When you think of Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg, what typically comes to mind? For some adventurers, the Great Smoky Mountains are the first thought; for those with a bit more enthusiasm for dare devilishness however, Dollywood should be on the top of the list! Dollywood is one hundred and fifty acres of pure excitement with a plethora of entertainment options for all ages and sizes.
When you first get to Dollywood, you have to decide what kind of parking you want and pay accordingly. We used the valet service and the gentlemen who attended to us were fantastic! However, when we got to the gates to pick up our tickets, we ran into a bit of a holdup. Some of the attendants were not properly informed or trained in answering guests’ questions. Several times we were redirected and spoke with several individuals before finally getting everything figured out and through the gates. Please ignore the K-9s outside of the gates as you walk up to the entrance, they are doing their jobs! No petting!
If you hate waiting and want to skip ahead of the line, you might want to look into the TimeSaver Pass. It allows you expedited access to all lines at a variety of rides and shows. All rides and shows are free with a paid admission, but the TimeSaver Pass helps to minimize wait times and maximize the amount of fun you can have!
Once inside, we stopped to get a bit of food before starting our venture further into the park. We stopped in the Spotlight Bakery. If you decide to eat here, make sure and try a slice of the twenty-five-pound apple pie! You read that right! TWENTY-FIVE POUNDS! The best way to go when considering staying hydrated throughout the day is to get the refillable cups and carry them with you. There are numerous options for food and nourishment available to you! Whether you are craving the heavenly taste of a BBQ smoked pork sandwich or a sweet treat, you don’t have to look or walk very far! Follow your nose – or the map for the directionally challenged – to your stomach’s desires!
The park first opened up in 1961 as a small tourist attraction known as the “Rebel Railroad” and went through several names and owners. It only included a steam train, saloon, general store, and blacksmith shop back then. Once Dolly Parton reopened the park in 1986 as we famously know it today “Dollywood,” the park doubled in size and now includes several areas featuring different attractions. Just to name a few, Rivertown Junction contains Dolly’s Tennessee Mountain Home, Back Porch Theater, and the Smoky Mountain River Rampage – a personal favorite, designed as a whitewater rafting ride!
The Country Fair is a section designed just for the little ones! Children can enjoy the Shooting Star or Flying Elephants, smaller ones might prefer Lucky Ducky, Busy Bees, and Piggy Parade! You might even find that kids can enjoy other areas inside the park too! Jukebox Junction has the Rockin’ Roadway which is a car ride where the little ones can enjoy the luxury of finally getting to be the boss and drive on a set track! No worries parents – they can’t cause any wrecks! Also in the Jukebox Junction section of the park, you can find the fastest wooden roller coaster in the world – Lightning Rod! If you enjoy an exhilarating rush of adrenaline, visit Wilderness Pass that has the SkyZip zip line and America’s first winged rollercoaster called Wild Eagle.
The newest area that opened up this year (2019) is Wildwood Grove. As a five-acre expansion, it has an additional eleven new attractions which include a restaurant, great tree swing and a family rollercoaster! Wildwood Grove calls to the explorer in all of us. Explore the hidden land beyond the ancient hollow log where the adventure takes root and dreams take flight! Under the mighty limbs of the great Wildwood tree venture deeper through the charming village and past lavish creeks! Discover the Treetop Tower and the Mad Mockingbird or even the Great Tree Swing and the Black Bear Trail. Let the little ones ride the Frogs and Fireflies to spark some wonder! If you plan on getting to enjoy the rides with hardly any wait times, make sure you get to the park early or be super productive and get the TimeSaver Passes!
Once you get all hot and sweaty, cool down and chill out in Dollywood’s Splash Country Water Park! Moms and Dads this one’s for you! Downbound Float Trip allows you to relax under and appreciate the scenic beauty of the Smoky Mountains as you float down a slow flow fifteen hundred foot river or include the kiddos and catch waves in Mountain Waves twenty-five thousand square-foot wave pool. For the younger ones, Little Creek Falls introduces safe and exciting water play. Those who are a little more adventurous can appreciate the thrills of the tallest and fastest slides like Fire Tower Falls and Mountain Scream as they race down aggressive drop slides. There are so many more rides to check out and you may not get to ride them all in one day!