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.
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