Are you looking for reviews of Dollywood Theme Park?
Pigeon Forge and the entire Smoky Mountains region provide numerous family friendly activities that you can enjoy year round.
If you are taking a trip to this eastern side of Tennessee and looking for things to do with your kids, Dollywood provides lots of activities and entertainment options for the whole family.
In this review, I will provide a guide with tips for visiting the Dollywood Theme Park with toddlers and kids!
(Some of the links in my posts are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I may receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.)
- Where is Dollywood located in Tennessee?
- Things to Do at Dollywood Theme Park
- Special Events
- Tips and Tricks
- Packing Hacks
- Dollywood vs Disney World
Where is Dollywood located in Tennessee?
Before I get into the review, you may be wondering where Dollywood is located in Tennessee. Dollywood is set in Pigeon Forge, which is in the eastern side of the state.
If you are looking at a map, Pigeon Forge would be just east of Knoxville and close to Gatlinburg.
How far is Dollywood from Nashville?
If you are coming from the middle Tennessee area, Dollywood is about a four hour drive from the city of Nashville. Since Dollywood is settled in the Smoky Mountains, your drive from any region is sure to provide views of beautiful scenery.
Maybe it’s because I’m used to spending a fortune on tickets at Disney World, but I find the prices for tickets at Dollywood to be really reasonable.
When you are ready to purchase your tickets to Dollywood, make sure you compare prices for one day and multiple day packages.
On a recent visit to Pigeon Forge, my family and I planned to visit the area for a day and a half. I was initially going to just purchase a one day pass to the Dollywood theme park.
However it was only around $20 more per ticket to add a second day to our tickets! This meant that we could spend time at the park the night we arrived.
We were able to enjoy the Halloween and fall decorations, which looked amazing lit up at night. It also gave the kids extra time in the park to ride rides and play games.
Dollywood is often running deals on theme park tickets so make sure you check out their website for current special offers.
You are often able to get a discount on theme park tickets by booking a room at the Dreammore Resort. In addition, you can sometimes receive breakfast vouchers for purchasing hotel packages, which would allow you to save even more!
A season pass to Dollywood could be worth your while as well. My niece traveled with us on our most recent trip, and it was her second planned visit to the theme park in a month.
Prior to purchasing her ticket, we calculated that it was actually cheaper to buy a season pass for her to use rather than purchasing individual tickets for each trip.
Things to Do at Dollywood Theme Park
If you are wondering what to do at Dollywood once you arrive, rest assured that the theme park has plenty of activities and entertainment options for the whole family to enjoy!
You may be searching for what kinds of rides are at Dollywood. The theme park has plenty of rides for toddlers and thrill seekers alike! The height requirements for the rides are prominently displayed at each entrance.
These are some of the super fun rides you will find at Dollywood:
- Black Bear Trail
- Blazing Fury
- Daredevil Falls Log Ride
- Demolition Derby Bumper Cars
- Dizzy Disk
- Dollywood Express
- Drop Line
- Great Tree Swing
- Lemon Twist
- Lumberjack Lifts
- Rockin’ Roadway
- Sky Rider
- Smoky Mountain River Rampage
- Shooting Star
- The Scrambler
- The Waltzing Swinger
My six year old measured around 46 inches tall on our last vacation, so she wasn’t able to do the huge roller coasters that require a height of 48-50 inches.
However. she had tons of fun on the smaller coasters and rides. She especially liked the Dragonflier and the Firechaser Express. She was allowed to ride these as long as someone sixteen or over was riding with her.
These are some of the roller coasters you will find at Dollywood.
- Blazing Fury
- FireChaser Express
- Mystery Mine
- Tennessee Tornado
- Whistle Punk Chaser
- Wild Eagle
What to Do with Toddlers
If you are traveling with a toddler, Dollywood offers many activities and rides for little ones as well. The Country Fair and Wildwood Grove sections of the park are great places to spend time with toddlers.
These are some of the toddler friendly rides you will find at Dollywood:
- Busy Bees
- Dollywood Express Train Ride
- Frogs & Fireflies
- Lucky Ducky
- Piggy Parade
- Amazing Flying Elephants
- Treetop Tower
- Village Carousel
- Splash Pad
- Indoor Playground
As with most theme parks, Dollywood offers strollers to rent for your toddler or small child. These strollers are the hard plastic ones that aren’t always the most comfortable, especially if napping is important.
However, they serve the purpose of allowing you to easily navigate the park with your toddler. They also provide a place to hold your belongings, which is nice since families often don’t travel lightly.
Dollywood offers many different entertainment options for its visitors. During your trip you may meet special characters, listen to live entertainment, and watch live performances.
For a small fee at each booth, you can also play carnival style games to win prizes. The workers behind the booths are really great at giving little ones multiple chances to win a prize.
Dollywood provides lots of different dining options. No matter where you are inside the park, you will be able to find food nearby. The restaurants inside the park serve kid friendly favorites like pizza, burgers, hot dogs, and chicken nuggets.
You will also find various dining venues that serve desserts. Ice cream, Dipin’ Dots, funnel cakes, and other snacks are easy to locate throughout the park.
Throughout the year, Dollywood hosts several holiday festivals and special events.
Halloween Harvest Festival
My family and I visited Dollywood during their Halloween event called the Harvest Festival. The theme was pumpkins, and it was fascinating to see all of the intricately carved pumpkins.
Dollywood really goes all-out in decorating for this really fun, family friendly event. It’s not a spooky atmosphere at all so even the youngest of kids can enjoy it. We really liked strolling through the park and seeing it lit up with Halloween decorations.
Smoky Mountain Christmas
If you visit Dollywood around Christmas time, you will get to enjoy some extra special features during the Smoky Mountain Christmas celebration. This Christmas event typically runs through the beginning of January. Guests can enjoy Christmas lights, holiday themed shows, seasonal foods, and fireworks.
Flower and Food Festival
The Flower and Food Festival takes place during the spring at Dollywood. The theme park is decked out in springtime decor including an umbrella sky, colorful flowers, and sculpted plants. Enjoy garden fresh foods as you stroll through the park during this family friendly annual event.
Tips and Tricks
If you are a first time visitor to Dollywood, you may be searching for some tips to make your vacation run as smoothly as possible. These are my top tips and tricks for a happy trip to Dollywood!
1. Get Wrist Bands
You can get wrist bands for your child upon entering the park. Right after you walk in the gates, you will see a tent with Dollywood employees measuring height. They will measure kids’ height and give them a color coded wrist band based on their measurements. When you arrive at the entrance to a ride, this makes it even easier to determine if it is suitable for your child.
2. Check Park Hours
I highly recommend checking out the official Dollywood website before booking your trip because the theme park’s hours of operation change often throughout the year.
Dollywood is usually closed completely during the months of January, February, and part of March. It then reopens most days beginning at 10:00 AM and closes (depending on the day) sometime between 6:00 and 9:30 PM. Also, even during popular times of the year, the park is often closed on Tuesdays.
As you can see, Dollywood’s park hours can get a bit confusing. So again, check the official calendar before making plans to make certain the park is open during your scheduled vacation dates.
3. Download the Dollywood App
Once you book your trip to the Dollywood theme park, I recommend downloading the Dollywood App for additional information.
It is especially helpful with information on height requirements and wait times for the rides. The map feature is also really handy while you’re in the park. It makes it easy to locate nearby restrooms, attractions, and restaurants.
4. Use TimeSaver Passes
Since we stayed at the Dreammore Resort, we were given time saver passes to use up to ten times. You can purchase these passes if you are not staying at the resort. I believe there is also an option to purchase unlimited TimeSaver passes rather than just the ten.
Some of the rides at Dollywood that are super popular (aka busy) allow you to utilize the TimeSaver pass and enter the ride in a separate line. If you are wanting to experience some of the bigger rides, these TimeSaver passes are a great bonus. If you don’t want to use the TimeSaver passes on ten different rides or attractions, you can choose to ride your favorite one over and over again!
5. Stay at Dreammore Resort
If you are wondering where to stay in Pigeon Forge, I highly recommend Dreammore Resort and Spa. You can often receive discounts on your park tickets if you also reserve a room at Dreammore.
The Dreammore Resort is the perfect destination for families with young kids. They offer an incredible outdoor pool with splash pad, numerous dining options, resort activities, indoor pool and an arcade. They also offer several different room types, including rooms with separate bunk bed areas for kids!
You can read my full review of Dreammore Resort here!
In addition to deals on tickets, families who stay at Dreammore Resort can use the resort shuttle for free. The shuttle will drop you off at a special entrance to Dollywood, which allows you to bypass lines.
6. Use the Shuttle
If you stay at Dreammore Resort, you are able to use their shuttle to and from the Dollywood theme park. This is a super convenient way to travel and a huge perk to staying at the resort. The shuttle bus picks you up right in front of the hotel and drops you off at a special side entrance to Dollywood.
This way you don’t have to stand in a line to get into the park. It’s like having VIP access!
The busses run about every 15 minutes, and it is about a ten minute drive from the resort to the theme park.
The drivers of the shuttles were all super friendly and welcoming. Similar to Disney’s Magical Express, the Dollywood trams have TV’s showing videos of the theme park and its attractions.
If you don’t utilize the Dreammore shuttle, there is plenty of parking available at the park. Since the lots are quite far from the actual Dollywood gates, they have a tram that picks you up in the parking lot to take you to the main entrance.
Your packing list for Dollywood will be similar to what you would take to Disney World or any other theme park. We typically load all of our things into a backpack because it’s easy to carry through the park. These are the items you would find in my bag:
- changing pad
- pacifiers/ favorite toy
- change of clothes
- gallon ziplock bag to hold soiled clothes
- sippy cup
- phone/ camera
- credit card
- dollar bills (for tipping shuttle driver etc.)
- necklace fan (Amazon Affiliate Link)
- rain poncho (Amazon Affiliate Link)
- lip balm
Since we have younger kids, we typically take a stroller with us, but Dollywood does have lockers available to store your items.
If you are in the market for a NEW stroller for your trip, my absolute favorite one to take to any theme park is the City Mini. The City Mini is the best stroller I have found to take to Dollywood or to Disney World because it collapses and folds up really easily. This makes hopping on and off the shuttles to the park go so much smoother! It’s also super light and easy to carry with just one hand.
The City Mini stroller has plenty of storage space, and it reclines all the way back so your toddler can nap comfortably while you stroll through the parks.
This is the City Mini stroller I used with both of my girls. (Amazon Affiliate Link)
Dollywood vs Disney World
Disney vacations have really spoiled me in terms of catering to families with young kids. I think Dollywood may be the closest thing to Disney I’ve found.
During our vacation at Dollywood, I noticed so many similarities with Disney World:
- free shuttle service from the resort
- really informative website
- time saver passes for rides
- well organized park
- baby care centers
- super friendly employees
- parent swap at rides
- availability of purchased merchandise to be delivered to resort
- super helpful Dollywood App
And the best news is- Dollywood is significantly cheaper than Disney World!
So, is Dollywood worth the money?
This is obviously a subjective answer, but I totally think Dollywood is worth the money!
Since we paid just $20 per ticket to upgrade to a two day pass, we had loads of time in the park. Dollywood isn’t as busy as most theme parks either. So, you really get the chance to ride rollercoasters and experience attractions multiple times.
We were able to ride most of the rides on our list and play a lot of the carnival games. All of this while still leaving time for other special activities like face painting.
The theme park is incredibly clean and organized. All of the employees I came into contact with were so helpful and friendly. They all seemed to truly enjoy their jobs!
Final Review of Dollywood
I really can’t say enough great things about our experience at Dollywood. Even with a toddler in tow, we found the theme park to be a really easy vacation experience.
We all had such a fun time and can’t wait to go back!
Do you have any tips for visiting the Dollywood theme park?
Comment below to share!