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Headed to the Smoky Moutains and the famous theme park? Let us help you with our beginner’s guide to Dollywood – from a family of 6 that goes every year!

Today we are going to show you how to plan and navigate your first trip to Dollywood, our favorite place! I know heading to a new theme park can be a bit overwhelming, so we are going to break it down and walk you through all you need to know to visit like a pro.

Planning Your Visit

Visiting Dollywood for the first time can be quite an experience, especially with your family in tow. It’s essential to plan your visit to make the most of your time at the park. As a mom of four boys, I have a few tips and tricks up my sleeve to help you plan your perfect Dollywood vacation.

First off, consider the best time to visit. Dollywood is located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While the park is open year-round, the peak seasons are during the summer months, October for fall break and on holidays. Spring break can get a little busy as well.

I recommend visiting in late April through June, August, September, or weekdays during November when the weather is pleasant, (it might get hot in late June and August) and the park is less crowded. This way, you can explore the park at your own pace without having to worry about the busy days.

Next, make sure to have a plan for your arrival. Dollywood has a large parking lot with shuttle services to take you to the entrance. Arriving early is crucial, as it ensures you get a good parking spot and makes the shuttle ride less crowded. Remember that shuttle rides might take a little longer on weekends or during holidays, so factor that into your arrival time.

As a newbie to the park, knowing what to prioritize can be daunting. However, Dollywood has plenty to offer for every family member:

Lastly, don’t forget to plan for some downtime while visiting the park. With the Great Smoky Mountains National Park nearby, you have plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in nature and recharge. Spending a day exploring the national park is an excellent way to break up your Dollywood experience and create lasting memories with your family.

By following these recommendations, you’re on track to plan a fantastic trip to Dollywood. Enjoy your visit and make the most of those precious moments with your family.

Admission and Passes

Visiting Dollywood is a thrilling adventure for the whole family, and finding the right tickets and passes for your needs is essential to make the most of your visit. As a mom, I understand the importance of budgeting and organizing your family’s trip to this fantastic theme park.

When it comes to Dollywood tickets, there are a few options to consider. For a quick visit, you can purchase one-day adult tickets for $89, child (ages 4-9) or senior (ages 62 and older) tickets for $79. If you’re planning to spend more time at the park, consider a two-day ticket for just $20 more than a one-day ticket or a three-day ticket for only $10 more than the two-day option.

**Pleast note that ticket prices are subject to change at any time. Check the Dollywood website for current prices.

For those families who, like mine, enjoy returning to Dollywood every year, the Gold or Diamond Season Pass is the way to go. This season pass offers several perks, including free parking, discounts on food and merchandise, and early park entry on select days. It really is a must-have for any Dollywood-loving family.

One of the best investments you can make for your family’s visit is getting Timesaver Passes. Trust me, with a group of impatient boys, these passes can be a lifesaver. They allow you to bypass the regular lines for select rides, reducing waiting time and increasing fun.

Prices for Timesaver Passes range from $39 to $49 depending on the tier, but as someone who has been there multiple times when it’s busy, I can say they’re truly worth it. Most of the time, though, we plan our visit for when it’s not crowded and forego the Timesavers.

Of course, parking is always a concern when traveling with the whole family, and Dollywood has you covered. With the added benefit of free parking for Diamond Pass holders, it’s easy to arrive and enjoy the park without any hassle. Otherwise, standard parking was $25 last time we were there. If you go a lot the free parking alone is worth the pass!

Your family’s visit to Dollywood can be tailored to fit your needs and budget, whether it’s a one-day adventure or an annual tradition. Invest in the right ticket options, passes, and take advantage of the privileges offered, and your trip is bound to be a memorable one. So, gather your family and enjoy all the excitement Dollywood has to offer!

screenshot of the Dollywood app
The app is a great way to plan your visit and explore the park.

Navigating the Park

I can’t stress enough the importance of having a plan to navigate the park if you have kids. Luckily, Dollywood has made it easier with the Dollywood app, which allows you to view show schedules, dining options, shopping, ride height requirements, and a detailed map. (See more about using the app)

When you first arrive, it’s helpful to plan your route from the front of the park. This amusement park is divided into eleven distinctly themed areas: Showstreet, Rivertown Junction, Craftsman’s Valley, The Village, Country Fair, Timber Canyon, Wilderness Pass, Jukebox Junction, Owens Farm, Adventures in Imagination, and Wildwood Grove. Familiarizing yourself with the layout of the park will ensure a smooth family outing.

We frequently begin by heading to the back of the park to Wildwood Grove or we travel through Showstreet to Rivertown Junction.

To make your visit even more enjoyable, here are some tips for navigating the park:

  • Arrive early to beat the crowds and start your day with the most popular attractions
  • Use the Dollywood app to create a route based on your family’s interests and priorities, and to stay up-to-date with showtimes and other activities
  • Travel light by bringing only the essentials, like sunscreen and snacks, so you can move quickly between attractions
  • Take breaks throughout the day to rest and recharge, especially if you have younger children

Remember, Dollywood is a family-friendly theme park and your experience will be as enjoyable as you make it. By having a plan in place and using the resources available, such as the Dollywood app and detailed maps, your family can have a memorable adventure that will keep you coming back for more.

Mystery Mine decorated for the holidays
The Mystery Mine decorated for Christmas on our last trip

Top Rides and Attractions

As a mom of four boys who enjoys visiting Dollywood regularly with her family, let me share with you some insider tips on the best rides and attractions at the park that you and your family will absolutely love!

Wild Eagle is a must-try ride. As America’s first winged coaster, this thrilling experience will make you feel like an eagle flying over the Smoky Mountains. With its breathtaking views and exhilarating drops, Wild Eagle is definitely one of Dollywood’s main attractions.

For roller coaster enthusiasts, Dollywood offers a variety of options. The Tennessee Tornado is a classic steel roller coaster that takes you through loops and twists at a top speed of 70 mph. For those who appreciate wooden coasters, don’t miss the famous Lightning Rod. This wooden roller coaster is known for its record-breaking speed and steep drops.

If you’re looking for something more adventurous, the Mystery Mine is the perfect choice. This thrilling ride takes you on a daring journey through an abandoned coal mine filled with hairpin turns and sudden drops. It’s a mysterious experience you won’t soon forget.

In addition to these fantastic thrill rides, Dollywood is also famous for its live entertainment. Throughout the park, you’ll find various shows and performances catering to different tastes and ages. From country music to gospel, there’s something for everyone.

To sum it up, here are some of the top rides and attractions at Dollywood:

  • Wild Eagle (main attraction)
  • Tennessee Tornado (steel roller coaster)
  • Lightning Rod (wooden roller coaster)
  • Mystery Mine (adventure ride)
  • Live entertainment (shows and performances)

With these incredible rides and attractions, you’ll easily understand why Dollywood remains a beloved family vacation destination and keeps us coming back for more. Enjoy your visit!

live show at Dollywood
We took in the Forever Country show on one of our visits.

Entertainment and Shows

When visiting Dollywood, you’ll be delighted to find that there is a wide variety of entertainment options for you and your family to enjoy. Country music icon Dolly Parton’s influence can be felt throughout the park, offering plenty of live music and unique shows.

The show schedule at Dollywood changes daily, so be sure to check the schedule either online, on the app or once you arrive at the park. This will help you plan your day and ensure that you don’t miss any of your favorite performances.

You can expect to find a diverse range of live music at Dollywood. The park frequently showcases bluegrass, gospel, country, and even classic rock performances. With so many genres to choose from, there’s bound to be a show that piques the interest of each member of your family.

You can also visit the Imagination Theater, where famous children’s books come to life in short 20 minute shows. Our last visit took us to Violet the Pilot, a book we have and read often. We all loved it!

Dollywood also hosts various festival features throughout the year. The festivals highlight seasonal themes, new rides, and unique entertainment experiences. These events typically include special musical performances and one-of-a-kind shows that can’t be found anywhere else.

April – June is the Flower and Food Festival, you can find the Summer Celebration in the hottest months, and in September and October you can check out the Harvest Festival. Finally, from early November through New Year’s you can check out the Smoky Mountain Christmas.

As a mom of four boys, I can confidently say that Dollywood has been a perfect family vacation destination for us. No matter how many times we’ve visited, it never fails to provide a joyful and memorable experience for our family, and that’s why we return again and again.

the author and her family on the Dollywood Express
Our family on the famous Dollywood Express – a train ride for every age!

Family Friendly Experiences

Dollywood offers a wide range of activities for the entire family to enjoy. Whether you have young children or teenagers, there’s something for everyone to experience and create lasting memories together.

If you have young children, one of the must-try rides is the Amazing Flying Elephants. This elephant-themed ride takes your little ones on a gentle, yet thrilling, adventure through the sky, letting them feel like they’re soaring with the elephants. After their ride, head over to the Country Fair area, where you’ll find plenty of rides and activities to keep them entertained for hours.

There are even rides for the smallest in the bunch in the Country Fair, like the Lucky Ducks, Busy Bees and Piggy Parade. Here is a pic of our youngest sons on the Lucky Ducks:

For those hot summer days, be prepared to cool off at the splash pad. This water feature provides a refreshing break from the heat and offer a fun way to keep the younger kids busy while you relax in the sun. It’s located in the Wildwood Grove section of the park.

Dollywood also offers various group attractions that are suitable for the entire family. Schedule some time to catch one of the many live shows happening throughout the park. With a wide variety of entertainment options ranging from country music to theatre performances, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

To fuel your family throughout the day, Dollywood has a diverse selection of dining options, including Southern-style cuisine, classic amusement park fare, and festival-inspired treats. Enjoy a relaxing family meal at one of the sit-down restaurants, or grab a quick bite at one of the many concession stands to keep your energy up for the day’s adventures.

Remember to take breaks and recharge, as a full day at Dollywood can be pretty tiring, especially if you are doing Dollywood while pregnant (which I have). Given the amount of walking involved, plan rest stops or find shady areas where you and your family can sit down and recover for a few minutes. This way, everyone stays happy and excited for the remainder of your adventure together.

cinnamon bread at the grist mill sign at dollywood
The cinnamon bread at the Grist Mill is seriously amazing!

Dining at Dollywood

I know that feeding a hungry family is important after a fun-filled day at Dollywood. Here’s a quick guide to help you navigate the delicious dining options available at the park.

First, make sure you stop by the Grist Mill in Craftsman’s Valley. It’s home to the famous cinnamon bread that you don’t want to miss. This warm, gooey treat is a park favorite and perfect for sharing with your family. Order a loaf (we usually get three!), and relish the delightful aroma and taste!

While you’re exploring the park, you’ll come across the classic snack of pork rinds. These delightful bites are available at various locations throughout Dollywood. Crunchy and satisfying, they’ll definitely keep your taste buds happy while on the go. They are a must-have for our family as well.

To make your day more cost-effective, consider investing in a refillable souvenir mug. This option allows unlimited refills on fountain drinks and offers a practical way to quench your thirst throughout the day, especially helpful when you have energetic boys! You can find these mugs at several eateries and beverage carts within the park.

One of the things we ran into once we were out of the stroller phase of life is where to keep our refillable mugs. The stroller basket was perfect, but now what?

Bring a backpack! Every ride except the water rides have ride cubbies, so just place your bag there and grab it when you get off the ride. We’ve never had an issue with anyone bothering our things.

In summary, you can find various dining options in Dollywood to satisfy any craving and budget:

Enjoy every mouth-watering moment at Dollywood and create beautiful memories with your family!

Dollywood’s Splash Country

As a family-oriented vacation destination, Dollywood’s Splash Country is an incredible water park that offers tons of fun and excitement for you and your family. With a variety of water rides, slides, and pools, it’s the perfect place to cool off during your visit to Dollywood.

At Dollywood’s Splash Country, you’ll find River Rush, Tennessee’s first and only water coaster. This four-story, 1,175-foot-long ride features thrilling drops, hairpins, and tunnels that we love riding again and again. For a more relaxing experience, your family can enjoy the Mountain Waves, a 25,000-square-foot wave pool perfect for some splashing and laughter together.

If you have younger kids, they’ll enjoy the many family-friendly splash zones nestled in the park. From frolicking fountains to mini slides, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Plus, there’s no need to worry about packing your own picnic – conveniently located dining options and snack stands are available throughout the park.

Dollywood’s Splash Country is also within proximity to Dollywood’s other attractions. After a day of cooling off, be sure to visit Dollywood’s thrilling roller coasters, such as the Thunderhead, Wild Eagle, and Lightning Rod – the whole family will have a blast! Moreover, the Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort will cater to all your accommodation needs, providing a comfortable and convenient place for your family to get a well-deserved rest after a day packed with excitement.

Keep in mind that Dollywood’s Splash Country offers season passes as well or you can get the two park passes for both the water park and theme park. As a mom who’s been there numerous times, I highly recommend you to consider getting those season passes – you’ll find yourselves going back time and again, creating countless unforgettable memories with your family.

So next time you visit Dollywood, make sure to devote a day to Dollywood’s Splash Country. It will unquestionably become one of your family’s favorite experiences in the Smoky Mountains!

the author's four sons at a Dollywood sign
Our boys at Dollywood – find this photo op in the very back of the park!

Tips for a Great Visit

Since I’ve visited Dollywood countless times with my family, we’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way to make the most of our visits. From planning the best way to avoid long lines to remembering essentials like a water bottle, here are some suggestions for your next Dollywood adventure.

Arrive early and have a game plan for the day. Knowing which rides and attractions are your priority will save time and keep everyone in the family happy. By arriving early, not only can you secure a good parking spot, but you can also get a head start on those must-do rides.

You can get in more than 30 minutes before the park officially opens to grab a parking spot and get into the park. This is what we do and we go as far back as they will allow before “official” opening time.

Once they let you into the rest of the park, head straight for your preferred attraction so you get to ride with the shortest line.

Another fun area within Dollywood is Jukebox Junction. Here, you and your family can enjoy classic American fare, antique automobiles, and vintage music. The vibrant atmosphere filled with nostalgic tunes makes it feel like you’ve stepped back in time, making it a unique addition to your Dollywood experience.

When it comes to long lines, consider getting your kids measured so they get a color-coded wristband that will help you know what they can safely ride. There is a measuring station to the left when you enter the park, and the wristband can save a lot of frustration from waiting in line and not being tall enough to ride.

Don’t forget to stay hydrated during your visit, especially if you’re visiting during the hot summer months. Bring a refillable water bottle for each family member, and take advantage of the numerous free water refill stations throughout the park. This not only saves money but is also an eco-friendly option!

Dollywood does not allow food into the park, but you can bring one bottle of water per person or ask for cups of water at the snack stations.

One of our family’s top tips is to purchase a refillable mug for soft drinks. You can enjoy discounted refills throughout the park for the entire day (or free for some types of mugs). This is not only budget-friendly but also helps keep everyone refreshed and energized throughout the day.

Whenever you visit Dollywood, keep these tips in mind for a great experience. Remember, the key to making the most of your time is planning ahead, utilizing smart strategies to minimize wait times, and keeping everyone hydrated and happy. Enjoy your time, and make lots of memories with your family at this amazing destination.

Dollywood's DreamMore Resort

Staying at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort

When visiting Dollywood, the perfect place to stay is Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa. Nestled in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, this resort is just minutes away from both Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country Water Park. I can personally attest to the convenience and family-friendly environment of this resort.

At DreamMore Resort, you’ll enjoy complimentary transportation to and from the park, making it easy to experience all that Dollywood has to offer.

Plus, with daily children’s activities, indoor and outdoor pools, and great dining locations, there’s something for everyone in your family to enjoy. You can also pamper yourself at the full-service spa or browse the gift shop for souvenirs.

I also appreciate the practical amenities offered at DreamMore Resort. During our visits, we’ve found the laundry facilities and the on-site business center particularly useful. The resort also provides free internet access for all guests!

Our boys really love the bunk bed rooms! Check out our guide to visiting the DreamMore Resort with Kids!

As a regular visitor, it’s important to mention that DreamMore Resort offers a discount for season passholders, which is excellent in case you’re planning multiple visits to Dollywood. So, make sure to check if you’re eligible for a discount while booking your stay.

Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa is the perfect destination to turn your Dollywood adventure into a memorable family vacation. Whether you’re taking a break from the thrill rides or simply relaxing after a day at the water park, the beautiful surroundings and top-notch amenities cater to the needs of every family member.

the author and her family at the SkyBridge sign
Our family in Gatlinburg at SkyLift Park (where the SkyBridge is located)!

Surrounding Activities and Attractions

When you take your family to Dollywood, you’ll find more than just the theme park itself. The surrounding area offers plenty of activities and attractions that can make your family vacation even more enjoyable. So, let me share some of my favorite spots that turn our trips to Dollywood into a complete experience that my husband and our four boys always cherish.

Pigeon Forge, the town where Dollywood is located, has a lovely park called Patriot Park. It’s a great place to have an outdoor picnic or play a game of catch with your kids. The walking trail along the beautiful Little Pigeon River offers picturesque scenery, making it a perfect spot for family photos.

You can also take the trolley from Patriot Park to Dollywood, and it will save you a lot of money from the parking, not to mention the tram ride at the park. We haven’t done this but we know lots of people who do and swear by it!

You should also check out the nearby mountain town of Gatlinburg. This quaint mountain town has tons of excitement of its own, including Ober Gatlinburg, Anakeesta and SkyLift Park, just to name a few.

If you’re interested in exploring more theme parks, Silver Dollar City, another fantastic family destination. It’s located in Branson, Missouri, and is quite similar to Dollywood. The park features delightful rides, entertaining shows, and impressive craftsmanship. While it’s a great place for a separate vacation, it’s worth noting if you’re ever looking to complement your Dollywood experience.

Dollywood actually used to be another Silver Dollar City. The first time I ever went there it was called that and I still remember it. The Blazing Fury roller coaster was there before it was Dollywood!

Spending time in the great outdoors is also a wonderful option while you’re in the area. The nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park boasts awe-inspiring landscapes, hiking trails fit for all skill levels, and an abundance of wildlife. Whether you choose to take a leisurely walk by a waterfall or embark on a more challenging hike, you’re guaranteed to make unforgettable memories with your family surrounded by nature’s beauty.

So, as you plan your trip to Dollywood, keep in mind these fantastic surrounding activities and attractions that can enhance your family vacation. Trust me, from a mom of four boys, this place offers countless opportunities for a great time and precious moments you’ll cherish forever.

Where to Stay Near Dollywood

Okay, so I hope this guide has helped prepare you for your trip! Now, where do you stay?

Of course, you can stay at the DreamMore Resort, but if you want something a little more budget-friendly, check out these guides:

Best Hotels Near Dollywood

Campgrounds Near Dollywood

Final Thoughts on Our Beginner’s Guide to Dollywood

Wow! That’s a lot to take in! We really love Dollywood and all that it has to offer, so you’re likely to see us there several times a year.

We buy season passes every other year, always in November when they go on sale. When you buy in November you can go that holiday season and ALL of the next year!

So we buy in even years and go several times then and odd years around the holidays. This also gives us more flexibility on odd years to vacation elsewhere but still get to do Dollywood every year.

I hope you love it as much as we do!

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