“It’s gonna be a big deal,” the legendary singer said during an interview on the Today show Wednesday (August 21). “And I’m so excited…this has been a dream from the very beginning. It’s got a Southern flair, but it’s done very classy.”
Dollywood is located in the Smoky Mountains community of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, close to her birthplace in Sevier County. When the park first opened 1986, her financial advisers strongly discouraged her from investing in it, but Dolly disagreed. “I said, ‘Well, I’m gonna do it anyway, because I know that it’s the right thing to do in my gut,’” she explained.
The expansion is estimated to cost $300 million and will take ten years, but it will also create thousands of new jobs for the community.
Included in the expansion plans is a new 300-room resort, fittingly called DreamMore. It’s scheduled to open in summer 2015, according to her website. It will include a spa, a swimming pool, porches to mingle, and shuttle services to and from the park, among other amenities.
“They wanted to base [the resort] on what people perceive me to be, the country girl that’s made good but still loves being home,” Dolly told the Nashville Tennessean. “We definitely wanted to keep it with a down-home atmosphere, but we wanted it to have some class and some glamour…It is a lot of fun. It is the ultimate dollhouse — Dolly’s dollhouse.”
A new family rollercoaster will also be added to the park in 2014, called “Fire Chaser Express.” Dolly’s website suggests the coaster is symbolic of those who serve as firefighters and will involve fire and smoke, in addition to giving riders the ability to “Go from zero to hero in 1.1 second.”
Dolly has always wanted these upgrades, and while she is clearly a success with over 100 million records sold, she isn’t finished just yet.
“I feel like I’m just startin’,” said Dolly. “I’m still trying to grow and come up with new dreams every day and make ‘em come true.”
-Ashley Quadros, KNCI/Sacramento