Every trip to Dollywood is a delight, but nothing quite matches your first encounter with this magical setting. Play your cards right, and you could be in for a delightful day complete with thrilling rides, toe-tapping music, and a whole lot of happy memories. Fail to plan, however, and you might suffer long lines and high prices.
Follow these suggestions to make the most of your first Dollywood adventure:
1. Arrive Early
Arrive as early as possible to ensure a swift entrance into the park — and a head start on the best rides. Determine in advance which rides typically suffer the longest lines. Map out your route so you can make a beeline to your prioritized attraction the moment you arrive at the park.
2. Travel by Trolley
As with any major attraction, driving and parking can be a huge hassle at Dollywood. Thankfully, an alternate option exists for accessing this destination: a delightful trolley that is worth riding even if not used as your primary form of transportation. Easy to access, the trolley is far more affordable than parking. Use the money you save to buy a meal — and the time you save for an extra ride.
3. Download the App
If you struggle to navigate Dollywood or keep the many rides and events straight, take advantage of the park’s mobile app. This digital tool provides everything you need to plan your day as you see fit.
A detailed map is included so you never need to worry about getting lost within the massive park. If you’re determined to avoid standing in line, keep an eye on the ride wait time section. You can also view a thorough show schedule or even receive alerts when your favorite performances are about to start.
4. Use a TimeSaver Pass
The last thing you need is to spend the entirety of your first trip to Dollywood in line. Unfortunately, depending on when you visit, the waits could reach over one hour for the hottest rides. With a TimeSaver Pass, however, you can cut this down considerably. This helpful feature allows you to skip the standard line for your favorite rides or book a spot in the audience for packed shows. Multiple TimeSaver options are available; for a truly expedited experience, level up to the TimeSaver Unlimited.
5. Don’t Neglect the Shows
Rides are a big deal at Dollywood, of course, but they only represent the beginning of all this park has to offer. If you leave without attending at least a few shows, you will have missed out big-time. These performances provide a wonderful opportunity to take a break in between thrilling rides — and to let your stomach settle if you get queasy. Some shows are exclusively offered during specific seasons, giving you a great reason to return throughout the year.
6. Check Out the Shops and Demonstrations
Dollywood’s shows are certainly not the only type of ride-free entertainment. The park is also home to a variety of quaint shops, where you’ll find unique souvenirs such as pottery and Christmas ornaments. Several of these items are made on site by talented artisans. Even if you don’t buy anything, you will love watching these skilled professionals show off.
7. Plan Your Trip Around a Special Event
Throughout the year, Dollywood hosts a variety of seasonal events. These include everything from Christmas celebrations to BBQ parties. As you plan your visit, check out the official event calendar to determine whether any special occasions will be held during your time in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg.
8. Avoid Restaurants During Peak Lunch And Dinner Hours
It’s only natural to think about food around noon and again at 6 pm, but you can expect a long wait if you eat at these standard hours. Instead, consider enjoying your main meals of the day a bit earlier or later than usual. This will make it easier to hit up Dollywood’s top restaurants on short notice.
9. Plan Your Footwear Carefully
It seems like common sense, but what you wear on your feet can make or break your Dollywood adventure. A good pair of walkable shoes is essential, of course, but you may also want to bring a backup for the park’s water rides. It’s not uncommon for feet to get wet on these attractions — and damp shoes can be annoying when you’re walking from one attraction to the next.
10. Try Dollywood’s Parent Swap
Waiting in line for rides can be a hassle with kids in tow. This is especially true when one of your children is less enthusiastic about a particular ride than the rest of your family. Thankfully, it’s possible for everybody to enjoy the ride if they so choose — and without waiting in line twice. With the parent swap program, one parent can wait with the non-rider in a secure area while the rest of your family enjoys the attraction. Then, the original non-riding parent gets the chance to ride almost immediately, without needing to wait yet again.
11. Invest in a Photo Pass
Photo ops abound throughout Dollywood, but capturing a picture free of other guests’ shenanigans can prove surprisingly tricky. Instead of worrying about documenting your visit, let the professionals at Dollywood handle this essential.
Equipped with one of the park’s photo passes, you’ll receive high-quality digital images snapped at all the best rides and attractions. One day, you’ll look back fondly at these photos — and you’ll thank yourself for letting the experts capture these special memories.
12. Buy a Souvenir Mug
If you love soft beverages, a souvenir mug can save you a bundle while also supplying you with a lovely keepsake. While you won’t receive free refills after purchasing the initial cup, the cost will be reduced enough to make this splurge appealing — especially given the steep price of beverages when you lack the mug. Keep in mind, however, that this investment might not be worthwhile if you primarily intend on drinking water.
With a little extra planning, your first time at Dollywood can be a dream come true. If you do your research in advance, you will be rewarded with a hassle-free visit that lives up to your high expectations for this beloved theme park. Get ready for a wonderful day in the Smoky Mountains’ most magical setting.