SEVIERVILLE — Wilderness at the Smokies announced a $40 million expansion and renovation project in recognition of the resort’s upcoming 15th anniversary in 2023.
The expansion is the largest in the resort’s history and includes adding 40,000 square feet to their Wild WaterDome indoor waterpark with a new water coaster and lazy river among the added amenities.
“Whether you’re a thrill seeker that wants the coaster experience or you want to relax in our lazy river, we have something for you. Also, we have both indoor and outdoor spaces depending on what you prefer,” said Pete Tennis, managing director for Wilderness at the Smokies.
Switchback Mountain is a three-story water coaster featuring three steep drops, uphill blasts, high speeds and the premier of the world’s first slide with Reverse AquaLucent effects with colorful, spellbinding patterns. These special tubes will also allow light to filter through, adding brightness to the Wild WaterDome.
“Switchback Mountain is guaranteed to be amazing! To get riders’ adrenaline pumping, the water coaster will begin with a heart-pounding 22-foot drop at 29 mph before propelling the riders up into a right hairpin turn inside the first Reverse AquaLucent section,” Tennis said.
“A second drop will follow into an open flume, followed by an uphill blast into a sharp left turn inside another Reverse AquaLucent tube with different patterns. For thrill’s sake, the coaster will repeat a third time into a final set of patterns inside another Reverse AquaLucent tube. To round out the sensations, riders will loop through a dark tube before finishing in an open flume.”
The waterpark expansion will also include Forbidden Caverns Lazy River, featuring an immersive tunnel experience complete with LED color changing kaleidoscope lighting, mirrors and projections.
Finally, the resort will be taking advantage of the waterpark’s expanded rooftop by adding Lookout Lagoon, a rooftop pool with a glass edge. This area will also be home to the Peak Rooftop Bar and Grill, three rooftop cabanas and entertainment stage area.
The resort will be adding 500 seats to the waterpark, six additional cabanas on the mezzanine level of the park and nine additional cabanas on the main level. Seating was among the items guests requested.
Preparation for the expansion began in August. The project is anticipated to be complete by fall 2023.
Tennis said they are going to make sure the guests’ experience is disrupted as little as possible during renovations.
“We will focus on minimizing the disruption to our guests. We are replacing our current Magnolia Grove hot tub with the lazy river, and there will be some deck space disturbed during construction,” Tennis said. “To offset the loss of seating, we will bring in a different type of lounger for our wave pool beach. Overall, the seating capacity will stay the same or even improve during construction.”
In addition to the waterpark expansion, the resort is adding an indoor suspended Cloud Coaster to its Adventure Forest.
The new Rocky Top Glider is designed to interact with the Adventure’s Forest’s other attractions such as the mini golf, mini bowling and ropes course. It will have a track length at approximately 400 linear feet with two lift hills, soaring riders high in the sky. The award-winning family coaster will be mostly suspended in the Adventure Forest’s ceiling, reducing the amount of necessary structure needed for operation. A raised platform will launch riders at a starting height of 18 feet with maximum heights of approximately 25 feet in the air.
The cloud coaster will be the first of its kind in Tennessee. Only eight other versions of it exist in the world.
Guests who are at least 40 inches in height will be able to ride the new attraction. The maximum ride weight will be 250 pounds per seat. Construction for the project is anticipated to be completed by Spring 2023. The Adventure Forest will remain open during the construction.
The resort is also adding an eight-person XD theater to Adventure Forest, offering what they called an unparalleled, multi-sensory, immersive experience by combining 3D stereoscopic graphics and visual effects.
It will be completed in fall 2022.
The resort’s Thirsty Miner restaurant will also be receiving a makeover, as well as a new name. The 5,000 square foot space will be converted into a family friendly food hall named Camp Social with a summer camp theme.
Within Camp Social, guests will be able to enjoy: The Burger Bar, a full‐service bar that will also serve up a small menu of great burgers and fresh fried chips; Tacolicious, which will serve delicious tacos, nachos, taco bowls and the famous walking taco; Lily’s Campsite Pizza Bakery, which will offer giant slices, as well as whole pizzas, breadsticks and large soft pretzels; Coffee Canteen, serving Starbucks coffee, teas, smoothies, and doughnuts and a Breakfast Buffet that will serve up hearty breakfasts, from French toast to scrambled eggs and much more.
There will also be a TV/video wall, where patrons can watch sporting events and will also feature an area for classic yard games to keep the young ones busy.
Camp Social will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hours are not yet decided.
The restaurant is set to be open in time for the 2022 Christmas season.
Grizzly’s Grill in the WaterDome will also be getting a makeover in 2023 and Molly’s Shake Shoppe, serving up ice cream mixed in a shake with crazy flavors and toppings, will be added in 2023 as well.
Finally, the resort is building 12, three-bedroom villas which sleep up to 12 people and are more than 2,600 square feet that will be available to rent starting in early 2023.
Each unit will be 2,600 square feet and will be fully furnished. They will also include an electric fireplace, game room with pool table and view overlooking Sevierville Golf Course.
For more information about Wilderness at the Smokies, visit WildernessattheSmokies.com or call 877-325-9453.