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Dolly Parton Expanding Dollywood

(Taste of Country) – Dolly Parton is not afraid to dream big — really big. The country music icon just announced a $300 million expansion of her Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., which will make it even more of a must-see attraction.

“It’s gonna be a big deal,” Parton tells ‘TODAY.’ The humongous 10-year project will boast a new “family” roller coaster for 2014, with a resort hotel to follow in 2015. All of the add-ons that the expansion provides will create thousands of jobs in the area, and the superstar couldn’t be happier.

“I’m so excited … this has been a dream from the very beginning,” Parton shares. “It’s got a Southern flair, but it’s done very classy.”

“The thing we’re most excited about is finally building our resort,” she furthers. That resort will include family-sized accommodations with “front porch spaces,” inspired by the places people used to congregate when Parton was growing up. There will also be a fishing pond, grills for cooking out and lemonade served in the lobby — a true Southern experience.

Although Dollywood is now a tremendous success, Parton opened it against the advice of her lawyers and accountant, way back in 1986. “I said, ‘well, I’m gonna do it anyway, because I know that it’s the right thing to do in my gut,” she dishes. The park had its biggest year yet in 2012.

Her gut led her in the right direction — and also told her not to be involved in the creation of a Nashville water park last year. Although her reasoning was vague, one thing’s sure: Parton will always follow her heart, which is why fans love her so much.

Parton teased fans leading up to the exciting expansion announcement with clues on her Dollywood website, periodically releasing words like “ultimate,” “beautiful” and “thrilling” — promising her “biggest announcement ever.” More details regarding the whopping project will come soon, and we can’t wait to hear what’s next for Dollywood.

As for the 67-year-old star, she’s committed to making as many of her dreams come true as possible, saying, “I feel like I’m just startin’…I’m still trying to grow and come up with new dreams every day and make ‘em come true.”

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Melissa Lambrecht

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