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FireChaser Express

Dollywood has announced an ambitious $300 million expansion plan, the first phase of which will see it open a new roller coaster and a 300-room resort.

The plan will be implemented over a 10-year period, and is designed to transform Dollywood into a "full-fledged family destination". It will begin in 2014 with the debut of FireChaser Express, a Gerstlauer-manufacted roller coaster featuring two launch sections - one forwards, and backwards. That will be followed by the opening of the DreamMore Resort in 2015.

FireChaser Express will reportedly feature a 2,427-foot circuit, stand at 79 feet tall and hit a top speed of 34.5 miles per hour. The first launch section on the mine train-style coaster will see riders fired from 0 to 16 miles per hour in 1.1 seconds, while the second will take them up to 20 miles per hour in 2 seconds. There will be six "airtime" hills, two helices and a "trick track" section in a ride that is squarely aimed at families.

The theme for the new coaster will be based around a major fire, with riders playing the role of "heroes" who have answered the call. Dollywood claims that guests as young as 4 years old will be able to experience the ride, billed as "the nation's first dual launch family coaster".

A preview video for FireChaser Express is embedded below:

The DreamMore Resort will be located within walking distance of the Splash Country water park, with free transportation being provided to Dollywood itself. It will boast indoor and outdoor pools, a full-service restaurant, a spa and salon and a conference centre. Occupying a 100-acre site, the resort will feature a theme based around a Southern-style front porch, complete with rocking chairs guests to relax on and enjoy the Smoky Mountain scenery.

Speaking during yesterday's announcement, Dollywood co-owner Dolly Parton said: "We hope to build several resorts in the area and continue to build great new places to stay." This suggests that several hotels form part of Dollywood's ambitious plans.

You can keep up to date with the latest confirmed and rumored opening dates for new attractions through Theme Park Tourist's "New Attraction Watch" section, and by signing up for our weekly newsletter.

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