The new Dollywood roller coaster “Big Bear Mountain” will be the largest in the park

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WATE) — Dolly Parton and the leadership of Dollywood on Friday announced the largest single attraction investment in the theme park’s history — a brand new roller coaster that will be the largest when it opens in spring 2023.

The $25 million Big Bear Mountain roller coaster, a five-acre attraction that will expand the park’s Wildwood Grove section, features three different launches over a 1,200-meter track. The project also marks the latest step in the half-billion dollar expansion announced for 2021.

Big Bear Mountain will reach speeds of up to 48 miles per hour and peak heights of 66 feet as it meanders through Wildwood Grove around waterfalls and briefly underground. It is also the first Dollywood ride to feature integrated audio, with music and narration by Wildwood Grove’s fictional caretaker, Ned Oakley.

The journey takes almost two minutes and can accommodate 20 passengers per train.

“Last year we said we’re going to invest half a million dollars over the next 10 years,” said Pete Owens, Dollywood’s vice president of marketing. “This is obviously part of that investment strategy and we are investing across the park, not just in Wildwood Grove. But this is phase two. So you will see another opportunity to expand in this space at some point during this timeline.”

Dolly Parton helped announce the new attraction at a news conference on Friday. (WATER)

The theme of the Big Bear Mountain roller coaster, Parton explained, is that guests are looking for a “hugged bear that’s been roaming these hills for years.”

“People around Wildwood Grove said they saw him,” Parton teased while wearing a rhinestone-embellished park ranger outfit.

Parton added that she’s excited for the new experience but probably won’t ride the coaster herself.

“Doesn’t that look like fun?” she said, referring to a rendering of the ride. “You know I won’t go into that.”

“If I get on that thing, you’ll find my wigs in one of those trees,” she joked.

The Spring 2023 launch of the new ride coincides with the grand opening of Dollywood’s newest resort: HeartSong Lodge.

According to a case study released last year by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, Dollywood has an annual economic impact of $1.8 billion per year and is credited with providing more than 23,000 jobs to the region.

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