Today Dollywood made their big announcement, and they weren't kidding - they had some huge news to share. Huge to the tune of $300 million to be spent on the parks and resort over the next ten years.
To start off today's event Dolly entered by performing a song. The live expansion presentation was attended by many folks from the park and local area.
Pigeon Forge City Manager Earlene Teaster talked about how Dollywood is a generous contributor to the area. What she did not talk about was how instrumental she herself was in improving the roads so that we can all get to Dollywood more easily.
Tennessee tourism commissioner Susan Whitaker spoke about the impact Dollywood has & will continue to make on the state. Ms. Whitaker all said that 9 million visitors annually come to Sevier County & Dollywood Enterprises entertains over 1/3 of those visitors.
Here we see Dolly with Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, Governor Haslam spoke about how it's a really big deal to announce a $300,000,000 investment that will generate 2500 jobs for the local community.
Craig Ross, President of Dollywood Enterprises disclosed most of the details on the 2014 and 2015 projects.
The presenters held a "Ground Breaking" Ceremony with the shovel used for the original Dollywood groundbreaking.
2015 will see the opening of Dollywood's DreamMore Resort, situated on 100 acres of land near the theme park and Splash Country water park. Here we see concept art of the resort.
The model of the new resort was on display as part of the announcement, and is quite impressive. The resort will feature "a design reminiscent of the iconic Southern gathering spot, the front porch. With rocking chairs that invite guests to linger and admire pristine mountain views, the property is nestled amid the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains and offers the best of both worlds—tranquility and adventure—throughout the sprawling resort and surrounding grounds."
Looking at the future site of the DreamMore Resort, seen above, shows that there is a lot of progress yet to be made. Plenty of amenities and activities will be offered at the resort - and its location will truly make Dollywood a destination experience.
In 2014 the park will add a new family roller coaster named FireChaser Express. Located twelve stories above the Wilderness Pass section of Dollywood, the coaster will feature two launches, one forward and one backward using 2,427 feet of track. The coaster will have a low 39 inch height requirement meaning that very small children will be able to take part in the experience.
Currently this teaser banner is hanging across from Wild Eagle, at the base of the hill that FireChaser Express will be located on.
FireChaser Express will be manufactured by Gerstlauer, who also created the park's more thrilling Mystery Mine. It will utilize three trains, each having seven cars. The total difference in height between the station and the top of the ride will be 79 feet, and the coaster will hit a maximum speed of 34.5 miles per hour.
You can see the ride's loading station in the concept art above - trains will depart facing forward and return backwards. The coaster's layout has not yet been revealed, but will feature two helices, six zero gravity moments, and a trick track section where the track twists side to side. It is expected that additional theming elements will be added to tell a story during the ride.
Currently the park has started work on the coaster, with earth moving taking place on the hill - you can spy some of that above the fencing in the area.
Here is another shot of the work currently going on for FireChaser Express. With the ride now announced we can expect to see more and more progress on the coaster as the weeks go by.
The additions for 2014 and 2015 are only the start of the resort's new 10 year plan, it sounds like plenty of additional park expansions - and possible resort expansions as well - are planned for the rest of the 10 years. Exciting times for the park!