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Only 36 Hours at Dollywood? Start Here... 
Category: Trip Planning
Date: February 1, 2017

While I love spending a long weekend at Dollywood, my family never turns down any opportunity to spend time in the theme park.

So what can you do if you only have a single day ticket to Dollywood?

First of all, get rid of one thing from your vocabulary: ONLY.

One of the many reasons we love Dollywood for our family vacations is the value. Not only are there many opportunities for added value tickets throughout the year, such as the world-class acts during Festival of Nations or the nightly fireworks during Dollywood Summer, but there is something very important you need to know about your single day Dollywood ticket: it actually has bonus hours built into it.

Yes, you heard me right. You are getting more fun packed into that single day ticket than initially meets the eye.

Dollywood Theme Parks offer an “After 3 p.m., Next Day Free” ticket deal; this means that if you enter the theme park at 3 p.m. or later, you get to return the next day for free! If you take advantage of this offer during the summer when the park doesn’t close until 10 p.m. on some nights, you can pack almost twenty hours of park time (divided amongst two days) into a single day ticket! New in 2017 – Dollywood will be open 10 a.m. until midnight a couple Saturdays in July (July 1 and 8). This would be a GREAT time to take advantage of the After 3 p.m. deal.

And if you’re looking for even more time in Dollywood theme park, you’ll want to make sure to spend the night at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort. Each Saturday, the theme park opens one hour prior to the scheduled opening time just for Season Passholders and Dollywood lodging guests to enjoy a select ride.

In addition to the Saturday early entry, resort guests also enjoy a free trolley to the theme park, along with a free TimeSaver pass for every member of your party, saving you both time and money.

So now that you know how to fully maximize your 36 hours at Dollywood, what are you going to do while you’re there?

I’m glad you asked.

Dollywood is known for so many things, but one of the biggest draws is its shows. If you think about it, the ride lines are constantly moving, but there are only so many seats in a theater. So the first thing you want to do is plan out what shows you want to see and when.

After you have your show schedule set, I recommend starting with a ride the whole family can enjoy. For us, that means heading over to Country Fair. This is the area of the theme park where you’ll find the highest number of rides per square inch, plus, there’s something for just about every member of the family to ride, regardless of age. While you’re there, I highly recommend riding the Dizzy Disk and Sky Rider.

After County Fair, you’ll probably want a snack. I suggest a crowd favorite like Dogs N Taters; it’s delicious and easily portable - not to mention conveniently located near the center of the park as you walk out of Country Fair on your way to the next activity. And let’s face it, if you are looking to maximize your time, you’re going to want to walk and eat (at least for one meal).

Remember, if you’ve come in after 3 p.m. and enjoyed some time at Country Fair, chances are, some of the other guests that have been at the park all day are going to start heading home, so this is the time to hit some of the bigger coasters. If you have elementary-aged daredevils, I suggest the FireChaser Express (my son’s favorite and always his vote for first ride). If your thrill-seekers are tall enough, you’ll want to get in line for Wild Eagle before it gets dark - the view you’ll experience on your way up the hill is unlike any other in the theme park.

After a few rides, you’ll want to take a break and take in some shopping from the artisans in Craftsman’s Valley. You’ll find everything from personalized baseball bats and leather goods to delicious dips and Volunteer State originals. Plus, if you are staying at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort, your packages can be delivered directly to your room so you don’t have to carry them around with you the rest of the night.

I’d imagine about now you’re ready to take in one of the award-winning shows before dinner. Speaking of dinner, a trip to Dollywood isn’t complete without a meal at Aunt Granny’s Buffet. It’s an “all you care to eat” restaurant, complete with drink, dessert and even a taco bar included!

After dinner, you’re going to want to ask everyone in your group how they’re feeling; after all, you don’t want to push yourselves too hard or too late…you still have an entire day at Dollywood Theme Park in store tomorrow!

My suggestion? Grab the trolley back to the resort, sit around the fire pit and plot out your plan for the next day.

Just think, if you've had this much fun in half a day, just imagine all the adventure a full day at Dollywood theme park holds!



Park Flow Tips
Category: Trip Planning
Date: February 22, 2017

When you fall in love with a place like Dollywood and you visit over and over again, you’ll pick up on things that will make your trips even better—like, do you know when it’s the best time to ride the train? How about which area of the park to hit first to avoid the crowds? Or, which tucked away restaurant rarely has a wait to be seated? Find out all this (and more!) on my video informing you about park flow.


Behind the Scenes with Mother Africa
Category: Entertainment
Date: March 20, 2017

Mother Africa is the show-stopping headliner at Dollywood during Festival of Nations (now through April 9). The acts are pretty impressive, but, I wondered—does it look harder than it really is to pull off the acrobatics? To find out, I got a chance to try one of the balancing acts myself. Watch the video and see what you think!