KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Dolly Parton hosted season pass holders and media members at Dollywood on Friday ahead of the start of the theme park’s 38th season and made a major announcement about a highly-anticipated attraction.
The $25-million Big Bear Mountain roller coaster, the single largest attraction investment in Dollywood history, will open in May 2023.
With nearly 4,000 feet of track spanning six acres and a peak elevation of 66 feet, it will be the largest ride in the entire park. The coaster boasts three different launches and will reach a maximum speed of 48 mph.
The rollercoaster will last nearly two minutes and seat 20 passengers per train. The minimum height requirement for a passenger is 39 inches.
“As the story goes, this huge bear that’s been roaming these hills for years,” Parton said at the announcement of the ride in 2022. It will also be the first ride in Dollywood with onboard audio with music and narration from a fictional caretaker named Ned Oakley.
Don’t expect to see Dolly on the ride herself. “You know I’m not going to get on that,” she said last year. “If I get on that thing you’d find my wigs on one of those trees.”
Watch a first-person rendering of the Big Big Mountain experience
The park is open Friday for season passholders only. The first day for all ticketholders is Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Find the full schedule here.
The park expansion is part of a half-billion investment into the Dollywood Parks & Resorts in 2021.
Like the Big Bear Mountain roller coaster, another attraction will open after Dollywood’s first opening day. The HeartSong Lodge & Resort, named after Parton’s song, plans to be completed in late 2023.
According to a case study released last year by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, Dollywood has an annual economic impact of $1.8 billion a year and is credited with more than 23,000 jobs for the region.