[Ed. note: The following is an unedited press release. -J]
PIGEON FORGE, Tenn.–Dolly Parton and Herschend Family Entertainment (HFE) President Joel Manby yesterday announced the promotion of longtime employee Ken Bell to President of the Dollywood Company.
The Dollywood Company includes the 150-acre Dollywood theme park and the 35-acre Dollywood’s Splash Country water park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. The Dollywood Company also is majority stockholder in the Dixie Stampede Company, of which Parton is also a partner.
“I am so proud of Ken. His leadership, new ideas and down home good sense are such an important role in the success of The Dollywood Company,” Parton said. “He focuses on treating our guests and our employees with heart and hospitality, and that is what makes Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country such great places that just keep on growing!”
Since 2001, the Dollywood parks have invested more than $70 million in expansions and increased their annual attendance by approximately one million guests. Over the same period, Dollywood was named Park of the Year by Amusement Today magazine. It has twice been the most- honored park at the industry’s Golden Ticket Awards and was a finalist for the industry’s coveted Applause Award in 2006.
“The Dollywood Company is uniquely positioned for unprecedented growth in the coming years,” Manby said. “With Ken’s guidance and direction, we feel confident that our goals are certainly attainable. We look forward to watching this very successful company expand.”
In August 1985, Bell moved to Tennessee as vice president/general manager of Silver Dollar City Tennessee in Pigeon Forge. Under his guidance, the park grew from a small, little-known attraction to a nationally ranked theme park called Dollywood. Bell was instrumental in forming the Dollywood brand with Parton and guided the park since its inception. In 2001, with the opening of the water park, Bell became senior vice president of The Dollywood Company.
Bell serves on the board of directors for Dixie Stampede, The Dollywood Foundation, and Discipleship Focus. He is the former chair and vice-chair of Leadership Sevier and currently serves as treasurer. He and his wife Debbie live in Knoxville and have five children.