Since Dolly shoveled that first pile of dirt in 1985 to signify the birth of her Smoky Mountain theme park, three things have remained a constant at Dollywood: the music icon’s guiding presence, welcoming hospitality, and a whole lot of change. Change is what transformed a small railroad tour into the national destination the Dollywood Resort is today, boasting such offerings as a water park, hotel, dozens of cabins, and several dinner shows.
This devotion to expansion began with Dollywood’s grand opening in May 1986, as Rivertown Junction welcomed guests with several new attractions, including summertime favorite Smoky Mountain River Rampage. The next ten years saw explosive growth that doubled the size of the park as new lands seemed to open one after the other, including today’s Owens Farm, Showstreet, Jukebox Junction, and Adventures in Imagination. Several years later the park would expand again with Timber Canyon in 2004, followed by Wilderness Pass in 2008. Although the park’s footprint remained the same for the next decade, Dollywood’s lineup of outstanding attractions only grew with the addition of favorites like Lightning Rod, Wild Eagle, and Mystery Mine.
With new thrills comes more crowds, and soon Dolly and co. realized it was time for the park to grow again. This time, they promised something magical the whole family could enjoy together. Over the summer and fall of crews worked diligently to transform what was once steep hillside into flat walkways. Although much of the work was hidden behind construction walls, curious guests could catch glimpses of green supports going up aboard the Dollywood Express, while braver souls could get a birds eye view of the land’s meandering pathways from Drop Line. It may seem like construction only just started, but now Wildwood Grove is now open as the newest addition in Dollywood’s ten year expansion plan and we couldn’t be more excited!
Six acres have been transformed into a magical corner of the Smoky Mountains, where butterflies soar and the bears make wonderful playmates. Priced at an incredible $37 million dollars, Wildwood Grove stands as the park’s largest capital investment to date and brings eleven new experiences for all ages to enjoy!
As guests enter the land through one of two tunnels, they’ll immediately notice the grove’s lofty centerpiece. Standing fifty feet tall and decorated with over six hundred multicolored butterflies, the towering Wildwood Tree will feature a spectacular nighttime show that changes with each season beginning June 15. Nearby flows the Wildwood Creek where kids can enjoy fountains, water jets, and splash pools during the summer months. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of shaded seating nearby for the adults who’d prefer to stay dry.
Six new rides are scattered throughout the beautifully-landscaped grove. The first guests will encounter is Treetop Tower. This family tower gives guests a sky-high view of Wildwood Grove as they soar nearly forty feet in the air. Riders board giant acorns to be whisked to the top of a tall oak tree before gently drifting back to the forest floor. The Giants Tree Swing sits nearby and is your classic pirate ship ride, although a bit smaller than most so the kids can enjoy it as well. Black Bear Trail invites explorers to hop on the back of friendly black bears for a rollicking ride through their natural habitat. Families will enjoy meandering through the woods of this unique Smoky Mountain experience.
Adventurous little ones will enjoy Frogs and Fireflies as they race their friendly frogs around the lily pad. One of our favorites is The Mad Mockingbird, a Larson Flying Scooter that allows guests to control their flight on the back of our colorful state bird. Depending on your preferences, this can be a leisurely spin or a wild and rollicking high speed chase. The Dragonflier is the premiere attraction of Wildwood Grove. This thrilling suspended roller coaster lets guests soar with a dragonfly as it dips and darts along the gushing geysers and lush landscapes of the woodlands. Standing forty feet high and featuring overbooked turns and two helices, this is the perfect coaster for those who aren’t quite ready to take on Wild Eagle.
Just across from The Dragonflier sits Hidden Hollow, an indoor play area perfect for those who need an escape from the summer heat or cold during Smoky Mountain Christmas. This multi-level play structure glows in the dark and is themed around the fireflies that light up summer evenings. Guests will also find Mountain Grove Merchants nearby, where they can pick up exclusive souvenirs to remember their visit to the grove. Other attractions include a dry play area at Wildwood Creek featuring musical instruments as well as a meet-and-greet staton for guests to meet the park’s newest residents. Butterflies Flit and Flutter serve as ambassadors for Wildwood Grove, while Benjamin Bear loves to welcome visitors to his forest home. The last addition to the land will be the Till and Harvest restaurant, which is in the final stages of construction. Once it opens in a few weeks, guests will be able to enjoy a variety of unique Smoky Mountain Mexican dishes.