Dollywood is on the way back to opening at standard capacity following some some delays in recent weeks. But with the summer just around the corner, Dolly Parton's Pigeon Forge tourist destination is also saying goodbye to some old attractions in the park.
Dollywood's old mine tunnel is officially no more. The tunnel can be traced back to the park's days as Silver Dollar City, the park's name under owners Jack and Pete Herschend until Parton became involved in 1986.
The old mine tunnel connected Craftsman's Valley and The Village, running alongside the Dollywood Express tracks. Spokesperson Wes Ramey called the removal necessary, tying it to work that had started in the winter.
"Much like the construction efforts we completed last season, these projects are designed to provide the best guest experience for our visitors," he said. The goal of the removal is to renovate the area and to allow it to be more spacious than in previous years.
The park's reopening was set to be on March 12, but it ended up delayed due to weather concerns. While the park had been closed, the opening of the park this year carried some extra weight due to the removal of COVID-19 restrictions throughout the park.
"I'm so proud of this place that we've been able to build here in the Smokies," Parton said in a statement. "I always dreamed of accomplishing two things with Dollywood. I wanted to give jobs to the folks who live here and I wanted to give visitors another reason to come and experience the beauty of the Smoky Mountains. We celebrated our 35th season last year, so I think it is fair to say we've been able to do that.
The tunnel served a few other purposes apart from the connection between park locales. It also was a platform for The Inventor's Mansion attraction before it was closed. According to The Smokies, author John Gullion shares an excerpt he wrote about the attraction when it was closed.
"It's appropriate that in a theme park dedicated to mountain life the remnants of a mostly forgotten relic are fading back into the scenery," the author wrote. "Although, this is Dollywood. So it won't be long until the space is rediscovered, repurposed and revitalized. Also very much in keeping with the spirit of the mountains." It's the truth, right in the bullseye and on the mark.