Lonely Planet Writer

In its biggest expansion yet, Dollywood is getting 11 new rides and experiences

If you’re a fan of country star Dolly Parton’s namesake theme park, Dollywood, or plan to visit there some day, you may be interested to learn that it has announced exciting new plans for 2019. In its largest expansion yet, Dollywood will now be home to a new land called Wildwood Grove, a whimsically-themed area with 11 new experiences, including six ride attractions.

Dolly Parton at Dollywood circa 1993. Image: Ron Davis/Getty Images

Dolly opened Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, in 1986 in conjunction with Herschend Family Entertainment, and she says the new land was inspired by her time spent exploring in the hills around her home in the Great Smoky Mountains. “I’d pretend that the frogs and butterflies were my friends,” she says. “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; it may be my new favourite part of Dollywood.”

The entrance to Dollywood in Tennessee. Image: George Rose/Getty Images

Wildwood Grove is being built at a cost of $37m (€32.46), and it will centre around a 55-foot-tall Wildwood tree covered in brightly-coloured leaves and thousands of butterflies. Once darkness falls, the tree will come to life in a show that features the butterflies glowing in a kaleidoscope of colour. Wildwood Grove will have live entertainment and a new restaurant, Till & Harvest, and among its indoor and outdoor play areas is Hidden Hollow, a 4000-square-foot indoor play space. Nearly $1m (€877,400) has been planned for landscaping the area, with more than 400 trees and 1000 shrubs helping to transform the space into a lush spot at the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.

The six rides include The Dragonflier, a suspended family rollercoaster, and Treetop Tower, which gives guests a sky-high view of Wildwood Grove as they soar nearly 40 feet in the air. In Black Bear Trail, riders hop on the back of friendly bears for a trek through their natural habitat. The Sycamore Swing sees guests swinging back and forth in a “leaf boat,” while The Mad Mockingbird gives visitors a lift as it flies in a high-speed circle around a tall tree. Adventurous guests join in with friendly frogs hopping up and down as they chase each other around the lily pad trying to catch the flickering fireflies in Frogs and Fireflies.

Dollywood’s largest expansion is called Wildwood Grove. Image: Dollywood

Wildwood Grove is due to open at Dollywood in 2019, the anchor of the Dollywood amusement destination, which also includes sister water park, Dollywood’s Splash Country, Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa and Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Attraction. Further information can be found here.