There’s nothing like a Smoky Mountain Christmas–and Dollywood has always set the bar high when it comes to holiday celebrations. From light displays to incredible stage presentations and Christmas-themed culinary masterpieces, Dollywood is home to a host of treasured Christmas memories. It has become a family tradition for thousands of people. And this year they’re upping the ante with a drone show that blends lights, joy, and an extra dose of that Christmas magic.
“Joyful,” Dollywood’s new drone show and a fresh element of the Smoky Mountain Christmas experience, debuts this November. It will run from November 4, 2023, through January 6, 2024. When the sun sets, red, green, and white drones in the hundreds will dance through the sky, synchronized to favorite holiday tunes.
Dolly herself announced the new drone show late this summer, saying: “Christmas is the time when the love of family, the joy of togetherness, and the hope of a brighter tomorrow all seem to shine the brightest. It’s also the time of year when those special family memories and traditions just seem to mean the most to us all.”
What’s Different about Christmas at Dollywood?
Dollywood’s goal has always been to bring families and friends together, to create memories that will stand the test of time. And they’ve largely succeeded, with a loyal fan base returning year after year. The park’s transformation to an arctic wonderland during the holiday season showcases the attention to detail and thoughtfulness that creep into every inch of the park.
Perhaps the most famous Christmas show at Dollywood is “Christmas in the Smokies,” featuring an incredible cast of performers and down-home Christmas tunes everyone will recognize at once. The show has been running since its debut in 1990, making it a decades-long family favorite. It’s a must-see if you’re visiting Dollywood during the holiday season.
Glacier Ridge takes a brief departure from the traditional Christmas greens and reds, and instead creates a frosty wonderland of cool blue and white tones, setting the stage for an arctic experience. The lights, synchronized to Christmas music, create an experience that will take you right out of the Smokies and into a veritable North Pole wonderland.
Taking the Dollywood Express is another favorite park experience that’s even better at Christmastime; you’ll get a spellbinding view of the many light displays and decorations throughout the park, with its estimated 3 million lights each year. It’s a ride that will capture the imagination of everyone on board–and might just give you some clarity or ideas about which areas to stop to visit first!
This year, you can also enjoy a tour that allows you to take a peek inside Santa’s cabin, where you’ll see him working on his Naughty and Nice list. Enjoy peppermint hot cocoa, pot roast mac and cheese, or any number of other holiday-themed culinary delights. One fan favorite is the peppermint stick ice cream sandwiched between home-baked chocolate chip cookies. That combination, though heavy on the sugar, is tough to beat if you have a sweet tooth.
The star of the show might be The Plaza in Wilderness Pass, which becomes an arctic playground for the holidays. Gorgeously planned decorations and light displays turn the Plaza into a veritable wintertime paradise, with the hallmark, the Wonderful Christmas! lighted tree and music show bringing more than a little wonder to the table. The Joyful drone show also takes place here, above and around the 50-foot lighted Christmas tree that dances with animated lights. Now, you’ll also see lights dancing above, as the perfectly-synchronized drones take to the sky to help set the stage for a magical experience.
Expect the Best During Your Visit
Dollywood might be smaller than some of the country’s top amusement parks, but they excel at what they do–arguably because their primary focus is on generating memories and togetherness among those who visit. This year, they won the Golden Ticket Award for the Best Theme Park Christmas Event. They were nominated for USA Today’s 10 Best Reader’s Choice Awards for the Best Theme Park Christmas Event.
The event and shows are spectacular, with thousands of attendees each year, and yet the personal attention to detail is unmatched; staff are concerned that each guest has a great experience, and that care shows. With very few exceptions, you can really tell that Dollywood staff love their jobs. It’s hard to beat that level of customer service.
The Atmosphere Sets the Tone
The Smoky Mountains provide a lovely backdrop for any Christmas celebration, but when combined with tens of thousands of twinkling lights, evergreen boughs, and bright wreaths lighting up each corner of the park, it’s hard to think of a better scenario for making Christmas memories. You’ll feel like you’re being welcomed into a homey, Christmas-infused resort, rather than simply walking through the gates of an amusement park. And the drone show is just the latest addition to a whole host of events that infuse the atmosphere with even more holiday spirit.