Dollywood Advice Needed

EeyoreFan19

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jan 15, 2010
Hello! We are planning a vacation to TN this June and would like to include a day at Dollywood. We have never been there and are not sure what to include in our "must do" list. Our party includes:

Mom - 71 - loves the shows and mild rides
Brother - 50 - disabled (wheelchair and blind). Loves the shows and appropriate mild rides such as train, etc.
Self - will ride almost anything with son
Hubby - will ride almost anything but gets motion sick on some simulator rides
Daughter with friend - 17 - the higher, faster and crazier the better for these two!
Son - 12 - likes coasters as long as there are no loops. Will not do dark rides

We will definitely be splitting up once at the park. Most likely mom, brother and hubby will leave park early afternoon and head back to cabin. I will stay with the kids for the day (we have 2 cars).

So....
I would really appreciate any suggestions as to what rides/shows to include in our day. Also, are the express passes worth it? I'm thinking they may be good for the girls so they can enjoy more of the larger rides. I'm also wondering if we should include a second day to spend at the water park. I would really be grateful for any tips or advice anyone has to offer. Thank you!
 

nkereina

Last chance to lose your keys.
Joined
Feb 11, 2009
I've never been, but wanted to mention that YouTube vlogger The Tim Tracker just visited Dollywood and has recent videos on this. He's an Orlando theme park vlogger, but Dollywood invited him and his wife Jenn there to check it out. I didn't watch the videos in their entirety, but I know their Disney and Universal videos are always helpful and informative!
 
  • cvjw

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 22, 2005
    We have been to Dollywood a couple times. It isn’t that big of a park. No need to pre plan. You can see and do it all in a day. I personally would splurge for the express pass for the younger kids IF they want to ride the big rides more than once. The lines for those can get long.

    We liked the water park. For us, it was a half day park. The water coaster is awesome! You most likely can buy a ticket combo so that it costs less to add the waterpark.
     

    THEDISNEYTHREE

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 1, 2013
    We love Dollywood. My recommendations:
    Dreamland Drive-In is our favorite show. It has 50’s -60’s music in a nice air conditioned theater.
    Miss Lillian’s Smoke House is our favorite restaurant for lunch. It is a buffet.
    And River Rampage is my favorite ride there. It is a white water rafting ride. ( Way superior to Kali River Rapids in my opinion.)

    Have a great trip!
     

    PK Disney Dork

    Friends! Help! A guinea pig tricked me!
    Joined
    Dec 28, 2008
    Dollywood has a fantastic collection of award winning coasters so your girls should be able to get their fill of thrills!

    There are also a large number of flat rides and family rides including an amazing train around the park.

    The I'd say is a major highlight as well. As someone already said Ms Lillian's is great but you honestly can't go wrong with any of it. Also you have to make sure to get the park's famous cinnamon bread!
     

    a1tinkfans

    Spreading Some Pixie Dust Today!
    Joined
    Aug 12, 2006
    4 adults likely visiting in early oct. mostly to see/experience it rather than rides. Are their shops n other type things to do??
    Not sure we should stay in area if one day only. I thought we’d need atleast two? Other things in area .. recommendations appreciated.
    Thx
     
  • PK Disney Dork

    Friends! Help! A guinea pig tricked me!
    Joined
    Dec 28, 2008
    4 adults likely visiting in early oct. mostly to see/experience it rather than rides. Are their shops n other type things to do??
    Not sure we should stay in area if one day only. I thought we’d need atleast two? Other things in area .. recommendations appreciated.
    Thx
    There are tons of shops and live shows/performances in the park!

    October is a perfect time to visit Pigeon Forge/Gatlinberg as well. That's during the fall season change and the trees in the mountains are stunning!

    If you're looking for things to do in the area outside the park there is plenty! Mostly consisting of shopping and dining but there live shows up and down the strip as well as a great Titanic museum, wax museum and a place called the Island at Pigeon Forge that has a little bit of everything!
     

    okeydokey

    Frosty the Snowman scared me as a child.
    Joined
    Aug 9, 2006
    Save room for the Cinnamon Bread, it is delicious. We also enjoyed the glass blowing demonstrations.
     

    a1tinkfans

    Spreading Some Pixie Dust Today!
    Joined
    Aug 12, 2006
    There are tons of shops and live shows/performances in the park!

    October is a perfect time to visit Pigeon Forge/Gatlinberg as well. That's during the fall season change and the trees in the mountains are stunning!

    If you're looking for things to do in the area outside the park there is plenty! Mostly consisting of shopping and dining but there live shows up and down the strip as well as a great Titanic museum, wax museum and a place called the Island at Pigeon Forge that has a little bit of everything!
    Thank you!!! Sounds great.
     

    EeyoreFan19

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 15, 2010
    I may get the express passes for the kids as they are real riders. I did hear about the cinnamon bread - will have to find that. We are renting a cabin just outside of Gatlinburg for a week, so also looking for other attractions. Hubby wants the Cooter garage place and the Hollywood car museum. Thinking about the Ripley's aquarium for a day. Is there any dinner shows anyone can recommend? I was looking at the Hatfield and McCoy show - think mom would like that one.
     
  • Katie Dawn

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 15, 2007
    Hello from East Tennessee! :wave:

    My experience is mostly from visiting on the weekends, but I bet it's a little slower on a weekday. Try to do that if you can!

    I also would also highly recommend splurging on the Timesaver Pass for the teens. Lines back up on the coasters so they'll get to do more with the pass. Sounds like you and Hubby might ride some of the coasters so I'd get it for both of you as well if that's do able.

    Like Disney World, crowds are lowest right at opening. It takes some time to wait on a tram from the parking lot, so allow extra time for that. If you have a handicap parking pass, though, that will help get you much closer to the front (and you could walk/wheelchair to the entrance if you'd prefer.)

    Our favorite buffet is Aunt Granny's (it's popular though so try to get there before noon, really before 11:30 if it's a weekend.) Our favorite non-buffet sit down restaurant is Front Porch. There are also lots of "Quick Service" and snack options.

    I'd recommend watching ride videos on You Tube to get an idea of how intense each one is. Search Dollywood and the name of the ride and you'll find some. I'd also recommend checking out the Tim Tracker video. He wasn't allowed to video on the rides, but he will describe them afterwards.

    I've never had the cinnamon bread at the Grist Mill but they try it on Tim Tracker and it looks great!

    Firechaser Express is a fun coaster but mild enough that my 8 year old enjoys it (and enjoyed it when she was 6.) Thunderhead is a wooden coaster that my DH found pretty jarring. DH says Wild Eagle is fun and pretty intense (your body is in a prone/flat position as if you're flying through the air like an eagle.) The kids will like Mystery Mine (though I can't remember if it goes upside down.) I really wouldn't waste my time riding Blazing Fury. It is old, the animatronics are in bad shape... It's really only something to ride if you have a "nostalgia" factor. There are 2 or 3 water rides so plan accordingly!

    I can't help much with shows. I will say they always do one big "headliner" show during the summer that's kid oriented, and we have found they are fantastic for the adults as well. It's not singing, but more fun, energetic visual performing (which might not be great for your brother, but maybe you could take a sit down air-conditioning when it's just the teens.)

    Dollywood has the largest sanctuary for rescued eagles that can't be released back into the wild, so try to spend a few minutes there if you happen by. They aren't close up but it's still fun to spot them. (And they're sometimes vocal as well.) Those eagles have had several babies over the years that were released back into the wild - cool stuff!

    They do fireworks each night if you'll be there that long.

    Have a wonderful time!

    Oh, and about Hatfield and McCoy show. I've never been but have heard lots of people say they like it!
     
    Last edited:

    EeyoreFan19

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 15, 2010
    Thank you so much for the tips! Think I'll go ahead and get the passes for the kids, and probably myself as well. Hubby will most likely leave early afternoon with mom and brother, so I'll stay there to ride with our son. I'm so used to planning Disney - every ride, every meal, every minute. I'm not used to just going and enjoying without a plan. We're planning on going during the week, so hopefully it won't be as busy.
     

    Cannot_Wait_4Disney

    Ok all you A cattle, get in ...
    Joined
    May 18, 2005
    Hello! We are planning a vacation to TN this June and would like to include a day at Dollywood. We have never been there and are not sure what to include in our "must do" list. Our party includes:

    Mom - 71 - loves the shows and mild rides
    Brother - 50 - disabled (wheelchair and blind). Loves the shows and appropriate mild rides such as train, etc.
    Self - will ride almost anything with son
    Hubby - will ride almost anything but gets motion sick on some simulator rides
    Daughter with friend - 17 - the higher, faster and crazier the better for these two!
    Son - 12 - likes coasters as long as there are no loops. Will not do dark rides

    We will definitely be splitting up once at the park. Most likely mom, brother and hubby will leave park early afternoon and head back to cabin. I will stay with the kids for the day (we have 2 cars).

    So....
    I would really appreciate any suggestions as to what rides/shows to include in our day. Also, are the express passes worth it? I'm thinking they may be good for the girls so they can enjoy more of the larger rides. I'm also wondering if we should include a second day to spend at the water park. I would really be grateful for any tips or advice anyone has to offer. Thank you!
    Dollywood isn't a huge place. But like any theme park, it's best to get there early. But at Dollywood that is particularly so because most of the parking is in a line rather than the huge expanse of parking all around you'll see at most theme parks. and getting there late means you're far away from the park. There is a tram though but it can take awhile. And from the far reaches of the lot, you aren't going to want to walk. At the end of the day, if you're close you can hoof it faster. If you're further, you probably won't want to. One day is enough to see the whole park. We also spend a day at Splash Country. If you're going to be there more than 2 days, it pays to buy a season pass. Buy one of the highest level passes to get the parking and meal discounts and the rest just buy normal ones. Wear sunscreen at all times. Even if it is cloudy. Most of their business is locals or from Knoxville, Chattanooga, or the Tri cities. So as a result, weekends are very crowded. Weekdays not quite as much. Express pass is worth it on the crowded weekends on some of the bigger rides yes.

    Someone mentioned the Thunderhead being jarring. Well good news. They replaced the track on the first hill and turn on it smoothing the ride out. They'll be replacing the rest next off season. Unfortunately a great water ride has closed for good. The Slidewinder. It was one of the oldest rides there and a favorite of many. The area it's on is very hilly so I don't know what they will do with it.

    As for the food most of it is on the lines of "Kountry Kookin" or Barbeque or hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza and the like. So don't expect gourmet. But for what it is, most of it is good. The shows are all pretty nice to. And on a hot day, well 20-30 minutes in the AC doesn't hurt.

    Do i suggest planning. Well of course. Knowing what you want to do before hand saves you the time deciding even if it is not the optimal touring plan. It isn't quite so necessary there as it is at WDW. But yeah. Some of the smaller rides down in one area can develop some waits once all the families with little ones get there at 11 or 12.
     

    EeyoreFan19

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 15, 2010
    Thank you all so much for your help! The kids want to do the water park, so we will get 2-day passes for them and hubby. For the express pass, can you share it? Hubby will be riding with our son in the morning, but then I will most likely stay with him in the evening. Can we get one express pass that he can use early, then I can use it the rest of the day?
     

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