Big Bear Mountain

By now, you've probably heard quite a bit about Dollywood – the Pigeon Forge, Tennessee theme park owned by global music superstar Dolly Parton and stylized as a celebration of her Smoky Mountain home. Dollywood has long been a hidden gem for theme park enthusiasts, and its national profile has risen in the last few years in particular thanks to Disney's era of slashed perks and new upcharges. In fact, Dollywood came in #1 on our list of destination parks perfect for those feeling priced out of Disney World.

Whereas most parks might've taken their rise in national attention for granted, Dollywood has spent the last decade building big time. We're talking about the 2012 debut of a mountaintop B&M wing coaster, a 2014 multi-launch family coaster with fire effects, the 2016 opening of the high octane, top-rated Lightning Rod RMC engineering marvel, and the 2019 unveiling of an entirely new land – the fantastical and playful Wildwood Grove packed with original characters, a suspended family coaster, and a forest's worth of family flat rides.

Now, Dollywood's newest addition promises to expand the park's wildly-growing capacity with Big Bear Mountain – a triple launch family coaster through Wildwood Grove that brings some spectacular new features to the park and to the family coaster category. Today, we've collected a list of some of the reasons to love this new family classic! But let's start at the beginning...

The Legend of Wildwood Grove...

Image: Dollywood

"When I was a little girl, these things here were exactly what I used to dream about," Dolly said, "All these bears. All these butterflies. All those bees and frogs 'cause we were just part of nature being country kids...!" 

And in 2019, we finally got a peek into the wonderland that Dolly and her siblings imagined as they played in the woods around their "Tennessee Mountain Home". Wildwood Grove was a six-acre, $37 million expansion onto previously un-used land at Dollywood... Finding new space to build in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains isn't easy. Dollywood is a park wedged between mountains (as evidenced by its hilariously unusual parking lot), so creating Wildwood Grove was a feat in its own right.

Image: Dollywood

And you really can't argue with the results! Wildwood Grove is a land that families could spend the whole day in. From preschool-ready classics (like the Treetop Tower of observation acorns, the Frogs and Fireflies bouncing spinner, and the Hidden Hollow indoor playground) to more thrilling family fare (including the Giant Tree Swing rocking ship and the Mad Mockingbird flying scooters), this land has had something for everyone.

And until now, it's all been reigned over by Wildwood Grove's ultimate thrill, The Dragonflier coaster – a Vekoma Suspended Family Coaster that dives underground, leaping over a pool of fountains. 

But that's all changed with the new addition for 2023...

Big Bear Rises

Image: Dollywood

As legend has it, somewhere deep in Wildwood Grove resides a creature known only as the "Big Bear." Stories of this major ursa have spread among the people of the Smoky Mountains for generations, and though many have reported sightings, precious little evidence of the Big Bear has ever been found...

Luckily, Wildwood Grove's resident wildlife expert, Ned Oakley, is on the case. Oakley has transformed the land's Adventure Outpost into a recruitment center, hoping to bring you along for an off-roading expedition into the wild terrain of the Grove to search out evidence of the Big Bear and prove its existence once and for all! 

Which brings us to some of the must-celebrate features for this new family favorite... On the page, we'll dig into what you've got to know about this brand new roller coaster as well as addressing some complaints about it we've seen on Facebook...


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