Dolly Dreams Big with DreamMore Resort
This was the first time I’d ever seen Dolly in person and I made sure I had charged my camera’s battery the night before. Unfortunately, I didn’t check to see that it actually worked the camera, and just before the conference was about to begin, I discovered my camera would not turn on. I almost fainted with the disappointment I shared with my neighbor. A lady in front of me heard, took pity and promised to send me some of her shots. Thanks to Gaylen Carpenter with Smoky Mountain Heartsong, I have evidence of this experience – she was definitely my angel of the day!
And Dolly herself – what can I say? Her beloved icon is the butterfly and you’ll see them all over the park. I remember thinking when she walked on stage, “Wow, she really does evoke the spirit of butterflies when she walks into a room!” Her bubbly enthusiasm is positively contagious. But she was much more petite and delicate than I had thought – and my next thought was, “How does she even walk in those high heels?!”
But here’s where the symbolic breaking ground shovel came into play (and I positively love the name):
A planned $300 million, 10 year project on 100 acres just north of Splash Country.
The resort is set to open in 2015, timed to coincide with the park’s 30th anniversary. It will feature 300 rooms and will include fire pits, swings & hammocks, along with story spots scattered throughout the grounds, as an “iconic Southern gathering spot.” The resort will also feature an indoor/outdoor pool complex, a spa, and a full service farmhouse-style restaurant.
From her Media Release:
“This is the realization of a dream I’ve had for more than 30 years,” Parton said. “My DreamMore Resort conjures up thoughts of a simpler place and time when Mama and Daddy and all us kids spent hours on end just swapping stories and catching up. I want to offer families more than a place to stay; I want to invite them on the porch and in my front door where they can slow down, kick back and enjoy all that this beautiful area has to offer.”
She also talked about her own planned 2,200 square foot “Dolly’s Suite Dreams” suite with decor inspired by Dolly herself. “When I’m not there, people can stay in it… it’s a huge space on the top floor with other rooms that can open into it. You can almost have a whole family reunion!”
Here’s the video of the entire press conference:
I was impressed with all the planned resort rooms and amenities, but as a fulltime RVer, I’d still rather sleep in my own bed, so of course I asked about plans for accommodations for RVs (you can hear that question and her response at 40:54).
“I’m pretty sure we’ll have to accommodate people with a campground or something around here. There are a lot of great campgrounds in the area…until we get something like that in place, there are wonderful places around where you can park your RVs…hopefully that will be part of our expansion at the resort.”
That drew an approving yell, so hopefully it will be included at some point. She described herself as a Gypsy with a love of travel and also told of her front porch being “my favorite place to dream my big dreams as a kid.”
Here’s a link to a video on the resort with Dolly’s sweet singing (1:25 min.)
Ever humble, I appreciated her self-deprecating humor when introduced as being genuine and real:
“I don’t know about that genuine and real part, but I’m as good as I can be.”
And on the style/decor of the resort:
“It’s going to be so tastefully done… will manage to keep that southern flavor and down home feel. I like to think of myself as a downtown, uptown, backwoods Barbie kinda girl… It’s got more taste than I do – they wouldn’t want my style in there because I don’t have good taste…”
She called herself a Gypsy with a love of travel and also filled us in on the question, “What have I been up to?” Laughingly, she said, “About 115 pounds now, I think.”
One busy lady, she just finished a new CD that will be coming out toward the end of the year, along with a planned multi-country tour.
After the conference, I spent the rest of the day at Dollywood and was able to ride some rides that I hadn’t been able to during my first visit. Malia’s Miles page on that. Wait till you see me on the Tennessee Tornado and the Wild Eagle – what a blast!
One of the first phases of the project will be the FireChaser Express, expected to open in March, 2014:
This will be the nation’s first dual launch family coaster, traveling forward and backward on a winding 2,427-foot track. The coaster launches from the loading station traveling from zero to 20 miles-per-hour in 1.1 seconds. As the journey ends, a backward launch from zero to 20 miles-per-hour sends the coaster back to the starting point!
Dolly loves a back story, and this ride is meant to celebrate the volunteer-based fire departments of the 1940s who protected the neighboring Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Dolly said it’s truly special to her because families can ride this coaster together:
“Little kids about 4 years old can ride. I wanted to create a family experience where kids can say, “I rode my first roller coaster at Dollywood!”
I got a kick out of her comment:
“I never ride the rides, you know, and I certainly ain’t going to ride the FireChaser Express. I told them I couldn’t afford to get my hair or my bra on fire – it would take 4 days to put that out!”
Update March 21, 2014: Fire Chaser is open!
It was great to see Dolly as she hosted the festivities and sang “Great Balls of Fire!” Lots of cute firemen around, too, as they were the first riders as it launched “from zero to hero in 1.1 seconds” – it really is a fun ride and I had yet another great day at Dollywood. Can’t wait to see DreamMore!
Update April 2, 2014:
Today the site was blessed, including a traditional Native American smudging in keeping with the resort’s close ties to the land in the Smoky Mountains.
Here’s a rendering of some of the porches filled with rocking (“dream”) chairs, alongside the stunning two-story architectural window focal point in the rear.
The resort’s lobby features a three-story window that will frame a magnificent view of Mt. LeConte in the distance.
Dolly unveiled the first four personal items of hers to be included in the Dream Box display to be shared with guests, about which Dolly said, “My new resort is a dream 30 years in the making, and the items I picked for my Dream Box are closely tied to special people who encouraged me and certain events in my life where that encouragement paid off.”
Inspiration could be Dolly’s middle name and since that word is such an important one to me, I really look forward to seeing this dream become reality, scheduled for opening in the summer of 2015!