If the 9-to-5 grind has got you down, there’s a perfectly good excuse to escape to Dollywood — as Dolly Parton's theme park has recently unveiled a $37 million, 6-acre expansion.
On May 10, the country queen’s Pigeon Forge, Tenn., family amusement park opened its doors to the new “Wildwood Grove” area, Knoxville News Sentinel reports. The expanse features 11 nature-themed attractions, as inspired by Parton’s childhood in the Smoky Mountains.
“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 of the news, as per Southern Living.
“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,” she continued. “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.”
Attractions include "The Dragonflier" roller coaster, the Hidden Hollow 4,000 square foot play area, acorn-themed Treetop Tower ride, an open and an aquatic play area called the Wildwood Creek an open, plus costumed characters, a "Smoky Mountain Mexican" restaurant called Till & Harvest, and more.
Better yet, the peaceful mood of Wildwood Grove is set with “The Wildwood Tree,” which will “come to life” every night starting June 15, illuminated by 650 butterflies and nearly 9,000 leaves aglow in the evening.
The Wildwood Grove expansion marks a 20 percent increase in the size of Dollywood as a whole, part of a $300 million investment in the park, Dollywood Company President, Craig Ross, told the News Sentinel.
“We've been blessed with incredible growth and visitation from our guests. And as a result of that, just to kind of keep up with the high standard of guest service that we have, we came to the realization that we really need to expand the park," Ross said of the update.