If the Smoky Mountains are in your plans, you might have Dollywood on your list. If so, you’ll need this list of what to do at Dollywood!
Trip Advisor recently named Dollywood, a stunning theme park in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains, America’s top theme park. I don’t think they’re wrong. I enjoyed many things about my family’s visit to Dollywood. The theme park has a friendly, relaxed atmosphere, navigating the attractions is easy, and there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Although you won’t see Dolly, you can check out her tour bus and a replica of her childhood home. The gift shop has all the Dolly merchandise you never knew you wanted. Here are my suggestions for what to do at Dollywood.
Book Early to Stay at Dollywood
Dollywood is just minutes from downtown Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and is easy to get to from anywhere in town. Summers and school vacations are very busy in Pigeon Forge, so make your lodging reservations in advance. If you’d like to stay in one of the Dollywood resorts, I recommend booking as far in advance as you can. Other properties nearby also fill up quickly.
We did not stay at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort—we tried, and it was booked up pretty far in advance for the dates we wanted to visit—but there are some definite perks for staying there. Resort guests get Time Saver Passes (more on those in a moment), entry an hour before the park opens on Saturdays, and a complimentary shuttle to the park. DreamMore guests choosing to drive don’t have to pay the $25 parking fee.
Rides at Dollywood
Dollywood has a large selection of mild thrill rides and family rides. Most family/kiddie rides allow an adult to ride with the child.
Dollywood was perfect for us. I went with my two 12-year-olds, one who is a complete ride daredevil and one who is a bit timid. The rides were thrilling enough to satisfy my adrenaline junkie, and my more hesitant kiddo rode all but a couple of things. Our favorites were the Wild Eagle and Thunderhead. The only ride I didn’t care for was the Lightning Rod. It’s a high-speed and very jerky wooden roller coaster.
You can check out ride descriptions here and get a feel for what you like, but we took the wing-it approach when we visited. If you don’t care for the massive planning that goes into a trip to the Disney parks, Dollywood is a welcome change from that.
Buy the Time Saver Pass
If you’re going to focus on riding the rides, buy the Time Saver Pass; it is similar to Disney’s Lightning Lanes or Universal’s Express Pass Lanes. Paying an extra fee gets you a much shorter wait time. My kids and I had the Unlimited Time Saver; the longest we waited in any line with a Time Saver lane was five minutes.
Dollywood only sells a limited amount of Time Savers, so purchase in advance. The only thing I did not like about the Time Savers is that they’re a paper pass you must keep showing for each ride. The person working the ride will scan it every time you board a ride in a Time Saver lane.
Other Attractions at Dollywood
If you are not a ride-the-rides person, there’s plenty to enjoy at Dollywood. The mountain scenery and the country décor make a lovely combination, so even if you’re sitting out and holding everyone’s bags, it’s pleasant just to be there. I mentioned the tour bus and Dolly’s childhood home above. There’s also a replica of a one-room schoolhouse, a chapel (visit on Sunday, and you can attend a non-denominational service), and several musical performances.
The Chasing Rainbows museum is currently closed. No information as of yet on when the space will reopen. According to the Dollywood website, the museum is being redesigned to tell Dolly’s story in a new way.
Visit Dollywood Splash Country
Dollywood’s water park, Splash Country, is next door to Dollywood park. Open late May through early September (this can vary from season to season, so double-check exact dates), Splash Country has the typical things you’d expect to see at a water park: slides, a wave pool, a lazy river, and a splash area for small children.
Splash Country isn’t a huge water park, so it’s easy to experience everything in a day. Unless you’ve reserved a retreat (Dollywood speak for Cabana) or a canopy chair, I recommend being in line when the park opens. We visited on a Saturday in June and arrived after Splash Country had been open for a couple of hours. I had trouble finding any seating, and while there were a few free shaded spots, no seats were available. The crowds began to thin out after two.
Check Out the Food Options
While Dollywood isn’t the foodie’s paradise that the Disney Parks are, guests won’t be hungry at Dollywood.
If you’re looking for a snack, you won’t have to walk far to find a food option. Funnel cakes, ice cream, soft pretzels, popcorn, hot dogs, and more can all be found at the quick service food stations dotted through the park. The cinnamon bread at the Grist Mill is famous, and I’m sorry to say, I didn’t try it, even though multiple people recommended it to me.
If you’d like to dine at a sit-down restaurant, Aunt Granny’s and Front Porch Café are two options that both serve family-style meals. Aunt Granny’s serves country favorites, like fried chicken, pot roast, and fried catfish. The Front Porch Café focuses more on lighter fare, such as salads and sandwiches, including a few vegan options.
The refillable drink cup is a good deal, priced at $14.99. Refills are free the day of purchase and 99 cents for the season. The mugs are refillable (punch, lemonade, and sports drink also included) at several self-service drink spots around the park. Dollywood also provides ice water at no charge at all food service locations.
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Truly a Park for Everyone
I know “there’s something for everyone” is a trite and overused phrase. However, “something for everyone” is what makes Dollywood special. The beautiful scenery and the vibe of old-timey nostalgia paired with a balanced mix of thrill and family rides make this theme park appealing to many people. The festivals that occur throughout the different seasons of the year offer additional options for guests who aren’t wild about rides. There is also always something happening in Pigeon Forge—truly a family destination. So the next time you want to know what to do at Dollywood, a theme park, or Tennessee, let Wander with Wonder be your guide.
What to Do at Dollywood
Quoted from Various Sources
Published for: Valentino Pattaya