Herschend Family Entertainment

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Herschend Family Entertainment
Private
Industry Amusement parks
Founded 1950 (1950)
Founder Hugo Herschend, Mary Herschend
Headquarters Atlanta, Georgia
Area served
United States
Website www.hfecorp.com

Herschend Family Entertainment (HFE) is a privately owned themed-entertainment company that operates several theme parks and tourist attractions within the United States.

Founded by Jack and Pete Herschend of Branson, Missouri, in its early years HFE was simply known as Herschend Enterprises. In the 1980s the name was changed to Silver Dollar City Inc., and in 2003 the company gained the current name. HFE is currently headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. The company's mission is to "Create Memories Worth Repeating."

History[edit]

HFE traces roots back to Hugo and Mary Herschend from Chicago, Illinois along with sons Jack and Pete. The family vacationed in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains region and fell in love with the nature the area offered. In 1951 Hugo obtained a 99-year lease on a Branson, Missouri area attraction called Marvel Cave. Hugo suffered a heart attack and later died in 1955, however Mary along with her two sons continued to improve the cave attraction by installing electric lighting and building cement walkways. A cable train was installed in 1958 to ferry guests out of the depths of the cave upon the end of the tour. The attendance nearly doubled and a small frontier town was erected to entertain visitors as they waited for their cave tour. In order to increase attendance furthermore at the attraction, a gimmick was used by naming the village "Silver Dollar City" and distributing silver dollars as change to every visitor in hope that when they would spend the rare coins they would tell people where they had got them from. The idea was a success, and the Herschend family soon found themselves involved in the theme park business.

In 1969, Silver Dollar City drew national attention when producer Paul Henning brought the cast and crew of the popular Beverly Hillbillies television show to the park to film five episodes.

The park is also home to many bats which the park takes measures to try and protect from diseases that could prove fatal.

In 2010, Herschend Family Entertainment was featured on the reality TV series Undercover Boss.

The company also co-owns and co-operates with partners Dolly Parton and her company The Dollywood Company, the dinner and theatre company Pirates Voyage Dinner and Show in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina[1][2][3] and the Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampedes.[4][5]

Current properties[edit]

Amusement parks[edit]

Owned/operated[edit]

Name Location Year Opened Year Acquired Notes
Dollywood Pigeon Forge, Tennessee 1961 1976 Sold stake to Dolly Parton in 1986
Silver Dollar City Branson, Missouri 1960
Wild Adventures Valdosta, Georgia 1996 2007 Purchased for $34.5 million ($39.8 million in 2016 dollars[6])

Water parks[edit]

Name Location Year Opened Year Acquired Notes
Dollywood's Splash Country Pigeon Forge, Tennessee 2001
Splash Island Valdosta, Georgia 2003 2007 Included with admission to Wild Adventures
White Water Branson Branson, Missouri 1980

Aquariums[edit]

Name Location Year Opened Year Acquired Notes
Adventure Aquarium Camden, New Jersey 1992 2007
Newport Aquarium Newport, Kentucky 1999 2007

Attractions[edit]

Name Location Year Opened Year Acquired Notes
Ride the Ducks 5 locations across the United States 2004 Sightseeing Amphibious vehicles
Stone Mountain Stone Mountain, Georgia 1998 Owned by the State of Georgia; operated by HFE
Talking Rocks Cavern Stone County, Missouri 1969

Dinner Shows[edit]

Name Location Year Opened Year Acquired Notes
Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede Pigeon Forge & Branson 1988 & 1995 Chain of dinner theaters
Pirates Voyage Myrtle Beach 1992 Dinner Theatre first opened as a Dixie Stampede converted to Pirates Voyage in 2011
Dolly Parton's Smoky Mountain Adventures Pigeon Forge 2014 Dinner show originally called Lumberjack Feud was purchased by the Dollywood Company and changed to Dolly Parton's Lumberjack Adventure in 2015 and then changed to its current form for the 2016 season
Showboat Branson Belle Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri 1995 A dinner, show and cruise originally known as Kenny Rogers Showboat Branson Belle

Lodging[edit]

Name Location Year Opened Year Acquired Notes
Dollywood Cabins Pigeon Forge 2010 Cabin style lodging in the Great Smoky Mountains
Dollywood's DreamMore Resort Pigeon Forge 2015 Full Service resort and spa
Evergreen Resort Stone Mountain, Georgia In partnership with Marriott International, Inc. a conference, golf and spa resort
Stone Mountain Inn Stone Mountain, Georgia
Stone Mountain Campground Stone Mountain, Georgia
The Wilderness Branson Log cabins and campground

Sports Entertainment Franchise[edit]

Name Location Year Opened Year Acquired Notes
Harlem Globetrotters International Inc. Phoenix, Arizona 1926 2013 Exhibition Basketball team

The Dollywood Company[edit]

The Herschends extended their brand in 1976 upon purchasing a small tourist attraction in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, called Goldrush Junction. The following year the attraction was renamed Silver Dollar City Tennessee as part of a development plan to transform the property into a theme park patterned after the original Silver Dollar City in Branson. For the Pigeon Forge park, the Ozark Mountains theme of the original Silver Dollar City was slightly reworked to represent the Great Smoky Mountains and Appalachia culture instead, fitting the location in the foothills of the Smokies.

In 1986, singer and actress Dolly Parton, who grew up near Pigeon Forge, became a co-owner, and the park's name was changed to Dollywood, reflecting her involvement. At this point, the Pigeon Forge park was branched off into a separate division of HFE called The Dollywood Company, which oversees all the properties that Dolly Parton has interest in.[7]

Along with the Herschend family, Dolly Parton co-owns the Dixie Stampede dinner attraction chain, which has locations in Pigeon Forge (opened 1988), Myrtle Beach (1992), and Branson (1995). A location in Orlando opened in 2003 and closed in early 2008.

In 2001 a new water park was opened adjacent to the Dollywood theme park called Dollywood's Splash Country.

Past properties[edit]

HFE built several water parks in the 1980s which have since sold to other companies such as Wet 'n Wild, Frontier City, and Six Flags. White Water Branson, built in 1980, was the forerunner and is still owned by HFE; while the White Waters in Oklahoma City (1981), Grand Prairie, Texas (1982), Garland, Texas (1982) and Atlanta (1983) have been sold.

The 4,000 seat Grand Palace Theatre opened in 1992 by the Herschends. The theatre was co-owned by singer Kenny Rogers. Along with Rogers headliners were Glen Campbell, Louise Mandrell and Barbara Mandrell. In 1994 HFE entered into a ten-year contract with Radio City Entertainment. The Grand Palace Theatre would be the first to host the Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the world famous Rockettes outside of New York City’s Radio City Music Hall. The shows were successful and led to Radio City Entertainment launching tours of their shows in other cities throughout the United States.

HFE built the $10 million Grand Village Shops with Kenny Rogers adjacent to The Grand Palace Theatre in 1993. Ozark wares and English bone china filled the twenty six New Orleans themed shops. HFE later bought out entertainer Kenny Rogers and sold The Grand Palace in 1996 and The Grand Village in 2005.

American Adventures, a children’s theme park opened alongside White Water Atlanta. The park was sold to Six Flags in 1999.

In 1994, The Dollywood Company constructed a large music theatre in Pigeon Forge called Music Mansion. Headlined by James Rogers,[8] the highly successful theatre was operated by HFE until 2001, when it was sold to Anita Bryant. In 2005 the theatre was sold again and converted to a WonderWorks location. A Music Mansion Theatre was planned for Myrtle Beach, but never materialized.

In 2003 the Dollywood Company opened a new Dixie Stampede location in Orlando, Florida along Interstate 4. The location operated until early 2008, when the property was sold to Simon Property Group for an undisclosed amount. The building was torn down, and an extension of the Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets was built on the land. HFE has plans to build another Dixie Stampede in the region at some point, though specific plans have not been disclosed.[9]

In 2004 HFE purchased the Hawaiian Falls water parks located in Dallas, Garland and The Colony, Texas. In 2006 all three parks were sold.

Due to unreliable peak season water access, Ride The Ducks in Memphis closed in 2007.

Celebration City in Branson closed on October 25, 2008. The company has plans to restructure the site.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Dolly Parton's 'Pirates Voyage' replaces 'Dixie Stampede' in Myrtle Beach". Gadling. 2011-06-06. Retrieved 2017-07-24. 
  2. ^ By MyrtleBeach.comSeptember 23, 2010 (2010-09-23). "Curtain to close on Myrtle Beach's Dixie Stampede". MyrtleBeach.com. Retrieved 2017-07-24. 
  3. ^ "Pirates Voyage all settled in former Dixie Stampede location, enjoying holiday shows | Myrtle Beach Sun News". Myrtlebeachonline.com. 2013-12-20. Retrieved 2017-07-24. 
  4. ^ "Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede dinner theater in Orlando sold, closed - tribunedigital-orlandosentinel". Articles.orlandosentinel.com. 2008-01-08. Retrieved 2017-07-24. 
  5. ^ Blake, Scott (2008-01-08). "Orlando's Dixie Stampede shuts down". Florida Today. Archived from the original on 2008-01-19. Retrieved 2011-03-23. 
  6. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2017. 
  7. ^ About Dollywood: Company Information: Dollywood
  8. ^ "Welcome to James Rogers Online". Jamesrogersonline.com. Archived from the original on 2012-02-09. Retrieved 2012-01-23. 
  9. ^ Orlando Premium Outlets' owner buys Dixie Stampede - OrlandoSentinel.com

External links[edit]