Dolly Parton hosted the grand opening of the $37-million Wildwood Grove expansion at her Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., on May 10 and 11.
Wildwood Grove, which represents the largest capital investment in Dollywood’s 33-year history, features 11 new experiences for guests, including a new restaurant, climbing structure and roller coaster called the Dragonflier.
“When I was a little girl growing up in the hills of the Smoky Mountains, I’d often let my imagination just run away—something I still do now—dreaming these big dreams about what it’d be like to venture off with a family of bears in to the woods or how fun it would be to hitch a ride with the butterflies and dragonflies,” Dolly said. “All us kids would splash and play in the creeks and ponds around home and have these daydreams about the world around us, and that’s what’s so special about Wildwood Grove. We’ve been able to create a new area to allow families to experience some of those exact dreams we all had when we were little.”
Wildwood Grove’s Featured Attractions:
Wildwood Tree: A 55-foot tree that grows from a cluster of natural rocks and boulders, which serves as the area’s focal point and features a nighttime show and concerts. Its canopy is adorned with 650 lighted butterflies and thousands of leaves.
The Dragonflier: A suspended 453-meter roller coaster that lets guests soar like a dragonfly.
Black Bear Trail: A ride where kids can hop on the backs of mechanical bears for a trek around the area.
Sycamore Swing: A leaf boat swing which will swing guests back and forth.
Treetop Tower: A ride that sends guests 40 feet into the air in giant acorns and spins them around to see the Smoky Mountains.
Mad Mockingbird: A ride that spins guests in circles, and they can control their experience by moving a sail.
Frogs & Fireflies: A ride where guests can hop on frogs and ride them as they race each other around a lily pad.
Hidden Hollow: A 4,000-foot indoor, climate controlled climb structure with slides and games.
Wildwood Creek: An oasis with pop jets and splashing pools.
Four new costumed characters and entertainment including Flit and Flutter, butterfly ambassadors for the Wildwood Tree, and Benjamin Bear.
Till & Harvest: A restaurant featuring fresh Southwest items including burritos, salads, pulled pork, slaw, a topping bar with salsas and a walk-up window with churros and ice cream.
Check out a photo gallery of the grand opening, courtesy of Curtis Hilbun, AFF-USA.com.
photos by Curtis Hilbun, AFF-USA.com