January 24, 2022
Yes, we may be in the doldrums of January (28 degrees with a chance of precipitation as I sit to write this blog), but I'm excited about the coming season for Dollywood's Splash Country. Typically, January isn't the prettiest time to walk through a water park that's located in the Smoky Mountains. But there's so much work happening, I can already tell it's going to be a BEAUTIFULLY-fun year at the Smokies most-trusted water park. I'm already envisioning warm days laughing and splashing with my boys. Let's *jump in* and look at what's happening. (I do enjoy a good pun every now and again!)
When Dollywood's Splash Country opened in 2001, this was an area that opened with the brand-new park. It has served young families well for a couple decades, but now it's time to reimagine this space. As one of the first attractions you see when you arrive, Little Creek Falls beckons preschoolers to pause and play here. In case you're not familiar with this play space, here's a picture for reference.
The target demographic will remain the same, but in 2022, this space will be transformed into a splash pad. I'm so excited that it will be more accessible for people of all abilities, and it will be easier for babies and tots to roam without 18 inches of standing water. (Remember, there's still The Cascades if you do want the zero-depth entry for little ones to play.) Here are some pictures as the work started a few months ago.
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We are using the same manufacturer that created the splash pad at Dollywood's DreamMore Resort and Spa. You can expect fun elements themed with flowers, cattails, leaves and pop jets. I fully anticipate my 4-year-old will want to set up camp here. My older son will be 7 when the water park opens (May 14, 2022), and there will be some bigger play pieces that he will enjoy as well. (As he moves into the big kid status, he will likely prefer Bear Mountain Fire Tower-which I think is great news for young families. I'm predicting you'll see more children of the target age playing at the splash pad.) Here's what the open space looks like now.
Another note-worthy item I want to share is that the butterfly shade structures aren't going away. They will receive new color schemes and new fabric panels and continue to offer refuge from the sun. We're even moving a couple of these structures to cover the actual play area! As a mother, I'm grateful for this upgrade for my children.
Over the past several years, we've been working on repainting and resurfacing slides throughout the park. This off-season, I'm excited to tell you that we've been able to upgrade 17 slides. I took pictures in November and returned again to snap more-recent pictures. On Mountain Twist, you can see a slight color change with the new olive-colored interior. Use the slider bar to see the difference from November to now! (Note: the work is not done yet.)
On Bear Mountain Fire Tower, you can see the resurfacing and new paint makes it shine like right out of the box. I love seeing the before and after side-by-side.
Meanwhile, you can't see the new plaster on the bottom of The Cascades because it stays covered through the winter, but this pool's color will look less lagoon-like with a slight color shift and more like fresh Smoky Mountain water.
Speaking of our Smoky Mountain theming, you'll see more of that in our landscaping this season. People always talk about how beautiful our properties are-and it's because we are literally nestled into mountain hollows. If you think there's not much for our landscaping team to tend to in January, you'd be wrong. I saw a bunch of plants already staged as our team plans where they will be planted.
Now dormant, these plants will bloom into beauties that make the atmosphere at Dollywood's Splash Country memorable beyond the thrills and splashes. With lush native plants, flowers and trees, our water park guests enjoy fragrant blooms and natural shade throughout the park. That's not something every water park can say!
The off-season is the time of year we get to beautify all aspects of the park. Often, that means we have to rip up concrete and re-work all the behind-the-scenes kind of stuff. This kind of maintenance ensures efficiency and keeps our park running good-as-new.
Also, this is the time for tree-trimming and some removal. We prefer the well-kempt look over scruffy!
It's a time of scrubbing slides, towers, sidewalks, bathrooms and kitchens. As you would expect from Dollywood, nothing is overlooked. With our topography, not everything is easy to reach. I love the lengths we take to get our mountain slides clean and fresh. Just look at how great Big Bear Plunge looks!
There's lots of planning and prepping in the admin office, too. When you select Dollywood's Splash Country as your water park, you get the brand strength of the Dollywood Company. You benefit from immersive environments, theming and world-class family entertainment. You'll notice more similarities between our water park and theme park this year, specifically, updates to our TimeSaver H2O, Lost and Found program, festival atmosphere and live entertainment. We are always seeking to improve your experience. Mark your calendars and we'll look for you in May!
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