Country music star Dolly Parton announced that the group that helps runs her namesake park, the Dollywood Co., plans $300 million in capital investments over the next 10 years, including new attractions, resorts and the creation of more than 2,500 jobs in Tennessee’s famed Great Smoky Mountains.
The first new attraction will be the Fire Chaser Express dual-launch roller coaster to be launched next March, followed by a 300-room DreamMore Resort set to open in time for the company’s 30th anniversary in 2015.
The resort will sit on 100 acres just minutes away from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited such park in the U.S., and feature a design reminiscent of the iconic Southern gathering spot, the front porch. Some rooms on the ground floor will even have their own private gated porches with outdoor access.
DreamMore Resort will feature a variety of accommodations, including a celebrity suite with decor inspired by Parton, a full-service restaurant fashioned after an old farmhouse, 8,000 square feet of indoor meeting space and an outdoor event area to accommodate groups as large as 500.
The new property joins Dollywood Cabins, launched in 2009, as the company’s second venture in the lodging industry. Additional unnamed resorts on park property are also in the works, as are more rides and entertainment offerings.
Craig Ross, president of the Dollywood Co., said the new additions would make the Dollywood theme park and Dollywood’s Splash Country water park one of the nation’s premiere family vacation destinations.
An independent economic impact study commissioned by the Dollywood Co. projected that Dollywood and its hospitality investments would add $150 million annually to the economy of Parton’s native Sevier County and the contiguous counties in eastern Tennessee. The study also found that the company’s 10-year investments would generate more than $7 million in state and local taxes.
The expansions come about a year after plans for the world’s first snow and water park in nearby Nashville fell through. Parton ditched the $50 million idea after partner Gaylord Entertainment Co. sold management rights for its iconic Opryland Resort & Convention Center to Marriott International Inc. (NYSE:MAR