February 17, 2023
When Dollywood is open, there is never a bad day to visit the park.
Having said that, some days will be more popular than others and will attract larger crowds. That's where I come in: I'm going to give you the Dollywood Insider scoop on my recommendations for the best days to visit.
By far, the most popular time to go to Dollywood is when school is out and people are off work. So it makes sense that weekends and school break periods are going to be busier than weekdays and when class is in session.
While the week between Christmas and New Year's Day tends to be one of the most popular times of the year to visit Dollywood, there are some holidays that don't see nearly as much "traffic." Maybe it's because people like to celebrate Independence Day and Memorial Day with traditions like campouts, boating and grilling, but these summer holidays usually are good days to visit Dollywood. Historically, park attendance is lower than you'd expect on these specific days. The weekend around the actual day can be busy but often not the day itself.
Your best bet to avoid bigger crowds is to try to think the opposite of what most families will be doing. The weeks before and after summer break tend to be quieter, and the week after Easter often is slower because most spring breaks have ended.
If you want to visit on a weekend, Sundays tend to be a travel day for a lot of people. That may be a better option to visit Dollywood than a Saturday.
Also, pay attention to the natural park flow. Most people enter the turnstiles and go right. I suggest going left and heading up through Timber Canyon.
Similarly, plan to eat meals during non-peak times to avoid lines when you grab a bite to eat.
In the same vein as thinking opposite, consider visiting on a day that has a less-than-perfect forecast.
My daughters and I hit Dollywood on a rainy Monday in June this past year‚Äîand we had the place to ourselves! I really think my girls rode Dragonflier 10 times that day. We didn't even get that wet! We wore rain gear, most of the rides are covered and you can always duck into a restaurant or shop if it really starts coming down.
Most people will choose the best weather day to visit a theme park, so if you're looking for some clouds, you're thinning out the pack.
As you're making those plans and considering weekdays and rainy days, don't forget to check the operating schedule on dollywood.com! The park is not open 365 days a year, so be sure you plan accordingly.
Dollywood's festivals are very popular; while I highly recommend you visit during a festival, if a small crowd is your most important factor, then you should try to schedule a trip between those windows.
It's always a good idea to arrive early. Park gates open about 30 minutes before official opening time (with limited park access), so give yourself plenty of time to park and get in position to be there when they drop the rope.
Speaking of early, I recommend you take advantage of Early Ride Time if you can. As a perk for Diamond and Gold Passholders, Dollywood opens a designated ride on Saturday mornings just for them. For an hour before the park opens, these guests get in as many rides as they can. People who stay at Dollywood's DreamMore Resort and Spa can get in on this perk, too!
Plus, any day of the week you stay at Dollywood's DreamMore Resort, your stay includes a TimeSaver pass that expedites your wait on lots of the big rides.
Another reason to become a Gold or Diamond Passholder is to enjoy Golden Hours. That's the opportunity to use your Gold or Diamond Pass as a TimeSaver the first hour of each operating day. You can learn more about it here.
I recommend you consider purchasing a TimeSaver if you only have one day at Dollywood and aren't staying at Dollywood's resort. They only sell a limited number of these passes each day. Check out details here.
Another strategy you should try if you visit when it seems a lot of other people had the same idea: focus on something other than the rides. Seeing Dollywood's indoor shows is a great way to beat the heat or get out of the cold. You could take in some Appalachian culture if you take your time through Craftsman's Valley and don't forget about Dollywood's restaurants! They're amazing anytime (check out fun ways to customize the existing menu here!), but during Dollywood's four seasonal festivals, you can purchase a Tasting Pass that guides you through all of the chef's special creations for that time of year.
With some strategy and a little Insider information, you can always have a good day at Dollywood.
Here are some links to other helpful Insider Tips!
All Insiders Trip Planning Featured
All Insiders Trip Planning Featured