Launch - A New Land With Heart - November 2018

Centered around a 55-foot-tall Wildwood Tree, Dollywood’s new land called Wildwood Grove is set to open in 2019 with 11 new experiences. (Credit: The Dollywood Company)

Dollywood Announces New Wildwood Grove Area

by Keith Miller

Deep in the heart of North America’s Smoky Mountains, a song of expansion fills the hills at Dollywood. Slated to open in 2019, a new park area called Wildwood Grove will represent a $37 million venture that strengthens even further the Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, park’s commitment to being a family destination for all ages.

The 5-acre expansion will feature 11 new experiences for guests, including six different rides, live entertainment, indoor and outdoor play areas, a new restaurant, and the 55-foot-tall Wildwood Tree that will be the centerpiece of the new land. The tree will be embellished with thousands of artificial butterflies moving in the breeze. At dusk, lanterns will light the area as the tree comes to life with a nighttime show featuring the butterflies illuminated in spectacular colors. 


Dolly Parton and Craig Ross announced Dollywood’s Wildwood Grove at a media event. (Credit: The Dollywood Company)

“I’ve told you before about how I’d let my imagination roam free when I’d be out exploring in the hills around our home in the Smoky Mountains,” says country music legend Dolly Parton, the park’s namesake. “I’d pretend that the frogs and butterflies were my friends. I’d imagine about what it’d be like to fly with a dragonfly or to follow a bear family through the woods. Now all these things are coming true for our guests to experience in Wildwood Grove; it may be my new favorite part of Dollywood!”

Wes Ramey, public relations manager for Dollywood, explains the entrance for Wildwood Grove will be located across from “Mystery Mine,” the park’s Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter steel coaster, adding, “It did not require the removal of any existing facilities. It’s all new land that’s been prepared for this area.” The new section is the first expansion of the park’s footprint since it added Wilderness Pass in 2008. 

Guests will enter Wildwood Grove through the massive hollow trunk of a fallen tree. Inside the area, they’ll come upon the six new rides Dollywood chose for the section, including the signature attraction, “The Dragonflier.” The 1,486-foot-long ride is a Vekoma suspended family coaster, where guests will soar like a dragonfly, dipping and darting along gushing geysers and lush landscapes. 


Among Wildwood Grove’s new rides is “Black Bear Trail,” which offers guests a trek through the woods on the back of a Smoky Mountain black bear. (Credit: The Dollywood Company)

“Black Bear Trail” is a Metallbau Emmeln Pony Trek ride, where younger riders jump on the back of friendly bears and dash through a natural habitat. Wildwood Grove will also feature a 4,000-square-foot play area for families called Hidden Hollow, providing a climate-controlled space with climbing structures, slides, and games.

“I think our guests are going to be excited about the diverse combination of attractions they will find in Wildwood Grove,” said Dollywood President Craig Ross at an announcement event. “It continues our commitment to provide guests a variety of unique experiences and attractions that every visitor to the park can enjoy.”

The new land’s featured restaurant will be Till & Harvest, offering a selection of traditional Southwest flavors made “with a Southern twist” and a toppings bar with assorted salsas. Guests will be able to add items like pulled pork and fresh coleslaw to their selections, and a walk-up window will offer sweets like churros and ice cream.

Dollywood stressed that nearly $1 million has been planned for landscaping the new area, with more than 400 trees and 1,000 shrubs to be planted to give the space a lush atmosphere. “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,” said Parton. “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.”

Other Rides in Wildwood Grove

In addition to “The Dragonflier” suspended coaster and the “Black Bear Trail” family ride, Wildwood Grove will offer four more family rides: 

“Sycamore Swing” – Guests board a “leaf boat” and swing back and forth just like a leaf falling from a giant sycamore tree in this Zamperla Galleon. 

“Treetop Tower” – This Zamperla Samba Tower gives guests an elevated view of Wildwood Grove as they soar almost 40 feet in the air. Riders will be seated inside giant acorns and spin around the top of a tall oak tree before drifting back to the grove below.

“The Mad Mockingbird” – Tennessee’s state bird, the mockingbird, gives visitors a lift as it flies in a high-speed circle around a tall tree. Guests control their ride experience by moving a sail in this Larson Flying Scooter.

“Frogs and Fireflies” – In this Zamperla Jump Around, guests hop aboard friendly frogs that hop up and down as they chase each other around the lily pad trying to catch flickering fireflies coming from the tall reeds and grasses