Dolly Parton announces water coaster coming to Splash Country

Dolly Parton appears as "Splash Woman" Saturday as Dollywood's Splash Country announces the addition of a new attraction. RiverRush will be almost 1,200 feet long, going as high as four stories with four drops, opening in May 2013. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess, ©KNS/2012 // Buy this photo

Dolly Parton appears as "Splash Woman" Saturday as Dollywood's Splash Country announces the addition of a new attraction. RiverRush will be almost 1,200 feet long, going as high as four stories with four drops, opening in May 2013. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

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Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess, ©KNS/2012

Swim suit-clad families crowded together next to Bear Mountain Fire Tower in Dollywood's Splash Country waterpark on Saturday to see Dolly Parton herself.

Parton was there to announce plans to build Tennessee's first water coaster, RiverRush, at Splash Country.

RiverRush will combine rushing water with a hydromagnetic coaster to create a thrilling water ride with tight twists and turns, dark tunnels and plunging drops.

The track of the water coaster will be 1,175 feet long and stand four stories tall.

"You know me. I love making a big splash, and RiverRush is all that and a whole lot more," Parton said.

Riders will sit four to a toboggan-style boat propelled by a high-speed conveyor belt. The boats will climb 237 feet in the air in preparation for a 25-foot 45-degree angle drop.

Parton on Saturday dressed the part: Wearing a sparkly blue suit and red cape, Parton's character was "Splash Woman," and she didn't disappoint with her entrance.

"Anyone need to cool off?" she asked the audience after riding onto the stage in a raft and squirting a water gun in the air.

"She was very flashy, very 'Dolly-ish,'" said Nancy Heinrich of Maryville.

She and her family have been to Dollywood parks seven times, and she said they were glad to finally get to see Parton.

Parton performed a short skit with 10 kids from the East Tennessee area, in which "Splash Man" was seeking more adventure in his life and "Splash Woman" was able to help by unveiling the new ride.

Tom Sayres of Knoxville watched his grandson Mason Myers, 9, up on stage. The children in the skit were dubbed "Splash Kids" and got their own capes and T-shirts.

"RiverRush is the product of the next generation of water coasters, and we are thrilled that Dollywood's Splash Country will be home to Tennessee's first and only water coaster for families to enjoy," said Amy Owenby, vice president of waterparks.

Dollywood opened 12 seasons ago and has added four new rides to its parks since 2006. RiverRush is expected to open in May 2013.

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