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Theme Park Expansions


Dollywood announced the addition of Lightning Rod, both the world’s fastest wood coaster and the world’s first launching wood coaster. Set to roll to the starting line in March 2016, Lightning Rod adds another groundbreaking roller coaster to the park’s already impressive portfolio of world-class attractions. The thrilling $22 million ride also marks the single largest attraction investment in The Dollywood Company’s history. Themed after a tricked out 1950s-era hot rod, Lightning Rod launches riders from zero to 45 mph more than 20 stories up its lift hill to one of the ride’s first airtime moments. At the crest of the hill, riders face twin summit airtime hills before tackling the daring first drop. Lightning Rod races down the 165-foot drop and propels guests along its 3,800-ft. track to a top speed of 73 mph, the fastest speed for a wood coaster in the world.


Dollywood’s 30th anniversary celebration provided six spectacular festivals and a number of surprises to delight visitors in 2015. From amazing stage shows and award-winning roller coasters to a nightly summer fireworks display and the seven-time winner for Best Christmas Event, guests enjoyed seasons of fun at Dollywood! Guests enjoyed six new shows during Dollywood’s Great American Summer, including Lite the Night and Live From the Back Porch. Dollywood also added two new entertainment events in fall, Dollywood’s Showcase of Stars, welcomed some of the biggest names in entertainment to Dollywood, along with Rock the Smokies, a day-long celebration or praise and worship with contemporary Christian performers like Third Day and For King & Country.


Dollywood debuted FireChaser Express , the nation’s first dual-launch family coaster that travels both forward and backward. With a 39-inch minimum height requirement, FireChaser Express invites families to enjoy the exciting journey as a group. Perched 12 stories above the park’s Wilderness Pass area, FireChaser Express launches twice, blasting riders forward and backward on a winding 2,427-foot track. The coaster is projected from the loading station traveling from zero to 16 mph in just 1.1 second. Near the end of the ride, a backward launch from zero to 20 mph in two seconds sends FireChaser Express hurtling back to the station in the opposite direction.


Dollywood’s love for family time, and summer time came to life with music and light as Dollywood’s Great American Summer debuted in 2013. Special extended park hours from 10 a.m.—10 p.m. helped families spend more time together no matter their schedules. Each day was filled with new shows, including Cirque Shanghai during Festival of Nations and Great American Country, plus nightly fireworks set to original music written and recorded by Dolly. Dolly also made history in Dollywood’s 2013 Smoky Mountain Christmas festival when she appeared in Dollywood’s A Christmas Carol as a hologram. She stars in the ground breaking show as the Ghost of Christmas Past, with flair only Dolly can bring using hologram technology and challenging the other Dollywood actors to interact with her hologram each day.


Dollywood adds the $20 million Wild Eagle, the first wing coaster in the U.S. Reaching a top speed of 61 mph, Wild Eagle looms 21 stories above Dollywood in the park’s Timber Canyon area. The steel coaster’s 3,127-foot track’s highest drop features four inversions and a 135-foot first drop. Spirit of the Dance headlines Dollywood’s Festival of Nations while KidsFest features Chris Perondi's Stunt Dog Experience.


Barnstormer High-flying hijinks came to Dollywood in 2011 with the arrival of the Barnstormer. The park’s newest ride, located in Craftsman’s Valley, carries passenger 81 feet in the air on two giant pendulum arms at a maximum speed of 45 miles per hour and 230 degrees of rotation. Dollywood’s popular Barbeque & Bluegrass festival made a triumphant return in late summer. Later in the season, Dollywood’s Christmas on Ice!, a new ice skating show, premiered to headline Smoky Mountain Christmas.


Adventure Mountain Dollywood mark’s its 25th anniversary season in 2010. The new Adventure Mountain, the country’s largest challenge course, rises above the landscape in the park’s Wilderness Pass area. Designed exclusively for Dollywood, the one-of-a-kind two-acre attraction is unmatched universally in size and scope and features more than 140 interactive outdoor elements. Dollywood Festival of Nations welcomes three new shows—Nova Scotia’s DRUM!, Peru’s Jallmay, and Trinidad’s Invaders. For the first time, KidsFest features an all-new lineup of shows with a new headliner every week of the festival.


Dollywood’s entertainment lineup expanded to welcome Sha-Kon-A-Hey! Land of Blue Smoke, the most elaborate musical production in the park’s 24-year history. Opening May 9, 2009, in DP’s Celebrity Theatre, the show tells the heartfelt story of the last family to leave the area that would become Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2009. No story about the Smoky Mountains would be complete without Dolly, who wrote the eight new songs featured in Sha-Kon-A-Hey! Le Grand Cirque’s Imaginé headlines Dollywood Festival of Nations and features a premier cast of world champion acrobats and performers from 15 countries and acts including pole climbing, contortionists, hoop diving, unicyclists, silk ropes, the diablo, and much more!


Dollywood welcomes the new family water adventure ride River Battle, a $5 million attraction in the park’s new Wilderness Pass area, adjacent to Timber Canyon. River Battle features nine, eight-passenger rafts, each armed with soaker guns. Passengers navigate a 500-foot channel featuring more than 100 targets along the way. River Battle engages riders as well as unsuspecting onlookers on the banks for a uniquely interactive experience.


The season unveils the largest capital investments at both parks. Dollywood’s $17.5 million Mystery Mine steel coaster occupies a one-acre expansion in Timber Canyon. Passengers encounter the ruins of an abandoned mine while traveling a 1,811-foot track which includes a hair-raising 95-degree, 85-foot vertical drop, just the first in a series of amazing maneuvers.


Dollywood’s Timber Canyon area opens. Lumberjack Lifts, Lil’ Loggers’ Landing, Beaver Creek Boat Float and Beaver Creek round out the new ride and attractions offerings in the action-packed adventure area. In addition, the new 150-seat LumberCamp restaurant greeted hungry guests. New entertainment offerings include Dreamland Drive-In, a ‘50s and ‘60s musical review in the Pines Theatre plus the much-anticipated Dollywood’s Babes in Toyland, the centerpiece of the Smoky Mountain Christmas festival. In addition, Dollywood launches its fifth festival—BBQ & Bluegrass featuring entertainment by Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, the Del McCoury Band and more.


A 3.5 acre, $5 million renovation in Dollywood's Country Fair area brings 10 new family rides to the park. In addition, the park's fall season introduces the new National Music & Harvest Celebration featuring 38 days of free concerts performed by country, bluegrass, Southern gospel and Americana artists.


The Wildest Ride In The Woods! Dollywood welcomed its first wooden roller coaster-The Thunderhead. Billed as the "wildest ride in the woods," the $7 million Thunderhead anchors the park's newest expansion, the five-acre Thunderhead Gap. Two new shows, Country Crossroads and Randy Parton's Country Heart & Soul joined the entertainment lineup along with a cast of roving characters including the Rainmaker, Trapper & Bear, the Constable & the Robber and the Appalachian String Band.


Dollywood introduced KidsFest, the largest children's festival in the South, which included two new stage shows for children-VeggieTales® and Garfield's® 25th Anniversary Birthday Party-and the Purina® Dog Chow® Incredible Dog Team and ASA Extreme Sports shows. The Buddy Baxter's Bandstand USA rock 'n' roll show premiered in the Pines Theatre on May 24 and Randy Parton starred in the new Randy Parton Country State of Mind country show in the Celebrity Theatre. Dollywood's Festival of Nation's returned with the addition of the Dollywood International Food Faire, 7,000 square feet of foods from around the world.


Adventures in Imagination opens at a cost of $10 million. New attractions include Smoky Mountain Wilderness Adventure, the world's largest Turbo Ride® Action Simulator Adventure; Clovis' Wilderness Corner retail shop; Chasing Rainbows, a state-of-the-art interactive museum collection that chronicles Dolly rise to fame from her humble East Tennessee beginnings to her multi-faceted career as an award-winning singer, songwriter and actress; and the Doughnut Factory.


Dollywood introduced its popular Festival of Nations, a monthlong celebration of dance, food and culture from around the world featuring more than 300 performers and artisans.


Dreamland Forest opens. This $5 million attraction features 15,000 square feet of interactive games, gadgets, and gizmos for children of all ages including the world's largest interactive tree house; a three-story bee hive, a "wet and wild" area called Bullfrog Creek, Ranger's Cookhouse restaurant, and a nature-themed gift shop.


Dollywood adds the $8 million Tennessee Tornado, the world's first spiral-loop coaster featuring back-to-back 360-degree loops. Dollywood also became headquarters for the Southern Gospel Music Association's Hall of Fame and Museum honoring the genre's legends with interactive displays, more than 350 artifacts and a recording studio.


Paradise Road: The Life and Songs of Dolly Parton, a major Broadway-style show chronicling the superstar's amazing career, debuted on April 18. Dollywood's 13th season also marked the addition of Daredevil Falls, a unique waterfall ride featuring a 63 mph free fall.


Additional entertainment offerings marked Dollywood's 12th season with the addition of American Dream, a country music show starring Randy Parton; Country Treasures, a dynamic production show highlighted by performances by Grand Ole Opry legends; Shenani-Guns, a comedy show and U Pick Nick, a Nickelodeon®-themed high-energy kids show. Imagination Station introduced one of the world's largest LEGO® play areas. In the fall, an expanded Harvest Celebration and Southern Gospel Jubilee opened.


Dollywood Boulevard, an $8 million expansion, anchored the park's 11th season. White Lightning, a $5 million state-of-the-art simulator ride, was added and at the time, was the world's largest Turbo-Ride® Action Adventure featuring a contour-flair screen measuring 55 feet high and 70 feet wide. A themed restaurant and merchandise attraction completed the area. Also in 1996, Dollywood introduced the popular Southern Gospel Jubilee during the park's fall Harvest Celebration. The country's largest Southern Gospel event featured gospel greats J. D. Sumner & The Stamps, the Lewis Family, Kirk Talley, and the Kingsmen.


Dollywood unveiled Jukebox Junction, a $6 million, seven-acre 1950s themed area featuring the 1,000-seat Pines Theater, Red's Diner and the Rockin' Roadway, a ride featuring classic replica cars. Entertainment included Let the Good Times Roll, a tribute to rock 'n' roll. A variety of merchandise locations offering classic memorabilia and nostalgic items completed the area.


Heartsong, a film narrated by Dolly, debuted in the Heartsong Theater. Conveying Dolly's fond memories and feelings for the Smoky Mountains, Heartsong's powerful story is driven by Dolly's music. Incorporating 70 mm film and specially created animation, Heartsong provides unique outdoor sensory experiences through theatrical lighting, sound and special effects.


The Country Fair area opened, adding a new feature to Dollywood's skyline with the 60-foot Wonder Wheel Ferris wheel. Other popular modern-day midway rides were added including the Tennessee Twister (also known as the Tilt-a-Whirl) and Twist and Shout (also known as the Scrambler). Nostalgia-themed additions included old-time games and a variety of "blue ribbon" foods.


Dollywood's seventh season welcomed Showstreet, a seven-acre, $6.5 million expansion including the 1,000-seat Showstreet Palace Theatre featuring the new show Fire on the Mountain; WDLY, a fully functional radio station; Friendship Gardens and Starwalk, a gardenscape area featuring more than 35,000 flowers and plants; a full production bakery plus a variety of entertainment, food, attractions and merchandise.


In 1991, Dollywood welcomed the Eagle Mountain Sanctuary, a 1.5 million-cubic-foot natural outdoor aviary, home to the largest presentation of non-releasable bald eagles. Also added next door was the Wings of America theatre and the Birds of Prey Show. The 400-seat Valley Theatre also opened in Craftsman's Valley providing yet another stage to showcase entertainment.


Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas celebration debuted during November and December of the fifth season. Festive holiday entertainment, attractions and foods all set against a backdrop of more than two million twinkling lights. Also added this year was Imagination Station, an interactive children's play zone in the Country Fair area.


The $8 million Thunder Express roller coaster was added for the fourth season. (Thunder Express was retired in 1998, making room for the Tennessee Tornado which opened in April 1999.)


The new 1,739-seat Celebrity Theatre opened its doors and the first Showcase of Stars concert series debuted featuring performances by the biggest names in country music. (In 1990, the Country Music Association named the Celebrity Theatre Theater of the Year.)


Dollywood introduced another major ride, the Mountain Slidewinder, a water toboggan thrill ride (named the best non-roller coaster ride in the country by Amusement Business magazine). Daydream Ridge, themed around an 1890s logging community and featuring a children's play area, was introduced this year featuring a toy shop, a playground area, the Daydream Diner, the Rainbow Blown Glass Shop and the Sweet Dreams Candy Shop.


In its first year of operation, Dollywood unveiled an entire new area called Rivertown Junction featuring the park's most-visited restaurant Aunt Granny's (named for the nickname by which Dolly's nieces and nephews call her); Dolly's Tennessee Mountain Home; the 450-seat Back Porch theatre (home of the popular Kinsfolks Show); and the Smoky Mountain River Rampage, a thrilling white water rafting adventure ride.