New Addition to Dollywood: Wildwood Grove Now Open

May 19, 2019

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If you’ve never been to Dollywood — or want to make a return trip — now is a good time to visit Dolly Parton’s theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. It just opened a major new addition, Wildwood Grove, which features 11 new attractions, some focused on Parton’s daydreams of her childhood in the Tennessee hills located near Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Black Bear Trail - Dollywood
Black Bear Trail (Photo courtesy of Dollywood)

The new, $37 million, six-acre expansion is the largest in Dollywood history and just opened to the public on May 10, 2019. Wildwood Grove extends the footprint of the park by 20% and marks the first new area to be added since Wilderness Pass in 2008.

Related: The Best Credit Cards for Entertainment Spending

“I hope families will enjoy laughing, playing and exploring together in this great new place that truly does feel like home for me,” said Parton, the legendary country music singer on opening day.

Rides and Play Areas for All Ages

There’s a little something for everyone at Wildwood Grove whether you are a family of roller coaster fanatics or a family that enjoys a slower pace. Here’s a rundown of some of the new attractions:

Dragonflier: This 1,486-foot-long suspended roller coaster lets you soar like a dragonfly, dipping and darting past the geysers of Wildwood Grove with a top speed around 45 miles per hour. The minimum height requirement is 39 inches, so this is a family-friendly ride that may be just the right intensity for most school-aged kids and up.

Dragonflier Dollywood
Dragonflier (Photo courtesy of Dollywood)

The Wildwood Tree: Everywhere in Dollywood, you’ll see butterflies, Dolly’s signature symbol, worked into the themes and landscape of the park. But that symbol been taken to a whole new level at The Wildwood Tree, a 50-foot-tall focal point of Wildwood Grove, which features 650 lighted butterflies that will “come to life” each evening in a unique nighttime experience. The nighttime experience at this attraction is set to debut June 15.

Great Tree Swing: Similar to pirate ship rides that swing back and forth at other theme parks, Wildwood Grove’s version is a “leaf boat.” Designers hope you’ll feel as if you’re drifting down from a giant sycamore tree.

Great Tree Swing - Dollywood
Great Tree Swing (Photo courtesy of Dollywood)

Treetop Tower: Families can shoot nearly 40 feet in the air in separate, acorn-shaped, gondola-style seats, which spin around, as if in the top of a tall oak tree, before sending you (safely) back to the forest floor.

The Mad Mockingbird: Themed with Tennessee’s state bird in mind, this interactive flying ride lets you control your own experience, zooming in or out by manipulating the bird’s movable front wing, as you enjoy a high-speed, circular rush.

Wildwood Grove - Dollywood
Wildwood Grove (Photo by Curtis Hilbun / Dollywood)

Frogs & Fireflies: Perfect for the littlest members of your crew, this gentle roundabout ride lets kids chase one another in playful frogs, circling around a lily pad.

Hidden Hollow: Ideal for extra hot or rainy days, this climate-controlled indoor play area offers 4,000 square feet of space for kids to explore and play.

Wildwood Creek: Speaking of hot days, kids can cool off in the fun splash park at Wildwood Creek – directly across from the Wildwood Tree – where you’ll find pop jets, splashing pools and other fun water features.

Black Bird Trail: In a world of bigger, taller and faster, this ride for kids 36 inches and up looks — downright pleasant. Sit on a bear and glide up and down around a track with jolly music playing in the background.

Exploring the Rest of the Dollywood

Once you’ve seen the new additions at Wildwood Grove, you’ll want to be sure to take in all the other marquee attractions at Dollywood, including Lightning Rod (named Amusement Today’s Best New Ride of 2016) and Thunderhead (twice named the world’s top wooden roller coaster).

Thunderhead at Dollywood (Photo courtesy of Dollywood)
Thunderhead at Dollywood (Photo courtesy of Dollywood)

There’s also FireChaser Express, which takes riders on a forward and backward trip at 34 miles per hour, and Wild Eagle, billed as the nation’s first wing roller coaster. And, for a slower pace, don’t miss the Dollywood Express, where an authentic, coal-fired steam engine will take you on a nostalgic five-mile journey in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.

The park is known for its food and live music performances, so be sure to make some time to enjoy a tune or two while you’re there. And, if you’re after waterslides, Dollywood has those too: Dollywood’s Splash Country, adjacent to the main theme park, offers 35 acres of waterpark attractions.

(Photo courtesy of Dollywood)
(Photo courtesy of Dollywood)

Bottom Line

There’s never been a better time to head to Dollywood with your crew. And, stay tuned: TPG Family will visit Dollywood this summer and return with a complete guide to the theme park.

Are you looking for more theme park fun this summer? Here are more ideas:

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