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Dolly Parton reveals US$37m Wildwood Grove expansion of Dollywood
POSTED 06 Aug 2018 . BY Tom Anstey
I believe everyone has a song in their heart that needs to be set free. Wildwood Grove will be a place where families can learn together about what their heart song truly is
– Dolly Parton
Country singer Dolly Parton has announced plans for the US$37m (€32m, £28.5m) expansion of her Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

To feature new rides, live entertainment and dining experiences, the Wildwood Grove expansion of Dollywood will open to the public in 2019.

"When I’d be out exploring in the hills around our home in the Smoky Mountains, I'd let my imagination roam free,” said Parton. "I’d pretend that the frogs and butterflies were my friends. I’d imagine about what it’d be like to fly with a dragonfly or to follow a bear family through the woods. Now all these things are coming true for our guests to experience in Wildwood Grove."

Visitors will enter Wildwood Grove through the hollow trunk of a giant fallen tree, emerging into the imaginative land envisioned by Parton. At the heart of the land, a 55ft-tall (16.7m) tree grows from a cluster of natural rock and boulders, offering a natural platform for live performances from the park's entertainers. At night, the tree will come to life, with a show featuring "butterflies glowing in a kaleidoscope of spectacular colour".

The expansion will feature 11 new experiences, six new rides among them. The main attraction will be Dragonflier – a suspended family rollercoaster. Joining it will be the Treetop Tower, Black Bear Trail, Mad Mocking Bird flying carousel, Sycamore Swing swinging ship and the Frogs and Fireflies carousel.

A 4,000sq ft (371sq m) indoor play area is also included in the plans. Called Hidden Hollow, the space is a climate controlled area with climbing structures, slides and multiple games. A second play area, called Wildwood Creek will offer an outdoor playspace featuring pop jets and splash pools. The space will also feature a set of instruments available to play.

"This area is going to give families a place to explore, play and imagine together, but more importantly, it’s a place where they can spend more time together," said Parton.

"I believe everyone has a song in their heart that needs to be set free. Wildwood Grove will be a place where families can learn together about what their heart song truly is."

Operated by Herschend Family Entertainment, Dollywood announced in 2013 plans for a 10-year, US$300m (€259.4m, £231.4m) investment. This latest announcement completes that investment schedule four years ahead of schedule.



"More than 10 million people visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park each year," said Jane Cooper, president and COO of Herschend, speaking in the Q4 2017 edition of Attractions Management.

"It’s the most visited national park in the US. We felt like this expansion and what we were going to do was going to help us attract more of those 10 million people that are already within this market."

While Dollywood committed itself to the US$300m investment, there are already plans beyond that, according to Cooper.

"We’re probably about 90 per cent through the planning process," says Cooper. "It’s mostly under wraps at this point, but our directive is to make Dollywood a regional resort destination. If you think of it in that context, you can start putting all of the different pieces of the puzzle together."
his thrilling suspended roller coaster lets guests soar with a dragonfly as it dips and darts along the gushing geysers and lush landscape of Wildwood Grove Credit: Dollywood
Guests aboard this thrilling “leaf boat” swing back and forth just like a leaf falling from a giant sycamore tree Credit: Dollywood
These friendly frogs hop up and down as they chase each other around the lily pad trying to catch the flickering fireflies fluttering from the tall reeds and grasses Credit: Dollywood
Riders hop on the back of these friendly bears for a spirited trek through their natural habitat Credit: Dollywood
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NEWS
Dolly Parton reveals US$37m Wildwood Grove expansion of Dollywood
POSTED 06 Aug 2018 . BY Tom Anstey
I believe everyone has a song in their heart that needs to be set free. Wildwood Grove will be a place where families can learn together about what their heart song truly is
– Dolly Parton
Country singer Dolly Parton has announced plans for the US$37m (€32m, £28.5m) expansion of her Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

To feature new rides, live entertainment and dining experiences, the Wildwood Grove expansion of Dollywood will open to the public in 2019.

"When I’d be out exploring in the hills around our home in the Smoky Mountains, I'd let my imagination roam free,” said Parton. "I’d pretend that the frogs and butterflies were my friends. I’d imagine about what it’d be like to fly with a dragonfly or to follow a bear family through the woods. Now all these things are coming true for our guests to experience in Wildwood Grove."

Visitors will enter Wildwood Grove through the hollow trunk of a giant fallen tree, emerging into the imaginative land envisioned by Parton. At the heart of the land, a 55ft-tall (16.7m) tree grows from a cluster of natural rock and boulders, offering a natural platform for live performances from the park's entertainers. At night, the tree will come to life, with a show featuring "butterflies glowing in a kaleidoscope of spectacular colour".

The expansion will feature 11 new experiences, six new rides among them. The main attraction will be Dragonflier – a suspended family rollercoaster. Joining it will be the Treetop Tower, Black Bear Trail, Mad Mocking Bird flying carousel, Sycamore Swing swinging ship and the Frogs and Fireflies carousel.

A 4,000sq ft (371sq m) indoor play area is also included in the plans. Called Hidden Hollow, the space is a climate controlled area with climbing structures, slides and multiple games. A second play area, called Wildwood Creek will offer an outdoor playspace featuring pop jets and splash pools. The space will also feature a set of instruments available to play.

"This area is going to give families a place to explore, play and imagine together, but more importantly, it’s a place where they can spend more time together," said Parton.

"I believe everyone has a song in their heart that needs to be set free. Wildwood Grove will be a place where families can learn together about what their heart song truly is."

Operated by Herschend Family Entertainment, Dollywood announced in 2013 plans for a 10-year, US$300m (€259.4m, £231.4m) investment. This latest announcement completes that investment schedule four years ahead of schedule.



"More than 10 million people visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park each year," said Jane Cooper, president and COO of Herschend, speaking in the Q4 2017 edition of Attractions Management.

"It’s the most visited national park in the US. We felt like this expansion and what we were going to do was going to help us attract more of those 10 million people that are already within this market."

While Dollywood committed itself to the US$300m investment, there are already plans beyond that, according to Cooper.

"We’re probably about 90 per cent through the planning process," says Cooper. "It’s mostly under wraps at this point, but our directive is to make Dollywood a regional resort destination. If you think of it in that context, you can start putting all of the different pieces of the puzzle together."
his thrilling suspended roller coaster lets guests soar with a dragonfly as it dips and darts along the gushing geysers and lush landscape of Wildwood Grove Credit: Dollywood
Guests aboard this thrilling “leaf boat” swing back and forth just like a leaf falling from a giant sycamore tree Credit: Dollywood
These friendly frogs hop up and down as they chase each other around the lily pad trying to catch the flickering fireflies fluttering from the tall reeds and grasses Credit: Dollywood
Riders hop on the back of these friendly bears for a spirited trek through their natural habitat Credit: Dollywood
RELATED STORIES
FEATURE: Interview: Jane Cooper


We talked to Jane Cooper, COO and president of Herschend Family Entertainment, about the company portfolio and all things Dollywood
Dollywood Foundation donating to fire displaced families


Dolly Parton’s Dollywood Foundation has pledged US$1,000 a month for the next six months to “all of those families who lost their homes” in the Tennessee wildfires this week.
Tennessee wildfires threaten Ripley's aquarium and Dollywood


Wildfires in Tennessee have engulfed more than 30 structures in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, with particular concerns over Dollywood and Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, where staff have been forced to abandon the attraction’s animals.
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