DOLLYWOOD & Splash Country
Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Herschend Family Entertainment
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(12/7/18) Wildwood Grove Construction Update (MORE...)
(11/27/18) New Glacier Ridge Photos (MORE...)
(11/20/18) Dragonfly Coaster Now Vertical (MORE...)
(11/14/18) Wildwood Grove Construction Site Tour (MORE...)
(11/13/18) New Wildwood Grove Artwork (MORE...)
Dixie Stampede (2016) Review
FireChaser Express - Grand Opening & Review
Dolly’s Splash Country Waterpark - Official Screamscape Review
Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort - Official Screamscape Review
General Park News - (11/27/18) Thanks to one of our readers for sending in some great new pictures of Glacier Ridge at Dollywood this week.
(11/12/18) Dollywood has opened the new Glacier Ridge area this weekend in the same general area where the Great Pumpkin IllumiNights was. They’ve posted a video showing off concept art of Glacier Ridge as well as time-lapse footage showing off their crews transforming the area in rapid time, removing all the pumpkins in favor of the new Glacier Ridge holiday décor! Check it out below.
In other news, I know I mentioned that Lightning Rod did reopen with some minor changes, but I never really went into too much detail about what the changes were. The ride experience itself is unchanged as far as I know, but the major changes noticed were done to the themeing of the coaster train itself. The front of the train used to have a very large themed piece that made it look like the front of an old-time hot-rod car, complete with themed headlights, tires and pipes sticking up through the car hood. The new front of the car has no themed tires or pipes sticking out of the hood, it now has a much smaller grill and car hood that unfortunately is less impressive than the original piece. It does open up the experience for the riders in the front row quite a bit who no longer have to look through the fake windshield portal. Meanwhile the car themed back piece was removed entirely and not replaced at all with any new piece of themeing, so the back of the trains now just look like a regular coaster car. (NOTE: The original back piece was actually removed some time ago, so this was not a new change)
While no official explanation has been given that I know of, the more obvious answer is apparently they felt they needed to cut some weight off the train and removing the large themed pieces was the easiest way to cut weight without reducing the number of seats on each train. Check out this video to see the revised train in action.
(11/6/18) Look for Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas to run at the park Nov. 10 through to Jan. 5, 2019. New this year will be Glacier Ridge, a new holiday themed area that will push the total number of twinkling holiday lights in the park up to over 5 million. The Glacier Ridge display area will take up the Timber Canyon, Wilderness Pass and upper portion of Craftsman Valley.
As guests near Glacier Ridge, they’ll feel as if the Smokies have frozen over, thanks to an arctic color palette and a mesmerizing atmosphere sure to wow guests. The Plaza at Wilderness Pass transforms into a winter wonderland, complete with a 50 ft. tall animated tree which anchors the area. Every 30 minutes the Plaza sparkles to life to present a fully-synchronized, dazzling light show complete with holiday hits that will have guests singing along.
For guests entering from Timber Canyon, the Arctic Passage, a 130-ft. long programmable light tunnel, transports them into Glacier Ridge in a stunning array of light and color. Once emerging from the tunnel, guests will be greeted by polar bears who have made a home at Drop Line Bay. Because the Smokies have frozen to create Glacier Ridge, these friends from the North are able to spend time with their Smoky Mountain cousins.
Those coming to Glacier Ridge through Craftsman’s Valley experience a one-of-a-kind new light installation that mimics the natural phenomenon known as the aurora borealis. Guests can walk through Dollywood’s version of the northern lights which is brought to life with music as only Dolly can do to help guests feel as if the aurora borealis has come south, even if for just a few weeks.
(10/24/18) A reader sent in some awesome photos of the scenery at Dollywood’s Great Pumpkin LumiNights event. Check it out!
(10/23/18) Dollywood reports that two of their famous “leading ladies” will celebrate huge birthdays this year with Katie turning 75 and Cindy turning 80. Oh… but these aren’t employees, but rather the names for the park’s two Baldwin coal-fired steam trains: Klondike Katie (No. 192) and Cinderella (No. 70). Both started out their careers transporting troops and lumber in Alaska during World War II before finding themselves spending their retirement years shuttling guests around the Smoky Mountains at Dollywood.
(10/11/18) Good news for Dollywood, there have been several tweets posted on Wednesday confirming the Lightning Rod is open to guests once again.
(9/20/18) Screamscape reached out to Dollywood to answer a few quest questions that I know you are all dying to know. For starters, some of you may have noticed that the Mountain Slidewinders attraction is no longer listed on the park's website. As confirmed with the park, this is normal, as the park closes the Slidewinder each season after Labor Day weekend.
Next up we checked on the status of Lightning Rod and the park confirmed that they 'have been working with the manufacture to deal with some performance issues. We are optimistic it will reopen this season." So cross your fingers folks, let the crews finish up their work as we send a virtual "Get Well Soon" card to Lightning Rod.
(9/11/18) A quick congratulations goes out to our friends at Dollywood for winning three awards in this year's Golden Ticket Awards. The Pigeon Forge theme park took in top honors winning awards for: Friendliest Park, Best Shows and Best Christmas Event. The park also was listed in the Top 10 for the following awards: Best Food, Cleanest Park, Best Water Park, Best Park and twice for Best Wooden Coaster with Thunderhead taking 10th place and Lightning Rod taking 6th place.
(3/12/18) While a lot of the focus on Dollywood right now is aimed at their 5-acre 2019 expansion (follow this link to see brand new information about that) some other interesting news was passed my way this week. According to the latest rumors, Dollywood may be considering plans to attempt to keep the park open year-round within the next couple years. As it is right now, Dollywood is almost open year-round, only closing down from early January to mid-March, which is pretty much the coldest time of the year for the area, and a time when tourism falls off at most of the area businesses in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, with things picking up once again in March... just when Dollywood reopens.
The question here to be solved may be similar to the, "Which came first, the Chicken or the Egg?" question. Does tourism in the area fade during this time just because Dollywood is closed, or would the tourists continue to visit if Dollywood were to remain open? We may just find out the answer to that question before too long, so stay tuned.
2018 - The “Season of Showstoppers” and “The Venue” - (2/24/18) Dollywood has posted a nice update to their Blog showing off how they are progressing inside the park on various off-season improvement projects inside the park. New paint, a look at the new Festival Plaza mixed-use space, word that big changes are coming inside Aunt Granny's restaurant, upgrades all around Rivertown Junction and much more.
(11/6/17) Another note from Dollywood describes "The Venue", a new themed multi-purpose area that will replace the park's closed River Battle ride between Mystery Mine and the entrance to Wild Eagle. While it will have a natural looking theme to it, the area is being designed with the idea of being able to overlay extra themeing to it to tie into whatever special event or seasonal holiday is being celebrated in the park at any given time of year.
(11/4/17) Dolly Parton and Dollywood have announced that in 2018 the park will make their 'largest entertainment investment in history'. This will take the form of an unprecedented lineup of performers coming to Dollywood throughout the 2018 season in what Dolly has called a, "Season of Showstoppers".
“Music is the universal language that unites all of us,” Parton explained. “It celebrates our people, our families and our communities. I’ve made music my life’s work because I feel each and every one of us has a special song to sing. I’ve made sure that here at my Dollywood, we use music to encourage and inspire those songs in each and every one of our shows.”
Dollywood’s 2018 entertainment roster reads like the nomination list from an awards ceremony. A range of performers—from CMA Hall of Fame members to emerging artists—ensure there is something for everyone. Combined, the headlining artists performing at Dollywood in 2018 have 42 gold albums, 18 platinum albums, 30 Grammys, 14 Country Music Association Awards, 10 American Country Music Awards, five American Music Association Awards and 62 Dove Awards.
It all begins with Dollywood’s Festival of Nations (March 17-April 9) which includes headliners National Dance Company of Siberia, The Flamenco Kings starring Los Vivancos, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
April plays host to three weeks (April 11-29) of stellar performances during the all-new Spring Mix music series. Dollywood guests can expect performances by Dollywood entertainment alumnus Bogguss, Sheppard, Pam Tillis, Gayle, Connie Smith and Shenandoah during the first week of the event. The second week plays host to artists such as Amy Grant, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Larnelle Harris, David Phelps and comedienne Chonda Pierce – also known as “The Queen of Clean.”
Classic artists like The Marshall Tucker Band (Can’t You See and Heard it in a Love Song), The Drifters (Under the Boardwalk and Save the Last Dance for Me), Debby Boone (You Light Up My Life), The Atlanta Rhythm Section (So Into You and Imaginary Lover), Firefall (Just Remember I Love You and You Are the Woman), and Al Stewart (The Year of the Cat and Song on the Radio) entertain park guests during the final week of the event. Individual concert dates and show times will be announced at a later date.
Already one of the nation’s best bluegrass events, Dollywood’s Barbeque & Bluegrass (May 25- June 10) adds an extra week of concerts from the biggest names in the business. Guests should expect hundreds of live bluegrass performances during the festival with headline shows from Grammy and IBMA winner Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, and IMBA winners Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, Dailey & Vincent, and many more.
Families have a multitude of world-renowned options to keep them entertained during Dollywood’s Summer Celebration. iLuminate, finalists on America’s Got Talent in 2011, bring their electrified glow-in-the-dark costumes to DP’s Celebrity Theater to perform dynamic dance routines and illusions to thrill guests. Summer 2018 also sees international touring sensation DRUMLine Live! visit the park with riveting rhythms, bold beats and ear-grabbing energy. Developed by the consultants of the hit 2002 movie Drumline, the band featured in this exhilarating show creates a synchronized musical masterpiece for guests—it’s more than just the typical halftime performance! Dan Dunn—America’s favorite speed painter—brings his innovative and mesmerizing PaintJam to Dollywood. Audiences will be astonished as he creates stunning works of art on a spinning 360-degree canvas, while he dances and moves throughout the performance.
Dollywood’s popular Rock the Smokies moves to August 25 with TobyMac and Crowder serving as headliners. Multiple contemporary Christian artists perform throughout the park during this exciting conclusion to the summer.
Dollywood’s Harvest Festival presented by Humana (Sept. 28 – Nov. 3) provides more fall family fun with the expansion of the new guest-favorite Great Pumpkin LumiNights and the largest Southern gospel event in America. During the festival, several hundred performances by Southern gospel royalty take place during the day, while at night, thousands of carved pumpkins illuminate the dark with an expanded number of displays and activities for families to enjoy. Dollywood guests also can enjoy the spectacular artistry of visiting crafters from across the country, or sample the special harvest-themed food items from Dollywood’s award-winning foods team.
Dollywood’s 2018 season again ends with America’s favorite theme park holiday event, Smoky Mountain Christmas. Voted as the best theme park Christmas event for a decade, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana (Nov. 10, 2018 – Jan. 5, 2019) features four million spectacular lights, classic holiday entertainment—including Christmas in the Smokies and It’s a Wonderful Life—Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Friends, and the heartwarming Parade of Many Colors.
2019 - Wildwood Grove - (12/7/18) WildGravityTravels takes a look at the latest construction progress at Dollywood’s Wildwood Grove project this week. From the look of things the new Dragon Flier coaster appears as if they’ve installed all the track already, while crews are also busy putting in the Mad Mockingbird ride hardware.
(11/20/18) A reader sent in a couple of new photos showing off that vertical construction on the new Dragonfly coaster at Dollywood is already well under way, with the lift hill already fully in place.
(11/14/18) Coaster101 has posted pictures from an on-site tour of the Wildwood Grove construction site given at the Smoky Mountain Coaster Fest event. The tour got them up and closed to The Dragon Flier coaster site, including a look at the underground tunnel. They also confirmed on the tour that Wildwood Grove is only taking up “a portion” of the overall site that was cleared, which means there is plenty of room for future expansion projects and bigger rides in the future.
(11/13/18) Dollywood released a new promotional video for Wildwood Grove that does into more detail about each of the land’s new attractions and some new concept art.
(10/11/18) Dollywood posted a picture on their Instagram account showing off the fantastic and bright paint job they are giving the Mockingbirds cars, coming to Wildwood Grove in 2019. Check it out below.
(10/9/18) A reader visiting Dollywood sent in some new pictures showing off new coaster track and other ride parts on site for Wildwood Grove.
(8/27/18) A new construction report showing off the progress on Dollywood's new Wildwood Grove site for 2019 has been posted to Wild Gravity Travels this week.
(8/3/18) Dollywood announced the details of their huge Wildwood Grove expansion for the 2019 season on Friday afternoon. The expansion is said to be the park's largest capital investment in the 32-year history of Dollywood.
Guests will enter Wildwood Grove by traveling through the hollow center of a giant fallen tree and enter into a new wilderness themed wonderland powered by imagination, full of attractions for the whole family. According to Dolly, "This area is going to give families a place to explore, play and imagine together—but more importantly—it’s a place where they can spend more time together,” she explained. “I believe everyone has a song in their heart that needs to be set free. Wildwood Grove will be a place where families can learn together about what their heart song truly is."
Inside the new land will be six new rides, a 4,000 sqft indoor climate-controlled play area, all anchored by The Wildwood Tree, a giant tree unlike any other, growing out of a cluster of natural rocks and boulders that serve as a stage for various forms of entertainment, where the green canopy covered with thousands of butterflies that will dance in the breeze. After dark the area will glow from the light of lanterns and glimmering fireflies, where the Wildwood Tree will comes to life each night for a "unique nighttime show that features the butterflies glowing in a kaleidoscope of spectacular color."
The new attractions will include:
The Dragonflier, a new family sized inverted roller coaster that will dart along the landscape, past gushing geysers and more.
Black Bear Trail - Climb onto the back of a black bear and go for a ride through the forest.
Sycamore Swing - Swing back and forth on board a giant "leaf boat".
Treetop Tower - Riders sitting in giant acorns will spin around as they rise up in the air, before gently lowering back down to the earth at the end.
The Mad Mockingbird - A Flying Scooters ride themed to the Tennessee state bird, where riders control the action by moving a large sail back and forth.
Frogs & Fireflies - A kid sized round-about style ride, where they sit inside giant frogs that hop as they go around in a circle.
Hidden Hollow - The giant indoor play structure featuring climbing areas, slides, games and areas to explore.
Wildwood Creek - A run little pop-jet / splashing pool area outside for kids to play in.
Other features of the new land include new characters to meet, such as Benjamin Bear and two butterflies, Flit and Flutter. You can also dine inside the new Till & Harvest restaurant featuring a collection of Southwest favorite dishes.
(7/28/18) Dollywood has now posted a fun animated reveal of the Wildwood Grove name for their new land, along with the description that "This is where adventures take root and dreams take flight."
(7/26/18) A good look into the new 2019 land coming to Dollywood can be seen at WildGravityTravels this week, where we get a look at what appears to be some footers going in, as well as early structures going up.
(7/25/18) And now we've got a name... as the official invitation to the 2019 announcement at Dollywood on August 3rd has now added a logo with the name, "Wildwood Grove".
(7/19/18) It may just be marketing hype and attention getting graphics, but so far the announcements being sent out from Dollywood to media and passholders about the upcoming new land announcement (Aug. 3) has kept an interesting theme. Each graphic contains images of brown and green vines with colorful leaves attached, along with a very colorful butterfly sitting nearby. Could this indicate some kind of garden or a setting with lush colorful vegetation? Perhaps, as the text also mentions they are "planting the seeds for something BIG".
Since we already know one of the main attractions for this new land will be a family inverted coaster from Vekoma, plus add in the concept of brightly colored vegetation and this new land is starting to sound more like it could be more focused on Dollywood's smaller to medium sized guests rather than the thrill seekers who have lots of big steel rides to choose from just outside this new land like Thunderhead, Mystery Mine and Wild Eagle. Just thinking here... that's all... we'll know more soon enough.
(7/17/18) A reader sent in three more pictures of the construction taking place for Dollywood's new land. Only two and a half weeks left until the big announcement.
(7/11/18) Good news from Dollywood... the park sent out a 'save the date' card for August 3rd, when they will reveal "An exciting look into Dollywood's new land opening in 2019." Also not to be missed, a reader sent in some new construction pictures of the expansion site this week as well taken from the train.
One more item of note... been hearing from several readers that Lightning Rod has been closed for several days. According to the official website, it says that it is "closed for repairs", which makes this sound like it could be a bit longer than just a few days. Anyone know more?
(6/12/18) Screamscape dropped into Dollywood over the weekend and we took a ride on the railroad to look over the park's 2019 construction site. The video below says it all, showing off the huge site they now have cleared that is being prepared to start full scale construction on the new structures and rides before the end of the summer.
Of course they try to cover for all the construction on the train by explaining that Dolly lost a pair of expensive diamond earrings in the woods they the crew is simply trying to locate them.
(5/24/18) According to an early rumor, the current massive expansion project underway at Dollywood for 2019 may be given a water or river themed name, with the name Geysers Gulch being tossed around as a possibility at the moment. Another interesting rumor sent my way claimed that the removed River Battle ride may return as part of this expansion… but with a shorter layout. Our source tells us that the boats and hardware for the ride are still on-site at the park in storage. Keeping with the river themeing, one of the kiddie flat rides is said to be themed as paddle boats. Look for construction to kick into full gear sometime in July.
But the fun may not stop there… more could be added in 2020! (See below)
(3/30/18) A new video from Coaster Studios shows off the 2019 construction site progress as of March 22, where everything has now been cleared out entirely to make way for the expansion. Compare this to how it looked in late 2017 and it's amazing at how level they have made this land compared to how it used to be.
(3/12/18) Some concept art showing off the layout of the new 5-acre land being added to Dollywood for 2019 can be found at the PigeonForgeTNGuide website. Just scroll down a bit to get to the "March 6" update, and they've posted some of the artwork shown to the town officials, which include the layout of the new coaster, which is an exact match for the Orkanen coaster, just as I said it would be, which looks to be keeping that fun underground tunnel dive element as well.
You can also make out a number of new flat rides being added to the area, which is always a good thing, along with some kind of tracked ride, but I'm not sure if this is a car/tractor style ride, or a small flume. The other interesting features I see are two large buildings being added... one near the pathway entrance by Mystery Mine and the other at the far end just before you reach the coaster. One description mentioned an indoor play attraction space, but what is the other building for? A restaurant? New shop? A dark ride maybe? It's hard to say just yet, though the bigger one near the coaster appears to be at least two-stories tall.
(3/9/18) According to Screamscape sources the new coaster coming to Dollywood in 2019 will actually be a new Vekoma Family Suspended coaster, featuring the latest in Vekoma's train and comfy restraint designs. As for the layout itself, I'm told it will actually be a clone, or near clone of Orkanen (Farup Sommerland, Denmark). Orkanen is known for having a unique custom layout that flies out over the water and even has an underwater dive element through a tunnel, so I'm guessing a Dollywood version could offer a unique terrain-run style, over and through whatever theming they choose to populate the new expansion area with.
(3/8/18) Following up with the on-site reports from December showing off a huge new clearing being made at Dollywood behind Thunderhead, the local news now confirms that this will be for a new 5-acre expansion to Dollywood that will include eight new "attractions", a new restaurant along with other assorted amenities.
While there is no official word from the park on what the new attractions will be, the files spotted by the news report mention seeing what they believe is an enclosed family coaster, a swinging pendulum style ride and indoor play area. The picture shown of the swing ride looked like your typical swing-ship ride.
Just a thought, but either way 2019 is going to be a big year for Dollywood. As for the expansion itself, Screamscape has been told that the access pathway to the new area is located pretty much right next to the Mystery Mine building.
(12/24/17) Screamscape has been getting some interesting reports about new construction taking place at Dollywood as of late. As previously reported, River Battle is coming out to be replaced by "The Venue". Meanwhile, over the last several years we've witnessed a slow but steady clearing of the land along the upper end of the train route. Several years ago the large circle / turnaround area at the top of the line used to be forested, but was cleared out for unknown reasons, and ever since then the land near the train tracks leading up to this point behind Firechaser Express and now down to the hillside behind Thunderhead has been slowly been cleared and leveled for some kind of unknown future project.
Well now it looks like this clearing is suddenly going full speed ahead and has really expanded in scope. Coaster Studios dropped by the park this week and posted some video footage of this huge land clearing taking place as seen while riding the train, which you can watch below. You can compare the video footage to some photos a reader sent in about 10 days ago and see how much more the site has been cleared since then. Based on the video, I've marked on an aerial image where I believe this clearing now is, as if I'm right, this is clearly a big enough space to build an entirely new land, if that is what the park wanted. I would look for something huge to appear here in 2019.
Lastly, you see a bit of it at the end of the video, but it seems the park also quietly demolished the old "Apple Jack's Sandwiches" restaurant structure leaving no trace of it, other than a construction fence. I'm told that Dolly used to have a private little apartment space on the second floor of the building she could use a long time ago, but the space was said to have been cleared out completely about 6 or 7 years ago. (Of course, Dolly now has her own Suite at the DreamMore Resort...)
2020 - New Coaster - Rumor - An early rumor claims that Dollywood may be looking to build their next major coaster as a Phase 2 expansion to the 2019 project. Manufacturers are being looked at, but rumor has it they may be leaning towards B&M simply for a reliability standpoint. What kind of coaster may be up in the air as well, though after just opening Fire Chaser Express and Lightning Rod, they definitely are not looking to have another launched coaster at this point. While a B&M Hyper may be considered a likely choice, I believe Dollywood is too close to Carowinds and Six Flags over Georgia for that to happen with the typical B&M contracts that prevent similar coasters from being built too close together too soon. A B&M Inverted may be a possibly however, even though Carowinds has one as well, simply because Afterburn was built in 1999, and by 2020 enough time should have passed to allow for it. Plus I think it would be kind of cute to open the rumored family inverted coaster in 2019… and then follow it up with a monster sized version that could run wild through the mountainside and trees, much like Alpengeist at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
That’s just a dream on my part however, Dollywood could very well opt to go with an entirely different manufacturer to get a Hyper or anything else they want. Stay tuned while we listed for more rumors on the wind.
???? - Second Dollywood Hotel - Planning - (11/12/18) During an interview with the local news Dolly Parton where they discuss a new Netflix series she is working on as well as the new Glacier Ridge addition to Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas, Dolly let another interesting detail slip out. While discussing meetings they have each season to go over what guests like, don’t like, and what people would really like to have added to Dollywood, they decided that they need to build another hotel. According to Dolly, "…just like we’re going to build a new resort because our resort stays busy all the time!”
If you haven’t seen it yet, Screamscape has stayed at and reviewed Dollywood’s Dreammore Resort and we loved it! You can see our official review and photos here.