Did you know that Dolly Parton, has an amusement park in the foothills of the smoky mountains? Whether you have younger kids or older kids this resort is for you and your entire family. From live music to incredible thrill rides like Wild Eagle, and lightning rod, there is something for everyone to have the best days ever. If you're planning a visit to the Dollywood Theme Park in Tennessee, here are some tips to help you make the most of your time at the park
Thank you to Dollywood for hosting us.
The Dollywood theme park is HUGE with over 50 rides, high-energy entertainment, and award-winning food all on 160 acres in the Great Smoky Mountains. It was named the friendliest theme park atmosphere in the world! TripAdvisor named it the number 1 theme park. Check out the highlights from our trip here. This was our first time at Dollywood, and we cannot wait to go back because one day was not enough time there. Before you plan your trip to Dollywood you need to read this post.
Download the Dollywood App for Interactive Map
When you start to plan your trip download the Dollywood App. This will give you access to each show schedule, ride wait times, dining, shopping locations, and more. This is the best place to start planning. You can figure out your plan from the first thing you plan to do in the park all the way to the end of the day. It's a useful tool to help you navigate the park and make the most of your visit. Some of our favorites for the kids included
- Wildwood Grove Rides like
- Black Bear Trail
- Frogs & Fireflies
- We loved meeting Benjamin Bear and Flit & Flutter
The operating hours for Dollywood can vary depending on the season and day of the week. Here are some general guidelines for the park hours:
- Regular season: During the regular season, which typically runs from late March to early January, Dollywood is usually open from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm, with some variations depending on the day of the week.
- Peak season: During the peak season, which includes the summer months and some holidays, the park may stay open later, usually until 9:00 pm or 10:00 pm.
- Off-season: During the off-season, which typically runs from January to March, the park may have reduced hours or be closed on certain days of the week.
It's always a good idea to check the park's website or call ahead to confirm the hours for the day you plan to visit, as hours can vary depending on holidays, special events, and weather conditions. Additionally, Dollywood's Splash Country water park has separate operating hours, so make sure to check those hours if you plan to visit the water park
Buy your tickets online on the Dollywood website before you arrive to skip the lines. Dollywood offers a variety of ticket options for visitors. Here are some of the most common ticket types:
- One-day tickets: These tickets are valid for a single-day admission to Dollywood.
- Two-day tickets: These tickets are valid for two consecutive days of admission to Dollywood.
- Multi-day tickets: These tickets are valid for three or more consecutive days of admission to Dollywood.
- Season passes: Dollywood offers several different types of season passes, which allow visitors to enjoy unlimited visits to the park for the entire season.
- Group tickets: Dollywood offers discounted rates for groups of 15 or more people.
- Special event tickets: Dollywood hosts a variety of special events throughout the year, and may offer special tickets for these events.
Tickets can be purchased online, at the park entrance, or at select retail locations. It's important to note that ticket prices can vary depending on the day of the week, season, and special events, so be sure to check the park's website for current pricing and availability. Additionally, purchasing tickets in advance can often save time and money, so it's a good idea to plan ahead and purchase tickets before you arrive at the park.
Plan to Arrive Early
Dollywood is a very popular theme park that fills up. Use the Dollywood App to plan the roller coasters you want to be your first ride to avoid long lines.
Free Parking Options
There is an on-site parking lot for $22.80 for all standard-length vehicles, $27.35 for oversize length vehicles such as RVs and trailers. However, parking is FREE if you purchase a Dollywood Gold Pass or Diamond Season Pass. The initial parking fee is non-refundable for Gold and Diamond Season Passholders. Free parking applies for visits after Gold or Diamond Season Passes are purchased.
You can pick up the Pigeon Forge Trolley in Patriot Park which will take you to the Dollywood Park entrance. You can also take a Dollywood Shuttle from the hotel when you stay at one of Dollywood's hotels like Dollywood’s dreammore resort or Dollywood’s splash country.
Get Your Kids Measured for Rides
This idea is so brilliant. You measure your kids once and then they get a Color-Coded Wristband that tells them which rides they will have access to. I don't know why every theme park does not offer this service. When you first walk into the park there is a measuring station across from the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame Showstreet.
Use a TimeSaver Pass
Dollywood offers a TimeSaver Pass, which allows visitors to skip the regular lines at select attractions and rides. Here's how the TimeSaver Pass works:
- Purchase a TimeSaver Pass: TimeSaver Passes can be purchased at the park or online ahead of time. There are different options available, including one-time-use passes and multi-ride passes.
- Check the ride availability: Not all attractions participate in the TimeSaver program, so make sure to check the list of participating rides and attractions before purchasing the pass.
- Show your pass at the ride entrance: When you arrive at a participating ride, show your TimeSaver Pass to the attendant. They will scan your pass and give you a designated return time.
- Return during your designated time: When it's time for your ride, return to the attraction and use the TimeSaver entrance to bypass the regular line.
- Repeat the process for other rides: Depending on the type of TimeSaver Pass you have, you may be able to use it multiple times throughout the day. Just make sure to check the ride availability and return times.
Using a TimeSaver Pass can be a great way to maximize your time at Dollywood and experience more attractions and rides without waiting in long lines. However, it's important to note that the TimeSaver Pass is subject to availability and can sell out quickly during peak times, so it's best to purchase your pass early or arrive at the park early to ensure availability.
Live Music at Dollywood
Live music is a big part of the Dollywood experience, with a variety of shows and performances taking place throughout the park. Here's what you need to know about the live music at Dollywood:
- Check the schedule: Dollywood offers a daily schedule of all the shows and performances taking place throughout the park. Check the schedule ahead of time and plan out which shows you want to see.
- Arrive early: Many of the most popular shows can fill up quickly, so it's a good idea to arrive early to secure your spot. Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before the show starts to ensure you get a good seat.
- Plan your route: Depending on which shows you want to see, you may need to plan your route through the park accordingly. Consider the distance between each venue and factor in walking time to make sure you don't miss any shows.
- Look for special events: Throughout the year, Dollywood hosts a variety of special events and concerts featuring well-known musicians and performers. Check the park's schedule and website for upcoming events.
- Consider a reserved seating option: Some shows offer reserved seating options, which can be a great way to ensure you get a good view of the performance without having to wait in line. Check the park's website for more information on reserved seating.
Overall, the live music at Dollywood is a must-see part of the park's entertainment offerings. From country music to gospel, there's something for everyone to enjoy. By planning ahead and arriving early, you can make the most of your time at Dollywood and experience some of the best live music in the region.
Make Time to Shop
Shopping is a popular activity at Dollywood, with a variety of unique stores and merchandise available throughout the park. Here are some tips for shopping at Dollywood:
- Plan ahead: Before you start shopping, take a look at the park map and plan out which shops you want to visit. This can help you make the most of your time and avoid backtracking.
- Take advantage of the merchandise pick-up service: If you're worried about carrying your purchases around the park all day, you can use Dollywood's merchandise pick-up service. Simply have your purchases sent to the front of the park, and you can pick them up on your way out.
- Look for exclusive Dollywood merchandise: Dollywood offers a variety of exclusive merchandise that you won't find anywhere else, including apparel, souvenirs, and gifts.
- Don't forget about the crafts: In addition to traditional merchandise, Dollywood also features a variety of crafts made by local artisans. These handmade items can make for unique and meaningful souvenirs.
- Consider the time of day: Shopping can be a great way to take a break from the rides and attractions, but it can also be crowded during peak times. Consider doing your shopping during off-peak hours to avoid crowds.
- Ask the employees for recommendations: Dollywood's employees are knowledgeable about the merchandise and can offer recommendations based on your interests.
- Budget accordingly: With so many tempting items available, it's easy to overspend on souvenirs. Set a budget for yourself ahead of time to avoid any surprises at the end of the day.
Overall, shopping at Dollywood can be a fun and memorable experience, with plenty of unique merchandise and local crafts to discover.
Plan Your Trip Around a Special Event
We would love to come back for a Smoky Mountain Christmas. And a summer trip to enjoy the BBQ parties.
- Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration - Summer is a great time to visit Dollywood. Surprises await around every sun-kissed corner, including refreshing new ways to play, inspiring bursts of summer color, and family-favorite shows.
- Flower and Food Festival - Dollywood's Flower & Food Festival celebrates the beautiful blossoms and fresh flavors of the season. They have larger-than-life Mosaicultures, unique foods, and a whimsical aerial show! Capture picture-perfect moments under our signature Umbrella Sky and hear the inspiring sounds of springtime as live music fills the air. Celebrate spring with all your senses today
- Harvest Festival - the smells of apple and pumpkin treats waft through the streets of Dollywood. When the sun goes down, Dollywood is lit up by the award-winning Great Pumpkin LumiNights. Discover an enchanting hideaway where a larger-than-life glowing owl and her friendly family have come home to roost among the whimsical warming glow of more than 12,000 illuminated pumpkins and towering pumpkin icons.
- Smoky Moutain Christmas - Smoky Mountain Christmas, has been voted America's Best Christmas Event for more than a decade. The park is decorated with more than 6 million twinkling lights. The sounds of our award-winning shows fill the air with Christmas cheer, and family memories are made beneath star-lit mountain skies.
Comfortable Shoes and Outfits
Wear comfortable clothing and shoes: Dollywood is a large theme park with lots of walking, so wear comfortable clothes and shoes. I live in flip-flops, but Dollywood is a large park and I recommend wearing comfortable closed-toed shoes Also, keep in mind that the weather can be unpredictable in Tennessee, so bring a light jacket or raincoat just in case If you are there in the summer months you may want to bring a pair of flip-flops for the water park and water rides.
Sunscreen and Water
Bring sunscreen and water: The sun can be intense in Tennessee, so bring sunscreen and a water bottle to stay hydrated.
Dollywood’s Parent Swap
If you love a thrill ride like Bald Eagles, but your kids are not tall enough you can use Dollywood's parent swap. Dollywood's Parent Swap program is designed to make it easier for families with young children to enjoy the park's rides without having to wait in line twice. Here's how it works:
- First, both parents and the child(ren) they are accompanying must be present at the ride entrance.
- Let the ride attendant know that you would like to use the Parent Swap program.
- One parent will ride the attraction while the other parent waits with the child(ren).
- After the first parent has ridden, they will take the child(ren) while the second parent rides.
- The second parent will be able to bypass the regular line and go directly to the ride entrance.
This program allows families to take turns riding without having to wait in line twice, which can be especially helpful for families with young children who may not be able to ride certain attractions or may not want to wait in long lines.
It's important to note that the Parent Swap program is only available on select attractions and is subject to availability. Additionally, all riders must meet the ride's height and safety requirements.
Dollywood offers a Photo Pass program that allows visitors to have professional photos taken throughout the park and then access and download the digital files online. Here's what you need to know about the Photo Pass:
- How it works: Purchase a Photo Pass online or at select locations in the park. Then, throughout your visit, have your photo taken at designated locations by park photographers. Your photos will be linked to your Photo Pass account, and you can access them online and download them at any time.
- Pricing: The cost of the Photo Pass varies depending on the package you choose. You can purchase a single-day package, a multi-day package, or an all-season package. The prices range from around $30 for a single-day package to around $70 for an all-season package.
- Benefits: The Photo Pass offers several benefits, including unlimited digital downloads of your photos, access to exclusive photo opportunities, and the ability to share your photos with friends and family.
- Restrictions: It's important to note that the Photo Pass does not include photos taken on rides or during certain special events. Additionally, some attractions may have restrictions on photography, so be sure to check with park staff before taking photos in any restricted areas.
Overall, the Photo Pass can be a great way to capture your memories at Dollywood and take home high-quality photos of your visit to the park.
Famous Cinnamon Bread from Grist Mill
I made a big mistake and made my family skip the famous cinnamon bread. Now I know it is famous, so we will be trying it next time.
Dollywood Express Train Ride
The Dollywood Express is a fun 20-minute mountain trip around most of the resort. You don't want to miss this five-mile trip through the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Remember that it is first-come, first-served basis. The departure times are limited and may change.
Buy a Refillable Souvenir Mugs
Kurt bought two of them. One refillable mug for him and one for the kids. We were impressed with how many drink stations there are around the park.
Thanks to my friend Heather from He who is a member of the Dollywood insiders program for sharing the best Dollywood tips with me. If you are heading to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park check out our recommendations of Free Things to do in the Smoky Mountains.
Questions I got about Dollywood
How Many Days do you need for Dollywood?
There is so much to do at Dollywood. it would be best to have 2 days. Since we went on a chilly day so the waterpark was closed.
Does Dolly Paton own Dollywood Resort?
While Dolly Parton is closely associated with Dollywood and has been involved in its development and operation since it opened in 1986, she does not own the Dollywood Resort. The park and resort are actually owned by Herschend Family Entertainment, a company that operates several other theme parks and attractions across the United States. However, Dolly Parton is still very involved with Dollywood, and her influence can be seen throughout the park and resort, from the music and shows to the overall atmosphere and charm.
Is Dollywood just an amusement park?
While Dollywood is primarily known as a theme park with a variety of amusement rides and attractions, it also offers other experiences beyond the rides. Here are some of the other things you can do at Dollywood:
- Live entertainment: Dollywood is known for its live entertainment offerings, with a variety of musical performances, theater shows, and other entertainment options available throughout the park.
- Shopping: Dollywood features a wide range of shops and boutiques, selling everything from handmade crafts to souvenirs and apparel.
- Dining: There are numerous dining options throughout the park, from quick-service restaurants to full-service dining experiences.
- Crafts and demonstrations: Dollywood is home to a variety of artisans and craftsmen who demonstrate traditional crafts like glassblowing, blacksmithing, and woodworking.
- Festivals and special events: Throughout the year, Dollywood hosts a variety of festivals and special events, from a springtime flower festival to a Smoky Mountain Christmas celebration.
Overall, while Dollywood is primarily known for its amusement park rides and attractions, there are plenty of other things to see and do, making it a great destination for families and visitors of all ages.
and would highly recommend it.