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Want some help choosing the best rides at Dollywood for your family? You’ve come to the right place!

Our family loves Dollywood Theme Park and visits several times every year. The quaint little towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are only three hours away from us and they really are our home away from home.

So it goes without saying that we’ve ridden every ride in the park a thousand times, but even then we never get tired of them. We usually spend a week at a time visiting the area and go to the park most of the days we are there, and we’ve ridden these rides in all seasons (even a couple of days before Christmas!).

So, to help you find the best rides for you, not just some random list of the highest rated rides in the park, we’ve broken them down into the best rides for kids, best rides for thrill seekers, best rides for the less adventurous, best water rides and rides that are great for the whole family.

We’ve been here with our kids aged 2 months all the way up to 12 so we’ll help you navigate these rides with ease!

All photos in this post are our original photos over the past few years at the park.


For the Kids

One of the best things about Dollywood is that they have tons of rides for all ages, including the smallest of them. All four of our boys have visited Dollywood since they were babies or toddlers and have ridden and loved these rides.

Most of the best kiddie rides are located in the Country Fair area of the park, but Wildwood Grove is the second best area for the youngest.

Here is the Dollywood ride height chart to help you decide which rides your kids are ready for.

two of the author's sons on the busy bees in 2020

Busy Bees

This is a great ride for the littlest ones who are just starting to be brave on rides. It’s a slow moving, circular ride with little bumblebees as the cars. This one is more adventurous than the nearby ducks and pigs as the bees lift up in the air (but not more than an adult’s head height).

All of my boys have loved it and ridden it several times in one day! We have just recently moved past this point with our youngest, and it is a bit sad in one way and exciting in another that he can ride a lot of the bigger rides now.

Height to Ride: No minimum height requirement, and a parent is allowed to ride

Location: Country Fair

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two of the author's sons on the lucky ducks ride

Lucky Ducks

The Lucky Ducks are super simple and safe and just go around in a slow circle. They are right beside the Busy Bees and the Piggy Parade, so it’s easy to ride all three right after one another.

I love watching the tiniest ones riding the ducks. They get so excited!

Height to Ride: No minimum height requirement, and a parent is allowed to ride

Location: Country Fair

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the author's youngest son on the piggy parade

Piggy Parade

The Piggy Parade is beside the Busy Bee and the Lucky Ducks and is just like the ducks only as pigs! The little pig cars go slowly around in a circle.

Height to Ride: No minimum height requirement, and a parent is allowed to ride

Location: Country Fair

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the author's husband and son on the frogs and fireflies

Frogs and Fireflies

Have a jumping good time on the Frogs and Fireflies! Up to four riders can fit in a frog-shaped “car” and it lifts up and down while it is going, just like a frog jumping!

All four of our boys ride this one, and not just when they were tiny. Even both Mom and Dad have ridden this one.

Height to Ride: No minimum height requirement, but anyone under 36″ must be accompanied by someone 16 or older

Location: Wildwood Grove

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the author's husband and son on the lemon twist

Lemon Twist

Here’s a “twist” on the classic teacup ride – it’s lemonade! This is one of those rides where you sit in a round car and it slowly spins… unless you turn the wheel in the center and get it spinning faster and faster!

All of our boys liked this ride and will still ride it, but Mom and Dad don’t enjoy spinning as much as they used to…

Height to Ride: No minimum height to ride, but anyone under 48″ must be accompanied by someone 16 or older

Location: Country Fair

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the author's four sons on the whistepunk chaser

Whistlepunk Chaser

A roller coaster for the little ones! This small figure-8 roller coaster is perfect for the littles as it doesn’t go too high or too fast.

Adults are allowed to ride, too, and you must have someone accompany those under 42″ who is 16 or older. The boys love riding this one together and we can just sit back and watch now that the youngest has reached 42″.

Height to Ride: At least 36″, but anyone under 42″ must be accompanied by someone 16 or older

Location: Timber Canyon

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family in the treetop tower (aka acorns)

Treetop Tower

We call these the “acorns” because that’s what they look like! You get into an acorn and it lifts you up high into the sky and slowly turns around. You get a pretty good look at the park this way.

You can fit up to four people in one of the acorns, so if our whole family is riding we split up three and three and ride in two acorns. It’s always fun.

Height to Ride: No minimum height to ride but anyone under 42″ must be accompanied by someone 16 or older

Location: Wildwood Grove

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Black Bear Trail

This one is really fun! You get on a single bear and it bounces you along a track. Our boys were always so excited when they grew tall enough to ride by themselves.

It’s almost like the bear is galloping through the woods… it’s kinda funny, but everyone always loves riding these.

Height to Ride: At least 36″, but anyone under 42″ must ride with someone at least 16

Location: Wildwood Grove

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the amazing flying elephants ride

Amazing Flying Elephants

Just like the Dumbo ride at Disney World! These elephants take off up into the sky with the push of a button. It’s up to you to decide how high or low you want to go!

This ride actually seems like it lasts a pretty long time, too. This attraction is like the Busy Bees, only a lot bigger.

Height to Ride: No minimum height to ride, but anyone under 48″ must be accompanied by someone 16 or older

Location: Country Fair

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two of the author's sons waiting to ride the shooting star

Shooting Star

This is like the Drop Line, but way, way smaller. It’s one of those rides that lifts you up, then drops you! I don’t like the big drop rides, but I love this smaller one.

This ride holds 12 riders at a time, 6 on each side, so the wait is never terribly long and as long as you are 36″ tall you can ride it.

Height to Ride: At least 36″ but anyone under 42″ must be accompanied by someone 16 or older

Location: Country Fair

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Learn more: Dollywood Rides for Toddlers (Complete Guide)


For the Thrill Seekers:

It’s a lot harder to get pictures of family riding these big coasters! However, you’re sure to have an amazing time on these rides if you come for the thrills.

Wild Eagle

The Wild Eagle is an amazing winged coaster that takes you on an amazing ride. This was America’s first wing coaster and it certainly does feel like you are an eagle soaring as you turn upside down and go through the corkscrew. Definitely not for the faint of heart.

Height to Ride: Riders must be at least 50″ tall and no more than 78″ inches

Location: Wilderness Pass

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Lightning Rod

This hybrid roller coaster has a steel track on a wooden frame and it is fast! You are launched up 20 stories at 45 miles per hour for the first lift hill and you get almost 20 total seconds of air time on this ride. Go down the 165-foot drop and reach speeds of 73 mph on this ride!

Height to Ride: At least 48″

Location: Jukebox Junction

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Thunderhead

This massive wooden coaster is a blast to ride! It’s not as fast or as crazy as the Lightning Rod, but you do go down a 100 foot drop and reach a top speed of 55 mph. Try this one before the Lightning Rod if you aren’t used to big coasters.

Height to Ride: At least 48″

Location: Timber Canyon

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Tennessee Tornado

This is a great one to ride before the Wild Eagle! On this coaster, you go upside down three times with their triple loop track, go down a 128-foot drop and reach nearly 70 mph.

Height to Ride: At least 48″

Location: Craftsman’s Valley

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mystery mine at Christmas

Mystery Mine

This is one unique coaster! You ride in cars that fit 8 people, 4 in a row. This steel coaster takes you through an abandoned mine. I wasn’t prepared for the 95 degree, 85-foot vertical drop into darkness, but it was a wild ride! This part is indoors, so unless you know about it you can’t see it from the park, but you can see the upside down portion of the track.

Height to Ride: At least 48″

Location: Timber Canyon

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Barnstormer

If you enjoyed the pirate ship ride at the county fair, you’re going to love the Barnstormer! This is like a giant swing but it takes you up 81 feet in the air, with a maximum speed of 45 mph and 230 degrees of rotation! If you’re a super thrill seeker, try this one at night!

Height to Ride: At least 48″

Location: Owens Farm

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Drop Line

This drop ride will take you up 20 stories as you slowly rotate around the tower. It gives some amazing views of the Smokies! Then, you plunge down the tower as it drops you! Of course you safely come to a neat stop near the bottom. Several of my boys have ridden it with my hubs but I haven’t had the courage to try it yet!

Height to Ride: At least 48″

Location: Timber Canyon

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See Also: Guide to Dollywood Roller Coasters


For the Less Adventurous (but still fun):

Firechaser Express

This ride is a lot of fun but has a low height requirement so that even younger kids can ride! It’s the nations first dual-launch family coaster, and our kids love that it goes both forward and backward.

Height to Ride: At least 39″

Location: Wilderness Pass

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Dragonflier

This is our youngest son’s favorite coaster in the park! This coaster is a “suspended” coaster, which means your ride beneath the track and your feet dangle. My kids love the “fighter jet turns” as they call them, and it’s low height requirement means that many ages can ride.

Height to Ride: At least 39″ but under 48″ must be accompanied by someone 16 or older. Maximum height is 81″

Location: Wildwood Grove

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Blazing Fury

The oldest coaster in the park, Blazing Fury was there when I was a kid and it was Silver Dollar City. This coaster was built in 1979 and it’s still exciting guests today. Ride through a town set ablaze and enjoy three drops – but nothing too far or crazy. Our four year old loves this one, as he barely meets the 42″ height requirement.

Height to Ride: At least 42″

Location: Craftsman’s Valley

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the author and three of her sons on the Great Tree Swing

Great Tree Swing

This is exactly like the pirate ship rides at the county fair! I love this one, and of course we try to sit in the very back to feel the stomach drop the most. If you like this, you’ll also like the Barnstormer, it’s bigger cousin.

Height to Ride: At least 36″, but anyone under 48″ must be accompanied by someone 16 or older

Location: Wildwood Grove

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the waltzing swinger ride

Waltzing Swinger

Also called “the swings”! This is your typical swing fair ride with swings on chains that go around in a circle. We love these, and kids between 42-48″ can ride in a double swing with and adult.

Height to Ride: At least 42″, and anyone under 48″ must ride in a double swing with someone 16 or older

Location: Country Fair

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the sky rider

Sky Rider

This is a larger version of the swings where two riders sit beside each other and ride to even greater heights. You can slightly change the wind direction with the turn of the throttle and you get a great view of the train, the village carousel and the Smokies from the top.

Height to Ride: At least 42″, and anyone under 48″ must ride with someone 16 or older

Location: Country Fair

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Dizzy Disk

Get ready to get dizzy!! This giant disk spins around as it goes up and down what looks like a small section of half pipe. My more adventurous kiddos adore the dizzy disk and they ride it every time we go.

Height to Ride: At least 48″

Location: Country Fair


If You Want to Get Wet:

Dollywood doesn’t have a lot of water rides, but they do have two that are great for the family!

the author's sons and friends on the Smoky Mountain River Rampage

Smoky Mountain River Rampage

This is a giant raft ride where six people can ride in a single raft (which is perfect for our family of 6!). With the low height requirement, we’ve ridden this with kids as young as 18 months (our kids are tall). It’s so much fun because you never know who is going to get the wettest as the raft slowly spins!

Height to Ride: At least 36″, under 48″ must be accompanied by someone 16 or older

Location: Rivertown Junction

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Daredevil Falls

Prepare for a splash at the end of the 60-foot drop as you reach top speeds of 50 mph! Ride in an 8 person raft (2 people each in 4 rows) to view an abandoned logging camp, then up the conveyor to the top, where you go over the falls! If you really want to get wet, stand on the bridge on your way out as another log goes down – it splashes the bridge super well!

Height to Ride: At least 42″

Location: Craftsman’s Valley


For the Whole Family:

The Dollywood Express in October

The Dollywood Express

The train at Dollywood! Every day the train makes several runs up the mountain and back, an excursion that lasts about 20 minutes. The best time to make this trip is in October when the fall foliage is at its peak, but any time is beautiful in the Smokies. Even the youngest in the family can safely ride the train, just get there early because it tends to fill up fast.

Height to Ride: No minimum height requirement

Location: The Village

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The author's husband and son on the rockin roadway

Rockin’ Roadway

In our family, we call this “the cars” because you get to “drive” an old 50’s era Corvette, Chevy, etc. These are small cars and so, so cute. Our boys have always loved to drive these and it’s even fun for Mom and Dad. Now that our youngest is old enough to ride with a brother Mom and Dad have even had a few rides together.

Height to Ride: No minimum height requirement but under 42″ requires someone 16 or older to ride with them

Location: Jukebox Junction

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outside of the demolition derby bumper cars

Demolition Derby Bumper Cars

While I did put this on the list for the whole family, you do have to be 42″ to ride, but once your kiddos get to that point this is one of the most fun things to ride at the park! We love the bumper cars and make sure to drive at least once every time we go! It’s such a classic, fun ride.

Height to Ride: At least 42″ but need to be 48″ to drive, otherwise someone 16 or older has to drive

Location: Country Fair

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the village carousel

Village Carousel

A beautiful, classic carousel ride. There are some traditional horses here, but also some strange animals, like a rooster! There are also a couple of bench seats if you don’t want to ride up and down, and you can stand beside a small child riding a horse to make sure they are safe.

Height to Ride: No minimum height requirement but under 42″ needs someone 16 or older to ride with them

Location: The Village

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the author and her youngest son waiting for a ride on the mad mockingbird

Mad Mockingbird

These are so much fun! You get into a “car” that has a bird painted on it, then you are lifted into the air to fly in a circle! Change the direction of the wind by turning the bird’s head. It feels great when it’s hot out, too, as you really feel the wind on this one.

Height to Ride: At least 36″ but anyone under 48″ needs someone 16 or older to ride with them

Location: Wildwood Grove

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Lumberjack Lifts

Get ready to get an arm workout! This is near the Drop Line, and it’s also a much smaller drop ride. Two people sit together and work to pull the rope and reach the top, then you let go and “drop” back down to do it again! You do get some help from the ride, so it’s not all your own power, so don’t worry about getting too tired.

Height to Ride: At least 40″ but less than 48″ needs to ride with someone 16 or older

Location: Timber Canyon

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the author's husband and two sons on the scrambler

Scrambler

A classic county fair ride! The scrambler is great for those who love to spin round and round, just make sure the heaviest person is on the outside because you get “squished” as the force pushes you to the outside.

Height to Ride: At least 36″ but under 48″ must be accompanied by someone 16 or older

Location: Country Fair

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Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it. My family’s guide to the best rides at Dollywood for every level of adventurer, not just the best rated.

I hope you’ll give our favorite theme park a try soon and see why we love it so much. Just writing this has me itching to go back soon!

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