Big Bear Mountain Set for May Debut at Dollywood

March 10, 2023, 4:43 PM · Dollywood's Big Bear Mountain family coaster will open in May, Dolly Parton announced today at the media kick-off for the park's 2023 season.

At $25 million, the 3,990-foot, multi-launch Vekoma family coaster in Wildwood Grove will be the largest single attraction investment in Dollywood's history. It also will be the first coaster at Dollywood with on-board audio.

The coaster features a top speed of 48 mph and a height requirement of just 39 inches. And it also comes with an elaborate backstory about Ned Oakley and his Smoky Mountain Adventure Outpost, from which he hopes to solve the mystery of the Big Bear. You can read more about Ned in our post, Why Backstories Matter on Theme Park Attractions.

Dollywood's other big addition for 2023 will be a second hotel, Dollywood’s HeartSong Lodge & Resort. Dolly announced today that bookings will open in June for stays beginning in November at the 302-room property.

Dollywood today also revealed more information about its new attraction for 2024, The Dolly Parton Experience. This new showcase for Dolly's career will take over the area surrounding and including the former Chasing Rainbows museum. Here is a preview, courtesy the park.

Dollywood is kicking off its 2023 season with the I Will Always Love You Celebration, honoring the 50th anniversary of Dolly's multi-charting hit, running tomorrow through April 8. (Yes, Dolly recorded the song long before Whitney Houston did.) The festival will feature a Celebrity Concert Series in DP’s Celebrity Theater, including Natalie Grant (March 11), Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder (March 18), Jo Dee Messina (March 25), Larry, Steve & Rudy: The Gatlin Brothers (April 1), and Lauren Alaina (April 8). All concerts are included with park admission.

For a replay of Dolly's presentation at the park today, including her live performance of "I Will Always Love You," please visit Dollywood's Facebook page. [Her performance starts at 07:30.]

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