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We visit the Smoky Mountains several times every year and usually always get Dollywood season passes, but one thing we always try to avoid – Dollywood crowds!

There are certain times of year that the park is packed, such as July and October for the fall foliage, and other times of year that it is pretty empty, such as early June and late August.

So, if you are like us and want to avoid the crowds, this guide has what you need to know, plus a lot of other tips, too!

Dollywood entrance sign

Best Time to Visit Dollywood

Visiting Dollywood can be a fantastic experience for you and your family. We absolutely love it!

Knowing the best time to go can make a huge difference in ensuring you have the most enjoyable time possible. In general, spring and fall are considered the best times of the year to visit Dollywood, except for fall break season in October. These seasons offer mild temperatures and sit between winter’s chill and summer’s blazing humidity.

During spring and fall, you’ll experience better weather conditions for exploring the park’s outdoor attractions, which make up a significant portion of Dollywood.

Additionally, crowd levels tend to be more manageable during these months, so you’ll have more opportunities to enjoy the rides without waiting in long lines, which is a huge plus in our book because we love the rides.

If you’re looking for a specific month to plan your trip, consider June. The wait times for various rides are relatively lower during this month, making it an excellent time to maximize your fun at the park. Plus, you’ll still have pleasant weather conditions to enjoy all that Dollywood has to offer.

We really enjoy going the first week of June and you’ll find us there many years because a lot of places are still in school (we end in May!) and most people really haven’t started vacationing yet.

Weekdays, especially on rainy days (when the rain is on and off, not a downpour or lightning), are typically less crowded than weekends. Visiting the park during these days can help you avoid long lines for rides and attractions, further enhancing your Dollywood experience.

Keep in mind that Dollywood hosts numerous seasonal festivals throughout the year, such as the Flower and Food Festival in spring or the Harvest Festival in the fall. These events can draw larger crowds, so if you’re interested in taking part in these celebrations, make sure to plan your visit around these dates.

See our complete guide to the best time to visit Dollywood

Our boys at Dollywood. Find this photo op in the very back of the park!

Best Days to Visit

Visiting Dollywood during the perfect time can bring your experience to the next level. Choosing the best days and time of year makes a world of a difference in terms of crowds and wait times. Here’s some advice on selecting the ideal days to visit the park.

Weekdays: Generally, weekdays are less crowded than weekends. Aim for visiting on a Tuesday or Wednesday, as these are often the days when you’ll find fewer visitors, shorter lines, and a more relaxed atmosphere.

But be sure to check the operating calendar, as some months have certain weekdays closed!

Rainy Days: While you may not think of rain as favorable for a theme park visit, rainy days can be an excellent time to experience Dollywood. As long as the rain showers are on and off and there are no lightning storms, you’ll find that the park will be less crowded, and lines for attractions will be shorter.

If you do get caught by an unexpected rain shower, the park does sell ponchos. We bring ours back every year and they have saved us a time or two.

Spring and Fall Months: In terms of specific months, April and September are great options for visiting Dollywood. During these times, the weather is usually sunny and pleasant without being too hot, and the crowd levels are generally lower compared to summer months or holiday seasons.

Remember that the best days for you will also depend on your personal preferences and what you want to do at the park. If you’re a thrill-seeker looking to ride roller coasters with the shortest wait times, weekdays and rainy days are ideal.

If you prefer a more laid-back atmosphere to enjoy the entertainment, dining, and other park offerings, avoiding weekends and major holidays will probably suit you best. With this information in hand, you’ll have a great time exploring all that Dollywood has to offer!

line of people waiting to buy cinnamon bread at dollywood
This was the line just to get cinnamon bread when we went last Thanksgiving week!

Navigating Dollywood Crowds

Going to Dollywood can be an exhilarating experience, but dealing with large crowds can sometimes be a challenge. To make the most of your visit, here are some tips and tricks to help you navigate Dollywood crowds while maintaining a friendly atmosphere.

First and foremost, it’s essential to become familiar with the crowd calendar for the park. Tuesdays and even Sunday afternoons are generally the best days for shorter lines, while Fridays and Saturdays tend to be the busiest.

The most popular months at Dollywood are July, October and the holiday season, while less crowded months include September, August, and June. By visiting during a less busy time, you’ll be able to enjoy the park without the stress of too many people.

Ride wait times can also vary depending on which attractions you visit. A good strategy is to hit the less popular rides when the park is crowded, and then head to the high-demand rides when the lines are shorter. For example, consider visiting water rides in the morning when the wait times are minimal, and then taking a break during the hottest part of the day.

See our guide to checking the live ride wait times for helpful hints!

When dealing with busy days, a TimeSaver Pass can be a great way to bypass long lines. This pass will allow you quicker access to certain rides and shows, making your visit much more enjoyable. The TimeSaver Pass can be purchased at an additional cost, but it’s worthwhile if you are visiting during a busy time of year.

Here are some more helpful hints for navigating Dollywood crowds:

  • Arrive early and plan to stay late, as this will give you more time to enjoy the park and avoid peak times. You can enter the park before official opening time.
  • Be prepared to embrace a slower pace if you visit during a busy time. Try to relax and focus on enjoying the overall atmosphere of the park.
  • Don’t forget to make use of the park map and mobile app. They can help you plan your day, locate attractions, and find the shortest routes.

By keeping these tips in mind during your visit to Dollywood, you’ll be better equipped to steer through large crowds and make the most of your time there. Happy exploring!

the wild eagle going upside down

Popular Attractions

Dollywood, nestled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, offers a variety of popular attractions for the entire family. As you plan your visit, make sure to include some of the park’s most popular and best rides on your to-do list.

One of Dollywood’s most iconic roller coasters is Lightning Rod. This thrilling ride holds the title of the world’s fastest wooden coaster, reaching speeds of up to 73 mph. If you’re a fan of high-speed excitement, this ride is definitely a must-try during your visit.

Another favorite among roller coaster enthusiasts is Wild Eagle. This coaster takes you soaring through the sky with its winged design, giving you the sensation of flight as you twist and turn through the air. Don’t miss the chance to spread your wings on this magnificent ride.

For fans of classic, looping coasters, the Tennessee Tornado is sure to impress. With its powerful drops and multiple inversions, the Tornado is a force to be reckoned with, providing an adrenaline rush for thrill-seekers of all ages.

If mystery and adventure are more your style, embark on a journey through the Mystery Mine. This dark, indoor coaster takes you on a daring escapade full of twists, turns, and unexpected surprises, making it a popular choice for those seeking a unique riding experience.

Of course, Dollywood’s attractions span beyond just roller coasters. The park offers a plethora of outdoor activities and family-friendly attractions. Make sure to set aside some time to explore these additional offerings during your visit.

Finally, keep an eye out for new rides and attractions at Dollywood. The park constantly strives to innovate and expand, so you might just discover a brand-new favorite on your next trip. Now that you know about some of the most popular rides and attractions, you’re ready to make the most of your Dollywood adventure.

See – what is there to do at Dollywood?

the author and her family aboard the Dollywood Express
Our family aboard the Dollywood Express!

Family-Friendly Activities

Dollywood offers a variety of activities for the whole family to enjoy. Whether you have little kids or older ones, there’s something for everyone in this iconic theme park located in East Tennessee.

When you plan your Dollywood vacation, make sure you include a visit to Wildwood Grove. This area of the park is designed especially for families with young children. It features rides, play areas, and interactive experiences that cater to their imaginations and energy levels.

We often start our day by heading up to the rides at Wildwood Grove. It’s a great area for all of us as some of our favorite rides are in this area including the Dragonflier, Great Tree Swing and the Mad Mockingbirds. The newest ride, Big Bear Mountain, is also there!

In addition to the rides and attractions, Dollywood is known for its live shows and live music. There’s always something happening at the various stages throughout the park. From country and bluegrass performances to dazzling acrobats, you and your entire family will be entertained all day long.

While on your Dollywood trip, don’t forget to take advantage of the unique experiences that are offered, such as blacksmithing demonstrations, watching glassblowing artisans create beautiful works of art, and visiting the majestic bald eagles at Eagle Mountain Sanctuary. These are great opportunities for your family to learn something new and engage with the local culture.

Here are some suggested activities to enjoy during your visit:

  • Rides and attractions at Wildwood Grove and the Country Fair for young children and families
  • Exciting coasters like the Wild Eagle, Mystery Mine and Lightning Rod for the adventurous
  • Live music and shows featuring a variety of talented performers
  • Interactive experiences like blacksmithing demonstrations and glassblowing artisans
  • Visits to Eagle Mountain Sanctuary to see majestic bald eagles

Remember that Dollywood caters to visitors of all ages and interests, so you’re sure to find something memorable for your entire family during your visit. Enjoy your time spent in this enchanting Smoky Mountain destination!

wildwood grove sign during the harvest festival
During one of our trips to the Harvest Festival

Special Events and Festivals

Dollywood is known for its fantastic variety of special events and festivals throughout the year. These celebrations often feature live entertainment, delicious food, and unique décor, making your visit a truly memorable experience.

Flower and Food Festival (April-early June) – This fun festival includes lots of gorgous mosaic sculptures, flowers and special food tastings with a tasting pass. You’ll walk under floating umbrellas, enjoy the special dishes and find live entertainment during this festival.

Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration (June – August) – During this festive event, you can expect brighter days and sparkling nights. The celebration showcases beautiful decorations and stunning nighttime displays created specially for this time of year.

Harvest Festival (September – October) – Presented by Humana, Dollywood’s Harvest Festival is a must-visit event. This celebration captures the essence of fall with vibrant displays of pumpkins and gourds of all shapes and sizes. You can also enjoy various seasonal food options throughout the park.

Smoky Mountain Christmas (November – New Year’s) – After the Harvest Festival, the park closes for a week to turn into a winter wonderland with millions of lights and decorations! It’s truly a sight to behold and we try to go every year. You’ll find carolers, live entertainment all over the park and Santa is even there!

The Grist Mill is another location at Dollywood that may host special events. Make sure to check the park’s calendar for any upcoming activities there.

In addition to the above-mentioned events, the park occasionally holds other celebrations such as different food festivals. These culinary-focused events showcase the diverse range of flavors found in the Smoky Mountains and beyond, offering guests a fantastic opportunity to indulge in delicious dishes.

mosiac sculptures at Dollywood
This was from our trip to the Flower and Food Festival.

Planning and Preparation

Visiting Dollywood can be a fun and memorable experience with some easy planning and preparation. To ensure you make the most of your visit, let’s discuss a few tips before you head out to the park.

First, consider parking. Although Dollywood does not offer free parking, if you get a certain level of season pass you can park for free. Another great option is to take the Pigeon Forge Trolley to Dollywood. You’ll need to ride the tram if you park in the lot, but they have many running and the wait is never long.

Next, be sure to download the Dollywood app before your visit. The app helps you stay organized and informed by providing real-time wait times for rides and attractions, as well as an up-to-date show schedule. This will allow you to plan your day effectively and ensure you don’t miss any of your favorite shows or rides.

Speaking of shows, make sure to check the show schedule in advance. Some performances only occur on specific days or times, so planning your visit around these will help you get the most out of your experience. And don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with fellow visitors or park staff, as they can be a great source of insider tips and recommendations.

Diamond passholders and gold passholders enjoy additional benefits, such as discounts on food and merchandise, exclusive events, and more. If you plan on visiting Dollywood multiple times or visiting with a group, it might be worthwhile to consider purchasing a pass to maximize savings and enhance your experience.

Lastly, when purchasing Dollywood tickets, explore the various options available, such as group rates, multi-day passes, or combining your ticket with entry to the nearby water park. These offers can provide significant savings and allow you to fully enjoy everything the park has to offer. They also have a military discount!

By following these planning and preparation tips, you can ensure a smoother and more enjoyable visit to Dollywood, allowing you to make the most of your time in this beautiful and thrilling theme park.

The Surrounding Area

When you visit Dollywood, you’ll be delighted to discover there’s so much more to explore in the surrounding area. Pigeon Forge, a popular destination, is nestled in the breathtaking Great Smoky Mountains National Park, making it an ideal spot for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

Just a stone’s throw away is Dollywood’s Splash Country, the water park counterpart to the popular theme park. Here, you can cool off and enjoy a variety of water rides during the summer months. Whether you’re seeking thrill on one of the many water slides or looking to relax by the wave pool, there’s something for everyone at this exciting water park.

In addition to Dollywood and Splash Country, the greater Pigeon Forge area boasts a variety of attractions to suit all tastes. Outdoor enthusiasts can embark on hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, offering stunning views and an opportunity to connect with nature. Show lovers will be pleased with the numerous theaters and performances available in the region.

Remember, timing can play a crucial role in your experience. While Dollywood tends to be busiest in July, October and spring break in March, the remaining months usually see shorter wait times, especially on weekdays.

As you plan your visit, consider opportunities to experience both the theme parks and the charm of the surrounding area, making your trip to Pigeon Forge truly unforgettable.

Comparing Dollywood to Other Theme Parks

Dollywood, nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, offers a unique experience unlike other amusement parks, such as Disney World. As a Dolly Parton fan, you’ll find several nods to the legendary singer, including one of her old tour buses.

In terms of crowds, Dollywood tends to attract smaller crowds compared to its larger counterparts like Disney World. This makes your visit more manageable, even during high seasons. You’ll find it easier to navigate through the park, and the wait times for attractions are generally shorter.

However, Dollywood still has its peak seasons where you’ll experience bigger crowds. To make the most out of your visit during peak seasons, try to plan your trip during weekdays when the park is less crowded.

Dollywood’s hours of operation also differ from other theme parks. The park is open mid-March to early January each year, with varying hours usually running from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. This flexibility allows you to soak up the full summer amusement park experience without feeling rushed.

When it comes to admission prices, Dollywood is more affordable compared to other popular parks like Disney and Universal. A one-day adult ticket at Dollywood costs $84, while the season-pass program starts at $149 for adults. In contrast, a basic Disney World ticket for an adult can cost over $100.

Furthermore, unlike the largely secular Disney parks, Christianity is a prominent aspect at Dollywood, especially during the Christmas season. This can provide a unique experience for visitors, as the park incorporates elements that reflect its cultural background.

Tips and Tricks

Visiting Dollywood can be an unforgettable experience, but it’s even better when you know how to navigate the park efficiently and make the most of your time. Here are a few friendly tips and tricks to keep in mind for your upcoming Dollywood adventure.

First of all, be sure to download the Dollywood app before your visit. This handy app provides you with the most up-to-date park information, including wait times, show schedules, and a map of the park. It’s essential for planning your day and ensuring you don’t miss out on any of your favorite attractions.

To maximize your day at the park, consider purchasing a TimeSaver Pass. This pass allows you to reserve your place in line for popular rides, so you can enjoy other attractions instead of spending all your time waiting in queues. Plus, it’s particularly useful during the busy summer holidays when crowds can swell.

While you’re at the park, be sure to take advantage of the refillable souvenir mug. Not only do you get a fun memento to take home, but you also enjoy unlimited fountain drink refills throughout the day. It’s an affordable and convenient way to stay hydrated as you explore everything Dollywood has to offer.

Remember to give yourself plenty of time to explore the park, especially during festival season or on weekends. Crowds can be larger during these times, so you may need to wait a little longer for certain attractions. Arriving early and taking the path to the left when you enter the park can help you beat some of the crowds.

Finally, don’t be afraid to seek out unique experiences and hidden gems within the park. There are countless photo opportunities, delicious food offerings, and fun surprises waiting to be discovered.

By keeping these tips and tricks in mind, you’re well on your way to enjoying a fantastic day at Dollywood.

Hope we see you there!

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