While most people first think of Six Flags, Disneyland and other theme parks, country music lovers and Smoky Mountain vacationers are drawn to Dollywood amusement park for a family vacation. Dolly Parton's theme park is in the heart of the Smoky Mountains, and it has something for everyone. There are fun rides, shows and special events for the whole family every week. If you're planning on visiting Dollywood for a family vacation, here are a few tips to make your planning a little easier and less expensive.
The best part about the Dollywood amusement park is that it's truly kid-friendly. There are baby areas throughout, and any restaurant will warm a bottle for you. The park even requests that visitors dress appropriately and avoid clothing with offensive images so everything remains hospitable to families.
- Resort/Cabin Rental Deals: Many of the resorts and cabin rentals around the Smokies will offer coupons for Dollywood and other park deals. You can probably find deals on cabins as well. Particularly during the off-season, you may be able to find free tickets to Dollywood when you book your vacation with a certain company.
- Local Retail: Retail locations around Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg often work with Dollywood to offer special deals. Sometimes simply shopping at a certain grocery store can save you money on your park tickets.
- eBay: As with most things, eBay has some fabulous deals on Dollywood theme park tickets. Often these are combined with cabin rental deals. You can simply bid on the deal or choose the "Buy It Now" feature.
- Season Passes: If you plan to visit Dollywood for more than one day, then you are better off buying season passes unless you find a really incredible deal. After going just twice, you will pretty much have your money back on the season passes, and then you'll be able to enjoy Dollywood year round.
- Festivals and special attractions: Check the Dollywood website to find festivals that would appeal to you and your family. Themes can include anything from winter holidays to barbecue, bluegrass and children's activities.
- My Trip Planner: The Dollywood website also has a Trip Planner function that can help you plan and save your trip. The website offers great deals sometimes on tickets and cabins, so if you get on their email list you will be updated on all the new events and festivals as well as deals on tickets.
- Timing: Dollywood is closed each year during January, February and March. Hours vary throughout the year and there are days each month, often Tuesdays, when the park is closed. Be sure to check the operating calendar before planning your trip.
Crowds are largest during festivals. May through September are the busiest months, but crowds also grow during December due to the Christmas specials. For the fewest crowds, visit during the off-season and on weekdays.
- Weather: The weather in the Smokies is cool in the spring and fall. You'll usually want to bring a light jacket or a sweater for mornings. Layering is a great idea during cooler months since afternoons can be significantly warmer. Additionally, you will want to wear a bathing suit under your clothes during the summer for the many water rides. Some of these fun rides will get you surprisingly soaked! Keep an extra set of clothes in the car as well, so that your family doesn't have to ride home wet.
- Food: Although you are not allowed to bring food into Dollywood, you can get your hand stamped, leave the park for lunch and return. Dollywood offers an assortment of fun foods, from old theme park classics (corn dogs, hamburgers, funnel cakes and kettle corn) to less common items (pork rinds). But if you'd like to save money, you might want to pack a lunch and leave it in a cooler in your car. That way, you can eat cheaper food without having to return to a terrible parking spot or lose a lot of time driving back to your hotel or cabin.