Dolly Parton and park officials have announced the largest expansion ever to family vacation destination, Dollywood. The 32-year old venue will get its largest capital investment for the creation of new land, Wildwood Grove, which is slated to open in 2019.
Wildwood Grove will feature six unique ride attractions—including a suspended family roller coaster called The Dragonflier— the 55 ft. tall Wildwood Tree, live entertainment, various indoor and outdoor play areas for families to enjoy, a new restaurant and more. The expansion is projected to cost $37 million, meeting The Dollywood Company’s 2013 commitment of $300 million in investments over a 10 year period four years ahead of schedule.
Patron explained in a release that the new land will reflect her youth, exploring the the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.
“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,” Parton said. “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.”
Wildwood Grove “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,” said Dollywood Company President Craig Ross in a release. “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.”
Attendees will enter Wildwood Grove through the massive hollow trunk of a fallen tree. The Wildwood Tree will serve as a centerpiece and will offer a natural platform for performances throughout the day and night. The green, leafy canopy will be adorned with thousands of butterflies that dance playfully in the breeze. Once darkness falls, the area will sparkle as the Wildwood Tree comes to life each evening in a unique nighttime show that features the butterflies glowing in a kaleidoscope of spectacular color.
The land will offer play areas with Hidden Hollow, a 4,000 sq. ft. indoor play space, provides a climate-controlled area for families looking to recharge before their next big adventure. Another refreshing stop for play is at Wildwood Creek where numerous pop jets, splashing pools and more await. There, guests also can discover their musical side thanks to the various “instruments” available to play.
As with most areas of Dollywood, Wildwood Grove takes advantage of the natural beauty of the surrounding Smoky Mountains. Nearly $1 million has been planned for landscaping the area, with more than 400 trees and 1,000 shrubs helping transform this space into a lush and relaxing spot hidden within the foothills of the Smokies.
While Wildwood Grove opens in 2019, Dollywood guests still have great festivals to enjoy during 2018’s Season of Showstoppers. Dollywood’s Harvest Festival presented by Humana (Sept. 28-Nov. 3) features the return of Great Pumpkin LumiNights—which doubles in size in 2018—as well as the largest Southern gospel celebration in the world. The season ends with the 10-time winner for Best Christmas Event, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana (Nov. 10- Jan. 5). This year, Wilderness Pass transforms into Glacier Ridge, a winter wonderland complete with a 50 ft. tall video motion Christmas tree.