased for each virtual appearance and will include a hardcover copy of the book to be delivered to the attendee's home. Tickets may be purchased here. The virtual appearances will be:
March 6, 7:30 p.m. Eastern, independent book sellers (you will select the local bookstore you wish to support with your purchase, although none appear to be listed yet)
March 9, 5 p.m. Eastern, Books-a-Million ($35)
March 9, 7 p.m. Eastern, Indigo ($30)
March 10, 6:30 p.m. British time, Fane (£25)
March 16, 4:30 p.m. Eastern, Amazon LIVE (which isn't yet showing any cost for their livestream here)
March 16, 6 p.m. Eastern, Barnes & Noble ($38.25)
March 25, 6 p.m. Eastern, AARP Books (which appears to be free for AARP members)
Send A Dolly Valentine Song American Greetings has updated its virtual e-cards of Dolly for birthdays with a Valentine's flare. Subscribers to their service may send the Dolly e-card here featuring her singing "I Will Always Love You." In a press release, she said: "I'm excited to share this SmashUp and hope this song brings as much joy to you this Valentine's Day as it has to me for all these years. American Greetings executive Rob Matousek added: "Our birthday SmashUp featuring Dolly has been one of the most popular ecards since its launch last May. And it's easy to see why – Dolly is so genuine and is loved by so many, and her care and positive attitude shows through in everything she does. We help inspire people to connect and make others feel loved and special, just as Dolly and her music does for her fans, which made this collaboration so powerful. The result is a thoughtful, heartfelt video ecard that you can send to a romantic relationship or anyone you're close to – it will truly bring joy to whomever receives it."
U.K. Chart Updates Very Best Of Dolly Parton Vol. 1 falls back off most of the charts overseas this week dropping off the U.K. top pop albums chart from No. 70, top downloads from No. 30, and top sales from No. 86. The collection loses 16 spots to No. 92 top streaming albums. The Grass Is Blue also falls off the downloads chart from No. 82 but inches up one on the country albums chart to No. 13, where Jolene slips one to No. 12. On the country compilations albums chart there, The Complete Trio Collection Deluxe moves up two this week to No. 7, Emmylou Harris's Original Album Series: Volume 1 (with two Dolly covers, one track with Dolly harmony and one track with Trio harmony by Dolly and Linda Ronstadt) falls off the top 20, down from No. 11, and Harris' Original Album Series: Volume 2 (featuring one track with Dolly harmony and two tracks with Trio harmony by Dolly and Linda Ronstadt) also drops off the top 20, down from No. 16, while The Essential Dolly Parton gains three to No. 5, Ultimate Dolly Parton rises five to No. 14, and Gold: Dolly Parton re-enters the top 20 country compilations albums chart list at No. 19.
Dollywood Makes National Best Workplaces List Dollywood announced this week that it is the only theme park to make this year's Top Workplaces USA list and the only East Tennessee employer on the list. Winners are chosen based on employee feedback to a national survey sent to more than 42,000 workplaces nationwide.
Urban, Kidman Reply To Dolly Comment Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman replied Friday to Dolly's recent Good Morning America interview comment of for whom she'd like to bake a cake and duet with, to which she had answered Urban. He responded on social media with a video singing a little "Applejack" and sitting with wife Kidman, saying they'd both love to come spend the day with her eating cake and singing. Check it out here or in the media player below
Feb. 3: Dolly Nominated For Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on Wednesday announced Dolly among its nominees for annual induction for the first time in her career. While some casual music listeners took to social media to question the appropriateness of her inclusion, she almost always appears on the annual lists from music critics and insiders of people the experts find so influential on rock music that they are shocked they haven't been inducted into the Hall of Fame yet. Billboard magazine's critics here opined which of the 17 nominees are most likely to be chosen for induction and said Dolly has the best chance, giving her "even odds," or a 100 percent chance. Following her were Duran Duran and Pat Benatar at 2 to 1 (or 50 percent chance), Beck, Emenim, and Carly Simon at 3 to 1 (or 33 percent chance), Rage Against The Machine at 7 to 2, A Tribe Called Quest and Lionel Richie at 4 to 1, MC5, New York Dolls, and Kate Bush at 5 to 1, Dionne Warwick, Devo, and the Eurethmics at 6 to 1, and Judas Priest and Fela Kuti at 8 to 1. A class of 1,000 artists, industry members, and historians vote on the final slate of inductees, but fans collectively get one ballot, as daily votes are collected from the public at vote.rockhall.com will be used to determine the vote of one public ballot used in the selection. (As of press time Wednesday evening, Dolly was in second place on that ballot behind Pat Benatar.) The final inductees will be announced in May with a ceremony sometime in the fall.
'Still Working 9 To 5' To Premiere At SXSW
The iconic South by Southwest Festival on Wednesday announced it will premiere the long-awaited documentary Still Working 9 To 5, which features interviews with the original film cast (Dolly, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dabney Coleman) and those involved in the TV series, the Broadway musical, and the West End musical that followed with a lens on the applicability of the message to today's workforce. The film will premiere at SXSW 2022 at 3:45 p.m. Central Time at the SXSW Film Theater followed by online screenings at 9 a.m. Central on Monday, March 14, satellite screening at 6 p.m. Central at AFS Cinema and a 4:45 p.m. Central screening at Stateside Theatre.
The project also features a newly-recorded version of the song "9 To 5" produced by Shane McAnally as a duet between Dolly and Kelly Clarkson. The song is to be released as a single on Monument Records in May, Variety reported here with a music video. Watch a preview of the documentary here or in the media player above.
Tennessee Mulls Dolly Tune As State Song Tennessee lawmakers have introduced a bill that, if passed, would add Dolly's "My Tennessee Mountain Home" to the 10 songs currently recognized as the official State Songs of Tennessee, WBIR reported here.
In Memorium: Hargus 'Pig' Robbins Legendary Nashville session pianist Hargus "Pig" Robbins, who appeared on numerous Dolly albums over the years, died Sunday at age 84. A story on his passing is available from Nashville's News Channel 5 here. The fingers that played on classics such as Patsy Cline's "Crazy," Crystal Gayle's "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" and Charlie Rich's "Behind Closed Doors" also played on Dolly's Just Because I'm A Woman, Coat Of Many Colors, My Tennessee Mountain Home, Jolene, Honky Tonk Angels, Heartsongs, Treasures, Backwoods Barbie, and Better Day albums. She had reportedly asked him to play on her new recordings within the past year but he was too ill to join her in the studio.
Collaboration With Bill Anderson Coming Soon Thanks to Chuck for alerting me that Bill Anderson's latest newsletter says he and Dolly have recorded a new duet record together that will come out on a yet-to-be-determined date on "one of the largest record companies in the world" with a music video and interviews to promote it, likely in the spring.
More Duncan Hines Interviews Available Dolly's Duncan Hines interviews continued over a few days late last week including a piece from The Hollywood Reporterhere and an appearance on Rachel Rayhere.
U.S., U.K. Chart Updates Very Best Of Dolly Parton Vol. 1 makes a big return to the charts overseas this week jumping back into the U.K. top pop albums chart at No. 70, top downloads at No. 30, top sales at No. 86, and top streaming at No. 76. The Grass Is Blue re-enters the downloads chart at No. 82 and country albums chart at No. 14, where Jolene gains four to No. 11. On the country compilations albums chart there, The Complete Trio Collection Deluxe moves up one this week to No. 9, Emmylou Harris's Original Album Series: Volume 1 (with two Dolly covers, one track with Dolly harmony and one track with Trio harmony by Dolly and Linda Ronstadt) gains six to No. 11, and Harris' Original Album Series: Volume 2 (featuring one track with Dolly harmony and two tracks with Trio harmony by Dolly and Linda Ronstadt) dips seven to No. 16 while both The Essential Dolly Parton and Ultimate Dolly Parton re-enter the top 20 country compilations albums chart list at No. 8 and No. 19, respectively. In the U.S., the Feb. 5 Billboard numbers released Tuesday show Ultimate Dolly Parton gain three to No. 44 country albums.