After more than ten years of unprecedented growth at the helm of Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Craig Ross is moving back to Herschend Family Entertainment, Dollywood’s operating partner, to assume a new role as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the newly formed Herschend Growth & Opportunity Group. As COO of The Herschend Growth and Opportunity Group, Ross’ knowledge and expertise in operational management will support the acquisition of new theme parks, aquariums and attractions, and investment partners to fund expansion.
“Craig Ross is a fine man and led my Dollywood companies to a time of great growth but he has some exciting new challenges and opportunities that can take Dollywood and all of my partner’s businesses to an even higher level,” Dolly said. “I wish him well and will miss his day to day leadership but am excited about the future.”
Taking over the helm at Dollywood is industry veteran Eugene Naughton. Naughton joined Dollywood in November of 2019 as the Vice-President of Parks Operations. He will leverage more than 30 years in various roles at Paramount and Six Flags parks, as well as the lessons learned in his first year at Dollywood as he assumes the role as only the third President in Park history.
“Eugene has been with us a little over a year but in that time he has shown a true heart for our hosts and for the company,” Dolly noted. “He knows the Dollywood team and the Dollywood brand. His experience will create an exciting new chapter with continued growth of my businesses with him as their leader, I look forward to working with him as we face this new decade together.”
Dollywood is currently operating its award-winning Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival. The park closes for the 2020 season on January 3, 2021.