Next year, Dollywood guests can step into a new land that's like a nature-themed storybook full of magical attractions and endearing characters including butterflies Flit and Flutter, Franklin the Frog and Benjamin Bear. The recent announcement of the Wildwood Grove expansion that will sit near the Timber Canyon area of the Tennessee amusement park marks the largest expansion since the theme park's opening in 1961.
Wilderness Pass was Dollywood's last addition, completed in 2008. Five years later, park planners committed to investing $300 million into Dollywood improvements to take place over a 10-year period.
"We've been investing heavily. This will be one of the final pieces to the $300 million commitment we made over 10 years' time. We're actually a few years ahead of schedule," Dollywood President Craig Ross announced. Dolly Parton herself added, "Yeah we are, and I'm going to have to get out there and make some more money."
Right now, the Wildwood Grove area doesn't look like much other than mounds of dirt and a few structures going up, but it will soon become home to 11 new attractions for the park including rides like Frogs & Fireflies, the Dragonflier Coaster, the Sycamore Swing and the Mad Mockingbird. The Treetop Tower will take riders up in giant acorn vessels high enough to get a view of the surrounding Smoky Mountains. And Black Bear Trail will allow kids to ride on the backs of friendly bears.
Those looking to cool off or take a break from the ride experiences can visit Wildwood Creek featuring splash pads and pop jets, or they can head inside Hidden Hollow, an indoor play area with games and slides. Once visitors start feeling peckish, they can drop by Till & Harvest, a restaurant featuring Southwestern fare.
At the center of Wildwood Grove, guests can gaze upon the Wildwood Tree, a 55-foot-tall giant Sycamore tree structure adorned with butterflies that will light up the night sky and serve as a canopy for live music below.
Dollywood fans who want to see the new rides at Wildwood Grove as soon as it opens can purchase a season pass to get exclusive access when the new area of the Pigeon Forge park opens up next year.