Dollywood Officially Opens Wildwood Grove – The Largest Expansion In Park History
Dollywood again solidified its place among the nation’s premier family destinations as Dolly Parton today officially opened Wildwood Grove, the largest expansion in park history. Parton opened the fascinating new land to visitors ready to enjoy its 11 thrilling new experiences. During an early morning media event, Parton shared the inspiration and dreams that led to the creation of Wildwood Grove, calling the area the new standard for Dollywood.
At $37 million, Wildwood Grove is Dollywood theme park’s largest capital investment ever and is the first new area added to Dollywood since Wilderness Pass in 2008. The biggest adventure in Dollywood’s history provides guests of all sizes unique experiences to enjoy together as a family.
“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,” Parton 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 is so special to me because so many of the same daydreams and imaginations from my childhood have now found a perfect place at my Dollywood. I hope families will enjoy laughing, playing and exploring together in this great new place that truly does feel like home for me.”
The new area is a 20% increase in the total size of Dollywood, according to Craig Ross, president of the Dollywood Company. Nearly $1 million has been invested in Wildwood Grove’s landscaping, with more than 400 trees and 2,300 shrubs creating a beautiful, yet decidedly natural atmosphere to enjoy. As the landscaping continues to mature, the visual appeal of the area will only increase. Craig explained the significance of the newest addition to the storied theme park.
“Without doubt, this is one of the most exciting days in the history of our company,” Ross explained. “It is rare in our industry that a park adds a completely new land in its entirety, and as we continue to grow and set attendance records, we needed to add more area to give guests more room to spread out and explore. Additionally, we were able to take many of Dolly’s childhood dreams and create experiences that are uniquely Smoky Mountain-themed and really help tell the story of this beautiful area”.
“I know our guests will be thrilled with the great diversity of attractions they will be able to enjoy when they visit Wildwood Grove. We’re extremely proud of the fact that there are experiences here that every member of the family will love and enjoy.”
After stepping into Wildwood Grove, imagination takes flight, delivering explorers on a journey of discovery in this breathtaking area. Remarkable sights await visitors throughout the land. In the distance, the breathtaking Wildwood Tree catches the eye as lively butterflies shimmer in the daylight.
At the heart of it all is The Wildwood Tree. This focal point is a beacon for all, drawing families to watch the butterflies play in its leafy canopy, while encouraging others to splash and play in the winding creek that flows at its base. As the daylight fades, families can bask in a colorful kaleidoscope of summer fun as the area glows to life. The Wildwood Tree will feature nearly 650 of these lighted butterflies at night.
The Wildwood Tree comes to life each evening during a unique nighttime experience which begins June 15. Each season of the year features a spectacular new experience for guests. The Wildwood Tree features nearly 650 lighted butterflies (orange, blue, yellow, pink and multi-colored) and almost 9000 leaves.
In the day, families can laugh and play, taking rides inside giant acorns at Treetop Tower and aboard a thrilling “leaf boat” on the Great Tree Swing!
The Treetop Tower gives guests a sky-high view of Wildwood Grove as they soar nearly 40 feet in the air. Riders, seated inside giant acorns, spin around the top of a tall oak tree before gently drifting back to the grove floor.
Below is the Great Tree Swing aka “leaf boat”. This thrilling ride swings back and forth just like a leaf falling from a giant sycamore tree.
Even the bears are friendly in Wildwood Grove, as they let guests meander with them through their own natural habitat at the Black Bear Trail. If smaller guests need a quick break, Hidden Hollow contains a 4,000 sq. ft. climate-controlled area with climbing structures, slides and games where kids and their parents can enjoy play time full of exploration.
Nearby, families scream with delight as they take a ride with Tennessee’s state symbol—the mockingbird—in an experience they control themselves at The Mad Mockingbird. This is one of our favorite rides in the new Wildwood Groove area.
And, no new land is complete without a new roller coaster! Riders dip and dart through geysers while suspended from dragonflies on the area’s signature roller coaster, Dragonflier.
Built by Vekoma, this thrilling suspended roller coaster lets guests soar with a dragonfly as it dips and darts along the gushing geysers and lush landscape of Wildwood Grove. It only requires guests to be 39 inches tall to ride, so this is a great ride for the kids that are ready to graduate from the kiddy rides, but aren’t quite ready for something like Tornado or Lightning Rod yet.
Frogs & Fireflies is another new adventurous ride as guests hop aboard a friendly frog and chase each other in a spirited race around the lily pad.
If it gets too hot, Wildwood Creek features pop jets, splashing pools, and more wet play activities, while the dry play area at Wildwood Creek features “music instruments” for guests to enjoy.
Wildwood Grove also features new merchandise and dining options for park guests. Till & Harvest, which is expected to open around Memorial Day, provides the perfect blend of Smoky Mountain flavors and fresh Mexican cuisine. The menu features a variety of build-your-own style entrees such as burritos, bowls, salads and nachos all filled with wood-fired meats, fresh vegetables and flavorful sauces. Along with the Smoky Mountain Mexican flavors, Till & Harvest also provides a spacious open-air patio for families to enjoy the sights and sounds of Wildwood Grove while they enjoy their meal.
Mountain Grove Merchants is the new open air gift shop for guests looking for the perfect gift or souvenir to celebrate their adventure in Wildwood Grove.
Each day of exploration in Wildwood Grove is an experience families don’t want to miss. Before you leave, your family will want to get some photos with not one, but three, new costume characters! Flit and Flutter serve as Wildwood Grove’s ambassadors and Benjamin Bear loves to make new friends. These new characters will have scheduled opportunities to meet guests each day. These merry memory making moments are certain to become a treasured part of every family’s visit. (Flit and Flutter with Dolly below)
Before you visit, give this video a watch to see how Wildwood Grove came to life. The making of Dollywood’s largest expansion ever was a huge undertaking. Every experience was designed with the highest details.
Wildwood Grove is included with admission to Dollywood. One-day tickets range from $61 to $74, according to Dollywood’s website. The park also has two- and three-day ticket options. For tickets and more information, visit the official Dollywood website by clicking here.
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