Dolly Parton
The Knoxville News-Sentinel
November 19, 1999
Dolly Makes A Splash
By Terry Morrow

      PIGEON FORGE — Dolly Parton is dipping her toe into another amusement enterprise here — a $20 million water park opening Memorial Day weekend of 2001.
      The yet-unnamed, 35-acre water park, which will be about four miles from the Dollywood theme park off Middle Creek Road, will feature single- and double-tube slides; a multiple-person rafting ride; a children's pool area; and a 25,000-square-foot wave pool.
      Though the water park is a separate business from Dollywood, it is a joint venture by the Dollywood Co., the partnership of Parton and the Herschend Family of Branson, Mo.  The company also owns Dixie Stampede and had owned Music Mansion music theater, both in Pigeon Forge.
      Nearly 250 seasonal jobs will be created by the water park, says Barbara Joines, assistant general manager at Dollywood.
      The Herschends also own Whitewater Adventure water park in Branson.
      Dollywood officials did not comment on how much revenue would be generated from the new water park annually, but $20 million will be invested into the project over its first five years.
      Close to 300,000 guests are projected to visit the water park in its first season, which will run from May until September.  Parton said Thursday she envisions the water park developing indoor components eventually.
      "We feel like we need something like this to entertain all the guest coming here," Parton said.  "It needs to be something separate from Dollywood so folks don't have to come to both (Dollywood and the water park)."
      Dollywood, now in its 14th season, draws more than 2.3 million visitors a season, which extends from April through December.
      Other announcements made Thursday:

  • Dreamland Forest, a $5 million, interactive tree house play area, will debut next to the Craftsmen's Valley area when Dollywood reopens next spring.  The area will hold close to 1,000 guests, will cover 15,000 square feet and will sit 50 feet above the ground.  The area, supported by posts made to look like trees, will sport games, musical instruments and water blasters.
  • Imagination Library, a project giving free books to every preschooler in Sevier County, is expanding nationally.  Parton's Dollywood Foundation will oversee the expansion but will not operate it in other communities.  Already small towns in Kansas and Georgia are primed for their own Imagination Libraries, foundation officials said.

Parton wants Dollywood to be part of legacy
By Terry Morrow

      PIGEON FORGE — Dolly Parton wants Dollywood to be as much part of her legacy as her music.
      "I have always looked at Dollywood as a cultural center for the Smoky Mountains," said the entertainer Thursday during an interview in her apartment at Dollywood.
      "I would not mind this being part of my legacy — maybe even the biggest part of it.
      "I wouldn't mind if people remembered me for my music as well as (Dollywood) because I am very proud of this."
      Parton says she had some doubts in the beginning when she agreed to be part of revamping Pigeon Forge's old Silver Dollar City theme park into Dollywood in 1986.
      "You are always apprehensive when you try to do something like this on such a big scale," she said.  "You think about the money and all the competition.  I knew it was a chance to take, a big chance.  But I knew if it worked that it would be really great."
      Since 1986, Dollywood has more than doubled its annual attendance and has become Tennessee's most popular theme park.  Parton, a Sevier County native, is credited with the massive growth of tourism in Pigeon Forge because of it.
      Parton says she sees Dollywood becoming an independent destination with an expansion that would include lodging.
      "We have been involved in trying to get a hotel built at Dollywood since we opened," Parton said.
      "We almost have done it two or three times, but either the deal would fall through or we didn't feel right about the people involved in it.  But absolutely, we are going to have a Dollywood hotel even if it is something I have to do on my own."