• Laura Kaminer

What Would Dolly Do?

Updated: Dec 20, 2021

If you have never visited the Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, you should definitely add it to your bucket list. The entire park is family oriented with a wholesome mountain vibe that is centered around the Tennessee mountains and the life of Dolly Parton. She truly has an inspirational story worthy of the hype.

We‘ve visited the park many times over the last several years and have learned a few tips to make it better each time we go…and now I’m going to share those tips with you! We just returned from our most recent mountain adventure and it was the best one yet! If you are in the planning phase, let me help you make some decisions.

1.When To Go

We have visited Dollywood during every season and they all have their pros and cons. My personal favorite is late-fall, between Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you can time it just right, you will still see the fall foliage, hopefully have a mild weather day, and also get to experience the magical display of Christmas lights adorning every nook and cranny of the park. We were there on December 4, and it was unseasonably warm during the day, which I LOVED, but still chilly enough at night to keep you from passing up the hot cocoa stands placed around the park.

2. Which Tickets To Purchase

Like a lot of theme parks these days, Dollywood offers several ticket options. One, two and three day regular passes, season passes, multi-park passes, (to include entry to Dollywood’s sister water park during warm weather) fast pass add-on options, and season passes. Dollywood isn’t huge, but there is definitely plenty to do. We have never gone for more than one day at a time, but if you want to take full advantage of the restaurants, shows, shopping and attractions, there is plenty to fill up more than one day. That said, the fast pass add-on is a MUST. This past spring when we visited we didn’t have them and waited in long lines to ride. Fast forward to December, when we visited again, and with the fast pass add-on we rode everything we wanted again and again and rarely waited more than five minutes. So. Worth. It!

3. What To Do

Plan ahead. Download the Dollywood app prior to your trip, and be sure to check out the events for the day of your visit. At Christmas time there are many special things happening at certain times throughout the park. The app will also let you know if there are any attractions out of service, and how long the wait times are.

The crowds get thicker as the day goes on, so arrive early and plan to ride the most popular rides first (especially if you don’t purchase the fast pass add-on) Three of the most popular coasters are: The Fire Chaser, The Mystery Mine and The Lightening Rod. If you plan to see any of the shows you can reserve seats the day of your visit when you pick up your tickets. There is no extra cost for them. If you have any show favorites, please comment and tell me which one!

4. When To Eat

The food lines can get pretty long, but we’ve found that eating by noon was much faster. Don’t forget about the food truck area, but keep in mind that you may wanna scoot by there to see if you need to pre-order.

The promotional beverage cups are the best value for all day refillable drinks. The cup is only $5 v/s paying $3-$4 per drink. But, you will have to tote the cup around. I carry a cross-body travel purse with me that has a water bottle pocket (linked HERE) and that works out perfectly for me. Refills are most easily made in the food court in the kiddie area. Since they are self serve, there wasn’t a line for a drink refill. Finally, if you plan to purchase any of the promo pictures, buy souvenirs or Dolly‘s famous cinnamon bread, you may want to get it early and take it back to the car. The lines for those things at the end of the day are sooooo looong.

Also, there are so many fun shops at Dollywood, but some of the apparel is pricey. If you want to sport some fun Dolly duds without paying big bucks, I’ve linked a few HERE 😊

5. Where To Stay

There are tons of accommodations in this area, but our favorite place to stay is Riverstone Resort and Spa. The location is amazing. It’s about four minutes from Dollywood and centrally located in Pigeon Forge, just between Sevierville and Gatlinburg. If you are traveling with a big group, these condos have two and three bedroom units available. There is also a game room, a movie room, a playground, a well equipped gym and a heated pool and hot tub year round. For spring and summer there is a lazy River, an outdoor jumping pillow and lots of outdoor seating. This resort is on the Pigeon River and the views are spectacular. Be sure to request a unit on the River side! If you are traveling with small dogs there are some units that are pet friendly, but no cats are allowed.

If you plan to be anywhere near the Gatlinburg area, you can check out my other activity and restaurant suggestions in my Instagram Guide HERE

I have great suggestions for hiking, shopping, family fun, dining and more!

Check out some of our other area adventures in the photos below!

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