PIGEON FORGE — Dollywood is planning a “multigenerational rollercoaster” in 2023 in addition to new resorts.
The Dollywood Company already announced a new resort, HeartSong Lodge & Resort, which is set to open in September 2023 and is part of half a billion dollars in planned investment over the next 10 years across its properties. However, they have a larger vision for more resorts to come in future years, including an outdoor resort.
“We are hard at work on designing resort three right now. Our intention is to begin construction on resort three directly after we activate resort two (HeartSong) and open it to the public,” said Eugene Naughton, Dollywood president.
The vision is to not stop there, however, looking at two other resorts and an outdoor resort facility as well.
Naughton just touched briefly on a new ride, which he called a multigenerational coaster, which would be for all ages. It is slated to open in 2023.
Naughton detailed future spending of $250 million in hospitality, $150 million in new park and attraction experiences across Dollywood Splash Country and Dollywood, and another $100 million on infrastructure improvements.
As part of the planning for future development, Dollywood is looking at ways to improve transportation from the resorts to the park.
Reworking the parking lot is part of that plan. He said people often spend up to an hour in the parking lot before being able to get into the park.
Naughton said with his plans to increase attendance, more parking will also be needed.
“If we hit our numbers we are going to be out of parking in 2027,” Naughton said.
Food and dining is an important element to the parks, and Naughton said much of their renovations will focus on that. Hickory House will close temporarily in August for renovation, and two other restaurants will close during the park’s offseason to be remodeled. He said about $15 million will be spent on restaurant improvements.
A new restaurant will be added in 2023 as well.
City officials were excited about the vision, but they discussed meeting with Dollywood officials to address what the city would need to do to provide services such as water, sewer and other public services to future projects.
“It is so exciting to hear. We just want to make sure we are ready when they open the door for each new business,” Mayor David Wear said.
Naughton agreed infrastructure needs will need to be addressed as the company goes from a $1.5 million dollar resort property to $4 million resort property.
Naughton shared labor projection needs for the company through 2030, showing as the new resorts opened they would go from needing 3,000 employees to over 4,000.
Naughton said he has shared their 10-year vision with Dolly Parton.
“I took her through the entire plan and she’s really excited about where we are headed. She sees it as a good thing for our community,” Naughton said.