Dollywood Meets Opryland – New Family Entertainment Centers Set To Open in Nashville
Fresh off a 2010 victory for the Liseberg Applause Award for Dollywood, a park she co-owns in her hometown of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Dolly Parton has just unveiled plans for a $50 million water and snow theme park and to open in Nashville in 2014. The project is a joint venture between Dollywood owners and Gaylord Entertainment Company. Gaylord previously owned the Opryland USA theme park, which was shut down in 1997. The plans for the new park, set to redefine Family Entertainment Centers in the South as we know it, are still not completely detailed but set to include water and snow attractions. These two factors, according to Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, would address a “critical missing piece” regarding family fun activities in the town. “This project is what we need to attract more families and more individuals to Nashville,” he said. “With the business traveling sector already locked up, by adding this component to boost our ability to attract leisure travelers, Nashville is going to be unstoppableas a tourist destination.”When Opryland USA closed its gates and doors back in 1997, Gaylord Entertainment brought in a new CEO by the name of Colin Reed. Upon taking the office and position, Reed quickly took notice that his position was one of damage control. Day after day, month after month and even year after year came with letters upon letters of disdain from people in need of better family entertainment centers. Opryland was certainly missed. “I sort of spent the first year of my life (as Gaylord’s chief) fielding the letters from customers and people within this community that moaned and groaned about the closing of the Opryland park – I want to say – at least four years before I came to Nashville,” Reed saidFifteen years later, Reed and Gaylord alongside Dolly Parton hope to rekindle to spark of family fun activities that have seemed to be long gone from the heartland. Reed continues, “I think the closing of that theme park was a real bad idea, because what happened was it took customers that came for two to three days to Nashville … and it replaced them with customers who come two to three hours to a shopping mall.” The park will be slated to open around the summer of 2014 at a location directly across Briley Parkway just north of the Two Rivers Baptist Church.