Tennessee Travel Guide

Disneyland Isn’t the Only Amusement Park That’s Expanding

PHOTO: Dollywood/Facebook

Dolly Parton has been reading our dream diaries.

Theme park Dollywood, the brainchild of country star Dolly Parton, just got a lot bigger (and more fun). A new six-acre addition–called Wildwood Groove–made its debut this Friday. It cost Dolly $37 million to build, is based on her childhood in the Smoky Mountains, and has 11 attractions, each unique and magical in their own right.

So, What Are These New Attractions?

Consider the central attraction, Wildwood Tree: a beautiful 50-foot work of art which features more than 600 colored butterflies that illuminate when the sun goes down. For all of you thrill-seekers out there, you can’t go wrong with The Dragonflier, a near 1,500-foot suspended rollercoaster that pushes speeds of up to 40 mph. For more pint-sized thrills, the kid-friendly Black Bear Trail ride is slower than The Dragonflier but a joyful merry go-round-like experience that will help ease your little ones into the park experience.

Even More Reasons to Get Stoked

Whether you’re a Dolly Parton fan, or you just want to be immersed in the majestic Smoky Mountains, there’s more to enjoy that just the rides. There are also new costumed characters at Wildwood Grove–two butterflies and a big black bear–and a Mexican restaurant that is slated to open closer to Memorial Day. The area will also be home to a new gift shop, Mountain Grove Merchants!

How & When to Go  

Dollywood is located in the Knoxville region of the Smoky Mountains in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Just like any popular theme park, it’s best to visit on less crowded days/seasons. In the case of Dollywood, this means during the week–Wednesdays or Thursdays–and in the fall or winter seasons.

Just like any popular theme park, it’s best to visit on less crowded days/seasons.

 

To see the Park’s new area(s), you’ll need at least one-day ticket, which runs between $61 and $74, or a season pass, which starts at $129. Per the park’s website, there are year-round deals–like this one, that offers up to 30 percent off a night this summer at the park’s DreamMore Resort and Spa.

When Does Dolly Visit?

It’s hard to say (though the Pigeon Forge Music in the Mountains Parade isn’t a bad bet), but when she does show up, there’s always an Entrance (that’s right, capital “E”). According to the park’s blog, Parton has emerged from a cake, appeared in a tiger cage during one of Dollywood’s magic shows, and been carried into the park by contortionists.

What Else Is There to Do?

Aside from the Park, there’s plenty of Dolly-related fun to be had. Also located in Pigeon Forge is Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner, which the icon opened two years after the debut of Dollywood. The show, which features 32 horses, trick riding, music, and dancing, is not unlike a Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament outing.

Expect to see more updates to Dollywood in the coming years, though–president Ross says that Wildwood Grove is just part of a $300 million investment to the park.