Dolly Parton says Nashville theme park on hold - WKRN News 2

Dolly Parton says Nashville theme park on hold

Posted: Updated: Aug 10, 2012 09:14 PM

Dolly Parton said Friday morning that her proposed Nashville water theme park is "kind of in a holding pattern right now."

During a news conference celebrating her latest gold record through Cracker Barrel, the legendary singer and businesswoman was asked about the theme park venture with Gaylord Entertainment and Metro Nashville, which drew national attention in January when she was a major part of the announcement.

When asked about the progress, Parton took a deep breath and then said, "Well, that is a kind of... we are working on it, that's kind of in a holding pattern right now."

"There are a lot of changes going on, I am not really sure.  We are still working on that," she added before taking an unrelated question.

When another reporter asked about her role in the theme park, Parton said, "Gaylord is actually involved at the moment with some changes of their own, so we are just kind of waiting until they get their things straightened out before we go forward with that."

Then, with her characteristic smile, Parton reminded reporters that "nothing has ever been signed yet," and "[I] won't put my name on it, won't be involved, unless it's exactly right for me and everyone else, so let's hope it works."

In a written statement, officials from Dollywood added, "The Dollywood Company continues to work on the Nashville water and snow park and the final agreements while Gaylord works its way through some changes. Both Dollywood and Gaylord are working to get this project done for the Nashville market."

In May, Gaylord announced a huge company restructuring where Marriott would run its hotel properties.

Last week, the company informed 310 employees their positions are being eliminated pending shareholder approval of the company's reorganization.

In a statement, Brian Abrahamson, Vice President of Corporate Communications for Gaylord Entertainment, said, "Our company is 100% committed to the Dollywood water/snow park project."

The proposed park would be a big boost for the Nashville economy and Mayor Karl Dean would undoubtedly like to see the project moves forward.

"This project would be good for Nashville, and we hope it moves forward.  Of course, any city involvement is dependent upon the developer meeting certain performance requirements described in the ordinance," he said in a statement released late Friday afternoon.

Businesses near the proposed site of the theme park were troubled to hear the project could be in jeopardy.

Laura Lawrence, director of sales for the Holiday Inn Express, located at 2461 McGavock Pike, was at the Grand Ole Opry for the announcement in January.

"Naturally we were very excited and I think everyone thought it was long overdue," she said. "It just seems with the overwhelming excitement when the announcement was made it just seems like it would be the right thing to do no matter who does it."

The Holiday Inn's general manager Gerald Russell said the influx of people the theme park would bring would be a great boost for the area surrounding the Gaylord Opryland Resort.

"If they have a big convention we get a lot of overflow from that," he said. "Having another attraction, other than Opry Mills, would drive that much more market share out here."

Caney Fork River Valley Grille Managing Partner John Davis was also looking forward to the theme park opening.

The restaurant is across McGavock Pike from Opryland Hotel and Resort and across Briley Parkway from the proposed theme park's site.

"It was just pure excitement not only for us at the restaurant but for the surrounding businesses," he said. "What it meant was year round business and not just seasonal."

The theme park would be open year round. It was also slated to employ 450 full-and part-time employees.

"It is disappointment, certainly I am hoping it goes the other way," he said.

Both the Holiday Inn Express and Caney Fork River Valley Grille said if the theme park does not come to fruition, Metro-Nashville officials should find another attraction for the 114 acres of land.

"I am not saying that it is not coming, but if it didn't come the city should look at this area, because this area has always been thriving," Davis said.

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