One of the first trips I took with my best friend was a school field trip to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. We rode the Mystery Mine together, and she made me ride the Tennessee Tornado on my own. We’ve taken many trips together since then, and we’ve remained friends for 15 years. So during a recent trip to Gatlinburg to celebrate my 25th birthday, what better way to celebrate than a nostalgic trip to Dollywood? It was a cold, drizzly day when we arrived at Dollywood. We took the tram to the entrance, got our tickets, and hurried into the park. “It’s freezing,” Taylor said, “we probably won’t be able to spend much time here.” Readers, I am proud to tell you that we spent almost six hours at Dollywood, despite the weather. How?
Dollywood has something to offer for almost everyone, from theme park lover to couch potato. We went a week before Christmas, and the park was beautifully decorated with lights. There were Christmas carols playing over the speakers, and the shows were Christmas themed. Elderly couples snuggled together on benches, and parents of young children got their family photos taken in a Rudolph-themed snow globe. Taylor and I, however, were there on a mission. That mission was to ride every single roller coaster in the park.
There were few others willing to face the cold rain the day we visited Dollywood, so we walked onto almost every ride immediately. However, during high volume times, you may want to buy a TimeSaver Pass or TimeSaver Pass Unlimited to make sure you get to ride everything you would like. Guests at Dolly Parton’s DreamMore Resort get a complimentary TimeSaver Pass with their purchase of Resort tickets to Dollywood theme park.
Although Dollywood has over 40 rides and 15 shows, we narrowed down our favorites to the Lightning Rod and Wild Eagle roller coasters. Each roller coaster is a different experience at Dollywood, unlike some theme parks where they all seem to blend together. We rode all of them at least once, and some of them multiple times. Yes, we even rode the Mystery Mine for old time’s sake! Taylor and I both have dietary restrictions, and we were pleasantly surprised that we were able to find food that was safe for both of us. Dollywood’s website is especially helpful for people following gluten free (like me!) or vegetarian diets. It steered us in the right direction, and all of the park employees were happy to answer our questions and help us out. No wonder Dollywood has been voted the “friendliest theme park!” A helpful guest worker even snapped our photo in front of the Dollywood sign!
I plan on returning to Dollywood with my daughter one day, hopefully, this spring or summer, because there were quite a few activities and shows that even toddlers could enjoy. Dollywood is extremely family friendly! I saw more families with small children than at almost any other theme park I’ve been to. (And I have been to quite a few.) Dollywood’s family-friendly atmosphere extends to its music and shows, so don’t be surprised to hear some gospel music belted out during some of the shows.
Although Taylor and I didn’t attend any of the shows, Dollywood has also been voted “best shows,” and many people we walked by were telling their friends about how much they enjoyed the shows they had just seen. The Birds of Prey show has always been a favorite with my dad’s side of the family, who make a yearly Summer pilgrimage to Dollywood to enjoy the theme park as a family. Maybe this year, we should tag along with them!
If you’re reading this and dreaming of your family visit to Dollywood, there’s something else you should know. During the summer, Dollywood also has an accompanying water park, Dollywood Splash Country. Tickets are sold separately from Dollywood theme park tickets, but it’s a great place to spend a day cooling off during a summer vacation to the Pigeon Forge area. Dollywood is a great place to spend a day with your family or friends when you’re in the Pigeon Forge area. With rides for thrill seekers, shows for the whole family, and more, you’re sure to have a good time. If you’re like us, you might even be willing to brave the cold and rain for it.
Have you ever been to Dollywood?