March 20, 2023
This guide is for dads who are taking pre-school and elementary-aged children to Dollywood. That’s the category I fall into, and my goal is to make sure my daughter has a great time while simultaneously enjoying the experience myself. Dollywood is a 165-acre park, so having a loose plan can help you optimize everyone’s day and make sure you don’t miss out on key attractions.
My first tip is to tell you if there are any performances or time-sensitive happenings you want to enjoy, look them up ahead of time so you can plan to experience that area of the park before or after the event. You wouldn’t want to find yourself in Wildwood Grove 10 minutes before the start of a show that’s in a theater near the front of the park. A show you both will enjoy is the Birds of Prey show in the Wings of America Theater. Choose a showtime and build around that.
Once you have an idea of time-specific to-dos, you can then plan one of the most important items of the day: lunch! I have a single, simple recommendation: Aunt Granny’s Restaurant.
At this point, I suggest dividing your day into pre and post lunch segments. Elementary kids and preschoolers are going to want to spend the bulk of their day in either Wildwood Grove or Country Fair. Speaking of fair, this is your fair warning you may find yourself humming “buzzy, buzzy, buzzy bee” to yourself after visiting Country Fair. See what I did there? This IS a dad’s guide, so you should have expected at least one dad joke.
My suggestion is to find a nice spot on the grass-like central seating area where you can view several rides while taking a rest. My little girl loves the Shooting Star. We always have to hit this ride before moving on to another area of the park.
You can find a specific guide about spending your day in Country Fair in this blog.
Wildwood Grove also has a couple of spots where you can sit and watch your little one(s) wear themselves out with excitement. The Giant Tree Swing is my daughter’s clear favorite in this area of the park. I think I sat there one time and watched her ride it seven times in a row!
Wildwood Grove has an indoor playground that was obviously built with dads in mind. There are padded seats with wall plugs for charging that device you have been using to take 10,000 pictures. It’s air-conditioned and only has one entrance/exit, so it’s hard for kids to wander off as they are prone to do. I may or may not have been known to take a nap in there. Speaking of naps: I’m so good at sleeping, I can do it with my eyes closed. (Sorry, last dad joke of the post.)
Wildwood Grove also is the location of the new Big Bear Mountain family roller coaster set to open later this spring. This will definitely be one that you and your children will love riding together.
There are a lot of other attractions you can visit in between Country Fair and Wildwood Grove. Kids in this age group usually love the Dollywood Express, The Village Carousel, Rockin’ Roadway, Daredevil Falls, Smoky Mountain River Rampage and the playgrounds (Firehouse Fun Yard and Lil’ Pilots Playground). I suggest making one of the water rides the last thrill of the day.
Once you have successfully filled the little ones with core memories, don’t forget to treat everyone to a funnel cake! Because I love them so much, I dedicated an entire blog to telling you about Dollywood’s funnel cakes.
I hope this guide helps my fellow dads plan out a great experience. I’ll leave you with a list of my daughter’s favorite rides.
All Insiders Trip Planning
All Insiders Trip Planning
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