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All four of our boys have taken trips to Dollywood since they were toddlers, and we’ve just now outgrown some of the smallest rides since our youngest is now four years old.
But we have a huge fondness in our hearts for these kiddie rides that we’ve visited over the last 12 years, and today we are here to share with you the best Dollywood rides for toddlers in 2023!
Our whole family loves Dollywood. There is so much for every age to do here and it’s the best place in Pigeon Forge to take young kids – plenty of rides for toddlers, young children, teens and adults, shows for all ages and even playgrounds! It’s easy to see why it’s consistently voted among the Best Amusement Parks in the US.
We are breaking down the rides by area, so you can easily find something to ride when you find yourself in a certain section of the park. There are kid-friendly rides and activities in several areas of the park, so while the thrill seekers are riding roller coasters, the littles have something to do, too!
Tips for Taking a Toddler to Dollywood Theme Park
If you are planning to take a toddler to Dollywood, there are a few things you should know in advance.
Use the Measuring Station
First, if your child is near the 36″ tall minimum wristband height, be sure to take them by the measuring station when you enter the park. When you enter the park, turn to the left and look for the stroller rentals. It’s right near there. This way, you won’t have a disappointed kiddo after you’ve waited in line and find out the attendant thinks they are too small to ride. Get a wristband and save yourself the tears.
Take Advantage of the Diaper Changing and Nursing Mother Rooms
There are several areas in the park designated for diaper changing and even nursing moms with their little ones. This was super helpful for us when we had a babe in tow while chasing around the older brothers.
Make Sure You Bring a Stroller
Be sure to bring along a stroller. We’ve never had anyone bother ours or heard of things being taken from strollers. We left the diaper bag plus our refillable cups in the stroller when we went on rides with no issues, and it was so nice to have the stroller for when the little one(s) tuckered out (we ended up getting a Sit N Stand). You can also rent one from the park if you like.
Now, let’s get on to those rides! Just a note: you see Dad a lot in these rides because Mom is the one taking the pictures!
This is usually our first stop at the park. We either begin our day (most common) or end our day in this fun area of the park, which includes Red’s Drive In and the Lightning Rod, which my older boys like now that they are older.
For toddlers, you have to see ride the Rockin’ Roadway! This fun car ride features old 50’s style cars on a track that the littles can actually drive. This has been a family favorite of ours since day one.
As you make your way around from the Jukebox Junction area to the Country Fair, stop by the Smoky Mountain River Rampage if your little is at least 36″. I know one of our boys was very tall for his age and got to ride this when he was 2! Ride the river rapids together in a six person raft – but be warned – you WILL get wet!
The next area we visit is the Country Fair, which has a ton of fun rides for toddlers. This is an area we spent a ton of time in when our kids were under 36″, as there are many rides they can ride here with no height requirement, but also some bigger rides nearby for the older kids.
The attendants in this area always love kids and make the rides so much fun, plus there is music that the littles really enjoy on most of these rides. Think of your local county fair, only a lot more fun!
One of our kids’ favorite rides when they were little! The bees go around in a circle and they lift up in the air just a few feet, which is so much fun for the littles. Parents can watch from just outside the gate and then come in to help get the kids unbuckled.
Right by the bees is the Lucky Ducky. This ride features quacking ducks that go around in gentle circles. You can ride or wait outside the gate and then help unbuckle after it stops.
This is also in the same area with the Busy Bees and the Lucky Ducky. The Piggy Parade is just like the ducks only with different music, but the kids always wanted to ride both and didn’t care that they just go around gently in circles.
The Amazing Flying Elephants
This ride does not have a minimum height requirement, but toddlers will have to ride this one with an adult. There is plenty of room for two, though, and you can push a button to go up and down, although very small children have trouble reaching it once they are buckled, but an adult can take care of it.
This fun spinny ride looks like teacups, only they are lemon cups! An adult will also have to ride with toddlers on this one, and you can spin it as fast as you want, but we never went too fast when the boys were small (although Dad wanted to sometimes! lol!).
If you’re little is at least 36″ tall and gets a gray wristband, you can also ride these:
The Shooting Star
This is the kid’s version of the Drop Line. It takes you up several feet and then drops you down. You do this several times and it’s even fun for adults! You’ll have to ride with your kiddo until they are older, but I like this one and I bet you will, too.
This spinning ride is just like the classic fair ride you remember. You sit two or three to a seat and go around in circles. Some of our boys liked it as toddlers and some didn’t, but it’s worth a ride to see.
Right next to the Country Fair is the Village. This area isn’t very large but it does have a couple of rides worth checking out for toddlers.
A classic merry go round with horses and other creatures. Always a hit with kids of all ages!
The Dollywood Express
This classic coal-fired train runs several times throughout the day and is definitely worth riding, as you get to see the park and the beautiful mountain views. The trip is about 20 minutes and often involves a wait of 30 minutes or more to get on, so we often swing by the nearby Grist Mill and get some cinnamon bread to munch on while we wait.
Here we are waiting for our ride on our last trip to Dollywood (it was a bit windy!):
This area is kind of hidden away right outside Craftsman’s Valley, and we missed it several times before we even realized it was there! The Barnstormer is an older kids ride that we take turns riding while letting our littles play on one of the two playgrounds in this area:
Perfect for very small children, this playground features small, soft structures to climb on and slide.
Lil’ Pilots Playground
This is our kids’ favorite playground in the park. The play structure is an old fashioned bi-plane made of wood that they can climb inside and pretend to fly. There is a slide and a drum set nearby, too. You can watch the barnstormer while you play here as well.
This area is near the Firechaser Express and the Wild Eagle, and we usually relax here while the older kids ride these big coasters.
Firehouse Fun Yard
This fun little playground has a soft firetruck play structure that kids can climb on and around that features water play in the warmer months.
This area and the Country Fair are where we spend the bulk of our time with the smaller kids. Wildwood Grove is the newest area of the park and has a ton of family-friendly activities.
These little acorns lift you high into the air for great views while you are safely enclosed. You will need to ride with your little for this gentle ride.
Frogs & Fireflies
This fun ride bounces up and down like a frog hopping. Kids really love this one, and up to four people can ride in a single frog.
If it’s hot or cold out or you just need a break, take a stop inside Hidden Hollow. This large, soft play structure is all inside and even has a toddler area! It’s kept pretty dark inside with lights on the play structure, but it’s always a great temperature inside and the adults can rest while the littles play.
If your kiddo is at least 36″ tall, then check out these rides, too:
The Great Tree Swing
This is one of my favorites! It’s like the pirate ship rides at local fairs, only this one is decorated like a tree swing out of a fairy garden. This does go pretty high and scared my youngest when he was barely tall enough to ride, but it’s super fun for both kids and adults who don’t mind heights.
Black Bear Trail
These bears are so much fun! You ride on a galloping bear around a track. From 36-42″ inches you will have to ride on the same bear as your child, but after 42″ they can ride solo (we just reached this point with our youngest as you can see from the video!).
Our kids absolutely love this ride! The “birds” are lifted into the air on strong cables and you can control the direction by turning the bird’s head. Even our youngest is a huge fan of this ride!
If we begin our day with the Rockin’ Roadway, then this is where we end the day. Timber Canyon does not have any rides for the smallest of them, but they do have a small roller coaster for those 36″ and up.
You can ride with your child from 36″ and taller on this small figure-8 roller coaster ride. Once your child reaches 42″ he or she can ride alone on the Whistle Punk Chaser. See more about this roller coaster here.
Dollywood is an amazing place for toddlers! With so many great rides, play areas, and activities, your little ones are sure to have a blast.
If you are visiting Dollywood’s Splash Country water park, make sure to visit Little Creek Falls for tons of toddler splashing fun, too!
Many theme parks don’t offer much for the smallest of them, but Dollywood is such a family-friendly place that we find ourselves coming back to again and again. We live around 3 hours away so we often get season passes – and we never tire of the rides at Dollywood.