How to Plan for Your First Trip to Dollywood How to Plan for Your First Trip to Dollywood

How to Plan for Your First Trip to Dollywood


February 10, 2023

Are you a first-time visitor planning a trip to Dollywood? Or perhaps you're already a fan, but it has been awhile since your last visit? I've put together a list of Frequently Asked Questions to help you organize and plan for a fun-filled and successful trip to the park! Read on to learn everything you need to know about planning for your trip, navigating the park, parking, dining options and plenty of insider tips and tricks.

When Is the Best Time of Year to Visit?

Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains, Dollywood is simply stunning in every season. When checking the operating calendar, you'll notice that Dollywood features four annual festivals each with unique food, drink, entertainment, and decorations. Are you interested in dazzling spring floral mosaics? What about an amazing summer firework display and flying drone lights show? Fall brings the Great Pumpkin LumiNights and thousands of carved pumpkins. Want to stand in awe under six million twinkling Christmas lights? With all these unique festivals, the best time to visit is ALL the time!


Insider Tip

If you plan to visit the park more than a couple of times each year, a Season Pass may make the most economical sense!




Where Do I Start? Is There Anything I Should Do Before Arriving?

My number one tip? Download the Dollywood app! The Dollywood app allows guests to not only plan fun-filled visits in advance, but navigate a successful day in the park. The app provides a wealth of knowledge when it comes to viewing show schedules, dining options, shopping, ride height requirements, a map and more. Guests can create "lists" in the app and add your family's "must-dos" for an upcoming trip! These lists help families organize places in the park they'd like to visit and to create a schedule based on showtimes.

Better yet, when inside the park the interactive map will give guests specific walking directions on how to get to a desired location! Simply search for the restaurant, shop, restroom or attraction you'd like to visit and in a few clicks you have walking directions to take you to your destination! This is very helpful if you need to find the closest restroom, family restroom, changing area or nursing station!

Also, while in the park, the "rides" feature of the app not only provides thrilling descriptions, height and safety requirements, but also live wait times. Guests can sort the rides by proximity, alphabetical order, or by wait time. This can be so helpful if you have limited time or little legs in your party!

Insider Tip

Season passholders can manage their passes in the app! After logging in and linking your passes to your account, you can also add them to your Apple wallet!

Where Do We Park? How Do You Get from Parking to the Park Entrance?

Parking at Dollywood is a breeze! There is one entrance for both Dollywood and Dollywood's Splash Country. Visiting the water park? Make sure to stay in some of the farther right lanes. Upon entering the parking lot, a host will happily direct you to the closest available parking lot. Once parked, you can catch a tram ride from a nearby stop and be on your way to the transportation hub and entrance.

Standard parking is FREE for Gold and Diamond season passholders and reasonably priced for daily ticket holders. However, if you're looking for a parking upgrade you can tell the host at the gate you're interested in preferred parking. Preferred parking is extremely close to the park, has its own entrance, and allows guests to quickly walk in and out. (And in and out again if you need to!) Both Standard and Preferred Parking can be purchased online before your visit. One quick scan of your barcode and you'll be on your way! I like to take advantage of this when I think Preferred parking may sell out or I want to move through the queue faster.

Insider Tip

A great way to start your day is by parking early! Read here to check out all the perks of parking early and more details on preferred parking.

What Can I Bring into the Park? Can I Bring a Wagon or Stroller?

Dollywood parks are SO family friendly; guests can bring nearly all the essentials needed to be prepared for a full day of family fun. Backpack? You got it! Stroller? Of course! Wagon? Not a problem! Personally, I prefer to bring a small belt bag and a stroller. The belt bag is perfect for a wallet, keys, and small essentials. Better yet, the belt bag is so easy to store safely while I'm on a high-thrill ride. (See my next FAQ below!)

What if you no longer have a permanent stroller or don't want to pack one for travel? You can rent single and double strollers at Dollywood! Electric Chair Vehicles are also available. Read all about rentals here!


Insider Tip

Did you forget to pack essentials like diapers or wipes? Maybe you came down with a headache? Visit Dollywood's Emporium and ask a host to help you quickly shop for drug store supplies.

What Do I Do with Personal Items Before Boarding a Ride?

Loose items such as cell phones, wallets, and keys aren't permitted on Dollywood's high thrill rides, so where do you safely place them while you're on the attraction? Great news! Every ride has designated shelves, cubes, or bins for your belongings. Check out my friend Aaron's blog on how to manage loose articles like a pro and you can preview just how easy it is!

Are There Rentable Storage Lockers Around the Park?

Absolutely! Whether you want to store extra clothing layers, shopping bags, or any number of personal items, you can rent a locker in the park. Some lockers are traditional, single location, and some "float" with you through the park. Interested in locker rental during your park stay? Be sure to read this in-depth guide to rentals!

If I'm Shopping Around the Park Throughout the Day, What Do You Do with my Bags?

Shopping at Dollywood is a must-do! With a minimum purchase (usually around $35) you can have your bags sent to "package pickup" in Dollywood's Emporium. Shop all day and quickly pick up your bags at the exit! Better yet, are at one of Dollywood's resorts? You can have your shopping bags delivered to your room!

Can I Easily Dine with Food Allergies or Specific Preferences?

Short answer: absolutely! A day at Dollywood isn't complete without mouth-watering snacks, treats, festival food, and full dining options. Dollywood menus at-a-glance include helpful notes for those with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diets; these menus are viewable outside of the restaurants and in Dollywood's app.

Are you looking for allergen information such as peanuts or dairy? You can ask any Dollywood restaurant host to see the "allergen notebook." These notebooks contain information about specific allergens in all menu items. Locations where peanut products are served also have an easy-to-notice peanut warning on all entrances.


Insider Tip

For those who eat gluten free, I would like to point you to Front Porch Café, Till & Harvest Food Hall or Iron Horse Pizza. These restaurants in particular are best-suited for gluten free needs.

Do You Have Any Other First-Timer Tips?

  • Free water is available wherever there is a soda fountain!
  • Visiting with young children who may enjoy rides? Have their height measured at Centralized Measuring and learn what attractions they can safely board.
  • Do you have young children who can't enjoy a ride with everyone else? Take advantage of Dollywood's Parent Swap program!
  • Are you a coaster junkie? Read all about the top five fastest coasters in the park.
  • Do you have limited time to enjoy the park? Consider upgrading with a TimeSaver Pass!
  • Are you theme park fans but not necessarily here for high thrill rides? See why Dollywood is worth it, even without coasters! And check out all the fun hands-on activities for children.

No matter what you plan or when you visit, there is no wrong way to do Dollywood!


All Insiders Trip Planning


All Insiders Trip Planning

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