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17 Dollywood
Tips & Tricks 2024

Drop line Ride at Dollywood Amusement Park, Pigeon Forge, tennessee

Dollywood is always coming up with something new and exciting!

If you plan on visiting, you have come to the right place! 

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Cabins with Free Attraction Tickets

Pet Friendly Cabins Near Dollywood

 

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Attractions

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Food & Restaurants

Get Attraction Discount Tickets Online

Does Dolly Still Own and Visit Dollywood?

Yes and yes!

She does still own Dollywood and is still very much involved!  Dollywood is owned as a long-time partnership between Dolly Parton Productions and Herschend Family Entertainment.

Dolly does not always make her plans to visit known, but the best time to catch Dolly at the park is traditionally, on the opening and passholder days, and at special events and when new things are unveiled. For example, she was at the opening of her Heartsong Resort recently and also has been known to visit the park and the area incognito sometimes.

FUN FACT!  In 2021 Dollywood announced they have a 10-year plan for the park and have since put many of those things into motion.

What's New ??

Big Bear Mountain Roller Coaster at Dollywood, Pigeon Forge
Dolly Parton Experience at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
  • In 2024, Dollywood worked hard to shorten lines in the park, and $1 million in sight and sound upgrades.

  • Heartsong Resort is now Open!

  • Lightening Rod got a new chain pull up - The coaster is known for its lightning speed going up that first big hill!  Due to alot of downtime and maintenance issues with this method of pull, a new chain system was installed for 2024 to rapidly run the (also new) coaster cars up the 1st lift hill at 13 mph.

 

  • Dolly Parton Experience opens in May 2024 - Newer and bigger version of the older Chasing Rainbows Museum. Will feature the latest technology to showcase Dolly's clothing and be all about her journey into the music business and her history and life stories.

  • New Big Bear Mountain Roller Coaster was opened in 2023

  • The Dolly Sing Along Show and Other New Shows

  • A new easy way to get their world-famous Cinnamon Bread from the Gristmill. A special ordering station just outside the Gristmill, and then walk to the Gristmill and pick it up.

  • More Parking being added

  • New Park Restaurant Coming Soon

  • Coming in 2026 - A new exciting Attraction or Ride will be introduced at Dollywood

 

 

My photo of the Heartsong resort signage in Pigeon Forge Tennessee at Dollywood HeartSong Resort and Lodge

I Will Always Love You Music Festival - March 9 - April 14, 2024

Dollywood Splash Country Season Dates - May 11 - September 15, 2024

Flower & Food Festival - April 19 - June 9, 2024

Summer Celebration - June 15 - August 11, 2024

Harvest Festival - September 9 - October 28, 2024

Smoky Mountain Christmas - November 1 - January 5, 2024

1.) Know This: Peak Season at Dollywood is
June - October

drone show at dollywood scenes with a light up butterfly in the night sky
My photo of the entrance to Dollywood Amusement Park Sign in Pigeon Forge

Knowing this can help you plan accordingly.  Of course, weekends are also the busiest.

FUN FACTS:

(Source: queue-times.com)

  • Busiest Times of the Day : 10am - around 2pm

  • Busiest Months : March, July, October

  • Least Busy Days: Thursdays & Fridays are usually the least busy days! 

  • Busiest Day of the Week: Saturdays

  • Rides with the Longest Average Waits:  Lightning Rod, The Dollywood Express (train) and River Rush.

  • Best Coaster Average Wait Time: Wild Eagle 

 

2.) Use the Free Dollywood App

Dollywood screenshot of mobile phone app
Dollywood screenshot of mobile phone app
Dollywood screenshot of mobile phone app

This app is free in the Google Play Store and it can be a TON of help!

  • Get directions to rides or shows

  • Restaurant Menus

  • Get show times

  • Set alerts for showtimes

  • See ride wait times

  • Make lists

  • Get ride information

  • Keep track of tickets and your account

  • It's excellent and user very friendly!

3.) Get a Text When Your Table is Ready

Aunt Grannys All you can eat buffet at Dollywood theme park attraction
Food at Dollywood

Once you decide where you'd like to sit down and eat, ask about having them text you when your table is ready then stay within a short distance, but you won't be stuck in a holding pattern!

There are tons of options for delicious food, and the app mentioned above can help you decide.

4.) Buy Tickets ONLINE Beforehand

Wild Eagle Coaster at Dollywood
My photo of Mystery Mine Ride at Dollywood

If not, you will definitely be spending precious time WAITING in line to get in.

Also, early birds get the ride - and here is why you should go to your left after entering...

Going Left - If you are early enough (which is a great idea to beat the crowds) and you are ready to ride the many coasters, after entering the park, go LEFT. The Park makes a loop and if you go right, it will take you longer to get to some of the rides.  Use the map and the app to plot out your adventure.  The main exception is Lightning Rod, which is to the right.  

Also to the right, are a lot of the kid's rides and the Dollywood Train.

Most likely going left will get you the fastest access to the biggest rides. (with a few exceptions. Refer to map)

*Note - Dollywood generally opens at 10 am (check website for changes) during Spring and Summer, and 11 am during Fall and Winter. 

Also, Dollywood has Ride Wait Times Posted around the Park that update in real time.

The first 2 hours of the morning are the best bet for fastest rides access.

5.) These Parking Hacks Save You Time & Money

Map of Dollywood Theme Park
Pigeon Forge Trolley, Tennessee

Parking Tips:

1.) Preferred Parking - Yes, you are going to pay a bit extra, but if you have the money, you will save a lot of time and energy.

 

2.) City TrolliesIF you are on a tight budget, the city trollies are also a good bet.  Head to Patriot Park, leave your car free, and hop on a cheap trolley and it can drop you off at Dollywood. Dollywood is on the trolley route all day until 10 pm, and sometimes til midnight. 

3.) Take a picture of where you parked!  Or get everyone to make note of it so you do not forget!

6.) Measure Your Kids Upon Entering the Park

girl in yellow shirt standing on gray concrete block
kids ride at Dollywood theme park, pigeon forge, tn

When you first enter the Dollywood, go left to find the Measuring Station and you will get color coded wristbands that will save you from wasting time at rides your kids are not tall enough for certain rides.  A host will measure each person for accuracy.

7.) Water & Phone Charger Advice

Refillable Water Bottle
phones charging

Just so you know you can bring your own water bottle, and get free cups of water as well. Also, there are phone/tablet charging stations around the park but don't forget your own charger! 

And better yet, instead of taking time to charge your phone at the charging stations, bring your own portable charging station!  Check this one out from Amazon.

8.) Get Kids 5 & Under a Free Season Pass

pre k imagination season pass for kids dollywood_edited.jpg
Mother and Son

Kids 3 and under are free, but 4 and 5 year olds can get the Imagination Season Pass for free also, which includes Splash Country as well!  

 

Register at Dollywood.com/tickets, and after you register, you will need to bring a photocopy of their birth certificate or passport to the front gate to confirm their birth year in order to activate their pass. Then it is good the entire year.

9.) Some Perks of Staying at Dolly's Resorts

Dollywood Dreammore exterior and Dollywood bus service
My picture of the Dollywood HeartSong Resort and Lodge in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

More Info and Availability for DreamMore

More Info and Availability for Heartsong Resort

  • Free Trolley Service to and from Dollywood Theme Parks including Splash Country

  • Free Time Saver Passes with Park Tickets

  • Free Package Delivery from Theme Parks back to Hotels

  • Saturday Early Entry & Priority Access to Dollywood Parks

  • Special Onsite Events

  • Onsite Ticket Planning Center

  •  Camp DW Children's Activities

  • Indoor and Outdoor Pools

  • Onsite Full Service Spa

  • Dolly Parton Suite Available

  • New Dolly Suite 1986 Available

10.) How to Carry Your Stuff

phone case waterproof amazon_edited.jpg
mens cargo shorts for Dollywood
women's cargo shorts

Option 1.) Wearable Waterproof Phone Holder Under Shirt

Option 2.) Pants with Zipper Pockets

Not only will this be the most secure method to keep your valuables in check, but for rides as well. The key words are "no loose articles" here so as long as your phone and wallet are safely strapped to your body, under your shirt, you should be fine.

Ride attendants will ask you to leave bags and fanny packs in the convenient ride cubbies, (they are generally supervised by ride attendants but not guaranteed) or you can rent a locker. But to keep things easiest, I would suggest a lanyard or belt that is completely flat and can be worn under clothing and is comfortable to keep your phone and money on you at all times.

Also the waterproof pouches I have chosen are perfect for water rides or rainy days and they also float!

Tile Trackers - These are excellent for any items you could possibly lose. They come in different shapes and sizes and if you need to carry a larger bag or backpack, you can put one in it so you will always know the location of your valuable items!

 

I lost a camera one time at Dollywood and never found it, so trust me - it can happen.

Tile trackers
Mens ripstop cargo pants
womens cargo pants with zipper pockets

Here are some examples I would recommend on Amazon:

IP68 Waterproof Phone Pouch

Tile Trackers

Lightweight Backpack

11.) Ask for a Military Discount

US Army Soldier in Universal Camouflage, Military Discount photo
my photo Dollywood entrance signage and gate, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Dollywood gives a generous Military Discount.

12.) Always Ride Your Favorite Ride 1st

Roller Coaster Ride, 2 girls and one boy
My photo of the Thunderhead wooden coaster in Timber Canyon at Dollywood Theme Park, Pigeon Forge, TN

This way, if something happens, like rain, high winds, power outages or coaster maintenance is needed, you will always have been able to ride your favorite ride that you came for in the first place.

13.) Timesaver Pass

A wristband for each person that allows faster access to the rides through a special line. TimeSaver Passes allow you unlimited daily show reservations at most theaters too.

I only recommend this for visiting during busy times like weekends and holidays. Then it's best to buy it online ahead of time.

Options are Standard Timesaver, Timesaver Plus and Timesaver Premium.

14.) Stay at Cabins with Free Attraction Tickets

Ask about Free Dollywood and Splash Country Tickets when renting one of these cabins!

Cabins with Free Attraction Tickets

Bear Splash Adventure_edited.jpg
Gatlinburg Rental Cabins in Tennessee

15.) Save Money by Having Lunch in Your Car

person wraps a sanwhich
a perso with their Feet up in car

While this may sound crazy to some, it's really not. If you are on a tight budget you can pack some sandwiches, get your hands stamped, and go out to your car and have a bite.

 

For those who need a break from the crowds, this might be the perfect way to break up the day into 2 parts and let the kids rest and let your back and feet rest and enjoy some quiet time before getting back to the excitement. This could be a great way for kids who get very overwhelmed to have a break too.

Note, you can't bring coolers into the park, so be sure you have an ice pack to keep your food cool.  This is even better if you use Preferred Parking.

 

16.) Comfortable Shoes

While this may seem obvious, you might be tempted to try flip flops (NO!) or attempt to wear your new cute shoes that are not broken in yet (NO!). This is NOT the time!

 

Dollywood is not flat, and shoe comfort should be a big priority when deciding what to wear. Make sure your poor toes have a lot of wiggle room and your feet will probably swell during the day so go bigger not smaller.

Choose shoes with a wide toe box and good arch support.

17.) Package Pickup

This option is available for large and fragile items, as well as purchases over $25.  So you don't ahve to worry about carrying special items around with you or losing them.

Person wraps cardboard box with tape that says "Fragile"

Specialty Food Items
Not to Miss at Dollywood

Dollywood Grist Mill famous Cinnamon bread
  • 25 lb Apple Pieat Spotlight Bakery - Buy the Pie or by the slice - each slice is 3 to 4 lbs each!

  • Grist Mill Cinnamon Bread - With your choice of Apple Butter or Frosting

  • Potato Tornado - Crispy, deep fried, spiral cut potato on a stick, with different varieties including one wrapped around a deep fried Nathan's hot dog

  • Fresh, hot Pork Rinds - Various flavors

  • Banana Pudding - or Granny Ogle's Nanr Puddin' if your from Tennessee (Granny Ogle's Ham n Beans Restaurant)

  • Food Festival Tasting Pass - Allows you to try 5 festival foods at one price. Use for more expensive items! Try creative seasonal offerings and unique items, for example, Harvest Pulled Pork Loaded Mac N Cheese, at Miss Lillian's Smokehouse 

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