Helpful Hints For Surviving and Enjoying Dollywood with Toddlers

Exciting rides, colorful decor, tasty treats…Dollywood is a kid’s dream come true. Even when they’re too short for most of the rides, young children absolutely adore this Smoky Mountain wonderland. Unfortunately, parents often find the experience a bit more frustrating.

Kids can easily get lost in crowds, making a busy day at the theme park a particularly terrifying prospect. Add messy meals, long lines, and distractions galore, and you have a recipe for disaster — if you arrive unprepared. With a little planning, however, you’ll find that Dollywood can be a delight with young children. Your heart will quickly be warmed by the smiles on your little ones’ faces. Keep the following key suggestions in mind as you get ready for the ultimate theme park visit:

Determine Your Stroller Strategy in Advance

Stroller rentals are available at Dollywood, but they’re offered on a strictly first-come, first-served basis. If you don’t arrive early enough, you could be in for a long day. Thankfully, you’re welcome to bring your own stroller. Keep an eye out for designated parking areas, where you can safely stow it as you take on your favorite rides and attractions.

Stroller type matters. Umbrella designs may ease navigating on busy days but can be frustrating to push for long periods of time. Many parents prefer sturdier strollers equipped with storage solutions.

Stop by the Measuring Station Before You Hit Up Any Rides

Height requirements vary from one ride to the next. Keeping track can be confusing — and this can make it difficult to plan your day. Dollywood offers the perfect solution: a convenient measuring station, where you can determine exactly which rides your kids can try. Situated by the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame, this helpful center is frequented by knowledgeable hosts, who can determine each kid’s height and provide the appropriate wristbands. The colors on these bands immediately convey which rides your children can and cannot ride based on their current height.

Take Advantage of the TimeSaver Pass

Everybody hates waiting in lines, but young children find such waits especially difficult. If you dread the idea of standing in line for an hour with a grumbling child, consider investing in Dollywood’s exclusive TimeSaver Pass. This helpful tool will quickly take you to the front of the line. While it’s primarily intended for use on rollercoasters that your toddler can’t ride in the first place, the pass makes it easier to quickly tackle top attractions without forcing other adults to spend hours on end at the park’s kiddie rides.

Bring a Swimsuit And a Change of Clothes

On a hot day, kids can cool off quickly in Dollywood’s fountains. Make room for a swimsuit, a towel, and at least one change of clothing. Don’t forget sunscreen; burns are common, especially for those who neglect to reapply after getting wet.

Hit Up the Hidden Hollow Indoor Playground

Brightly colored couches are in the middle of this illuminated play area at Hidden Hollow

If you struggle to keep up with your young companions, let them loose at Wildwood Grove’s Hidden Hollow. This oft-forgotten stop provides not only hours of entertainment for rambunctious children, but also a comfy place for adults to relax. Best of all? It’s fully climate-controlled, making it a wonderful setting no matter the season.

Take Photos With the Characters at Wildwood Grove


The Wildwood Tree serves as the backdrop for children playing in Wildwood Creek

Beyond Hidden Hollow, you’ll find a variety of other kid-friendly activities and attractions at Wildwood Grove. Young visitors especially love hanging out with Benjamin Bear and the charming fairies known as Flit and Flutter. Set aside some time for a quick meet-and-greet, complete with a photo that you’ll treasure for years to come.

Make the Most of the Parent Swap Program

Do you hate the idea of separating your family? You might not have to if you take advantage of the park’s unique parent swap opportunity. This helpful program works best for groups with at least two adults. One adult can wait in a secure area with those who do not yet meet the ride’s height requirements. Meanwhile, the rest of the group can enjoy the ride. Later, the other adult will swap out to ensure that everybody who is eligible for the attraction can experience it without waiting in line twice.

Of course, the swap program isn’t ideal in all cases. Some kids may resent standing on the sidelines while everybody else enjoys the park’s exciting rides. This option is best for fearful kids who have no interest in taking on rollercoasters in the first place — or those who are too young to care. Don’t use it to excess, or your bored children will make their displeasure known. At a minimum, alternate between swap rides and those designed specifically for little kids.

Visit Restaurants With Children’s Menus

reds drive in stand at dollywood

Unfortunately, Dollywood guests are not permitted to bring snacks or meals from home. Plenty of visitors attempt to skirt these rules, but you’ll quickly find that you crave a little downtime at one of the park’s charming restaurants. Several locations offer menu options for little tykes. Favorites include Miss Lillian’s BBQ Corner and Red’s Drive-In. Victoria’s Pizza is also a great option for kids, as is the Grandstand Café when you need a quick bite.

Don’t Expect to Spend an Entire Day at the Park

No matter how much stamina your children have at first, they will eventually tire. You’ll know as soon as your previously speedy kids begin to drag their feet — or worse if you’re forced to deal with temper tantrums at the most inopportune times. High expectations will only set you up for disappointment. Enter the park assuming that you’ll make it no more than half a day. Plan your itinerary accordingly.

Dollywood can be a dream for your entire family. A little advance planning will make a world of difference, so don’t hesitate to do your research before you arrive. With the right gear and a strategic plan of attack, your entire group can enjoy a safe, exciting, and memorable day at one of the Smoky Mountain region’s most kid-friendly attractions.