Thursday, June 20, 2024

Eugene Naughton takes helm at Dollywood as Craig Ross is named COO of Herschend Growth & Opportunity Group

After more than ten years of unprecedented growth at the helm of Dollywood, Craig Ross (above) 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.  

“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.”

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.

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.  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,” Dolly said.  

Dollywood is currently operating its award-winning Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival.  The park closes for the 2020 season on January 3, 2021.

Joe Kleiman
Joe Kleiman
Raised in San Diego on theme parks, zoos, and IMAX films, InPark's Senior Correspondent Joe Kleiman would expand his childhood loves into two decades as a projectionist and theater director within the giant screen industry. In addition to his work in commercial and museum operations, Joe has volunteered his time to animal husbandry at leading facilities in California and Texas and has played a leading management role for a number of performing arts companies. Joe previously served as News Editor and has remained a contributing author to InPark Magazine since 2011. HIs writing has also appeared in Sound & Communications, LF Examiner, Jim Hill Media, The Planetarian, Behind the Thrills, and MiceChat His blog, takes an unconventional look at the attractions industry. Follow on twitter @ThemesRenewed Joe lives in Sacramento, California with his wife, dog, and a ghost.

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