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

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This is great news and with Dolly's name attached to the project I'm sure it will get done right. Opryland was a great little park I had the opportunity to visit once when I was younger and loved the place, very unique. I know the park was loved by the locals and it has been missed every since it was demolished for the mall, and they have been anxious for something like this ever since.


I've got several "non themepark friends" who had facebook post the past couple of days that are pretty excited about this announcement. Kind of funny some of them have been discussing old attractions they hope will make a return, like Chaos and Grizzly River Rapids haha. I would be a nice touch to see the new park pay homage to the original in some way, just hopefully not an enclosed Vekoma, or an Vekoma SLC, or any Vekoma for that matter.

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^It was intended to go to Old Indiana Theme Park where a lot of the Opryland rides were sent after the park was closed. I have no clue what happened to the carousel though since that theme park never materialized. I know a lot of the rides ended up as scrap metal unfortunately.


Edit: I just googled it and found something that said it went to a mall in Cincinnati where it only ran for two years??? Not sure if that is true or not. I have a feeling it is long gone if that is true.


Well, it was put in storage way before the park closed in 1997. I bet the Cincy Mall was the 2nd carousel. I know the Antique Carousel was removed after 1986 for fact...but i'm not sure if it was 1987 or 88 or even 89...i know i was in junior high when it happened though...i'm thinking 87 or 88. But it was long gone before the whole park closed in 1997. And i almost positive that it did not go to Old Indianna...it was too special and they had put a lot of work in to restoring it.


Thrillerman1, that's true. It was replaced with a bird show first, for two seasons i think. Then after the bird show i think there might have been a kids show maybe...then it was some other type of modern carousel after that. The wavy floor was still there for the bird show...not sure if the wavy floor was there for the 2nd carousel. I was referring to the typewritten 'fact sheet' on page 1 of Montezoomas....maybe 3/4 of the way down the page...it talks about finding the carousel in Copenhagen, and recreating from nothing other than a postcard...i couldn't imagine.



Here's a retro trip report on Opryland and she thinks its in storage too. I'm not sure how that rumour came about, but it seems to be well accepted. Anyway, it would be nice to see it rise again some day.

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^^Yeah, I was getting the timeline mixed up in my memory banks. It must of been the newer one that was sent to the Cincinnati mall.


Hopefully, if it is indeed in storage and salvageable they can incorporate in the new park.

Edited by ernierocker
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^Opry Mills mall is supposed to be 100% functional by March. If everyone has moved back in at that time is up to the individual company. There are several stores with outside entrances that are already open. Bass Pro, D&B, the AMC Theater, etc. I'm told the food court is open as well, but I personally can neither confirm or deny this. I haven't heard if there is gonna be a grand re-opening or anything like that. I imagine they would try and make a big deal of the mall re-opening, to get the locals to come back out in force like they used to back in the day. You know... ...before...


Yeah. A few of the stores are already open. Bass pro has been open for quite awhile. I went to the theater last month. There were only very few stores open then with entrances on the outside. I don't know what else has opened since then though.

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About the carousel timeline at Opryland - I worked right across from this spot in 1992 and it was a music show at that point. No carousel. Just a musical comedy show. It was actually fairly funny, but then I got to hear it EVERY DAY and it grew tiresome. Maybe the new carousel came in after that year? Honestly I only remember the original one and I assumed that spot simply became a show venue until the park closed, but I stopped going to the park around 94.


Also, Pete Owens has been on the news a lot here. He's talking up the freezing and snow technology they'll be using to keep the snow park with snow even during the heat of the summer. But no word on actual attractions/rides, of course.

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The real question is, will they bring back CHAOS? and will cory feldman sign autographs at the opening lol (truely the weirdest ride I have ever been on when I was younger - I am 32 currently). there was 40 rows of cars 2 people per car (the pic it looks like one though), the coaster look like it went on forever (in the video you can see the back of the coaster on the lower level going up the circular lift hill)





Sister Coaster "revolution" same track setup


Probably not, but I had to bring it up for nostalgia purposes lol




(first post, been a lurker for many years here, have a long coaster obsession history, and my brother is one of the main managers of "The Kitchen" in Universal Orlando Hardrock , I live in South Florida)

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  • 2 weeks later...



State and local tax breaks are in the mix for a proposed water and snow park planned near the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, said Colin Reed, Gaylord’s chairman and CEO, on Tuesday. “Because of the large economic impact this park will have on the broad Nashville community, we’ve asked the city and state for assistance from part of the incremental taxes we will be generating,” Reed said during a conference call with Wall Street analysts who track the hotel chain.


It was the first time that possible tax incentives were mentioned for the $50 million project being developed by Gaylord Entertainment, country singer Dolly Parton’s business interests and Herschend Family Entertainment, a Norcross, Ga., theme park operator that’s a partner in the Dollywood complex in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.


Other officials downplayed the idea of tax incentives.


“There have been discussions regarding tax incentives to help offset the capital costs of developing the project,” Dollywood spokesman Pete Owens said. “At this point, it’s all in the discussion stage.”


A Metro spokeswoman would say only that “general discussions” have been held, while spokesmen for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and the Tennessee Department of Revenue had no immediate comment.


Questions about potential public funding have swirled around the park since officials announced it almost three weeks ago. Officials have said only that they anticipate using state Fast Track grants for infrastructure work, including an overpass interchange at Briley Parkway, and helping to market the attraction after its scheduled opening in mid-2014. How much public money the hybrid park might seek hasn’t been determined, they have said.


Gaylord and Dollywood are splitting the cost of building the project, which is envisioned to include a 27-acre water park and an adjacent 13.5-acre snow park. It would cover about 50 acres of a 114-acre site that Gaylord owns, with the remainder available for future expansion or other attractions.


Gaylord’s contribution will be in the form of land and less than $10 million in cash, Reed said during the conference call with stock analysts.


Profits return

A local Gaylord analyst said “it makes sense” that tax incentives are being considered for the project. But unlike Gaylord’s proposed $800 million convention center-hotel complex near Denver — also in the talking stage — incentives probably would play just a minor role in the Nashville park’s development, said analyst Fred Lowrance Jr. of Avondale Partners. Tax incentives could take various forms, but among the most common are sales tax rebates or reduced property tax bills.


During the conference call, Gaylord reported it had swung to a fourth-quarter profit but had missed Wall Street’s expectations. The hotel and convention-resort operator said it earned $5.1 million, or 10 cents per share, on revenues of $269.4 million in the fourth quarter. That reversed a year-ago quarterly loss of $32.8 million, or 69 cents per share, that largely was caused by Opryland’s closing after the May 2010 flood. Analysts had expected fourth-quarter earnings of 15 cents per share on revenue of $271.8 million, according to Thomson Reuters. Gaylord officials blamed the miss on a one-time $4.7 million charge and a loss in bookings at its Orlando, Fla., resort, which is being renovated and expanded.


For the year, Gaylord earned more than $10.1 million, or 20 cents per share, compared with a loss of $92.2 million, or $1.95 per share, in 2010. Revenue rose by 23.7 percent to $852.1 million last year.

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there was 40 rows of cars 2 people per car (the pic it looks like one though), the coaster look like it went on forever (in the video you can see the back of the coaster on the lower level going up the circular lift hill)


Chaos' train was 10 cars longer than Revolution at Bobbejaanland, it had 50 cars and held up to 100 passengers...which i guess is still the current record for longest coaster train ever and most capacity. On the circular lift, the back of the train would be underneath the front part of the train. Once it got started it really hauled a$$.


edit! doh, my bad. I know Chaos had 10 more cars than the Bobbejaanland coaster, but i was thinking Chaos had 50...Chaos is 40 cars/80 people and it was a 240-foot long train and Revolution is 30/60 and it must be about a 180-foot long train if my math is good.

Edited by coasterfreaky
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  • 4 weeks later...

This probably belongs in the Ole South thread, but i'm putting it here as it discusses this park as well. I give Ole South about zero percent chance of taking off!





Another theme Park? Really?

One more dreamer dares to tread where amusement parks go to die


By Hollie Deese Updated 10:03AM


David Webb grew up in Nashville and has plenty of fond memories of spending time at Opryland USA every summer. He moved from the area as an adult and spent 10 years in Orlando, most of it working for Disney.


But the pull of home was great and he decided to move back to Middle Tennessee with his family. And when he got here, he was sad to see the music-filled theme park was gone.


That void got the wheels turning, and one day over lunch with a buddy about six years ago Webb came up with a concept for a new theme park, Ole South USA.


“We all know the area needs something like this,” he says. “When I did the research for future theme parks, one of the things that kept coming up was there needs to be some sort of connection to the local culture. So I thought a theme park about the southeast corner of the United States could showcase everything that is vibrant about the South.”


Planned for Maury County, the park’s website went live last month. Conceptual plans show roller coasters, live shows, a venue for weddings, an amphitheatre, rafting, stunt shows and more.


Webb’s background would seem a natural for this business. Before moving back, he worked on television projects in Orlando, including Nickelodeon’s Figure It Out and Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club. He also produced and cowrote all 260 episode of a game show, Culture Quest, that ran in Vietnam for five seasons.


His production house, The David Webb Company, is currently shopping a children’s game show, Karpool Kids, and produces corporate training videos, promotional videos, music videos, etc.


“It is a big vision and big project,” Webb says of Ole South. “But the feasibility study says we are ready for something like this. I have been back since 2001 and the area has grown tremendously since then. And a lot of young families are moving here and all of us with children would love for something like this to come to the area.”


The feasibility study Webb commissioned was by Cochrane Consulting, a California-based company specializing in themed amusement parks, museums, science centers, aquariums, halls of fame, world’s fairs, animal parks, casino-based attractions and urban entertainment centers. Cochrane Consulting has long been affiliated with the Harrison Price Company, whose founder, Harrison Price, conducted all of the site location and economic feasibility studies for Disneyland and Disney World.


“We have developed over the decades a formula for determining the feasibility of an area,” says Fred Cochrane, who worked with Price himself before he died two years ago.


“Essentially we start off with population, income, family characteristics, age, those kinds of things, just to understand the market. We do the same thing with the tourist market to the extent there is information available, or we create our own estimates based on hotel room counts and composition of hotel room occupants.”


Cochrane takes that information and compares it with the type of attraction that is proposed, how it compares to existing attractions and compares the market penetration rates to get an idea how well the new project will do. And he says Webb is right on, partly due to the attendance success of Opryland.


“After Opryland had been operating for several years, they asked Price to come in to help them, and he wrote them what I think was an excellent report,” Cochrane says. “We have background on Nashville that goes back a number of years and have looked at a number of other things there too, so we know that market quite well.”


Opryland had more than two million visitors per year, he explains, but its labor costs were too high.


“It was related more to live entertainment, and when your payroll goes up too high it is very difficult to make money in the seasonal attraction field. ut they proved the market.


“The people are there, the bodies are there, if you do the right thing to attract them,” he adds. “Gaylord did that with Opryland, but probably their downfall was they just had too much payroll, so their profit margins were not what they wanted and they had other alternatives. So they went to the other alternatives.”


Cochrane did his study for Webb before the announcement of the new water and snow park being built by Dollywood and Gaylord across the street from the old Opryland site. He says Middle Tennessee can handle both.


“They are oriented to a different market,” Cochrane says. “If Dollywood decided to go in there with a full-blown theme park and David had already committed to his, I think it would be some difficulties for both. But they are so different I think it further fills out the attraction for people to come to Nashville in the summertime when those outdoor facilities are open.”


Last year another theme park was announced for Maury County, Festival Tennessee, but quickly fell through. Bible Park USA, which billed itself as an “edutainment experience,” announced plans in 2007 to build a theme park in Murfreesboro, but zoning issues and neighborhood opposition sent developers fleeing north to Lebanon. That fell through when the Lebanon City Council nixed tax incentives.




Ole South USA’s concept calls for roller coasters, live shows, a venue for weddings, an amphitheatre, rafting, stunt shows and more. There is no firm timeline for completion of the park, which is proposed for Maury County.


Colleen Mangone, media relations manager for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, says there are 400 amusement parks in the country but no way to tell how many parks are announced and never come to fruition. Cochrane says it happens all the time, especially in the last few years.


“It depends partly on the cooperation of the local governments and what they are willing to accommodate, like the need for a connector to a major highway for example,” he says. “More often than not it is an ill-conceived project by a promoter who doesn’t know what they are talking about and hasn’t had a feasibility study done.


“But in the last few years it is not unusual for this kind of project to not be able to get financing.”


Having a history of success like Dollywood certainly helps an area, especially as there is an existing cash flow to help finance the new project.


Webb is trying a crowd sourcing model to finance the first phase of his project.


“Crowd funding has been the new way to raise seed capital to really get early phase tasks done, especially for a big project like this,” Webb says.


“You couldn’t raise the money you need to build a park through crowd sourcing, but for some of these early tasks, it is possible. We can take that with the feasibility study to present to some investors we have lined up to bring them on board for the bigger round of funding.”


Ole South USA’s website is touting Pioneer Club membership, which, for $25, entitles members to such perks as an Ole South USA decal, a sneak-peek pass before the park opens and “future perks once the park opens.” He hopes to sell 3,500 but has sold only 89 so far.


There is no time frame for Ole South USA, other than he would like to get started as soon as possible. But there might be a renewed sense of urgency after last week’s announcement that the defunct Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville would reopen as Bluegrass Boardwalk in May 2013. Four hours up I-65 from Maury County, it is yet another entertainment option that could be considered competition.


Owner Dan Koch has been in the theme park business his whole life. He is the third generation operator of Holiday World in Santa Claus, Ind. – a little closer to Middle Tennessee than Kentucky Kingdom – and had always thought about someday expanding. When he was approached about buying the old Kentucky Kingdom location, his company did some research and then went for it.


“After we went down there and looked at the pieces, it looked like something we could do, revitalize it, reenergize it and make a go of it” he says. “We looked at that park and what it had done in the past and think we can get it back to where it was.”


Koch anticipates hiring 25 full-time and 800 seasonal employees once the park is open, and employing local workers to build the infrastructure before then.


“If you look at the economic impact a park has on a community, it is enormous,” he says.


Webb may have been nervous when he first heard about the Dollywood/Gaylord announcement, but is confident now it will only help boost his chances for success.


“I had a little catch in my stomach,” he says. “But I called several people in the industry and the consensus was this is the best thing that could happen for my project. It shows investors that this market is worthy for investing this type of funding.”

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  • 1 month later...



Plans for a $50 million water and snow park will start moving ahead quickly after the Metro Council approved a 60 percent property tax break Tuesday for the hospitality companies developing it.


The incentive, which applies only to the land where Gaylord Entertainment Co. and Dollywood Co. plan to build the attraction, is good for 12 years.


“We look forward to being here for a long, long time to come,” said Gerald Rakestraw, Dollywood’s vice president of development.


Rakestraw said the park should open in the spring of 2014 on land near Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. He said it will be one of the biggest American amusement industry projects of the next two years.


The final council vote — after no discussion — was 31-2, with Councilmen Duane Dominy and Josh Stites voting no. Stites said at a previous meeting that he couldn’t support Gaylord and Dollywood’s argument that their land would produce much less revenue for the city if undeveloped.


“I think it’s important to note that we charge a certain rate of taxes for a reason — because we offer a certain level of services,” he said April 3.


But Councilwoman Jacobia Dowell said the water and snow park would be “important to Nashville,” drawing in tourists and giving teens another place to get summer jobs.


“A lot of those opportunities have dried up,” Dowell said.


Gaylord and Dollywood, working with University of Tennessee economists, have projected the park will bring in 500,000 visitors a year and create more than 1,900 direct and indirect jobs during construction and 1,800 jobs once it opens.

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The final council vote — after no discussion — was 31-2, with Councilmen Duane Dominy and Josh Stites voting no. Stites said at a previous meeting that he couldn’t support Gaylord and Dollywood’s argument that their land would produce much less revenue for the city if undeveloped.


That just further validates why I voted against Stites in the last election here. Good to see this project moving along now.

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  • 3 months later...

Dolly Parton says Nashville theme park on hold




NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Dolly Parton said Friday morning that her proposed Nashville water theme park is "kind of in a holding pattern right now."


During a news conference celebrating her latest gold record through Cracker Barrel, the legendary singer and businesswoman was asked about the theme park venture with Gaylord Entertainment and Metro Nashville, which drew national attention in January when she was a major part of the announcement.


When asked about the progress, Parton took a deep breath and then said, "Well, that is a kind of... we are working on it, that's kind of in a holding pattern right now."


"There are a lot of changes going on, I am not really sure. We are still working on that," she added before taking an unrelated question.


When another reporter asked about her role in the theme park, Parton said, "Gaylord is actually involved at the moment with some changes of their own, so we are just kind of waiting until they get there things straightened out before we go forward with that."


Then, with her characteristic smile, Parton reminded reporters that "nothing has ever been signed yet," and " won't put my name on it, won't be involved, unless it's exactly right for me and everyone else so let's hope it works."



In May, Gaylord announced a huge company restructuring where Marriott would run its hotel properties.


Last week, the company informed 310 employees their positions are being eliminated pending shareholder approval of the company's reorganization.


Nashville Mayor Karl Dean's office did not immediately comment on Parton's remarks.


In a statement, Brian Abrahamson, Vice President of Corporate Communications for Gaylord Entertainment, said, "Our company is 100% committed to the Dollywood water/snow park project."


Reporter Chris Bundgaard is following this story and will have more tonight at 4 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.


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Well that's just a huge let down. Growing up (well at a very young age) Opryland was my home park and after... well the nearest theme park is like 6 hours.... Was really looking forward to the growth of this project, it would have worked out so well for this area of the state.

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  • 1 month later...



NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Country singer Dolly Parton said Friday she will no longer be connected with previously announced plans to build a water park in Nashville.


The singer said in a news release that the decision was made because Gaylord stockholders this week sold operation of its Opryland Resort and Convention Center to a third party.


"Gaylord makes decisions that they feel are good for their company and their stockholders and I have to make decisions based on what is best for me and the Dollywood Company," said Parton. "Governor Haslam, Mayor Dean, and all the folks in government have been great to work with. I really appreciate their support through this process."


"I think everyone knows I love Nashville and I hope the work we've already done will spark more family entertainment in Nashville," Parton added.


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It was clear that Gaylord needed the Dollywood name to bring clout to the project. I'd say you can pretty much close the door on this project now.


I haven't been following the history of the Gaylord restructuring. Did this just come out of nowhere or had it been planned for awhile?

Edited by ernierocker
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Gaylord announced a plan to restructure at some point in the spring. IIRC, Gaylord shareholders were relunctant at first to go along with the plan, but this week it was voted for and approved.


This vote was the reason for the comment she made about six weeks ago when she mentioned that this project was "in a holding pattern" - she was waiting for the outcome of the shareholder vote.

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