Attractions

How to save money at Dollywood: 6 tips from a pro

Dollywood is a lot of things. One thing it isn’t, is cheap. 

If you factor in parking, food, games and souvenirs, a trip to Dollywood for my family of five can cost north of $600, easily.

There’s value to be sure. Even at that price, the memories we make at Dollywood, the fun we have, is well worth the price tag. 

Read Also: Is Dollywood worth the price? What you need to know to plan your budget

But still, for many, that’s a major portion of the vacation budget.  

Dollywood money saving tips

Other than stumbling into free tickets, there’s no great way to make Dollywood cheap. But, if you’re a little savvy, there are ways to save some money on your trip to Dollywood.

Here are our top Dollywood money saving tips:

Dollywood Tennessee Tornado Arcade
If you do the carnival games at Dollywood, choose wisely since the costs can add up quickly (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

6. Choose wisely with your games

My family is super competitive. I don’t know where they get it. But when we go to Dollywood, we must play the games. And we need to win.

That can make for a costly proposition. Fortunately, Dollywood has made it easier now to make sure your kids go home with a win.

Several of the games have a better chance of winning than others. Knocking over the milk bottles? Forget it. It’s a sucker’s bet. Throwing the wiffle ball onto the covered cups? Better.

Keep your eyes open for the kid manning the booth to get a little lazy. If they’re slow to clear the other players’ balls, you can use those balls like bumpers to improve your odds.

The best bet outside of the little kiddie games is the golf ball horse race game. There’s about 15 seats for players, so wait until there isn’t much action, then sit the family down.

As long as no one else joins, which you can’t always help, you’re guaranteed to walk away with a winner.   

5. Be tech savvy, plan ahead

Get ye to the Internets! While planning your trip, be sure to go online and check out Dollywood’s special offers page.

There you will find a variety of packages, bundles and deals.

Were you planning a Pink Jeep Adventure or to visit another Dollywood owned property during your stay? You might be able to save on the total cost with a package deal.

Sometimes booking with Tripster can also save you a couple bucks.

Also, don’t forget to download the Dollywood app. Not only will you have tons of information at the tip of your fingers during your visit, you will also get special offers for deals. 

Read Also: Best Groupons in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg

The trolley only costs $3, which is much cheaper than Dollywood parking (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

4. Park and ride

Dollywood parking for a standard vehicle is $20 for the day.

But if you’re staying in Pigeon Forge, with a $3 wristband, you can catch a trolley to Patriot Park and then transfer to a trolley to Dollywood, avoiding the cost and hassle of Dollywood parking.

If you don’t have a hotel room in Pigeon Forge, parking is free at Patriot Park. The shuttle to and from the park is $2.50.

Dollywood snacks
Dollywood has tasty snacks for a theme park, but the free water is hard to beat (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

3. Take advantage of the free water

It gets hot and humid in East Tennessee, and Dollywood, recognizing that customers keeling over from dehydration is bad for business, offers complimentary water at almost all park food outlets. All you have to do is ask.

There are also drinking fountains at each restroom, but you might want to treat those with some discretion.

You are not allowed to bring outside food or drink into the park, but guests are allowed to bring one unopened bottle of water per person.

You can refill that bottle all day, saving yourself considerably on the cost of bottled water or soda.

You get the added bonus that water is better for you on a hot day and soda, while briefly thirst quenching, will only add to your thirst in the long run due to the sodium content. 

2. Enjoy a parking lot picnic

While you can’t bring a cooler or food and drink into the park, you can get your hand stamped, leave the park and return to your vehicle.

I usually plan on a decent meal for my family at Dollywood running $60 to $75. If saving that money is worth it to you, you can go back to the car, have a family picnic and then return to the park. 

Dollywood- DW Express and Grist Mill
The train rolls by inside the Dollywood theme park (Dollywood media photo)

1. Go for a multi-day pass

While it costs my family more than $600 for a day in the park, a second day cuts the price in half on ticket prices alone.

An adult one day ticket is $79, while a two-day ticket is $99. This means we get into the park the second day for only $20 a head.

On a multi-day vacation, your second day at Dollywood could be cheaper than taking the family to multiple attractions and restaurants.

Roughly $600 for the first day seems high, but $300 for the second – especially considering you won’t need souvenirs both days – is pretty reasonable. 

Read Also: Are Dollywood season passes worth it? An honest analysis

Do you agree with our tips? Let us know in the comments!

What’s new at Dollywood in 2022? Clues on new rides, attractions

Even as Dollywood officials are prepping for the most wonderful time of the year, they’ve got eyes on 2022. 

But before we get to next year, let’s talk about the end of this year. 

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas begins Saturday, Nov. 6 with 17 kajillion dazzling lights, a family-favorite tradition during Christmas in the Smokies.

And it is also an opportunity for kids to find out if they are on Santa’s naughty or nice list. 

Each year, Dollywood transforms into a literal winter wonderland with hundreds of lighted Christmas trees adorning the park.

And area-based lighting themes found throughout the park lead to a sense of wonder and discovery around each turn. 

Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas event lights up the theme park with more than 5 million lights (photo by Alaina O'Neal/TheSmokies.com)
Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas event lights up the theme park with more than 5 million lights (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

Lighting the Christmas sky will be the park’s nightly Christmas Fireworks Show. 

There will also be culinary surprises created by Dollywood’s talented team of chefs.

The Smoky Mountain Christmas festival is sure to shine a familiar light on the holiday tradition of togetherness families have shared at Dollywood for so many years.

Read Also: Christmas at Dollywood 2021: Your guide to this year’s festival

When will Dollywood open in 2022?

But Dollywood isn’t planning to only shine through Christmas.

In fact, Dolly Parton herself says big plans are stewing for next year already, including an exciting new season pass structure. 

For Dollywood, the 2022 season will begin on March 21, 2022.

The Flower and Food Festival – presented by Covenant Health – will run from April 22 through June 5.

It will include several new Mosiaculture (larger than life floral sculpture) displays, increasing the colorful footprint of the event.

It’s a tough act for Dollywood’s chefs to follow, but the other half of the Flower & Food Festival will bring a wide variety of delicacies to the park. 

One of 2021’s biggest successes, the Sweet Summer Nights Drone and Fireworks Show, will be bigger and better in 2022, Dollywood officials said.

The Intel Drone Light Shows combines hundreds of drones lighting the mountain night sky with traditional fireworks.

Sweet Summer Nights – which also includes a nightly dance party featuring sweaty, exhausted guests – will take place from June 18 through Aug. 7.

Also, guess who’s back? That’s right, it’s bubbles, baby.

The Gazillion Bubbles Show will make its return during the summer celebration to entertain the young and the young at heart. Missing since 2017, the bubbles are back. And there will be a lot of them. 

Covenant returns in the fall, sponsoring the Great Pumpkin LumiNights, which has been named the best theme park harvest event in the world.

Editor’s note: Hey Covenant, it’s obvious you like sponsoring things. Reach out, we have some ideas … wink. 

What’s new at Dollywood in 2022?

New in 2022, guests in Craftsman’s Valley will enjoy Hoot Owl Hollow, featuring a number of owl-themed displays in the park and up in the trees. It’s all part of the Harvest Festival, presented by Humana. 

Editor’s note: Hey Humana, same deal … wink. 

The Harvest Festival will run from Sept. 23 through Oct. 29, 2022.

The season wraps with another Smoky Mountain Christmas – presented by Humana. 

In a perfect world, we’re going to Dollywood at least once a season – or four times in a year. 

And that’s where the new pass types come in.

Read Also: Tips and tricks for Dollywood: 9 things to know before you go

Dollywood announced a big change to their Season Passholder Program, which included the unveiling of a new 2022 Diamond Pass (rendering by TheSmokies.com)

What’s new for season passholders in 2022?

The new season pass structure features several new pass types: Silver, Gold and Diamond, all of which have been created to allow more options for visitors to tailor their experience.

And in all likelihood, make Dollywood beaucoups of money. 

The Dollywood Silver Season Pass starts at $139 and offers unlimited visits, two Bring-a-Friend Free tickets and a discount on Dollywood lodging. For just $55 more, guests can opt for the Dollywood Gold Season Pass.

The Gold Pass, which is priced $30 less than a 2021 Gold Season Pass, represents a tremendous value for guests thanks to unlimited visits, Saturday early ride time for the passholder, four Bring-A-Friend Free tickets and discounts on dining, merchandise and lodging. 

In addition, the Gold Pass provides free parking, a one-day unlimited refill mug per pass, various other discounts and access to special exclusive events just for Gold and Diamond passholders. 

Only the named passholder can receive the perks associated with each pass type.

Diamond Season Passes provide a premium experience for guests starting at $304. They also receive six Bring-A-Friend Free tickets, larger discounts, an all-season unlimited refill mug per pass, and a free one-time preferred parking admission per pass.

Included in the Diamond Pass are many of the other perks assigned to both Gold and Silver Passes.

In addition, Diamond Season Passes will provide the passholder unlimited access to Dollywood’s Splash Country. 

Gold and Diamond Passholders also can take advantage of another new perk created for the 2022 season, Dollywood’s new daily “Golden Hours.”

During the first hour of each operating day, Gold and Diamond Season Passes will operate just like TimeSaver passes.

This will allow the named passholder expedited boarding on Dollywood’s world-class rides and attractions.

Passes for 2022 are on sale now.

Read Also: Dollywood Diamond Pass now available

Dollywood WIldwood Grove Sweet Summer Nights Dance Party
Dollywood will likely see a new attraction or ride in Wildwood Grove in 2023 (media photo courtesy of Dollywood)

Is Dollywood building a new rollercoaster in Wildwood Grove?

And all that comes before we talk about the addition to Wildwood Grove, which is planned for 2023.

Plans for a massive new family attraction in the section were recently approved by the Pigeon Forge Planning Commission. 

According to preliminary documents filed with the city, Dollywood is planning a massive attraction that will be located next to the Dragonflier.

The new attraction appears to run parallel behind the Black Bear Trail and extend almost the entire length of Wildwood Grove before turning back and returning to the starting location.

The documents don’t indicate the ride is a rollercoaster, calling it simply “Family Attraction 2023.” 

However, The Mountain Press reports that during a June 17, 2021 Pigeon Forge City Council meeting that Dollywood President Eugene Naughton mentioned plans for a “multi-generational rollercoaster” set to open in 2023 during a larger discussion of planned expansions. 

Judging simply by the plans and comparing relative size to other coasters in the park, the possible multi-generational rollercoaster would be among the longest rides in the park, dwarfing the Dragonflier.

When announcing the second Dollywood resort, HeartSong, officials indicated a record-breaking attraction would be coming in 2023.

Read Also: When will HeartSong open? A look at Dollywood’s newest resort

It’s speculation currently, but it appears the “multi-generational rollercoaster” just might be that record-breaker.

Are you looking forward to Dollywood in 2022? Let us know in the comments below.