Written by: Staff Wednesday, February 1st, 2012 .
Nashville, Tennessee, also known as “Music City”, will soon be welcoming a new amusement park backed by none other than country music legend, Dolly Parton. Parton, as we all know, is no stranger to the amusement park business. Dollywood, a partnership between Parton and Herschend Family Entertainment, is currently the state’s most visited attraction and is one of the most visited amusement parks in the world. The announcement that Dollywood is partnering with Gaylord Entertainment Co. to open a family entertainment zone came on January 19th, 2012, while Parton was celebrating her 66th birthday in Music City.
The 114-acre entertainment park will be developed across from the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. The resort and convention center was once the site of Opryland USA, an amusement park built in the 1970s inspired by the Grand Ole Opry radio show and American music in general. By the mid-1990s, attendance at Opryland USA was dropping off and Gaylord Entertainment, who had owned the park since 1982, decided to shut it down and replace it with the Opry Mills mall. A few buildings from the theme park-era survive, including the Grand Ole Opry House, Roy Acuff’s house, and the Grand Ole Opry museum.
With so much country music embedded in Nashville, Parton felt it was the perfect place for her next entertainment venture. In her announcement of the new park she said, “I’ve always wanted to have something great around here. I think people expect me to have something in Nashville. This is a very natural partnership.”
Very few details concerning the new Nashville entertainment park have been released as of yet. We know that the first $50 million phase will produce a combination water and snow park. This first phase of construction is set to begin this fall and reach completion by summer 2014. By combining features from both water and snow parks, Dollywood and Gaylord will be able to keep their park open year round. In addition to the water and snow park, there will be 35-acres held in reserve for future expansions.
Nashville officials and citizens are naturally very excited about the new park. Even though Opryland USA was in a slump when it was shut down, it was a major blow to a state that earns most of its revenue from sales tax. The mall that replaced Opryland just doesn’t encourage the same amount of tourism that a theme park will.
The one question that seems to be on everybody’s mind concerns the name of the park. Will it take the well-known Dollywood name? That would seem to be the best move if you’re trying to attract tourists to Nashville. However, Tennessee governor, Bill Haslam, told Knoxville News that “whether it’s Dolly or the Grand Ole Opry, people get the connection,” referring to Nashville’s musical pedigree. That’s all we got for now, but we’ll keep you posted as the park develops.