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On her 66th birthday, Dolly Parton gave a huge present to Nashville. Dolly, who launched her own Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., in 1986, has partnered with Gaylord Entertainment to create a new amusement park in the Nashville area. The plans call for a water-and-snow theme park near the Gaylord Opryland hotel to replace the Opryland theme park (originally known as Opryland USA), which was in operation from 1972 until 1997.
"It's a gift for everybody," Dolly said during a press conference held Thursday (Jan. 19) at the Grand Ole Opry House. The amusement park is scheduled to open no later than spring 2014, employing up to 450 people, and a Dollywood rep expects that the amusement park will entertain more than 500,000 visitors during its first year.
According to The Tennessean , the attraction would be a waterpark in the summer months and then would manufacture snow during the winter months, similar to Snow Mountain at Stone Mountain Park in the Atlanta area.
Dolly, Nashville mayor Carl Dean and Gaylord Entertainment chief Colin Reed were all on hand during the press conference to talk about the new venture. Reed said during the conference that he spent his first year as CEO fielding letters of complaint about the Opryland theme park closing down. "This project is what we need to attract more families and individuals to Nashville," said Mayor Dean.
With typical humor, Dolly admitted that she didn't miss the Opryland theme park "that much" because it gave her a "head start" on her own theme park.
Phase one of the park's development will involve an investment of $50 million into building the water-and-snow park on half of the 110-plus acres that Gaylord Entertainment owns near the Opryland hotel. Dolly said that an official name for the venture has not been decided at this time.