Dollywood

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.

Can you do Dollywood in one day? This guide will help you decide

It’s a question we get all the time from first time visitors in the Smokies, wondering how much time they should set aside for a trip to Dollywood while on vacation: Can you do Dollywood in a single day?

Well reader, the answer totally depends on the type of theme-park goer/vacationer you are – and what you want to do at the park.

Below are my personal recommendations based on a variety of personality types that will hopefully help you make the right decision when planning your upcoming vacation to the park.

1. The “gotta get our money’s worth” vacationer

Recommendation: One Day

The “gotta get our money’s worth” vacationer is my dad in a nutshell. My childhood vacations consisted of getting up at least by 6-7 am, planning out our entire day practically to the hour, and streamlining every step of the process for maximum value.

This type of theme park goer needs to ride every major ride, experience as many shows as possible and finish every crumb on a plate of food. “Waste not want not” is the mantra they live by.

But this type of vacationer is also efficient and able to plan and execute their time with a military-like precision.

And luckily, Dollywood, for the most part, is the kind of theme park that works well with this super efficient personality type.

Sure, Dollywood certainly has its busy days (mostly November-December). But unlike other theme parks (like Disney World) where the lines for popular rides might require a 2-4 hour wait time, a max wait time at Dollywood even on a busy day is only going to require about one hour.

On less busy days, those wait times are practically non-existent. There are days that I’ve enjoyed back-to-back rides on the Wild Eagle or Tennessee Tornado without a queue in sight.

And nowadays, the Dollywood app (available on Android and iOS) makes park planning even easier with up-to-the-minute ride wait times and a daily entertainment and show schedule.

Now, do keep in mind, even the most efficient vacation planner won’t be able to do literally everything in the park in a single day – there are just too many rides and attractions.

But you certainly stand an excellent chance of taking in the best of what the park has to offer in a single 10-hour day if you play your cards right.

But be warned: Things happen to even the best laid plans. If you end up getting rained out of your Dollywood experience, and you only had a single day budgeted, you might be a tad disappointed.

Dollywood is best when enjoyed with a tasty snack and beverage in-hand (photo by Alaina O'Neal/TheSmokies.com)
Dollywood is best when enjoyed with a tasty snack and beverage in-hand (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

2. The “let’s sleep in and take it easy” vacationer

Recommendation: Two Days

As children often do, we rebel against our parents when we reach adulthood. And that’s certainly true in my case.

After a childhood of meticulously planned vacations and early wake up calls, my husband and I vacation in a way that would make my dad’s eye twitch.

We sleep in, we don’t plan anything and we take it easy.

When I’m on vacation, as far as I’m concerned, the alarm clock doesn’t exist.

I keep a vague tiered list of things I want to see and do in my head – usually with 1-2 important things I don’t want to miss. Everything else is on the chopping block.

If we can get it in, great, if not, also fine by me.

Didn’t have time to hit the Blazing Fury today because I was too busy spending an unnecessarily long time enjoying every last lovin’ morsel of my cinnamon bread? Don’t rush me – there’s always tomorrow.

Did we just go the wrong way? Where’s the Mystery Mine located again? Let’s just casually stroll through the park ‘til we figure it out.

Time is only a concept. If vacations aren’t moving at a sloth-like pace … is it really a vacation?

For this type of vacationer, I strongly recommend setting aside at least two days to visit Dollywood.

Two days, even for the most relaxed anti-planners among us, is generally enough time to get in every major ride in the park, a couple of dine-in meals and catch at least one show.

3. The “I don’t ride rides” vacationer

Recommendation: One Day

While Dollywood, in my humble opinion, has some of the best coasters in any theme park in the US, thrill rides are not for everyone.

There’s an entire group of people who either can’t (or prefer not to) ride the rides and simply want to enjoy the park for the sights, sounds and culinary treats.

And there are plenty of sights and sounds for this type of Dollywood-goer to enjoy.

And great news: It’s totally doable in a single day.

There’s a new show available every 15 minutes inside the park during the busy season, with each show lasting anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour on average.

If you aren’t riding any rides, and have a full 10 hours at the park from open to close, you can easily squeeze in about 4-5 shows, enjoy at least two casual in-park meals and still have plenty of time in between to enjoy the vibrant arts and crafts, seasonal displays and plentiful photo-ops the park has to offer.

4. The “have to do everything” vacationer

Recommendation: Three Days

This vacationer is a direct descendant of the “gotta get my money’s worth” vacationer but like Aerosmith, they “don’t want to miss a thing.”

Look, Dollywood isn’t a huge park. Dollywood sits on about 160 acres of land with 50 unique rides, and nine roller coasters.

For comparison, Disney World (all parks included) encompasses nearly 27,000 acres of land, of which half remains unused.

Dollywood is more similar in size to Universal Studios Orlando (between the two parks only) which covers about 200 acres.

If you really want to ride every ride, see every show and explore every square inch of the park, you might want to allow at least 2-3 days to see it all.

Note: Seeing it all in 2-3 days will still require a somewhat skilled level of efficiency, especially if you have a handful of small children that require a bit of herding. See the “gotta get my money’s worth” personality type above.

Hopefully you can relate to at least one of the above personality types to plan your upcoming trip to Dolly Parton’s Dollywood theme park, located in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

And until then, we will see y’all soon!