The crowds gathered in the lobby hours in advance. The word was out, the one and only Dolly Parton was returning home to celebrate the opening of Dollywood’s new HeartSong Lodge and Resort – the second hotel to open at the Pigeon Forge, Tennessee theme park.
HeartSong Lodge sits on more than 28 acres of land and features 302 rooms. Many of the rooms feature balconies with seating areas, some facing the mountains while others looking out towards the resort’s outdoor pool and seating area. The hotel is just nextdoor to DreamMore Resort and Spa, the first hotel at Dollywood.
As Dolly cheerfully put it, “I’m a chain!”
I was able to sit down with Dolly in a one-on-one interview. We discussed how she feels about the new resort, the strong attendance and growth of Dollywood and the hotels, what she’s doing to make sure Dollywood maintains its family-first theming well into the future, all of the collaborations on her new rock and roll album, and I made one more effort to get her on a roller coaster with me. You can guess how that turned out! Watch my extended story and interview with Dolly in the video player above.
HeartSong Lodge is now open to guests and booking reservations. Dollywood officials tell me that they aren’t done in the hotel/resort business and more hotels are likely on the way. Earlier this year, Dollywood opened the $30 million Big Bear Mountain family roller coaster (you can watch my ride on it here), which continues to be one of the most popular attractions at the park. I’m also told that Dollywood drew nearly three million visitors last season and they are on track to pass that number this season, with visits from Chicago-area residents already higher than the year before.