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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!


How to Get the Best Value at Dollywood's DreamMore Resort
Category: Best Value
Date: April 24, 2017

In my family’s opinion, there’s only one thing that can make a trip to Dollywood better: staying at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa.



After staying at the resort for the first time last year, we became aware of a way to make our stays at the resort even more rewarding: Dollywood's DreamMore Resort Founders Club Premier.

Even as frugal as I am, could not deny the value found within a Founders Club Premier membership.

For less than the cost of one night's stay, you receive all the following:

20% Off Dining & Spa Retail/Services – Enjoy a 20% discount at the DM Pantry, the Song & Hearth and the Spa at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort. (Valid on select spa services and retail items; does not apply to packages, special events/offers or the purchase of alcoholic beverages). 

Free Night Certificate – Use this certificate with any paid night at our Smoky Mountain resort and enjoy your second night on us (subject to availability). Please contact 1-800-DOLLYWOOD for available dates.

Free Ticket –Select a free one-day, one-park admission to Dollywood or Dollywood’s Splash Country. (This alone was worth it for me!)

Automatic Room Upgrades – Premier members receive an automatic room upgrade with every stay at our Smoky Mountain resort (subject to availability).

Exclusive Spa & Dining Offers – Receive exclusive member-only specials at our Smoky Mountain resort.

Founder’s Club Premier guests will also receive a free TimeSaver Pass to Dollywood, early Saturday entry to Dollywood, free parking at the resort and complimentary shuttle service to Dollywood’s front gate.

All of that comes with the $149 membership fee. 

Why would you wait? The free room night alone covers the cost, not to mention the free Dollywood ticket AND all the discounts.

It only took one stay at Dollywood's DreamMore Resort for me to know I didn't want to stay anywhere else when I came back with my family to Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country.

The resort has all the southern charm you'd expect with just the right touch of attainable luxury. And the amenities can't be beat: from the spa to the pools and even roasting S'mores on the outdoor fire pit, it seems like Dolly and her team have thought of everything! 

And did I mention the food? Song & Hearth, the resort’s farmhouse-inspired restaurant, provides delectable home-style dishes served up with a side of Southern hospitality for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I wouldn't normally say I'm a fan of southern cuisine, but the restaurant alone would be worth making a trip back (Make sure to sample their breakfast buffet!).



But this is what I need you to pay attention to...

What truly makes DreamMore a value you can't overlook are the unique Dollywood park privileges extended to every guest of the Resort. These include:

  • Free door-to-door transportation to both Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country.
  • Exclusive Dollywood Park Entry - Use the special Dollywood DreamMore Resort guests-only entrance at Dollywood Theme Park.
  • Front-of-the-line access at Dollywood with a free TimeSaver pass for each guest (up to a $30 per guest/per day value).
  • Early Saturday entrance for guests at Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country.
  • Complimentary Package Delivery - Take advantage of in-room delivery at our resort for Dollywood parks’ shopping purchases.
  • Best Price Guarantee - Guaranteed lowest online price for Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort's Pigeon Forge hotel rooms as well as Dollywood park tickets.
  • Dollywood Resort perks - Enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi, exclusive resort entertainment and dining experiences, and complimentary parking.
So if you just add that up those benefits alone, you're already saving well over $100 on a family of four - not to mention all the time you'll save with the TimeSaver passes AND the exclusive entrance for resort guests. You heard me right - no more waiting in line for a tram or paying for parking. Talk about starting and ending your day at Dollywood the right way :)

For reservations at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa, or to find more information about all of the family-friendly resort amenities, visit or call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD.


Dollywood's Splash Country: Open Now!
Category: Water Park
Date: May 15, 2017

What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘water park’? Whatever it is, I can just about guarantee Dollywood’s Splash Country water park will blow it out of the water! (pun intended)

I wouldn’t be a Dollywood Insider if I didn’t give you the scoop on the newest attraction at Splash Country: TailSpin Racer. The 360 degree looping water speedway is a six-lane racing slide that’s five stories tall and longer than a football field. Best of all, you only have to be 42” tall to ride TailSpin Racer, so families can race head-to-head with the fun of a traditional mat racer-style slide, but with the tight turns and daring drops of an enclosed slide. You’ll find this new adventure just after you enter the park on your left.

But you won’t want to stop there! There is so much to experience at Dollywood’s Splash Country. One reason we love it so much is because we can bring everyone in the family, from babies to grandparents. In fact, last summer we had a mini family reunion where over 20 of us gathered for a weekend at Splash Country because there is literally a water attraction for everyone of any age to enjoy. (Dollywood’s Splash Country Retreat: A Multi-Generational Birthday Celebration). 

Although we rented a retreat for our full day at the water park, we took advantage of the “After 3, Next Day Free” deal the day before and set up camp at Little Creek Falls; it’s conveniently located in the center of the park and features a children’s pool, fun slides and a water activity center. But what appealed to our group most (which included four babies under the age of two and three grandmas) were the large butterfly wings that provided shade. The grandmas loved playing with the little ones in the zero-entry pool when they weren’t napping and while the big kids (and some of us adults) ventured out to some of the more daring water slides.

Speaking of daredevils, there are plenty of slides to satisfy the thrill-seekers in your group (those riders over 48” tall). While I’ve taken my turn on Fire Tower Falls and Mountain Scream, my hands down favorite is RiverRush. It’s Tennessee’s first and only water coaster and you only need to be 42” to ride. Yes, I’ve been known to get off and get right back in line for this one! My tweens would tell you this is their favorite water park attraction as well.

Of course, no trip to Splash Country would be complete without a turn (or two or three…) around the Downbound Float Trip. Again, this is a great choice for every member of the family, as life-vests are available for those that aren’t the strongest swimmers (did you know that life vests are available to borrow for free and can be picked up from various locations in the water park?).

And if you’re looking for more family fun while floating, make sure to try Big Bear Plunge and Raging River Rapids; riders only need to be 36” tall and you all get to sit in one big raft together and, if you’re like our family, have a screaming contest on the way down.

Now if you’ve read any of my other Insider posts, you know that no trip to Dollywood is complete without some delicious eats... and you’re sure to find them at Splash Country as well. I’ll admit, I’m a little partial to the desserts over the main dishes. Two that you can’t miss are a berry sundae from Berries & Cream and the Canadian fried dough phenomenon, BEAVERTAILS.

Can you now understand why we needed more than just one day to take advantage of all Dollywood’s Splash Country has to offer? So suit up the family and make sure you add an extra day (or two) onto your Dollywood vacation this summer to experience IAAPA’s “Must-See Waterpark”!



Don't Let Rain Dampen Your Dollywood Visit
Category: Trip Planning
Date: May 29, 2017

As much as I’d love to pretend there’s a bubble around Dollywood and it never rains there, sometimes it does. BUT, Dollywood has so much to offer even in the rain. In fact, cloudy days can be the best days to come because you have more elbow room. The rides still run unless there’s lightning nearby, so hop on your favorite attractions and enjoy a shorter wait! Here are some more suggestions from a few of your Dollywood Insiders on what to check out whenever the forecast threatens to dampen your visit.


Perks of Longer Park Hours
Category: Best Value
Date: July 26, 2017

Visiting Dollywood is an overnight trip for my family—and that means, we strategize to make the most out of every minute. We love visiting in the summer because the theme park is open 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. If your family can hang all day, there are some perks to staying late. Watch this quick video to find out what I’m talking about.


Tips for Taking Tweens to Dollywood
Category: Family Visits
Date: Aug. 2, 2017

Navigating a theme park or a water park evolves as your family grows. That’s something I’m learning with my own family. Where it used to depend on how well I planned in advance, now it’s become important to use my improv skills. The kids want to explore on their own? Okay, but let’s set some parameters. Here are some of the things I do with my tweens.