PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (November 15, 2022) — On Tuesday morning, officials from Dollywood theme park and roller coaster manufacturer Vekoma literally took the cover off the ride vehicles that will be featured on the park’s new Big Bear Mountain which opens Spring 2023 at the Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, park. The unveiling took place during the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo in Orlando.
The highly-detailed coaster trains resemble four-wheel-drive SUVs and feature working headlights and taillights, as well as on-board audio, a first for a Dollywood attraction. Each coaster train seats 20 guests. At $25 million, the ride is the largest single attraction investment ever at Dollywood, while the coaster’s 3,990 ft. length makes it the longest roller coaster at the park as well. Guests on Big Bear Mountain board the vehicles for an unforgettable expedition in search of the elusive “Big Bear” in the hills just beyond Dollywood’s newest area, Wildwood Grove.
In addition to unveiling the vehicles, a new, forward-facing, first-person POV video was released to media, detailing the thrilling adventure riders will experience when Big Bear Mountain opens. A new overview image also was released and details how much new area the immense attraction’s bright orange track adds to the park. At a little more than ¾-mile long, Dollywood guests will have plenty of thrilling moments to experience, including three separate launches, multiple airtime hills, high-speed carousel turns, and tunnels, including a pass behind a waterfall. Big Bear Mountain features a 39” height requirement and takes guests to a top speed of 48 mph.
According to legend, Big Bear is a massive black bear who has been roaming through Wildwood Grove for as long as anyone can remember. While no one has ever seen him, telltale signs regularly appear in the hills surrounding the Grove. Dollywood guests are invited to join Wildwood Grove’s resident wilderness explorer, Ned Oakley, on an adventure to find Big Bear. From his base camp—located just a stone’s throw from the Grove’s Hidden Hollow—Oakley takes adventurers on an unforgettable ride in his specially-outfitted, four-wheel-drive SUVs.
“Big Bear Mountain is just that—big,” exclaimed Eugene Naughton, President of Dollywood Parks & Resorts. “This ride is going to be a game changer for us at Dollywood for several reasons, including the fact it’s the largest coaster we’ve ever built and our first ride with on-board audio, so we wanted to unveil the ride vehicles with our partners at Vekoma on the show floor at IAAPA. We’re excited about what Big Bear Mountain means for Dollywood, and we wanted to share this really special moment with the industry. Things are going to get big at Dollywood in 2023, and we hope everyone will come share in the fun.”
Dollywood’s 2023 season certainly is shaping up to be one to remember for the park recognized by Tripadvisor reviewers as the #1 theme park in the United States. The park operating calendar grows in 2023 with an additional 15 days of operation as compared to the 2022 calendar.
New in 2023, guests will be able to celebrate what has arguably become one of Dolly Parton’s biggest hits, “I Will Always Love You.” To observe the 50th anniversary of this monumental song, the I Will Always Love You Celebration takes place March 11-April 8, kicking off the season with a festive event commemorating the art of songwriting and the stories behind the songs.
Dollywood’s Flower & Food Festival presented by Covenant Health (April 21-June 4) blooms bright with vivid, larger-than-life flower sculptures that feature more than half-a-million blooms during this stunning festival. In addition, Dollywood’s culinary team showcases their world-class abilities with a menu full of delicacies that highlight the tastes of spring in the Smokies.
Dollywood’s Sweet Summer Nights drone and fireworks show has become a guest highlight, and it again takes to the skies above Dollywood in 2023 as part of Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration (June 17-August 6). Another favorite—"Gazillion Bubble Show Aurora”—returns to deliver a mesmerizing burst of excitement to guests in DP’s Celebrity Theater.
A family tradition for many, Dollywood’s Harvest Festival presented by Humana (Sept. 22- Nov. 4) celebrates the beauty of fall with thousands of carved pumpkins, spirited performances from talented singers and the fun of Great Pumpkin LumiNights presented by Covenant Health. Great Pumpkin LumiNights, which previously has been named the best theme park harvest event in the world, features elaborate displays that are fun for every member of the family. Creative culinary items, accomplished artisans, and fall fun in the Smokies make this a picture-perfect time to enjoy Dollywood.
The industry’s Best Theme Park Christmas event—Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana (Nov. 11- Jan. 6)—concludes the park’s 2023 season with 6 million lights, festive holiday shows, and the warm Christmas atmosphere guests have come to expect during this joyous time of year.
In addition to the opening of Big Bear Mountain in spring, Dollywood’s HeartSong Lodge & Resort is slated to open next fall. Tucked away in a beautiful cove in the rolling foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Dollywood’s HeartSong Lodge & Resort is a well-appointed property that features a variety of accommodations and amenities. Welcoming the outdoors in with high ceilings, exposed beams and natural layered textures, Dollywood’s newest resort offers lodging options for multi-generational families and couples. Spacious family suites and bunk rooms feature lovely touches that are inspired by the beauty of the Smokies, inviting guests of all ages to gather for meaningful connections.
For more information about Dollywood’s Big Bear Mountain, HeartSong Lodge & Resort, and the 2023 operating season, please visit dollywood.com.
About Dollywood Parks & Resorts: A highly-awarded and widely-recognized leader in the amusement industry, The Dollywood Company consists of the 160-acre Dollywood theme park; the 35-acre Dollywood’s Splash Country; and Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa. Currently under construction, Dollywood’s HeartSong Lodge & Resort is scheduled for completion in 2023. As unique as its namesake and owner Dolly Parton, Dollywood is the 2010 Applause Award winner, the theme park industry’s highest accolade; winner of 45 Golden Ticket Awards; and recipient of 28 Brass Ring Awards for Live Entertainment (more than any other theme park in the world). The park is located near Great Smoky Mountains National Park and was named in 2022 by Tripadvisor as the top theme park in the country. It also has been recognized as a top-three U.S. theme park by USA Today on multiple occasions. Dollywood is open mid-March through early January and offers rides and attractions, shows and crafters authentic to the East Tennessee region. Dollywood’s Splash Country, recognized by the Travel Channel and Tripadvisor as one of the country’s most beautiful water parks, operates from mid-May to Labor Day. Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa, a favorite of USA Today voters and Tripadvisor reviewers, provides guests with spectacular mountain views and family-friendly amenities next door to Dollywood theme park and Dollywood’s Splash Country. For more information, visit dollywood.com. Operating days and hours vary.
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