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Nestled in the heart of Pigeon Forge, Wildwood Grove is the newest and largest expansion to the beloved Dollywood theme park, including the newest ride Big Bear Mountain!
This enchanting addition transports visitors to a magical woodland filled with whimsical creatures, lush greenery, and mesmerizing attractions.
This is one of our family’s favorite areas of the park, and as we take a look at this neat expansion, it’s easy to see why Wildwood Grove has quickly become a must-see destination for families seeking memorable experiences in the Smoky Mountains.
As the first new area added to Dollywood since Wilderness Pass in 2008, Wildwood Grove has greatly extended the park’s footprint. Spread across six acres, this expansion offers an immersive world wherein children and parents alike can explore, imagine, and play together.
With many different themed attractions, Wildwood Grove truly has something for everyone – from high-flying rides to tranquil spots by the creek. So join us as we take you through this area that has something for all ages.
Wildwood Grove Attractions and Rides
At Wildwood Grove, the Treetop Tower is a great easy ride for even the smallest in the family. Guests can climb aboard and get a bird’s-eye view as they spin around slowly on this unique ride. Surrounded by giant acorns, you’ll feel like you are part of the forest canopy.
Our kids all enjoy this ride as it’s slow and allows all ages to ride. It’s a bit tight getting in and out as an adult as we have longer legs, but it’s fun for the kids and you do get a great view of the park. We just call this ride the “Acorns”.
Great Tree Swing
We’re excited to introduce the Great Tree Swing, a fantastic attraction that soars through the heart of Wildwood Grove. This giant tree swing offers a thrilling experience for the whole family, as it gently swings back and forth, almost like a pendulum. As you ride, you’ll enjoy picturesque views of the park’s beautiful landscape.
This is really one of our favorite rides in the park, and even smaller kids can ride (you must be 36″ tall and our boys were that tall around age 3). It does go pretty high so at some times our younger ones wouldn’t ride because they were scared, but they all love it now (the youngest is 5 at the time of this writing).
If you enjoy those pirate ship rides at the fairs, this is the same type ride where it swings back and forth and you get that fun feeling in the pit of your stomach. Definitely one of Mom’s favorites!
Another great attraction at Wildwood Grove is the Mad Mockingbird. This charming ride takes you around in circles as you fly in a bird-themed cart.
This is also a good ride for smaller kids as riders only have to be 36″ to ride, but must ride with someone 14 or older if they are under 48″.
Our youngest really loves that you can change the flight path of the bird slightly by turning the handle (you can see him holding it in the photo above). This makes you either face more out to the sky or more towards the ground and is great for blowing Mom’s hair around. lol
Hidden Hollow is an enchanting indoor, climate-controlled area that provides a calm retreat from the park’s bustling atmosphere. Inside, you’ll find indoor playground activities for visitors of all ages. Whether you’re looking for a quiet place to relax or a fun activity to join, Hidden Hollow offers something for everyone.
This is a wonderful place to stop and rest because it’s cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Not shown in my photo is the toddler’s area, but they have a nice place for the smaller ones, too.
Another thing you can’s see in this pic is the nice seating area for adults, which is a welcome rest after you are on your feet for so long.
Black Bear Trail
On the Black Bear trail, you can hop on the back of a friendly bear and ride along the beautiful backwoods of Wildwood Grove. This family of bears is eager to take you on an exciting adventure through their enchanting forest home. This new attraction is perfect for families looking to create lasting memories together.
This is also great for smaller kids as they can ride with an adult starting at 36″ tall. Once they reach around 42″ they can ride solo (like our little guy above).
Frogs and Fireflies
This is another ride that is wonderful for kids of all ages. Very young children can ride the Frogs and Fireflies and parents can ride, too!
This ride gently “jumps” up and down as it goes around in a slow circle. The kids have a blast and we always hit this ride for the younger ones (and even the older ones ride every once in a while!).
The Dragonflier is a great roller coaster that is a good starter roller coaster for younger ones. It has a very low minimum height at 39″ and only lasts a minute.
My kids love it because they say it has “fighter jet turns” but it doesn’t go upside down or anything scary and they love that. It’s a great one to start out with in the park.
We wrote a whole post about the Dragonflier and you can find it here!
Big Bear Mountain
This is the one ride in the park we don’t have personal experience with because it just opened in March 2023!
This is a family coaster that is the longest track in the park. Everything I’ve seen says it’s gentle and we can’t wait to ride the next time we go… I’ll be sure to update this post then!
Until we get back to East TN (we live in Nashville), check out the video above for a rider’s perspective of the new coaster!
Overall, the Wildwood Grove expansion brings fresh, exciting experiences to Dollywood, offering new attractions and rides that cater to a wide array of visitors.
Besides the Country Fair area of the park, this is the area with the most rides for smaller kids, so we’ve spent a fair amount of time here.
The only other thing that they have that I have not listed is an area to rest in the middle of the Grove. In hot weather they turn on a little splash pad area and there are instruments set up they can “play”.
Park and Expansion History
Dollywood, a famous amusement park nestled in East Tennessee, has a rich history. Since its inception, the park has been synonymous with offering smoky mountain-themed family-friendly coasters and attractions. Their journey began as a small local park and evolved into the renowned destination it is today.
As we trace the park’s history, we can appreciate just how far it’s come. We started out with humble beginnings, but today Dollywood is a household name. Over the past few decades, our park has grown tremendously, with expansions catering to guests of all ages. We are proud of the story of this beautiful area and its evolution into a major attraction.
I remember visiting when Dollywood was Silver Dollar City, so I’ve been going to Dollywood for a very long time (it became Dollywood in 1986!).
Wildwood Grove is not only the largest expansion in park history but also adds a whole new section of the park for families to explore. It embodies all the enchanting magic of the smoky mountain landscape, drawing inspiration from local lore and nature.
The focal point of Wildwood Grove is the dazzling 52-foot-tall Wildwood Tree. Its intricate design and vibrant colors pay homage to the east Tennessee spirit, capturing the essence of our beloved mountains in a unique and artistic way. Surrounded by family-friendly rides and immersive experiences, the tree brings our new Wildwood Grove to life.
As part of the Wildwood Grove expansion, they also added the Mountain Grove Merchants, a collection of unique shops and eateries, further enhancing the enchanting atmosphere of the area. With this new addition, guests can discover delightful souvenirs, indulge in delicious treats, and create lasting memories.
Dolly Parton’s Inspiration
We can’t talk about Wildwood Grove without mentioning the story behind its creation. Dolly Parton herself shared the inspiration for this unique theme park during an early morning media event. Drawing from memories of her childhood, Dolly’s dreams played a significant role in the development of Wildwood Grove.
As we know, Dolly Parton grew up in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. It was there that she discovered the beauty of nature and the magic of her surroundings. These experiences are an essential aspect of Wildwood Grove, where visitors can experience a mystical forest, complete with enchanting creatures and thrilling rides.
In fact, the Wildwood Grove estate is a reflection of Dolly’s childhood dreams of playing and exploring in the woods with her siblings. The park’s design creates an atmosphere where families can enjoy the same sense of wonder and adventure she once did.
Throughout the park, visitors can find whimsical touches that pay homage to Dolly’s upbringing. For example, her family’s influence can be seen in the replica of her mother’s sewing machine and the featured show “My People, My Music,” an authentic look at the singer’s family and their musical talents.
We hope this gives you a glimpse into the heartwarming story behind the creation of Wildwood Grove. So, when you visit, take a moment to appreciate the love poured into this park by Dolly Parton and let your own childhood dreams come to life.
Our visits to Wildwood Grove are always a delightful experience for our whole family. Nestled in the hills of the Smoky Mountains, this charming village within the Dollywood theme park feels like a great new place to explore and enjoy some quality time together. We often head to this part of the park first thing!
When you enter the area, you’ll notice the beautiful landscaping that changes depending upon the festival going on. We’ve shared two of the pictures we’ve taken at different times of the year (the Harvest Festival and Smoky Mountain Christmas). This section of the park has plenty of shady spots to relax, and you can catch a rest in Hidden Hollow when you need to.
This part of the amusement park offers several rides and attractions catering to various age groups (all discussed above), each with clear signage mentioning the minimum height requirement.
For visitors who are interested in the thrill of roller coasters, the Wildwood Grove website provides a comprehensive list of rides and height requirements to help plan your day.
Our personal favorite was the Dragonflier, a suspended coaster that winds through the terrain in a twisting, unpredictable path, allowing us to experience the sensation of flying like a dragonfly.
In addition to the rides, there were many other activities to keep everyone entertained. One such experience was:
- Hidden Hollow: A unique, interactive space where families can get in touch with nature in a safe and engaging environment.
We also enjoyed the special events that occurred throughout the day. From live music performances to storytelling sessions, these events added an extra touch of magic to our visit. We would highly recommend checking the park’s event schedule to make the most of your time at Wildwood Grove.
Despite it usually being a bit busy at the park, the staff are extremely friendly and helpful – always ready to assist or provide information when needed. They definitely contribute to making a visit a memorable one.
We are already planning our return trip to Wildwood Grove because we love this area so much. With its unique blend of natural beauty, thrilling rides, and family-centered activities, it’s easy to see why Wildwood Grove has become a must-visit destination within the Dollywood theme park.
Dining and Shopping Options
At Wildwood Grove, they offer a few dining and shopping options. One of our favorite places to grab a meal is at the Till and Harvest restaurant, located at the front of the area.
Here, you’ll find a delicious menu featuring fresh vegetables and a perfect blend of Smoky Mountain flavors. Sit back and enjoy your meal on the open-air patio, where you can take in the beautiful scenery and embrace a perfect way to unwind after exploring the park.
For those looking to satisfy their sweet tooth, we recommend visiting the charming Smoky Mountain-themed sweet shop by Till and Harvest. Here, you’ll find an assortment of mouthwatering confections that are sure to delight your taste buds.
Don’t forget to also stop by Mountain Grove Merchants (mentioned above), where you can browse through the perfect gift for yourself or loved ones, showcasing the biggest expansion around Wildwood Grove.
Additionally, you can explore many other dining options throughout the nearby areas of the park, each offering their unique take on scrumptious food and warm hospitality. We’re sure you’ll find something to love at each stop!
The dining and shopping options at Wildwood Grove provide something for everyone, ensuring that your visit is a complete and enjoyable experience. So, don’t hesitate to check out all that it has to offer, and have a fantastic time exploring all the unique flavors and treasures available in this Smoky Mountain getaway!
Entertainment and Activities
At Wildwood Grove, we have a variety of exciting entertainment and activities to choose from.
We understand that everyone has their own favorite thing to do at Wildwood Grove, and that’s why there is such a variety of experiences to cater to all interests. Some guests love exploring the indoor play areas, filled with fun and immersive climbing structures, while others enjoy spending time on the more thrilling rides and attractions.
A unique nighttime experience awaits at Wildwood Grove, where the majestic Wildwood Tree creates a magical atmosphere by illuminating with beautiful lights and animations. As night falls, this one-of-a-kind spectacle is sure to enchant and amaze all who witness it.
Whether you’re seeking an adrenaline-pumping roller coaster ride or a place to relax and explore with your loved ones, Wildwood Grove offers something for everyone, creating a truly unforgettable experience for the whole family.
Final Thoughts on Wildwood Grove
Overall, I can truly say that this is one of our favorite areas of the park. Even though our oldest son is ready to ride the big coasters the minute he steps into the park, he still loves the Dragonflier and can’t wait to try Big Bear Mountain.
If you have very small children, plan on spending most of your time here and at the Country Fair. You can check out our Dollywood toddler ride guide here.
I hope you’ll visit Dollywood soon. It truly is a wonderful, clean, friendly place and we go every chance we get!