Best Value Posts

Katie Van Dyke | Life With a Big Family is a Balancing Act
Date: February 1, 2017

When planning family adventures we try to balance budget against how possible it is that our entire family will have fun. With a wide age range, this can be a lot harder than it sounds.  It becomes even harder when you want a day that offers memories, laughs and fun at a reasonable price. When you want value. 

While considering options this year I did a little quick math:

Full Family Day Option #1 
1. Movie (provided we can find one everyone wants to see) 
$12 x 2 adults = $24 
$9 x 6 kids = $54 
$20 for treats 
$98

2.  Trampoline Park 
$17 x 4 adults= $68  
$12 x 2 kids = $24  
$92

3. Local Hands-On Science Center
$7 x 7 people= $49
$2 x 7 for planetarium show= $14 
$63

Total=$253 for one full day of fun

Full Family Day Option #2 
Day at Dollywood (We buy season passes, so add 245 more days of fun!)

$86 x 4 kids = $344 (We only need 4 because kids 3 and under are Free!)
$98 x 2 adults = $196

Train ride- included
Roller coasters- included
Shows- included
Play areas- included
Water rides- included 
Craft demonstrations- included
Younger child rides- included
Festivals- included 
Museums- included 

Total= $540 for 10 months of visits

Option #2 is a little more expensive but here is where more value comes in: we get 246 possible days of family fun with our season passes. Note we only bought four of our kids passes, our two year old does not need one as kids 3 and under are Free. Obviously, we won’t make it 246 times, but 10 is a realistic number for our family. That averages out to one visit a month and that makes each trip $54—or just $7 per person! 

Now let’s talk about the fact there is something on that list of “included” attractions that each person in my family loves. My 4 year old loves the train and everyone else will have fun riding with him. My older guys love roller coasters, but my toddler will have fun playing in a nearby Fun Yard while they ride. That means no, “I’m bored,” no eye rolling, no asking when we are leaving, no creatively entertaining a toddler because they aren’t big enough for anything. Value with a capital V. 

When everyone has something to enjoy it also allows my husband and I to fully enjoy time with our kids.    

And I get to do the things I love at Dollywood like listening to my older guys laughing at me for screaming the entire roller coaster ride or riding the Rockin’ Roadway cars with my 4 year old for the fifth time. I love watching all their faces light up as they watch a show or waving to my toddler flying by on the Busy Bees.   

A season pass also relieves the pressure I can feel to make everyone cram as much family fun into one day as possible. I know I am not the only mom, who knowing how much money has been spent on a day, has given her kids “the” look and through partially gritted teeth instructed them to start having fun immediately.  With a season pass if one or more of my kids is having a meltdown, we can just pack it in and try another day. When we have an unexpected free evening we can surprise the kids with a quick trip to one of their favorite places.  

So, if you’re wondering if Dollywood is a good value for you family I’m going to say YES.  Dollywood manages to balance big roller coasters, small rides, parks, food, water rides, shows, arts and crafts, music and more.  Everyone will find something to smile about.  So, pack all your precious people into the car and head to Dollywood for your own family fun.