New Dollywood Coaster Opening Spring 2023

On August 5, Dolly Parton and Eugene Naughton, President of the Dollywood Company, announced plans to expand the Wildwood Grove area of Dollywood. The announcement shared more details about the new roller coaster attraction, reportedly costing $25 million to build.

Located in Pigeon Forge, Tennesse, Dollywood Theme Park has risen from a regional amusement park experience to a nationally recognized theme park and vacation destination. It won the 2010 Applause Award, the theme park industry's highest accolade, and 45 Golden Ticket Awards in categories such as “Best Guest Experience” and “Best Kids' Area.”

“The Smokies are all about adventure and going exploring,” Dolly Parton said. “I'm excited our guests will be able to head out on their own trip into the Smokies to see if they can find that Big Bear! Whether he's out there or not, I'm sure they'll find a lot of memories along the way that they'll keep forever.”

Dolly Parton Shares Name of New Coaster

Big Bear Mountain is the name of Dollywood's new roller coaster that will find its home in the Wildwood Grove section of the park. Ride manufacturer Vekoma is building it. Dolly Parton shared during the media event that this announcement is part of the ongoing commitment to investing over $500 million in the park, previously announced in 2021.

“It takes a whole group of wonderful, talented people to make these dreams come true,” Parton said. “We want to make sure we are there to entertain the families because we are a family vacation destination.” Wildwood Grove is a popular area of Dollywood, and the expansion will allow for better crowd flow in and out of that section of the park.

When completed, Big Bear Mountain will be the longest roller coaster in Dollywood at 3,990 feet long.

Big Bear Mountain to Be Longest Coaster in Dollywood

The roller coaster will feature three separate launches, multiple air-time hills, high-speed carousel turns, and a top speed of 48 miles per hour. Big Bear Mountain will be a family attraction, and the height requirement is a minimum of 39 inches. While it is a long coaster with many twists and turns, it contains no inversions.

“Big Bear Mountain is an exciting ride that really is going to be a game changer for us,” said Eugene Naughton. “Not only is it the largest coaster we've built, but it includes features, like onboard audio, that are new for our company.”

Coaster Will Utilize New Technology

The onboard audio Naughton spoke of will add “auditory thrills to match the ride's dynamic movements as guests come daringly close to Big Bear.” Dollywood invites its guests to join Wildwood Grove's resident wilderness explorer, Ned Oakley, on an adventure to find Big Bear. Adventurers will have “the rides of their lives” in coaster cars styled to look like four-wheel drive SUVs.

“Now that we've announced Big Bear Mountain, I'll start working on the next project she (Parton) has lined up for me,” Naughton said. Dolly Parton did not share any specific plans for the park's future, but she said she hoped they would keep growing and working toward the future.

Dollywood Looks Toward the Future

Dollywood Theme Park is leaning in on the family vacation destination moniker. Big Bear Mountain's location and low height requirement are just a few of the indicators that Dollywood knows families are important to the future success of the theme park.

Guests eager to be the first to ride Big Bear Mountain can pre-register for a 2023 Dollywood season pass between August 5 and September 30. Not only will guests who register during this window receive the lowest price on season passes, but they will also receive access to an exclusive ride event for Big Bear Mountain in the spring of 2023. Guests who pre-register for 2023 season passes can purchase the passes on October 17, 2022.

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Sarah is an expert travel writer and founder of On The Road With Sarah, a travel website with a focus on family experiences in the travel sector. She created her website as a resource for families looking to make the most of their vacations together. In addition to managing her own site, Sarah is a freelance writer for outlets such as Insider, Conde Nast Traveler, YahooLife, MSN, and Wealth of Geeks.