Dollywood Expanding: Theme Park Opening Resort in 2015 for Families

Image: Dollywood Expanding: Theme Park Opening Resort in 2015 for Families Top, Dolly Parton. Bottom, artist rendering of DreamMore Resort.

Wednesday, 21 Aug 2013 02:38 PM

By Ken Mandel

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Dollywood, the popular theme park owned by country music legend Dolly Parton, is expanding.

The Tennessee theme park announced plans to build a "family" roller coaster in 2014 and a DreamMore Resort Hotel in 2015. The additions are part of a major $300 million expansion over the next decade, which will bring thousands of jobs to the area.

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"It's gonna be a big deal," Parton told TODAY. "And I'm so excited ... this has been a dream from the very beginning. It's got a Southern flair, but it's done very classy."

The 67-year-old superstar bought the park 28 years ago, and she said she has always wanted a vacation spot for families. The resort will have 300 rooms, some of which will accommodate six-person families.

Her idea was to have "front porch spaces," a nod to her childhood, where her family and friends often gathered. Plans also call for a fishing pond on the property for kids and fire pits for roasting marshmallows. Guests will receive a glass of lemonade in the summer and a cup of hot chocolate in the winter when they arrive at the hotel, says The Associated Press.

The total expansion includes multiple resorts, rides, and shows. The first of the new attractions will be Fire Chaser Express, scheduled to open next year. The ride is designed for families, including elementary-age children.

In the small town of Pigeon Forge, Dollywood represents the largest revenue stream. The expansion will likely be a major boon for the area.

"We're basically 100 percent tourism," Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism Executive Director Leon Downey told The Associated Press. "It's the only industry we have. Every year Dollywood has a new announcement, but this one is so big it dwarfs all the others."

Parton was born in nearby Sevierville as one of 12 children. She began her career as a child and is one of the most popular recording artists in history. She has composed more than 3,000 songs, including "Jolene," "Coat of Many Colors," "9 to 5," and "My Tennessee Mountain Home."

Her enormous success has allowed her give back to her Smoky Mountains community.

"It is the most amazing feeling," Parton said. "People say you can't go home again. Well, I've certainly proved that wrong."

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