As a mom with young kids, I’m always looking for experiences for our family that will be fun, cost effective, get lots of energy out and (if I’m lucky!) make great memories that will last for years to come. No matter the season, Dollywood is always at the top of our list. Whether we have just a couple of hours, a day or a weekend to fill, it checks every box.
If you make a trip to Dollywood, I guarantee that you will have fun. Our park tends to surprise people! (This feels like the right time to mention that we were voted the #1 Theme Park in the U.S. last year by TripAdvisor, along with #1 Guest Experience, Best Kids’ Area and Best Christmas Event, but I digress…).
Because my family is at Dollywood a LOT, let me share a typical spring itinerary that we enjoy. Hopefully, this will help you plan and know what to expect. I’m including a weekend option and a plan if you only have one day.
A Spring WEEKEND at Dollywood
- After entering the park, I recommend getting your kids measured at the height measuring station. Then, head to the RIGHT. Stroll along Showstreet and take in all of the beautiful spring greenery and décor that the I Will Always Love You Celebration has to offer (don’t miss Celebration Sky!), or if your spring visit coincides with our Flower & Food Festival, be sure to look for the larger-than-life displays. They’re all great photo ops!
- I recommend stopping for a coffee at the Spotlight Bakery to enjoy as you stroll, and check out the Wild Roots Band in Showstreet Gazebo!
- If you have kids, continue on to Country Fair to release some energy! There is plenty of space to run around and many fun rides available for even the smallest kiddos.
- Next, head to The Village for one of Dollywood’s most beloved attractions, the Dollywood Express. An authentic 110-ton coal-fired steam engine takes you on a 20-minute ride through Dollywood with stunning views of the Smokies.
The train whistle is loud, so depending on how little your kids are, I might suggest headphones.
- Following the train (if you’re up for getting a bit wet!), River Rampage in Rivertown Junction is one of my son’s personal favorites!
Be sure to pack a towel or extra clothes for yourself and the kids.
- Now, if you’re anything like us, you’ve already had a snack by this point, but it’s lunchtime! Some favorite spots close by are Dogs ‘N Taters, Aunt Granny’s Restaurant or Market Square.
- Next, I’d suggest a stroll up Craftsman's Valley. You’ll find blacksmithing, glassblowing and more! There’s also Daredevil Falls, Barnstormer, Tennessee Tornado, a replica of Dolly Parton’s Tennessee Mountain Home and plenty of arcade games.
- Then, do yourself a favor and head back down Craftsman's Valley to the Grist Mill for some cinnamon bread after your lunch has digested. IF there is a line, it moves fast and I promise you it’s worth the wait.
- Take your delicious treat into Celebrity or Showstreet Theater to check out the Celebrity Concert Series (Saturdays only!), or the Songwriter’s Showcase, part of Dollywood’s I Will Always Love You Celebration this spring. There’s quite a star-studded lineup! If you are here during Flower & Food Festival, look for special street performances.
- After that, Jukebox Junction is a really neat area close by - my kids LOVE driving the cars at Rockin’ Roadway. For the coaster enthusiasts, you must ride Lightning Rod right next door (it’s been voted one of the Top 10 coasters in the country!).
- If you manage to fit dinner into your body before you leave, Red’s Drive-In is our go-to.
- End your day at the Emporium to find some special, limited-time Dolly Parton merch as a part of the I Will Always Love You Celebration (this is also where you exit).
Phew! What a day. If you did not eat dinner at Dollywood, there are several great options for a dinner show in the area which provides a meal PLUS entertainment. Here’s a great list! Or, just get some takeout and pass out from exhaustion. ;)
Hopefully, you got some good rest because for Day 2 we are heading to the LEFT, up the hill when you enter.
Once you get to the top, our son ALWAYS rides Whistle Punk Chaser. He goes on it by himself and has a blast. Others in your group could ride Thunderhead at the same time, or for the real brave ones: Drop Line (dun dun dunnnn!).
- As you walk on, you’ll pass Lumberjack Lifts (this takes some serious arm strength!) and a Dollywood favorite, Mystery Mine.
- Keep walking until you get to Wilderness Pass. This is where you’ll find the highlight of my son’s time at Dollywood—and probably even his life at this point—FireChaser Express. It’s a coaster that goes forward AND backward! His record is riding it eight times back-to-back.
- Not too far away is my husband’s highlight of Dollywood: Wild Eagle. It’s the perfect roller coaster - your feet dangle, there’s a dramatic drop, loops, twists and turns, and it’s all SO smooth! It’s a must-ride for the coaster lovers.
- If you keep going past Wild Eagle, you’d end up at the top of Craftsman's Valley. If you followed my Day 1 itinerary, you saw that area yesterday. So, I’d turn around and head to Wildwood Grove for the afternoon. Lunch at Till & Harvest is our usual spot.
- Wildwood Grove is a small theme park in and of itself. There is a giant splash pad in the middle of the area that our kids LOVE, and it’s surrounded on all sides by rides for all ages. The only ride our 4-year-old may have gone on more times than FireChaser is Dragonflier, which I call “the mini-Wild Eagle.” It’s really fun for adults, too!
- True to its name, you don’t want to miss Hidden Hollow within Wildwood Grove—it’s an indoor playground!
Keep Hidden Hollow in mind if it starts to rain during your visit. It’s the perfect spot to hide out!
That does it for Day 2! And if you didn’t catch one the first night, find a dinner show! Pirates Voyage is an absolute favorite for kids.
A Spring DAY at Dollywood
From my plan, you can probably tell there’s enough to do to fill multiple days at Dollywood, but even if you don’t have a full weekend to enjoy the park, that’s okay! Let me share my recommendations for what to do with small children if you only have one day.
- I would go to the right when you begin—save that big hill for the end of the day when you can walk DOWN it.
- Stroll with a coffee along Showstreet to take in all of the festive decor. Stop in Celebrity or Showstreet Palace Theater if the timing is right to see one of our spring shows.
- Pass through Jukebox Junction for Lightning Rod and/or Rockin’ Roadway.
- Ride the train! And there’s a carousel in that area that my sons love.
- Include a water ride or two (River Rampage and Daredevil Falls).
- Walk through Dolly’s Tennessee Mountain Home, up Craftsman's Valley and head to Wild Eagle, FireChaser and/or Firehouse Fun Yard.
- Find a bite to eat at the Food Truck Plaza and continue on to ride Mystery Mine, then post up in Wildwood Grove for a few hours.
- Be sure to stop at Whistle Punk Chaser, Drop Line, and/or Thunderhead before you make the trek down the hill to the exit.
- BUT DON’T FORGET THE CINNAMON BREAD!!! You can purchase it at the Spotlight Bakery before you leave.
As I said in the beginning, whether you are here for a weekend, a day, or just a few hours, I guarantee you will have fun and make wonderful memories. Dollywood does not disappoint!