April 20, 2022
Dollywood is a pretty enchanting place. And while you’d like to think this enchanting place is all sunshine all the time, there are days when nature just doesn’t cooperate. Being in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, this un-cooperation typically comes in the form of the wet stuff. That’s right…sometimes it actually rains at Dollywood. The thing is, you’d be mistaken to think this is an all-together bad thing. Far from it. With a little prep and luck, a rainy weather forecast may actually create a touring advantage on your Dollywood day.
How is a rainy forecast advantageous? Simple. It gives you a chance to zig when others zag. For example, on a recent visit, our Dollywood day forecast called for all-day rain. One glance at the radar suggested a washout. After almost rescheduling, we decided to forge ahead anyway.
Did it ruin the day? Hardly. After catching our favorite indoor shows and eating lunch at Till & Harvest – one of the many covered dining areas around the park – the rain that was forecasted to last all day vanished. Instead, we were left with a Dollywood largely devoid of guests and near-zero attraction waits. Months later we still talk about the great Dollywood “day we almost didn’t have.” It’s a day that would've never happened had we not “zigged” against conventional wisdom and rescheduled our trip. Advantage: us!
In hindsight, we probably over-thought our go/no-go decision. In the moment though, it’s easy to forget that a 100% chance of rain really just means there’s a 100% chance rain will occur somewhere in the forecast area for some duration of time. It doesn’t always mean the washout it seems to imply.
It’s also easy to forget Dollywood is really a park tailor-made for uncooperative weather. A majority of outdoor attractions operate in steady, light rain and only close when there is lightning and heavier downpours. During those closures, you’ve got second-to-none entertainment that’s fully available in nearly any weather.
When are you most likely to encounter “advantageous” weather on your visit?
Historically, a rainy day at Dollywood is most likely to happen in the summer (May to August). Of those, July tends to be the wettest month.
At the other end of the spectrum is October, which has the fewest wet days and the lowest rain total volume.
If you're not prepared, your “advantageous” weather may not be so advantageous—just annoying. As such, you’ll want to make sure you have the necessary gear. We take ponchos and leave the umbrellas at home. With an umbrella, you’ll have something else to keep up with, and you’ll be down a hand when trying to hold onto kids or push a stroller.
Speaking of strollers, don’t forget your stroller cover. You never know when an unexpected rain shower might leave you with a wet stroller. This has happened to us once (or twice) and has left me carrying the baby while the stroller dried out. During colder months, it’s also not a terrible idea to bring an extra pair of socks with you on rainy days. We usually throw a pair into the bottom of the stroller. Rain shoes would also fit the bill if you're inclined. So, poncho + cover + socks = advantage held.
Since inclement weather is such a tricky thing to predict, I tend to rely on a mix of local weather resources. For Dollywood, that’s going to be your Knoxville, Tennessee, news sources like:
In-park, I use Accuweather hourly updates and radar to keep track of what is going on. Dollywood also has a team keeping a close eye on the weather in case there’s a need to make operational changes.
So, while you can’t ignore some of the minor annoyances that come with uncooperative weather, I think the low probability of an all-day wash-out, a park that’s very much prepared to entertain you regardless and the high likelihood of smaller crowds all make the argument for visiting regardless of how the forecast looks.
This is especially true when visiting during popular times and rain in the forecast can help you! It’s worked out especially well for our family multiple times, and I suspect it will for yours as well. Plus, there’s always this: a rainy Dollywood day always beats a day anywhere else.
All Insiders Trip Planning
All Insiders Trip Planning