What not to do at Dollywood; 8 tips from a local

I love going to Dollywood. As a kid, I was lucky enough to grow up within an hour driving distance of the theme park, and my parents would often buy season passes for the family.

Because of this, the Pigeon Forge theme park has a very special place in my heart. But as an adult, I realize that Dollywood still holds its own even when compared to some of the other highly regarded American theme parks.

I feel a sense of true glee when I find out a friend has never been, and I want to swiftly whisk them away to the happiest place on earth.

I often have a list of recommendations. Those are a dime a dozen, though.

If you want some real Dollywood tips, here’s the most important items: What not to do at the Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.:

Ride cubbies at Blazing Fury hold loose items for guests while they ride (photo by Morgan Overholt/
Ride cubbies at Blazing Fury hold loose items for guests while they ride (photo by Morgan Overholt/

8. Don’t spend a bunch of money on lockers

Dollywood is a park that really pays attention to the little details and values guest experience.

So on a vast majority of the rides in the theme park, you’ll find little cubby areas where you can stash your stuff while you ride.

Sure, there are lockers, too. But I can honestly say I’ve never used one.

While Dollywood (or this website, for that matter) is not liable for property left in the cubby, I’ve never had an issue with lost items (knock on wood).

But here’s a bonus tip: If you decide to go the cubby route, bring a waterproof pouch for your cell phone and keys because on some rides, like River Rampage, you may have to take your stuff with you. And you will get wet.

7. Don’t show up without a reservation

This tip mostly applies to the 2020-2021 season, as the capacity at Dollywood is limited.

Dollywood hasn’t announced just how limited it is, and while they did stop requiring reservations toward the end of last season, it’s a good idea to play it safe and book your tickets ahead of time.

You can make a reservation by purchasing a dated ticket.

Tripster is one way to book that may sometimes save you a couple bucks on the price of admission.

Bonus tip: If you forget to make a reservation and capacity is limited, try again around 5 pm. Dollywood lets more guests in as other guests leave.

6. Don’t carry souvenirs around the park all day

If your kids want to play some games in Country Fair or someone in your party wants to do some shopping around the park, try to steer them in that direction toward the end of the day.

Theme parks aren’t fun if you feel like a pack mule.

Read Also: Dollywood souvenir mugs: What to know before you buy

The TimeSaver pass starts at $44 for 10, or $54 for unlimited (photo by Morgan Overholt/
The TimeSaver pass starts at $44 (photo by Morgan Overholt/

5. Don’t buy a TimeSaver pass (right away)

I can’t speak for everyone. There are different types of vacationers.

If you have the budget and are absolutely set on seeing everything in the park in one day, then a TimeSaver pass might be right for you.

What is a TimeSaver pass, you ask?

You may be familiar with the concept, but each theme park is a little different. And even Dollywood’s terms and conditions may vary from year to year.

For example, new in 2021, Dollywood is removing limitations on how many times you can use TimeSaver pass for its most popular rides.

Generally, the TimeSaver pass ($44 plus tax) gets you expedited entrances eight times throughout the day on your choice of rides.

The TimeSaver Unlimited pass ($59 plus tax) gets you unlimited access to expedited entry at all participating rides and attractions.

But is a TimeSaver pass worth it?

And the answer is, it depends. But Dollywood makes it easy to view wait times for its rides, and I’ve rarely seen any wait time go much above one hour.

And heck, it’s not uncommon, in my experience, to ride a ride over and over again because there was virtually no wait.

There are many days that I’ve been to the park that a TimeSaver pass would be unnecessary, in my opinion. You may want to consider scoping it out before shelling out the cash.

However, the TimeSaver passes are sold in limited quantities, so it’s possible they can sell out.

It’s a risk you take.

Wild Eagle at Dollywood
Dollywood has some of the best coasters in the nation, including the Wild Eagle, my personal favorite (photo by Morgan Overholt/

4. Don’t try to experience the park in one day on your first visit

Dollywood has a lot to offer. I would argue that some of its coasters rival some of the best in the world.

Genuinely, the Wild Eagle is probably my favorite of all time, and I’ve been to the major places – Universal, Six Flags, Disney, the works.

But Dollywood is more than just rides and coasters. They also offer shows (some of which feature Dolly Parton’s family members), exceptionally good theme park food and immersive experiences that are worth checking out.

If you try to do the theme park in one single day, you might be missing out. But then again, this could depend on what type of vacationer you are.

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

3. Don’t forget to download the Dollywood app

The Dollywood app helps you find rides, shops and restaurants based on your location.

It even has a “Friend Finder” feature in case anyone in your group splits off during the day.

It’s one of the most helpful theme park apps I’ve ever downloaded, so don’t skip out just to save some space on your phone.

2. Don’t miss out on the complimentary water

Tennessee is humid, y’all.

But luckily, the folks at Dollywood don’t want you to get dehydrated, so just about any kiosk that is able, will give you a free iced tap water on request.

Here’s a pro-tip: Carry around a refillable screw-top bottle in which to dump the complimentary water into.

Dollywood crew won’t be able to handle your water bottle directly as they would be seen as less than sanitary, but I often request a couple of water cups at a time just to pour them into the more bag-friendly, screw-top bottle for easier transport.

1. Don’t make fun of the Blazing Fury

Blazing Fury is an iconic ride that should basically be required (for able-bodied people) upon admission to the park.

Yes, it’s a bit older. Yes, your kids might ask “Is that it?” or complain that they “don’t get it”.

But as one of the park’s first rides, it holds a special place in the hearts of frequent park-goers for its easter eggs, hand-painted decorations and lines that we all love to quote.

The world may be a crazy place, but us Dollywood fans know some truths are constant: Molly’s about to jump, Luther has a weak back and the stables are on fire.

Read Also: Dollywood rides ranked: 10 best coasters and rides in the park

So please don’t say mean things about Blazing Fury. Them’s fightin’ words.

Do you agree with our list? Let us know in the comments.

Dollywood Summer Celebration 2021: Summer deals, hours and more

The way we’ve built our society, summer is our reward.

We learn from a young age that the calendar doesn’t really begin in January.

It really starts in late August, early September with a long road of confinement and responsibilities ahead. 

Summer is the carrot at the end of the stick. 

Even as we get older and our lives are no longer built around school and most of us keep plowing ahead with obligations, summer remains a mystical, somewhat mythical time of euphoric release, of escape and blessed freedom. 

The summer of 2021 is not different, but somehow completely different.

We haven’t been cooped up for just nine months; many of us have been cooped up for much longer.

The need to be free and normal and to release months of pent-up stress may be greater than any summer in several generations. 

In short, we need this summer. We need it something fierce.

That’s where Dollywood steps in. 

It’s clear that park officials spent the downtime in planning mode.

What’s new at Dollywood this summer?

The leadership at Dollywood, which impresses each season with its vision and forethought, is at it again.

They’ve launched a summer-themed event that endeavors to meet the massive need for people to have fun. 

It’s summer 2021, baby, and Dollywood is gonna dazzle you – and get you to dance. 

Dollywood Drone Show
A multi-sensory drone light show creates a symphony of lights in the sky above Wildwood Grove each night (photo courtesy of Dollywood)

The new Sweet Summer Nights drone show

Park officials announced Dollywood’s Summer Celebration, which will take place through July 31, highlighted by a technological marvel that will certainly be replicated at theme parks across the country. 

Sweet Summer Nights is the centerpiece of several new show offerings in the park this summer.

Described as a multi-sensory drone light show that creates a symphony of lights in the sky above the Pigeon Forge park, the effect is something akin to living animation combined with a fireworks show.

Each night, weather permitting, Intel Drone Light Shows will launch 400 drones, each capable of producing a full spectrum of color. These drones will light the night sky in multiple formations that move in sync with a choreographed fireworks show. 

In a press release, Dollywood’s marketers called the effect “epic”.

And while I typically cringe at press-release hyperbole, having seen the drones sync up to form a butterfly flapping its wings to Dolly’s “I Will Always Love You,” I think “epic” is the right word. 

To be honest, the closing showstoppers have been one of the places Dollywood struggles.

The Dollywood parades have always felt, to me, a little chintzy. But this show seems to be part of a concerted effort, alongside the Great Pumpkin LumiNights, to create memorable night time events.

It truly is something to amaze the entire family. 

If the drone show was the only new thing for the summer, it would be enough. 

But there’s a lot more. 

The Sweet Summer Nights dance party

If you’ve ever been at Dollywood and thought, “It’s been a long, hot day. You know what I need? I need to DANCE!” then Sweet Summer Nights has the event for you. 

Dollywood has brought in a DJ and “energetic” dancers, which is significantly better than lethargic dancers, I suppose, to form a dance party on the streets of Wildwood Grove, immediately preceding the drone show. 

Two brand new summer shows: Good Vibes and Forever Country

In addition, the entertainment team is debuting two new shows this summer. 

Good Vibes will be at the Back Porch Theater. Guests are treated to a musical journey through the rhythms of classic and contemporary tunes. 

“It’s about celebrating positivity, counting blessings, and simply enjoying life and happiness,” officials said.  

The Valley Theater is now home to Forever Country, an energetic look at the changing landscape of country music in the late 80s, 90s and early 2000s.

Guests can expect to hear popular hits from artists like Garth Brooks and Shania Twain, as well as a nod to several popular dance songs, including Dolly’s “Romeo” and Brooks and Dunn’s “Boot Scootin’ Boogie.”

Read Also: Dollywood rides, shows: What to know before you go

Imagination Playhouse to showcase Imagination Library books

For the kids, Imagination Playhouse will showcase three favorite books from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, including “Coat of Many Colors,” based on Parton’s song and children’s book of the same name.

“Coat of Many Colors” and “Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon” feature sing-along songs that kids of all ages will enjoy. Everyone’s favorite, “The Little Engine That Could,” also comes to the stage with a delightful reminder of what can happen with just a little bit of determination. 

Dollywood Summer Celebration operating hours

Dollywood’s Summer Celebration will run from June 25 to July 31. Dollywood will be open daily from 10 am to 9:30 pm.

Dollywood summer deals

There are two great ways to save on your next trip to Dollywood for their Summer Celebration.

Dollywood is currently offering a variety of specials including resort bundles and pre-purchased meal packages. For the latest deals, check out the special offers page on the Dollywood website.

Guests may also want to check out Dollywood’s Tripster page which sometimes offers deals and discounts on general admission tickets.

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

Have you been to the Dollywood Summer Celebration? What did you think of the event? Let us know in the comments!