Calling it “the realization of a dream I’ve had for more than 30 years,” Dolly Parton announced plans today to open “Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort” in 2015, according to a media release. The new resort is part of a planned $300 million expansion to the country singer’s signature theme park, Dollywood.
Situated in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains, Dollywood has been a popular tourist attraction for southerns since it opened in 1986. With the planned expansion, the theme park will spend more in the next ten years than it has in the previous 27, according to Dollywood president Craig Ross.
"It's the bigger scope of these attractions that we'll be adding that's different," Ross told the Associated Press.
The Fire Chaser Express will be the first of several new rides. Children of elementary school age will be able to ride the new attraction, which is scheduled to open next year. Expansion plans also include new shows and additional resorts.
But the DreamMore Resort is the prized jewel of Dollywood’s vision for the future. Situated on 100 acres and featuring spectacular views of the neighboring mountain range, the resort will have 300 rooms and the grounds will include “an indoor and outdoor resort pool complex, a spa, and a full-service farmhouse-style restaurant,” according to the media release.
The resort is an important early step in future expansions, because it will allow both theme park visitors and those vacationing in the Smoky Mountains a central base from which to operate. And Pigeon Forge, the small town where Dollywood is located, has less than 6,000 permanent residents.
"It makes all of us in the city smile," Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism, told the AP. "Every year Dollywood has a new announcement, but this one is so big it dwarfs all the others."