More days for Dollywood and Splash Country

8/4/2017

Dollywood, aiming for a second year of record attendance, is adding two days to its Smoky Mountain Christmas festival and four days to its Splash Country schedule.

The Christmas festival runs Nov. 4 to Jan. 1. Now the park will also be open Nov. 7 and 14, according to a Dollywood Co. news release. Splash Country is adding four days to its schedule: Aug. 22, 24, 29 and 31. The water park closes for the season on Labor Day, which this year falls on Monday, Sept. 4.

From March to early June, weather was cooler and wetter than usual, especially compared to 2016, said Pete Owens, Dollywood director of communications. But after it warmed up and dried out, attendance climbed sharply at Dollywood and Splash Country.

“Dollywood has been neck and neck with our attendance levels from last year, which was a record year for us,” he said. Two of Splash Country’s three best-ever days have been within the last month and a half, he said.

The Dollywood Company includes the 150-acre theme park, 35-acre Splash Country, two dinner theaters, 300-room DreamMore Resort, and Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins.

The theme park, Splash Country and dinner theaters combined see 4 million visitors a year, Owens said.

“Dollywood itself does more than 2.5 million, with Splash Country doing around half a million in attendance,” he said.

Business at the DreamMore resort, which just had its two-year anniversary, is up 19 percent from the same time last year, Owens said.

Dollywood Company employs in the “low 3,000 range,” Owens said, making it Sevier County’s largest employer. A few more were hired this year than last, he said.

Where holidays and school breaks fall determine the operating schedule each year, but the attraction often adds operating days as each year unfolds, Owens said.

With this summer’s figures and the addition of Great Pumpkin LumiNites to the fall Harvest Festival, Sept. 29 to Oct. 28, operators anticipate attendance growth will continue, he said.

The standard $68 all-day ticket will get visitors into the park and the evening event.

During the fall festival, Dollywood will go to a 7-day operating schedule for the first time, Owens said. Also in that period the park will be open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Park hours were extended a couple of years ago, and during the long summer days Dollywood was open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., he said. That schedule ended Sunday.

Twice this summer, the park experimented with staying open until midnight, its latest time ever, Owens said.

“We’re always looking at opportunities to serve our guests better,” he said.

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel

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