By Chris Cowan
Rebel Railroad, an “entertainment” park opens on the site in 1961. It
includes a steam train, a general store, a blacksmith shop and a saloon.
1970 – The park
purchased by the Cleveland Browns football organization and renamed
Goldrush Junction. Between 1970 and 1975, several attractions
including: children’s rides, an outdoor theater, a sawmill, a grist mill, a
woodshop, a church, a campground, and log cabins.
1976 – Goldrush Junction
is purchased by Herschend Enterprises and renamed Goldrush.
1977 – The park is
renamed Silver Dollar City.
1980 – A rides area is
added to the park.
Dolly Parton purchases a share of the park. A “groundbreaking” ceremony for
Dollywood is held in
1986 – Dollywood opens
May, 1986. Rivertown Junction, a new theme area, is added. This expansion
includes Smoky Mountain Rampage (a white water rafting ride), “Aunt
Granny’s” restaurant and a 450 seat theater.
another new theme area, is added. This expansion includes the Mountain Slidewinder (a water toboggan ride), the
Daydream Diner, and a children's
area with a playground, toy shop and candy store.
– Celebrity Theatre, which has 1739
1989 – Thunder Express, a
steel mine train roller coaster, is added. This ride was acquired from
Flags Over Mid-America (St. Louis), where it had been in operation as the
River King Mine
Train since 1971.
Station, a children's interactive learning area, is added. This is the first
year for the park’s “Smokey Mountain Christmas” annual event.
1991 – The Eagle Mountain
Sanctuary, an outdoor aviary, is added along with the “Wings of America”
theater. Also new this year was the Valley Theater (400 seats) in the
Craftman’s Valley theme area.
Showstreet, a $6.5
million dollar new theme area, is added. This expansion includes a working
radio station, the Showstreet Palace Theatre (1000 seats), a bakery, the
Backstage Restaurant and the Friendship Gardens, which features over 35,000
flowers and plants.
1993 – The Fun Country
area of the park is renamed Country Fair and includes the Wonder Wheel (ferris
wheel), the Tennessee Twister (tilt-a-whirl) and the Twist & Shout
1994 – The Heartsong
Theatre is added.
a $6 million dollar new theme area, is added. This expansion includes the Rockin’ Roadway (miniature car driving ride), the
Pines Theatre (1000 seats)
and Red’s Diner.
Boulevard, an $8 million dollar new theme area, is added. This expansion
includes Thunder Road (a $5 million dollar movie simulator ride), and a
1997 – No new rides
– Daredevil Falls, a
shoot-the-chute ride, is added. Thunder Express is removed at the end of the
season and is eventually sold to Magic Springs and Crystal Falls in Hot Springs,
Arkansas, where it opened in 2002 as Big Bad John.
1999 – The Tennessee
Tornado, an $8 million dollar Arrow steel looping roller coaster, is added in the
area vacated by Thunder Express. The Southern Gospel Music Association’s
Hall of Fame and Museum is also added. Attendance this year is 2.3
a $5 million dollar, 15,000 square foot interactive area for children, is
added. This section includes a treehouse, bee-hive, water-play area called
Bullfrog Creek and the Ranger’s Cookhouse restaurant.
– Dolly’s Splash
Country, a $20 million dollar, 25-acre water park opens. It is not inside
the main park and admission is not included with a Dollywood ticket. Also
this year, Dollywood welcomes its 30 millionth visitor on July 31, 2001.
Attendance this year is 2 million.
Adventures in Imagination, a $10 million dollar new
theme area, is added. This section includes the Smoky Mountain Wilderness
Adventure, a 4-D movie simulator ride, Chasing Rainbows, an interactive
museum featuring Dolly Parton memorabilia and a fully operational donut
factory. From 1986 through 2002, $110 million dollars is invested in
The Mountain Slidewinder and parts of
Dreamland Forest are closed after a fire causes damages to both areas on
Thunderhead Gap, a
new theme area, is added.
Thunderhead (GCI wooden roller coaster with
Millennium Flyer trains) is added.