Dolly doesn’t mention Destin as she rolls out expansion

Matt Algarin
Dolly Parton speaks during a news conference to announce plans to expand her Dollywood properties on Wednesday in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Parton said she is going to invest $300 million over the next 10 years in a project that includes a 300-room resort and a dual-launch coaster currently under construction in Dollywood.

When Dolly Parton announced a $300 million upgrade to her Pigeon Forge, Tenn., theme park Wednesday, there was no mention of expanding into Destin.

The country music star had been teasing a "big announcement" for days leading up to Wednesday's event, which was live-streamed over the internet.

Since a grouping of four parcels along Commons Drive, Henderson Beach Drive and U.S. Hwy. 98 were purchased by Parton-affiliated World Choice Investments in December 2012, there has been no shortage of speculation that Dolly was coming to Destin.

A message for Pete Owens, public relations director for the Dollywood companies, wasn't returned by press time.

In the past, representatives from Dollywood have been tight-lipped on the future of the parcels, only telling The Log that "We are currently evaluating the Destin market and, as well as, other family destination markets."

Although "no specific timeline has been set," demolition permits were issued through both the city of Destin and county offices back in April. County Planner Marissa Martinez said the permit was filed on behalf of William G. Yates of Yates Construction. The permit expires in October.

The Dollywood Company operates the Dixie Stampede and Pirate's Voyage dinner theaters in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Branson, Mo.

But when Parton took the stage, complete with a Dollywood-inspired set, Destin never came up, as she spoke to a jam-packed crowd that was buzzing with excitement.

“This is a very special day because my dreams are about to come true,” Parton was quoted as saying in a story from Knoxvillenews.com.

As part of the 10-year, $300 million expansion of Dollywood, a 300-room resort named DreamMore will be constructed. The resort is expected to open in summer 2015, and will include a spa, swimming pool, and shuttles to the theme park.

A new rollercoaster called the Fire Chaser Express was also announced as part of the expansion efforts and should be thrilling riders by 2014.