Is Dollywood Debuting a New Indoor Coaster in 2026?

AI generated fan art of one Dollywood goer's imagining of a new indoor coaster at the famous theme park

AI generated fan art of one Dollywood goer's imagining of a new indoor coaster at the famous theme park (AI/Firefly)

Dollywood recently announced a “game-changing” attraction will debut in 2026 – does this mean a new indoor coaster is on the horizon?

If you’ve watched the park grow at all from the days of Silver Dollar City, you know there is one immutable fact at Dollywood: Change is coming. As someone who remembers the days before Dolly partnered with the Herschends, I know how far the park has come in 35 years. 

As a teenager, in the early 90s, there was a time I would have considered Dollywood “boring.” There were not enough thrill rides to keep my young self entertained. But today, the park is a different experience. There are thrill rides – high-quality thrill rides – all over the place. It’s to the point where the pendulum has swung the other way. Today, the park could use a few more dark rides in the vein of Blazing Fury or the long-gone Flooded Mine

In this article, we will talk about the rumored next development on the horizon, a branch between both worlds. Is Dollywood planning an indoor roller coaster for its next major park expansion? Signs point to yes. While nothing has been formally announced, hints, signs and indications are that Dollywood’s leadership is working on an indoor roller coaster of unknown theming. 

Big Bear Mountain Dollywood
Big Bear Mountain, Dollywood’s newest coaster opened last year in 2023 (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

What We Know So Far

Last year, Dollywood sent out a survey gauging feedback for a potential dark ride or indoor coaster. The surveys are one way for Dollywood’s top brass – who have a massive track record of success dating back to the acquisition of Silver Dollar City – to gauge public interest. But to be clear, a survey is just one tool. Dollywood has many ways to access its next investment in the park and the survey – while useful – comes with some built-in limitations. 

Plus, we don’t know the results of the survey. Maybe all 1,000 respondents replied that they in no way want an indoor coaster and would prefer more frequent cinnamon bread stations, strategically located no more than 50 feet apart.  

Also, the definition of an indoor coaster is quite wide. I could be like the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride in EPCOT in Orlando or The Mummy at Universal Studios. Those rides are both full-blown coasters that are located indoors and able to use screens and technology to enhance the experience. However, Dollywood’s Blazing Fury is also categorized as an indoor coaster even though it is more in line with something like Pirates of the Caribbean than it does, say, Space Mountain. 

So even if we categorize this as an indoor coaster, it could be a more dark ride than a thrill ride. We’ll have to wait and see. 

cleared land behind big bear mountain
A Dollywood guest recently noted a large plot of cleared land located behind Big Bear Mountain while riding the Dollywood Express (contributed photo)

Where Would it Be

The prevalent opinion is it would be part of a Wildwood Grove expansion. The newest section of the park has proven exceptionally popular and even with the addition of Big Bear Mountain, the section was built with massive growth potential in mind. I’ve felt the park is getting lopsided and needs another anchor attraction down near the Country Fair or Showstreet. I will admit, however, that part of the park is limited by infrastructure and topography. There seems to be more room up above Wildwood Grove where the Dollywood Express tracks run. You can even spot a bit of construction behind Big Bear when riding the train. And Dollywood officials have indicated that there is more to come at the Grove. The survey referenced something to do in the Grove when it’s rainy. 

dolly parton during a parade at dollywood in pigeon forge, tennessee
During the 2024 season-opening, Dolly hinted at something “game-changing” coming in 2026 photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

When Would it Debut?

Last year the conjecture was for the 2025 season, but on the opening day of the 2024 season, Parton hinted at something “game-changing” in 2026, which would be the 40th anniversary of Dollywood. Is that a specific reference to a new ride or something bigger like an additional park? We will all have to wait to find out. 

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