Dolly Parton
The Mountain Press
November 19, 1999
Dollywood Announces Plans For $5 Million Attraction
By Cobey Hitchcock

      Dolly Parton spent the day at her successful entertainment park, Dollywood, on Thursday and made several announcements about the park and her career.
      On the top of the list of announcements was the opening of the Dreamland Forest scheduled for April of 2000, the 15th season for Dollywood.
      "I decided a couple of years ago that I wanted to put a huge, fun area for kids at Dollywood that would be like my 'Dreamland Forest' from when I was a kid, including a giant tree house with games and activities and fun for kids and families to enjoy together and use their imaginations," said Parton.  "When I was a little kid, I especially loved tree houses, and, now, the sky's the limit for fun at my new Dollywood Dreamland Forest."
      The $5 million project will accommodate as many as 1,000 children at any one time.  The Dreamland Forest will offer about 15,000 square feet of playground heaven.
      Parents can rest in comfort in the shade of trees on benches placed throughout the area.  On the outskirts of the forest, gifts and food will be available with a nature theme.
      The new attraction moves the total investment in Dollywood to $80 million since opening in 1986.
      Parton also announced plans for a new $20 million water attraction next to the park to open in 2001, the first official year of the new millennium.
      The new water park, which has not yet been named, will be Parton's second theme park in east Tennessee.  Great Smoky Mountains National Park will inspire the design and layout of the water attraction.
      "We didn't know if we should call it Water World, and ask Kevin Costner to come down to help," said Parton, drawing a laugh from the crowd in attendance.  "I've always wanted to create a whole new park where families and kids can experience more of the adventures that we found in the Smokies' natural beauty and fun.
      "This is another dream come true for me, and I'm already looking forward to being here to make a big splash when my water park opens around Memorial Day 2001."
      The water park's key attractions will include a multiple person family raft ride through some natural appearing mountain terrain, a children's pool area, single- and double-tubed slides, a 25,000 square foot wave pool, and a "Turbo Twister" speed slide that simulates a mountain waterfall.
      Other features of the new attraction will be food and beverage areas, an arcade, a bath house and benches under shade trees for those who want to cool off out of the sun.
      According to Dollywood officials, an estimated 300,000 people will visit the water park in its first year of operation.  The water park will be located on 35 acres adjacent to Dollywood.
      While at Dollywood, Parton made another announcement about the expansion of her Imagination Library program, which provides a book each month to every preschool child in her original home area of Sevier County.
      December will mark the fourth year of the program, and in the year 2000, the Imagination Library will expand throughout the country to any community that wishes to participate.
      "I just decided it was time to share this wonderful program with kids across the country," said Parton.  "Reading is such an important key to a child's imagination.
      "Many of the stories I tell in my music are a result of my imagination and dreams as a child growing up in the mountains.  If the Imagination Library helps families experience the joy and wonder of their children's imagination, then it will be making one of my biggest dreams come true."
      To participate in the program, communities will have to follow the outline of the program, which means every child in the participating community must receive one book each month from birth to the age of five.
      Participating communities are responsible for the development of a funding source and must be detailed in a plan for submission.
      It was announced that the city of Pratt, Kan., began their Imagination Library program a few months ago, involving more than 300 children.  Also, some communities in Georgia, Missouri, South Carolina and Alabama have expressed interest in the program to be started next year.

Parton Staying Active
By Cobey Hitchcock

      Dolly Parton could certainly be excused if she decided to slow down a bit.
      But despite the success Parton has experienced over the past 30 years, which includes hit records, movies, television shows, theme parks, a line of wigs, being named one of America's Sexiest People Over 50 by Modern Maturity magazine and being the 63rd inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame, she has no plans to hit the brakes in the future.
      Although she has not really found the Fountain of Youth, she said Thursday while at Dollywood that she "never plans on growing up.
      "I've got more exciting projects in the works now than at any time in my career," she said.  "And, almost all of these new projects revolve around kids.
      "I've wrapped up this century with an original movie on the Lifetime channel, my first ever bluegrass album and being honored by the Country Music Hall of Fame, a great honor for which I'm very grateful.  But I feel like I've found the Fountain of Youth to start the next century by being busier than ever with a multitude of new projects."
      Besides the new plans for additions to Dollywood and a new water theme park, Parton has hopes to get involved with television and audio entertainment directed specifically at children.
      "I'm hoping to be involved in a really unique children's television show," she said.  "As well as several other kid-centered videos, books and music projects.
      "I've always been a dreamer, so I wouldn't describe this as a predetermined plan.  It's almost inspiration that just feels right.  I feel like a kid in a candy store, and everybody knows I've got a big sweet tooth."