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Dollywood partnering in new Nashville theme park

By Joe Sutton, CNN
updated 11:23 PM EST, Thu January 19, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dollywood, Gaylord Entertainment launching new theme park in Nashville
  • Phase I will be a water and snow park for "family entertainment," Parton tells CNN
  • The project will create 450 full- and part-time jobs, Parton says

(CNN) -- Country music legend Dolly Parton on Thursday announced her company is in a partnership to open a new theme park in Nashville.

The new 50/50 joint venture between Gaylord Entertainment Co. and Dollywood will be developed on a 114-acre site for a family entertainment zone across from the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Convention Center.

Phase I of the $50 million project will be a water and snow park. Groundbreaking is anticipated late this year or in early 2013, with the park's opening slated for summer of 2014.

Parton, who turned 66 on Thursday, told CNN's Brooke Baldwin that "we are going to be bringing more family entertainment into Nashville."

The Dollywood company will serve as the project's operating partner and will employ 450 full- and part-time employees, Parton said.

The park will provide a mix of high-energy water activities for the summer season and designated snow activities for winter play. The first-year attendance is projected to be a half-million.

The park will be similar to the Snow Mountain attraction at Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta, according to CNN affiliate WKRN.

"Tourism is the second-largest industry in Tennessee, generating more than a billion dollars in tax revenue annually and employing more than 170,000 Tennesseans," Gov. Bill Haslam said in a statement. "This project will be a welcome addition to the wide variety of attractions and destinations across our great state, and I applaud the collaboration and spirit that has led to this announcement."

"We are thrilled by the prospect of bringing to Nashville a family focused entertainment center with one of the pre-eminent theme park owners and operators in the country," said Colin V. Reed, chairman and chief executive officer, for Gaylord Entertainment.

An additional 35 acres will be reserved for future developments.

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