NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Dolly Parton says that God works in mysterious ways.
In this case, she implies that God took away her once-proposed Nashville snow and water park to give her more time to devote to an even more significant project -- a 10-year, $300 million expansion to her Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
On Wednesday, Parton announced plans for the expansion, which will include the addition the FireChaser Express, a family-friendly roller coaster, to the park in 2014 and the opening of Parton's 300-room, 100-acre Dollywood's DreamMore Resort in the summer of 2015.
The Country Music Hall of Famer says she's dreamed about opening a resort on the theme park grounds since she attached her name to it 28 years ago.
The fact that the deal for the planned $50 million local snow and water park that she was set to build with Gaylord Entertainment Co. fell apart last fall, meant that she could devote her attention to her DreamMore Resort. Parton withdrew her involvement in the snow and water park when Gaylord sold management rights for its Opryland Resort & Convention Center to Marriott International.
"This actually worked out better," Parton said in a phone call from Dollywood after the announcement of the expansion. "At least we can totally focus on this. It would have been great if (the snow and water park) could have happened and some day down the line, I'll do something in Nashville. God does have his ways."
Parton said ground will be broken on the DreamMore complex, which will be located adjacent to Dollywood Splash Country, in the next few days. In less than two years, Parton will see a resort hotel lobby with a three-story window that frames nearby Mount LeConte, rocking chair porches will line the exterior, and guests will be able to book a grand suite decked out in fabric that the country singer personally picked out.
"They wanted to base (the resort) on what people perceive me to be, the country girl that's made good but still loves being home," said Parton. "We definitely wanted to keep it with a down-home atmosphere, but we wanted it to have some class and some glamor. ... It is a lot of fun. It is the ultimate dollhouse -Dolly's dollhouse."
The resort is being built on land Dollywood already owned, along with an additional 20 acres the park recently purchased. And even after it's complete, Parton says Dollywood still has plenty of room to grow.
Dollywood Co. president Craig Ross said that in the next 10 years, the company will have spent more on the theme park than has been spent since it was branded as Dollywood in 1986.
The plan includes multiple additional resorts on park property, as well as more rides and shows.
"It's the bigger scope of these attractions that we'll be adding that's different," Ross said.
According to Dollywood, about 80 percent of poll respondents who'd never visited the park before said that having a resort on the property would be important to them in deciding whether to visit in the future.
Parton, in conjunction with Herschend Family Entertainment, which manages the park, had planned to announce the addition of a resort several years ago but the project had to be delayed because of the recession. She said the initial plans for the resort evolved over the years and the extra time only allowed them to improve the product.
"The timing felt great and when the resort opens in the summer of 2015, it's going to be our 30th anniversary," she said. "We couldn't have a nicer present."
Contributing: The Associated Press
Cindy Watts, The (Nashville) Tennessean