The largest capital investment in the 32-year history of Dollywood will bring 11 new experiences to the park in Tennessee as from next season.
Dolly Parton herself was on hand to announce plans for Wildwood Grove at a media event on August 3. The new land will provides an adventurous journey for guests to explore, imagine and play together as a family.
There will be six ride constructions, including a suspended family rollercoaster called The Dragonflier, live entertainment, various indoor and outdoor play area, plus a new restaurant and more. Once darkness falls, the area will sparkle as the 55 feet tall Wildwood Tree comes to life in a unique nighttime show that features the butterflies glowing in a kaleidoscope of spectacular colour.
The total cost for the project is $37 million, meeting The Dollywood Company’s 2013 commitment of $300 million in investments over a 10 year period four years ahead of schedule.
“Wildwood Grove 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 at the press conference. “I believe everyone has a song in their heart that needs to be set free.”
According to Dollywood Company president Craig Ross, the new area “continues our commitment to provide guests a variety of unique experiences and attractions that every visitor to the park can enjoy. We’ve also incorporated many of their requests for certain amenities that help make their visit more enjoyable. In Wildwood Grove, you’ll find more charging stations, a climate-controlled indoor space for play, larger respite locations, additional play areas which are more inclusive for everyone and more entertainment opportunities for every member of the family.
In addition to The Dragonflier, which will be supplied by Vekoma, the new rides will be as follows:
• Black Bear Trail. Riders hop on the back of friendly bears for a spirited trek through their natural habitat.
• Sycamore Swing. Guests aboard this thrilling “leaf boat” swing back and forth just like a leaf falling from a giant sycamore tree.
• Treetop Tower. A 40ft family tower giving passengers a sky-high view of Wildwood Grove. Riders, seated inside giant acorns, spin around the top of a tall oak tree before gently drifting back to the ground.
• The Mad Mockingbird. Tennessee’s state bird gives guests a lift as it flies in a high speed circle around a tall tree. Riders control their ride experience by moving a sail as the birds rush above the ground.
• Frogs and Fireflies. 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.
Play options will include Hidden Hollow, a 4,000 sq ft indoor play space, providing a climate-controlled area for families looking to recharge before their next big adventure. Also featured will be Wildwood Creek where numerous pop jets, splashing pools and more await.
As with most areas of Dollywood, Wildwood Grove takes advantage of the natural beauty of the surrounding Smoky Mountains. Almost $1 million has been allocated for landscaping the area, with more than 400 trees and 1,000 shrubs helping transform this space into a lush and relaxing spot.