After returning from a super fun summer trip, I thought it would be a great idea to share our family’s top 10 favorite items to bring along when visiting Dollywood. Created from years of theme park travel, this list is predicated on comfortability, saving money and, above all, making your Dollywood trip as great as possible. And while this list is definitely geared toward beating the summer heat, it really applies to any Dollywood visit throughout the entire season. Let’s get going!
- Apple AirTags: This is a new addition to our list. We were excited to take our Apple AirTags on a first-time trip to Dollywood this summer. Our interest was primarily in keeping tabs on both our backpack and stroller. After a test run, I can say it definitely took an element of stress out of our day. So much so, that we plan on bringing them along from now on.
- Filtered Water Bottles: While we always purchase a refillable mug for Coke products, if we’re drinking water, we like to filter it. Just make sure you get one that has a built-in straw, carrying loop, and push-button lid to make it as convenient as possible when filling up at the park.
- External Phone Charger: There’s no better place for draining your phone battery than Dollywood where there’s a photo opportunity around every turn. To combat this, we like bringing along a mid-range external battery charger ($20-30) that typically gives you three to four full charges. Alternatives include using Fuel-Rod and charging stations. Dollywood offers both around the park.
- Stroller Fan: While a no-brainer in the summer heat, this take-along can be surprisingly tricky to get right. We often find the standard clip-on fan has trouble clamping exactly the way we need it to on the side of the stroller. Instead, we like the flexible tripod fans. While no battery-operated fan of this size will knock you down with power, you can at least get it mounted in a way that will consistently blow in the desired direction.
- Neck Fan: Along the same lines as the stroller fan, it’s all about getting a consistent breeze from one position. No fan is better at that than a bladeless neck fan. If you don’t have one, Dollywood sells them.
- Cooling Towels: If you’re looking for a simpler way of cooling off, cooling towels may fit the bill. The chill won’t last as long as the neck fan mentioned previously, but they are definitely an option to consider when you need to cool off.
- Disposable Ponchos: While we love cooling off on Daredevil Falls or Smoky River Rampage, it doesn’t necessarily mean we want to take the chance of being drenched. That’s why we always take a pack of disposable ponchos into the park with us. They are an inexpensive way of enjoying water attractions without carrying the water attraction along with you when exiting. The same goes for navigating Dollywood in occasional rainy weather. While you can always choose the more expensive poncho option, we really think you’re better off using and disposing.
- Blister Control: One of the more surprising, but vital carry-along for us is something to prevent the blistering and chafing that sometimes accompanies extensive walking. We’ve found the best way to combat this is something like Gold Bond Friction Defense. My wife absolutely swears by it and it’s really helped with the foot blistering we encountered in our early theme park years.
- Sunscreen Packs: While we had always brought bottled sunscreen previously, this past trip, we tried using sunscreen packs instead. These took up less room in our backpack and we were able to simply hand them out for each person to apply. Well, except for my 4-year- old. He promptly handed his back and asked for a spray.
- Backpack: If you have littles, you know how much it helps to have their favorite drink/snack/you-name-it on hand. While you can always select a tote-style bag, the backpack option is definitely the more comfortable route for theme park use.
That’s it! Well, that’s not exactly it. Again, these are just a few of our favorite items to pack. In truth, this list is maybe 10% of what we usually take along on Dollywood visits. We typically have an item to combat nearly any situation - up to and including a meteor strike. But, that’s just us. We actually enjoy trying to upgrade our theme park take-along experience on each visit. While only some of these items on our list may be useful to you, I hope it sparks some ideas of things you, too, can bring to make your Dollywood visit the best it can be.