On Friday, Dolly Parton herself and Dollywood officials hosted a BIG event at the theme park to release details about Dollywood’s newest ride.
This much-anticipated project marks the largest single attraction investment in the history of Dollywood.
It’s part of the $500 million expansion plan that was first announced in 2021. In total, the investment is set to include four new resorts, a campground and this record-breaking new attraction.
The first resort is the Dollywood HeartSong Resort, which is set to open in the fall of 2023.
What is coming to Dollywood?
During the “Big Bear Search Party” on Friday, Dollywood announced that the new ride in Wildwood Grove will be called Big Bear Mountain.
“2023 is all about the bears,” said Dollywood President Eugene Naughton.
The new ride is set to be the longest and largest roller coaster in the park. “I’m proud of all the firsts,” said Naughton at the event. “First one to have on-board audio, first one to go through a waterfall …”
“Y’all know I’m not gonna be on that,” Parton quipped. “If I go on that thing, you’ll find one of my wigs on top of a tree.”
At the event, park officials unveiled a video that showed a long, steel coaster, led by a “four-wheel drive SUV”.
The coaster looks like it will zip through tunnels and water features.
Quick stats for Dollywood’s new coaster Big Bear Mountain
The newest addition costs a whopping $25 million and stretches 4,000 feet.
The massive structure will hug six acres of the park and run along the border of Wildwood Grove. Riders will soar through the wilderness and high above the forest while they’re on the search for the legendary bear.
With a top speed of 48 mph, Big Bear Mountain will take guests through three launches, multiple airtime thrills and high-speed carousel turns and even pass behind a waterfall.
The minimum height requirement for Big Bear Mountain will be 39 inches tall, so the young adventurers will also be able to ride.
Dollywood’s social media pages have been teasing fans of the theme park all week, citing interesting “going-ons” in Wildwood Grove recently.
The teasers said there have been big bear sightings in the area, which included newspaper clippings, sketches of Big Bear and voice recordings from Ned Oakley, the man in charge of discovering Big Bear.
Oakley is also the caretaker of Benjamin Bear (the bear of Wildwood Grove).
He says he has been searching for Big Bear and believes the bear has been hiding in Wildwood Grove for years.
Apparently, some folks say that Big Bear, who could be as tall as about 20 feet, is an old wives’ tale, like Sasquatch or Bigfoot.
When will Big Bear Mountain open at Dollywood?
The new attraction is expected to open spring of 2023.
Meanwhile, there is a hotline where you can call to “help Ned” at (865) 868-0168.
The hotline currently plays a recording from Oakley, and you should definitely call if you have any tips.
“Here soon, I’m gonna need some help venturing into these hollers to find this bear once and for all,” said Oakley in a recording.
The story of Wildwood Grove at Dollywood
Wildwood Grove opened at Dollywood in 2019. The project cost $37 million and marked one of the largest investments in the park’s history.
This section of the Dollywood theme park offers several rides and attractions inspired by Dolly’s childhood.
In fact, her love of the area and her childhood permeate each expansion.
Other rides in Wildwood Grove currently include the Dragonflier, a small roller coaster; The Mad Mockingbird, a spinning flying ride in the vein of carnival attractions; Frogs and Fireflies, a bouncing kiddie ride and the Black Bear Trail; a track ride in which guests can ride Benjamin Bear.
Wildwood Grove served as an expansion where people could get in and out easier and have indoor and outdoor activities for families. It has become one of the most beloved sections of the park.
Additional investments at Dollywood
The Dollywood Company has invested millions of dollars into the growth of its properties.
Expansions undertaken since 2010 include Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa and roller coasters such as Lightning Rod and FireChaser Express.
Additionally, there are rumors that Wildwood Grove may have even more expansions in the future.
“Big Bear Mountain also expands the footprint of Wildwood Grove and serves as another monumental step in the ongoing investment plan Dolly and I announced in June 2021,” said Naughton. “She’s keeping me busy. Now that we’ve announced Big Bear Mountain, I’ll start working on the next projects she has lined up for me!”
Dollywood also brings new surprises each season and features festivals like the Flower & Food Festival in the spring and the Summer Celebration in the summer.
In the fall, the park features several pumpkins and decorations as part of the Harvest Festival presented by Humana. In the winter, the park lights up the season with the famous Smoky Mountain Christmas event.
Dollywood is located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and is rated one of the best family vacation destinations in the U.S.
Guests looking for special offers and packages at Dollywood’s other properties should visit Dollywood.com.
Sometimes you can also find a few deals on their Tripster page.
What do you think about the new ride announcement? Let us know in the comments below.