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Announcements Construction News

Dollywood Unveils Wildwood Grove for 2019

Since the beginning of the year, Dollywood has been hard at work clearing land behind the Wilderness Pass section of the park. While we knew that the entrance to the new zone would be across from Mystery Mine and that the attractions would be aimed at families, we didn’t know any specifics about the area’s theme. Yesterday, the park made their full announcement, revealing Wildwood Grove, home to 11 new family friendly attractions that the back of the park has been needing.

Guests will enter Wildwood Grove through a hollow tree and arrive in a vibrant area surrounded by brightly-colored leaves and butterflies. At the center of the zone stands the Wildwood Tree—representing the heart of the Smoky Mountains.

Wildwood Grove will be home to six new rides, including Black Bear Trail, Sycamore Swing, and the Mad Mockingbird.

The Dragonflier will be a family suspended coaster from Vekoma with a dragonfly theme. The ride’s layout is believed to be a clone of Orkanen at Fårup Sommerland.

Children in the park will get to meet new costumed characters Flit and Flutter the butterflies, Franklin the frog, and Benjamin Bear. A 4,000-square-foot indoor play area will make a great place to cool off, and a new restaurant, Till & Harvest, that will offer a new Southwest dining experience.

Wildwood Grove will be the largest investment in Dollywood history, at $37 million. The plethora of new attractions in the back of the park will be a welcome addition to families, and I can’t wait to check it out.

What are your thoughts on Wildwood Grove? Leave a comment with your thoughts below.

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Construction featured News Rumors

Five 2019 Developments to Watch

With June just around the corner (where did time go?), several amusement parks are already preparing to make way for new rides and attractions. Here are five developments to keep an eye on over the summer.

Dollywood Park Expansion

Image © Coaster101

Earlier this year, Dollywood began clearing a five-acre plot of land behind Thunderhead, opening up the woods at the back of the park. According to Dollywood spokesman David Taylor, the park plans on adding about eight new attractions in the area.

Blueprints discovered by a local news station reveal that the entrance to the new park section will be just in front of Mystery Mine and the new rides seem to be aimed at families, with something of a river theme. Considering the lack of family-friendly attractions on Wilderness Pass, this is a great move by Dollywood.

One of the new rides in the area has been discovered to be an exact clone of Orkanen—a new Vekoma Suspended Family coaster.

As for Dollywood’s next big coaster, I would expect an opening date of 2020 or 2021. A B&M Hyper or even a Chance rides Hyper GT-X would make a great new addition for the park’s thrill seekers, but we’ll just have to wait and see what Dolly has up her sleeves.

Project Alpha-Digital at Carowinds

According to Lance Hart and the coaster sleuths at Screamscape, Carowinds is planning a dual-launch steel coaster from Mack Rides, codenamed Project Alpha-Digital. Judging by the layout Screamscape dug up, the ride will have four or more inversions, two launch sections, and possibly a top hat element.

Image © Europa Park

If this rumored coaster turns out to be a reality, and it looks like it will based on the Mack Rides parts that have been arriving, this coaster would really take the park’s coaster lineup to the next level. After visiting Carowinds in 2015, I wrote that one of the things that most stood out to me about the park was the absence of a launch coaster. Now, it looks like the missing ride has finally turned up, taking the place of the park’s long-gone White Lightnin’ coaster.

Project Madrid at BGW

Image © Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Last year, Busch Gardens Williamsburg requested approval for a 315-foot structure in an expansion area codenamed “Project Madrid”. While we don’t know any details about what new rides or attractions will be included in this expansion, it seems likely that Project Madrid refers to a new park section themed to Spain.

What about the height request? If the 315-foot height refers to a new ride, it could point to Busch Gardens getting a B&M Giga coaster like Fury 325 or a drop tower similar to Falcon’s Fury at sister park Busch Gardens Tampa. Conflicting filing found by BGWFans suggests that the park might be planning an amphitheater on the cleared land instead.

Kings Island’s Giga Rumors are Back

Remember all those rumors from 2016 pointing towards Kings Island getting a B&M Giga? They turned out to be a little premature, as the park ended up adding a GCI wooden coaster instead. But now the rumors are back, fueled by the park’s removal of their Dinosaurs Alive attraction and a telling clue left by management during the off-season.

With the space at the back of the park opened up by the removal of Dinosaurs Alive, there’s plenty of room for an out-and-back layout behind the X-Base area. The ride’s station would likely be near the old Dinosaurs entrance, with the lift-hill heading East towards the outside of the park.

Then there’s the message Kings Island wrote in the snow during their off-season. In full view of one of the park’s live webcams, someone shoveled the word “GiGA.” Whether this is a red herring or a genuine hint remains to be seen, but it certainly points to activity in the near future.

It’s too early to jump to conclusions, but I, for one, would have mixed feelings if Kings Island announced a Giga for 2019 or 2020. They already have Diamondback, which is a solid B&M Hyper and very similar in concept to a Giga. I would be more excited to see them invest in a launch coaster of some sort or maybe an RMC. I’m still disappointed that they added Mystic Timbers instead of an RMC Topper Track coaster, and now they’re unlikely to add another wooden coaster any time soon.

On the other hand, B&M coasters are extremely reliable, and Cedar Fair has become wary of the issues that plague innovative coasters. After seeing the success of Leviathan and Fury 325, Kings Island really couldn’t go wrong to add a Giga themselves.

Dive Coaster at Canada’s Wonderland

Image © Busch Gardens Tampa

It’s been years since Canada’s Wonderland added a major roller coaster, but the all signs are pointing towards a B&M Dive Coaster for 2019. In January, they filed a permit for a new attraction and began clearing land.

To start off construction, the park installed track in a new underwater tunnel in the lake occupied by Vortex. Judging by the width of the track, it has become clear that the ride will indeed be a Dive Coaster similar to Valravn at Cedar Point. Whether the tunnel will be part of the first drop or incorporated with a later part of the layout, it is certain to make for an exciting element.

As for the theme, fans hoping for Ziz may be disappointed. The park already has Behemoth, the Biblical beast of the land, and Leviathan, the beast of the sea, so Ziz, or the beast of the air, would complete the trio. However, Canada’s Wonderland has begun to tease the coaster with signs inside the park promoting the “Historic Chilkoot Trail”. Unless the park is planning to tie that in with the legend of Ziz, it looks like we’ll be getting another RailBlazer nature-themed ride.

Regardless of the name, the new dive coaster is sure to be a great addition for Canada’s Wonderland. Since it’ll be their first big coaster with inversions, I would imagine that they’ve got plans for some great elements. [td_smart_list_end]


What new-for-2019 addition are you most excited about? Share your thoughts in a comment below.

Read next: Top 15 New Coasters for 2018

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News

Dollywood Evacuated for Smoky Mountain Wildfires

Following an unusual dry season, wildfires of unprecedented size sprung up in the Smoky Mountains. As the flames spread towards Gatlinburg, the city issued a state of emergency and called for an evacuation of the area. Dollywood itself was forced to shut down as fires raged in close proximity to the park.

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Reviews Trip Reports

Dollywood Trip Report

Earlier this fall, I made the trek to my home park, Dollywood. Even though I went on a Saturday, the lines were fairly short and I was able to get in a decent number of rides.

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Announcements News

Dollywood Reveals 2017 Plans

Just a year after adding their record-breaking launched wooden coaster, Dollywood is already making big plans for their future. In Summer 2017, a new drop tower and children’s coaster will join the park’s ever-growing lineup of thrills.

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featured News Reviews Ride Reviews

Lightning Rod Review

After tracking its construction and naming it the Best New Ride of 2016, I finally caught a ride on Lightning Rod last weekend. My expectations were high, but nothing could have fully prepared me for the sheer insanity that lay ahead.