Dolly Parton, Gaylord team up to bring country's first water, snow park to Nashville

Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 5:06pm

The first water-and-snow park in the country is coming to Nashville thanks in part to country music star Dolly Parton.

The Dollywood Company and Gaylord Entertainment are partnering to invest an initial $50 million in the park — which will be Phase I of a larger “family entertainment zone” across Briley Parkway from the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.

Gaylord Entertainment Chairman and CEO Colin Reed said the move is in response to years of complaints about Opry Mills Mall replacing Opryland USA theme park 15 years ago.

“Phase I, fills a void that happened in this town, which really took away opportunities for families to come here as families and spend a day or two together, having fun as a family,” Reed said.

Reed, Parton, Mayor Karl Dean and Gov. Bill Haslam gathered at the Grand Ole Opry House to announce the project on Thursday.

The park is scheduled to open by the summer of 2014 and is expected to add 450 part-time and full-time jobs to the area.

“We do great with business travelers, but this project is what we need to attract more families,” Dean said.

Gaylord currently owns 114 acres across from Opryland and plans to use half of that for the water-snow park. Dollywood General Manager Craig Ross said plans to develop the remaining acreage haven’t started yet.

“At this point, we’re really hoping that this announcement today will bring more folks with innovative ideas to join us in this project,” Ross said.

The idea was planted about a year ago when Haslam appointed Reed to chair the Tennessee Tourism Committee. Reed spoke to Dolly Parton Productions President Ted Miller about opening a water park on their vacant land. That’s when Miller mentioned that Parton was interested in expanding her East Tennessee amusement empire to Nashville, Reed said.

Haslam and Dean said no specific details on tax breaks or incentives for the project were available. Dean did say the city would look to partner with the project on infrastructure and marketing.

Reed said the logistics of creating easily accessible roadways in and out of the property would be a “costly thing.”

Parton added her signature humor to the announcement of the park, calling Dean her “second husband.”

“I just wish my husband could run me as well as (Dean) runs this city,” Parton said, introducing a blushing Dean.

Parton also said she wasn’t concerned about the new park taking visitors away from Dollywood in East Tennessee.

“We feel like we’ll be beneficial to each other. I like representing all of Tennessee,” Parton said.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the yet-to-be-named water-snow park is expected to take place in 2013.

“We’ve got to come up with something really good. We’re not even ready to start making jokes about it yet,” Parton said.

31 Comments on this post:

By: WickedTribe on 1/19/12 at 5:04

Is this going to be an ample replacement for Opryland? Are they going to have real roller coasters or just be a water park like Nashville Shores?

By: mewzikman2000 on 1/19/12 at 5:26

Wave Country and Nashville Shores are enough water parks in town. Need to build a theme park like Opryland was or like Dollywood is. Need roller coasters and thrill rides plus shows.

By: mewzikman2000 on 1/19/12 at 5:30

Do you honesty think families will go to a water park just because it is called something Opry? Don't fool yourselves. A theme park is a theme park. Don't let us down Dolly, as Gaylord's dad did when he closed Opryland. Tourism has been down in Nashville ever since Opryland closed. Nothing here for the family and kids don't go to the Opry.
Please Nashville, don't drag your heels about this theme park as you do with other things, like not having Light Rail and having stupid busses for rapid transit.

By: spooky24 on 1/20/12 at 5:40

None of this matters if they can't keep the thugs, gang bangers, pickpockets,beggars and illegals from hassling people. With the exception of the Airport I never go to that part of town however I am told it's on it's way to becoming another Antioch. I'll run down the crime stats this afternoon and see just what has been going on-without the spin. I do know that there has been a problem with public drunkenness and trespassing at the Two Rivers area and the woods closes to the cabin hill was a male pickup spot after they ran them out of Priest and Old Hickory.


By: NilsOrion on 1/20/12 at 6:25

Can't believe the negative reaction to this idea in the first four posts. Christ! It was just announced and is already being torn apart. And as to the area being a big, bad, dangerous place, as Spooky24 claims, when was the last time it was reported that a guest of Opryland was mugged, molested or otherwise harmed by 'thugs, gang bangers, beggers and illegals'? As to the 'male pickup spot' claim, I would image plenty of males have picked each other up over the years within the confines of the hotel complex itself.

By: Dontreadonme on 1/20/12 at 6:28

I agree, Nashville already has an up and coming water park. We need roller coasters! That will bring in tourists and keep locals coming back.

By: sidneyames on 1/20/12 at 7:22

Dolly Parton, Gaylord team up to bring country's first water, snow park to Nashville

Hmmmm. Guess the CP and Mayor Dean do not know we already have "water parks". But what's a snow park? It was not mentioned in the the article anywhere except the Heading.

And wow! maybe they could incorporate Chickens into the theme park. That would be awesome and so Nashville!

And the crime is rampant! Just watch the news. Plus the garbage is piling up on Murfreesboro road as we read this.

By: gid on 1/20/12 at 7:25

I looked at the winter park place in Atlanta - it is sad, only open when they can make snow, a tube run and snowball making area. We have a nice water park in town already. Why not build an park w. all types of rides - roller coasters, etc, etc...and have arts / crafts like Dollywood does and have shows like Opryland did.
This will be a big failure. I guess in 10 yrs they will level it and build a strip mall

By: girliegirl on 1/20/12 at 7:54

They will close Wave Country, and it also explains why there hasn't been much renovation at that park lately.

By: BigPapa on 1/20/12 at 8:02

Wave country is owned and operated by Metro parks. Just like any municipal swimming pool, it's not closing.

By: producer2 on 1/20/12 at 8:28

love, love, love the positive vibes of posters......the rest of your day must really suck!

By: BigPapa on 1/20/12 at 8:34

I'm very shocked at the all the negative reaction to this. We're talking about $50M investment of private money. This isn't like the pred, titans, and bball teams asking for direct payment from the city coffers.

By: Walter Sobchak on 1/20/12 at 9:02

I'm with BigPaPa and Producer. I hope you negative posters are posting from the reception area at your therapist's office, because you are a miserable, depressed bunch. I seriously feel sorry for your family members because it's obvious that you make the lives of everyone around you worse for having to be involved with you. And I'm not making this assessment based on your comments on this story alone. Every single story I read, it's the same bunch with your serial negativity. You know who you are. Please see to your mental health and stop trying to bring everyone else down to your depressing level. If only you could see the mental image we all have of you. Disgusting.

By: NewYorker1 on 1/20/12 at 9:04

"If you don't like something, CHANGE IT. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain."
-- Maya Angelou

By: yucchhii on 1/20/12 at 9:14

yucchhii I already have Gov. Hassler...I mean haslam..(Isn't that what the govenor is.a HASSLER?) and the dishonerable mayor karl DINK pegged. They could care less about the park or for the FAMILIES!! There are MANY $$$$ IN THEIR EYES!!! Many of those $$$$ going in THEIR pockets!! If they REALLY cared, they would be doing something substantial to help the HOMELESS!!! The HOMELESS population is GROWING and not just from other homeless people comming here from elsewhere, but from people losing their jobs, their homes and their cars etc. I don't care WHO you are, your NOT that far off from being HOMELESS yourself!!! Especially those who have the attitude..."I'll NEVER be homeless!" See YOU at the Nashville rescue mission!!

By: NewYorker1 on 1/20/12 at 9:23

Isn't this a capitalist country built on capitalism? Aren't these private dollars going into this theme park on privately owned land? With that said, what does homelessness have to do with this?

By: jvh2b on 1/20/12 at 9:24

If you people think Nashville Shores is a decent water park, then I've got a piece of beachfront property right here in TN to sell you...

Dollywood Splash Country is a great water park. I can only hope they do as good a job with this one. I do hope phase 2 is for more of a theme park...roller coasters would indeed be a good thing!

By: Left-of-Local on 1/20/12 at 9:26

Yay. Woo hoo. YAWN.

I don't wanna hear a DAMN thing from Gaylord that does not start with "okay, so we f*cked up..."

By: jvh2b on 1/20/12 at 9:27

NewYorker -- I've noticed the Dean hater crowd will take any opportunity they get to attempt a matter how far from the realm of reality they have to go to take it. I'd take a bet that yucci is probably homeless, blaming the 'system' for it, and using the public library computers to post his uninformed rant (ya know since those computers were funded by Dean...)

By: NewYorker1 on 1/20/12 at 9:30

LOL... too funny.

By: BigPapa on 1/20/12 at 9:49

Listen folks , yes Gaylord closed Opryland, that was Terry London and a totally different management team. Reed and co. spent most of their early efforts undoing what London did, but the Opryland park closing is a bell that's hard to un-ring. This is as close to it as you can get. Be happy.
This shows that Gaylord is even more committed to the city of nashville, it shows that business interests see Nashville as a solid bet, and it does nothing but help bring in tourist to the city. This park is about TOURIST, if you are looking to go to the pool every day, go to NashShores, but that place isn't bringing in people from neighboring states.

Bottom line: This is good news for Nashville.

By: joe41 on 1/20/12 at 9:49

It looks like the east tennessee crowd is speaking out against this park.

By: spooky24 on 1/20/12 at 10:30

That is interesting. Just what was the reasoning behind closing Opryland.and going to an upscale mall that was bound to fail?
Reed n' company had to have risk management/advertising strategy or some kind of business model they presented ?
Or was it more personal? I really don't remember.


By: RTungsten on 1/20/12 at 11:01

@spook24: "however I am told it's on it's way to becoming another Antioch"

Keep thinking that and stay out of this area, please.

By: BigPapa on 1/20/12 at 1:05

Opryland was still making money when it closed, it just wasn't making enough. They gave a number of reason for closing it, but it's a decision that's universally panned as an example of a bad business decisions.

By: gid on 1/20/12 at 1:09

It doesnt matter if it is private $ used and built on private land. Understood that a business being built is better than one being torn down
Do you want to spend $20+ a ticket to have a snow ball target practice? I dont see this working long term.

By: NewYorker1 on 1/20/12 at 1:35

Come on now, let's keep it real. Now, if you were investing $50 million + dollars of your money into a business and the business model isn't working, I'm sure you would shift gears and come up with new ideas. We don't know where this may end up, but be glad somebody is investing in these tough economic times.

I am sure these people have a plan B, C, D, and E. That's a lot of money to invest, so I don't think they are not doing their homework.

By: NewYorker1 on 1/20/12 at 1:38

"If you don't like something, CHANGE IT. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain."
-- Maya Angelou

By: NOISEEMIKE on 1/21/12 at 11:11

Yes we all know that it was a really big mistake to close Opryland because it really brought in the tourist dollars because most people enjoyed the rides, shows, and all that was offered. My family and I moved here in 1990 from Chicago and even before we lived here we would come down each year to take in the park. My children literally grew up there and so did many of our friends children. Again tourist dollars. However,we certinally don't need another water park or even a snow park; it just will not bring in the tourist dollars. Last year when I heard that Dolly was looking around to expand her park, I had really hoped she was smart enough to not team up with The Gaylord Group. Dolly really is smart but I hope she can come up with someone else to team up with. We have already been told that our fair grounds property was not quite large enough to put in a good size theme so if the so called 50 acres that they are talking about will be used, that only leaves 64 acres for a theme park. Another really big issue that hasn't even been addressed is that nothing at all about this has even gone before the Metro Council yet. That really makes one wonder how many pockets are already being lined. Remember that by are charter the Council Reps. suppositly speak for their constiituants, so all those opposed, state your engins. Let's all speak very loudly.

By: Heat Lightnin on 1/22/12 at 11:35

Roller Coasters would be awesome! Not everyone feels like swimming or getting into a bathing suit... but an amusement park appeals to the whole family.

By: Nitzche on 1/23/12 at 3:04

I hope they price that thing pretty high, even higher on the 1st of every month...wink wink