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Dollywood/Gaylord Ent. Bring New Theme Park to Nashville!

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Dolly Parton, Gaylord Opryland to announce new Nashville amusement park


Gaylord Entertainment Co. and Dolly Parton will announce plans today to build a water-and-snow theme park near Gaylord's Opryland hotel in a move to replace the long-gone Opryland USA theme park and give a boost to Nashville's leisure travel tourism industry, multiple sources said this morning.


The facility would be a water park during warmer months and would manufacture snow in colder months, similar to the Snow Mountain attraction at Stone Mountain Park outside Atlanta, according to two people familiar with the plan.


Herschend Family Entertainment, Parton's partner in the Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., also lists Stone Mountain Park as one of its properties.


Gaylord spokesman Brian Abrahamson declined to comment. A company news advisory said Gaylord Chairman and CEO Colin Reed is scheduled to make an announcement at 1 p.m. at the Grand Ole Opry House with Gov. Bill Haslam, Mayor Karl Dean and "a very special internationally known guest."


Gaylord owns 129 acres near Two Rivers Baptist Church across Briley Parkway from the Opryland Resort & Convention Center. Metro government has already approved a special zoning district for the property, which Gaylord started acquiring more than five years ago.





Companies to develop 100-plus-acre family entertainment zone anchored by the first water and snow park in the U.S.


Nashville, Tenn. (Jan. 19, 2012) –Two of the biggest names in Tennessee tourism are teaming up to bring a major family entertainment zone to Nashville. Gaylord Entertainment (NYSE: GET) and Dolly Parton’s Dollywood Company have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for a 50/50 joint venture to develop a 114-acre family entertainment zone adjacent to the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. The Dollywood Company will serve as the operating partner. Phase one of the project is a yet unnamed approximately $50 million water and snow park, the first of its kind in the United States. A late 2012, early 2013 groundbreaking date is expected with the park opening slated for summer of 2014.


Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean joined Dolly Parton and Colin V. Reed, chairman and chief executive officer, for Gaylord Entertainment at today’s announcement at the Grand Ole Opry House at Gaylord Opryland.


"Tourism is the second largest industry in Tennessee, generating more than a billion dollars in tax revenue annually and employing more than 170,000 Tennesseans,” Haslam said. “This project will be a welcome addition to the wide variety of attractions and destinations across our great state, and I applaud the collaboration and spirit that has led to this announcement."


“Music City has become a travel destination unlike any other in the country,” Dean said. “The addition of this family entertainment complex near Opryland adds a critical missing piece to our tourist offerings. It provides a unique leisure attraction that will further enhance our already booming hospitality industry, which is one of our city’s top private sector employers.”


The water and snow park will anchor the project which offers room for future expansion. The park will provide a mix of high energy water activities for the summer season and designated snow activities for winter play. Once open, first year attendance is projected at 500,000, a large portion of which will come from out of state, bringing in substantial tourism revenue to Tennessee and Nashville. Dollywood expects to employ 450 full- and part- time employees.


This proposed attraction furthers Gaylord’s focus on growing the leisure side of its business and continuing to drive revenue through its top-notch entertainment attractions throughout the year. The Dollywood Company is responsible for managing Dolly Parton’s Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, as well as her dinner theatre attraction, Dixie Stampede. Annually, these attractions attract approximately four million visitors and have won some of the industry’s most coveted awards including “world’s best theme park” and “America’s most beautiful water park.”


“I’m so excited about this opportunity,” Dolly Parton said. “I am confident that partnering my Dollywood Company with a great company like Gaylord will create something truly special. We’re all working on new types of entertainment to do in the daytime and nighttime for the whole family so we bring new folks to the area year round.”


“We are thrilled by the prospect of bringing to Nashville a family focused entertainment center with one of the preeminent theme park owners and operators in the country,” said Colin V. Reed, chairman and chief executive officer, for Gaylord Entertainment. “I am confident this proposed attraction, which will be a destination not only for our hotel guests but also for the entire Nashville community, will meaningfully enhance our transient and leisure strategy by providing a fun, family environment at the doorstep of the Opryland Hotel. With Dolly Parton’s country music legacy and strong ties to Nashville, we can think of no better partner for this venture than Dolly’s Dollywood Company.”


“We hope that some other developers with great ideas will join us for phase two of this project. We’re saying the water and snow park are the first phase, but who knows, if we see some great ideas we could be developing the entire zone by the time the snow and water park open. Wouldn’t that be great for Nashville and the state,” Parton said.


“We are in the early stages of planning and will make certain that any project we pursue is done so under the appropriate economic conditions and provides adequate returns for our shareholders,” said Reed. “We are reserving approximately 35 acres for expansion and complimentary regional attractions and we have been working closely with state and city officials to ensure we have the proper infrastructure agreements in place for the project to move forward. We are looking forward to working on the next steps of this project and to it becoming a valuable part of the Nashville tourism community."


Based in the picturesque Great Smoky Mountains, Dollywood is a 150-acre family adventure park which operates nine months a year (late March through December) and offers more than 40 rides and attractions; award-winning live entertainment featuring country, bluegrass, gospel and mountain music; and a dozen crafters authentic to the East Tennessee region. A family-friendly vacation destination, Dollywood also includes the 35-acre Dollywood’s Splash Country, voted America’s “Must-See Waterpark.” Dollywood offers all-inclusive vacation planning with a variety of overnight lodging options. For more information, call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD or visit dollywood.com.


Gaylord Entertainment (NYSE: GET), a leading hospitality and entertainment company based in Nashville, Tenn., owns and operates Gaylord Hotels (http://www.gaylordhotels.com), its network of upscale, meetings-focused resorts and the Grand Ole Opry (http://www.opry.com), the weekly showcase of country music's finest performers for 85 consecutive years. The company's entertainment brands and properties include the Radisson Hotel Opryland, Ryman Auditorium, General Jackson Showboat, Gaylord Springs Golf Links, Wildhorse Saloon, and WSM-AM. For more information about the company, visit http://www.GaylordEntertainment.com.


Dollywood/Gaylord Opryland Family Entertainment Zone at a Glance



- Partnership between Dolly Parton's Dollywood and Gaylord Entertainment

- 50/50 partnership; Dollywood is the operating partner

- $50.0 million initial investment


Family entertainment zone:

- 114 acre parcel

- Across Briley Parkway from Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville


Phase one:

- 50 acre water and snow park

- First park of its kind in the United States

- Park to open as early as summer 2014

- Project 450 full and part-time workers when open

- Expect up to 500,000 visitors in the first full season



Click image for larger version.


Edited by jedimaster1227
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I knew a guy who wanted to build a water park and freeze the slides in the winter to make ice slides or toboggan runs. Had a concept but had no backers.


Is this the same guy who ran Action Park in New Jersey?


This sounds like a winning idea for Opryland and Dollywood--and a good way to "test the waters" for a full-fledged amusement park again sometime down the road.

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I'm thinking this might be the perfect answer to the long-held question of the closure of Opryland in the first place, granted, this is a different scale, but one that should work very well. What's interesting to me is the future expansion- although small, it might be a foothold for expanding out into larger areas...


(OK, so I can dream that Opryland comes back... although Dollyland DOES sound interesting...)



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For the locals - Is this area susceptible to flooding? Is this the exact site of the old Opryland?


This particular part did not flood though it wasn't far from where the flood waters reached. I would say, compared to the original Opryland site, this is a far better location for a park. And I'm hoping (as Robb pointed out) that the future expansion might include some rides. Really exciting news for Nashville!

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They must be pretty confident in this park because the 'future expansion' space already shows an expansion on the site plan.


I think it's a great idea, personally. It won't compete with Dollywood and I think this could potentially be a new breed of waterpark with some attractions not typically found in one, it also appears there may be a few outdoor theaters as well, so there may be some entertainment as well. I am looking forward to this project.

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I missed Opryland, so even if it's coming back only as some kind of waterpark homage (for now), I'm still psyched.


At a glance, it sure looks like something on the scale of a Celebration City-type place might fit into that "future expansion" area.

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I had heard from some of my friends over at the Hotel that something like this was possibly in the works. So happy to see that something has finally been announced! I think that Dolly and the Gaylord company are an awesome team to put this together. I just wonder if Hershend is going to be involved in any sort of Management/ Partnership way? It will be nice to have a park here in Music City again. I wasn't here when Opryland was open, but I can tell you from all the people that I talk to here, that it is greatly missed. I am even more excited that we could see a re-emergence of some kind of Theme Park down the line if this venture is successful.


That would be very nice. Very nice indeed!


^Oh, and Nashville Shores will be no competition to this at all. In fact, I see them more than likely closing their doors pretty quickly when this place opens.

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Is this the same property that Gaylord was going to build some sort of entertainment complex on? If so, I am assuming that idea got scrapped.


Looking forward to following the progress of this. And to whomever mentioned Nashville Shores, I would be more worried about Wave Country which is literally a mile down the road to where this water park is proposed. Especially, if this new property builds a wave pool, I can't see Wave Country surviving.

Edited by ernierocker
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Is this the same property that Gaylord was going to build some sort of entertainment complex on? If so, I am assuming that idea got scrapped.


Looking forward to following the progress of this. And to whomever mentioned Nashville Shores, I would be more worried about Wave Country which is literally a mile down the road to where this water park is proposed. Especially, if this new property builds a wave pool, I can't see Wave Country surviving.


Eric, I'm almost positive this is the same property. A lot of this land used to be the farm where the animals from Opryland's petting zoo were kept and fed during off-season. I had always heard Gaylord wanted to build a park on that side of Briley Parkway, and the property is, ironically, almost the same size as the original Opryland park.

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^Gotcha. It's ironic because when the rumor that Gaylord was going to announce a development for that property, everyone was hoping for some type of theme park and the announcement ended up being a big letdown. Exciting how things change!


Perhaps, for the winter part of the park we will see something similar to the sledding attraction that Europa Park puts in for their winter festival.



From Hanno's Trip Report.

Edited by ernierocker
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