Alright y’all. My family just got back from our very first trip to Dollywood, and we had a BLAST! It was such a sweet trip, and I learned a lot about the do’s and don’ts of this very special theme park in the Great Smoky Mountains. So here are all of my tips and tricks compiled together in… A Mom’s Guide to Dollywood:
Where to Stay… The Dollywood DreamMore Resort
There are many reasons why you should stay at the Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa to make your Dollywood park experience even better, but here are just a few of them:
- Each Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa guest gets a TimeSaver pass that allows you 8 expedited rides per day in Dollywood. That means no waiting in line all day to ride the best rides. You get to go to the front of the pack!
- DreamMore Resort guests get to ride the trolley from the resort to the park and get dropped off at their own entrance to the park and get to bypass the lines.
- DreamMore Resort guests can get their temperature check and wrist band in the hotel before they get to the park.
- There is a story time every night that staff reads to the kids in the barn behind the resort from Dolly’s Imagination Library.
- There are s’mores every night around a fire pit (don’t forget to make reservations).
- There is an indoor pool and outdoor pool. Be sure to make your reservations for the indoor pool.
- The Resort has a fun arcade.
- The Resort has Starbucks Coffee!
First To-Do BEFORE Getting to the Park… 1. Download the App and 2. Grab the Masks
Download the Dollywood App before you go to the park. There is great information in the app like rides, the show schedule, dining, closest bathrooms, shops, and MORE! I also like a paper map, and you can pick those up in the park at the entrance.
Dollywood (as of March 2021) has a mask mandate in place. This means that you and your children age 2 and older must wear a mask while in the park. You can take it off for eating and drinking. Have young kids wearing masks? I highly recommend getting a face mask ‘necklace’ or clip that stays on the child. My kids were constantly taking their mask off to eat and then forgetting where they put them! It was frustrating, so make it easy on yourself and attach the mask!
First 2 To-Do’s When in the Park… 1. Get a Stroller and 2. Get Your Kids Measured
Dollywood sits on over 150 acres on the side of a mountain. In other words, you will walk a lot, sometimes up-hill, and you do not want to be carrying children if you don’t have to. So I recommend strongly that you either bring a stroller, or rent one from Dollywood which is super easy! We rented a double stroller for my 4 and 6 year old, and I can tell you I am so glad we did! There is stroller parking at every ride and attraction, and it was very easy to get around in.
There is a measuring station right next to the stroller rental, which is right next to the resort entrance of the park. The benefit of getting the little ones measured is they give them a colored armband and now you know exactly how tall they are and know what rides they can ride.
Best Areas for Kids
1. Wildwood Grove
This entire area was made for kids! Most kids (and adults) can ride all of the rides in this area. Have an older child that wants more of a thrill ride? Try the Dragonflier–one of my 6 year old son’s favorite rides! There are also character meet and greets (from 6 feet away). My daughter loved meeting Flit and Flutter.
2. The Village
One of our family’s favorite areas of the park was The Village. This area includes the Dollywood Express Train Depot, which is a really fun attraction for ALL riders (babies, pregnant, etc.). The train engines are from the 1940’s, and is a 20 minute ride through the park and in the mountain. Be sure to check the times of departure in the app.
We also loved the The Village Carousel. It’s a great ride for all ages. And need a good show to watch in the afternoon when the kids (and adults!) are looking sleepy? The Heartsong Theater has a sweet movie of Dolly talking about her childhood in the mountains.
3. Craftsman Valley
If you have a boy or girl who loves firemen, you have to ride the Blazing Fury. The height requirement is 42″, so they have to be a little older to ride it. Our kids really enjoyed this indoor roller coaster and watching the animatronic characters with the sudden drops of the coaster.
Did you know that Dollywood houses an Eagle Mountain Sanctuary, a 30,000-square-foot aviary of the country’s largest presentation of non-releasable bald eagles? It is incredible! They even have a Wings of America Show where they show different birds and talk about their stories located right next door to the sanctuary.
One of our favorite meals at Dollywood was at Miss Lillian’s Smokehouse. It features an all-you-can-eat family style meal, and it was one of the best southern-style meals we ate all weekend.
What to Bring to the Park
Here is a quick list of things to consider bringing to the park…
- Stroller (Or rent one as I mentioned above.)
- Masks (One for each person in your group. Attach it to those little ones!)
- Hand Sanitizer (Every ride we went on provided hand sanitizer, but it never hurts to have more!)
- Change of clothes (This is theme park 101, but there are some water rides your family might want to ride. There are a couple of places for kids to jump around in water like in Wildwood Grove in the summer. A change of clothes is always a good idea!)
- Stroller hook (Someone suggested this to me, and now I have to share it with you… it’s much easier to use The Mommy Hook than putting everything in the basket under the stroller. It’s like a big karabiner that will hold even the largest mom bag).
- Money (This one’s kind of obvious, but you’ll need money for food and games. And believe me… you will want to eat the food because it is so yummy, and the smell alone will have you salivating.)
- Comfortable shoes (Wear comfortable shoes as you will do lots of walking!)
Couple of other Tips
Refillable Mug: If you are going to the park for more than one day or even just for one entire day, buy the refillable mug. The mugs are $9.09 + tax each and include unlimited refills for $.99 on fountain drinks and $1.99 on all hot or frozen beverages.
Season Pass: Season Passholders get tons of deals, and not just getting in the park for the entire season. If you upgrade to the Gold Season Pass, you get FREE PARKING all season, discounts on food, merchandise, strollers, face painting, dinner shows in Pigeon Forge, discounts at the Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa, and MORE!
A Few Things to Plan for Your Trip to Pigeon Forge…
While you’re in Pigeon Forge, you should check out some dinner shows! Our family loved the Dolly Parton’s Stampede that featured all kinds of animals and a great dinner. There are so many things to do in Pigeon Forge, but the dinner shows are a special treat!
There are many things to consider when planning your trip to Dollywood in 2021, and we hope we’ve helped you!