Dolly Parton Is Partner in New Theme Park in Nashville

Dolly Parton’s Dollywood Company and Gaylord Entertainment are teaming up to build a new theme park adjacent to the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville. Parton and Gaylord chairman and CEO Colin V. Reed made the announcement during a Thursday afternoon (Jan. 19) press conference at the Grand Ole Opry House. The complex will be a water park during warmer months and will manufacture snow for activities during the winter. It’s reportedly the first park in the nation to create such a combination. Parton has played an active role in the success of her Dollywood theme park and Splash Country in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. The $50 million, 114-acre development is scheduled to open in the summer of 2014. The park will fill a void created in Nashville’s tourism industry after Gaylord closed the Opryland theme park in 1997 and later replaced it with the Opry Mills shopping mall. Reed admitted to reporters at the press conference that closing the Opryland theme park, a decision made before he joined Gaylord Entertainment in 2001, was a bad idea. The original theme park opened in 1972 and was acquired in 1982 by Gaylord Entertainment, which also owns the Grand Ole Opry and Nashville radio station WSM-AM. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean attended Thursday’s press conference which coincided with Parton’s 66th birthday.