Many great modern philosophers have waxed poetically to a 4/4 beat about the cruel passage of time asking important questions like “Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?”
But none of them have had the fortitude to address why vacation time seems to exist in an Einsteinian vortex/wormhole that turns a week’s vacation into a relative blip.
In truth, we spend months planning, and then we’re in the midst of it and it’s over before we can even stop and appreciate the dang thing.
So when the Dollywood theme park announced its TimeSaver line management pass a few years ago, I thought to myself, “Oho. Dolly Parton is at it again. Singer-songwriter, actress, philanthropist. She’s attacking illiteracy and creating a miracle vaccine. How in the world does the woman have time to tackle the space-time continuum?”
Then I opened the press release.
It seems Dolly hasn’t figured out a way to slow time. However, the people running the park have figured out a way to make your time in the park more efficient.
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Does Dollywood have a Fast Pass?
Yes, Dollywood has a Fast Pass type program, but they call it a TimeSaver.
Dollywood, like many amusement parks, essentially borrowed the idea of Disney’s now-defunct Fast Pass system which was so ubiquitous in the industry that many people who are not contractually bound to call it TimeSaver refer to Dollywood’s program as “Dollywood’s Fast Pass.”
How does the TimeSaver pass work?
The TimeSaver pass allows guests to avoid long lines with shorter, expedited lines at participating rides and enjoy unlimited show reservations at participating theaters.
And limited TimeSaver passes are available for each day to guarantee those expedited lines remain short and efficient.
The goal? To spend less time waiting and more time actually enjoying the park.
How much does the TimeSaver cost?
At the time of this writing, there are two main TimeSaver options available.
The TimeSaver Unlimited pass allows for unlimited access and unlimited visits to expedited entrances throughout the day. Basically for an additional $80+ per ticket per day, you can float past any participating line in the park like Marie Antoinette on her way to a cake-eating contest.
The Standard TimeSaver – for an additional $60+ per day per ticket – allows you to bypass a total of eight participating lines. It also allows unlimited daily show reservations at participating theaters.
There’s also is a third option: TimeSaver Complimentary. The complimentary pass is similar to the regular pass in that it allows guests eight expedited entries per day. However, it is currently reserved for DreamMore resort guests.
There are also separate TimeSaver passes available for Dollywood’s Splash Country.
All options allow you to either ride your favorite rides repeatedly (or up to 8 times for regular TimeSaver pass holders) or mix and match with a different ride each time.
It is also important to note that the prices listed above are “starts at” prices and are “as of the time of this writing”. Prices tend to vary by season. But discounts for Gold and Diamond season pass holders are available.
You can purchase the TimeSaver passes either in-park or online before you go. Pre-purchased digital passes are sent straight to your e-mail inbox. Ride attendants can scan digital passes directly from your phone. But if you prefer a paper option, just stop by any TimeSaver location inside the park to retrieve a printed version and a complementary lanyard.
Is the TimeSaver pass worth it?
Personally, I liked the old Disney World theme park system.
Everybody got three FastPasses with their ticket. After you used them, you could get as many more as you could get as long as they were available. Everybody had the same shot and it only mattered how well you understood the system and the best times to use them.
But Disney scrapped that system and now offers Genie+ – an app-based line reservation system that lets guests book a specific time of day to ride from their mobile devices.
Genie+ style reservation systems aren’t my favorite, but Disney makes more money and that’s all that counts.
Frankly, I think Dollywood’s TimeSaver is pretty expensive for my family of five. It basically doubles the price of single-day tickets. We’d have to tack on an additional $400 to the price of admission if each family member wanted the unlimited pass. That additional cost is considerable, to say the least.
And while the TimeSaver works well for those who can afford to buy it, it lessens the experience for others.
Each time a TimeSaver user steps to the front of the line, the regular line doesn’t move at all. There aren’t separate roller coaster tracks, after all.
We went to Disney in the month between the closing of the old system and the launch of the new one. The regular lines almost invariably moved faster than the posted wait times and that was because the FastPass queue wasn’t mucking things up for the regular line.
So is the TimeSaver at Dollywood worth it?
Honestly, it’s a bit of a difficult question to answer. After all, what price can you put on time itself?
But if it’s one of Dollywood’s busy days, you want to spend the entire day riding rides and you can comfortably afford it, then yeah, absolutely – it’s an excellent option. I’d suggest the unlimited version, though, to get the most out of your choice of TimeSaver attractions.
Participating Dollywood TimeSaver pass rides and shows
At the time of this writing, your TimeSaver pass gets you expedited entry for the following popular rides:
- Dizzy Disk
- FireChaser Express
- Mystery Mine
- Sky Rider
- Smoky Mountain River Rampage
- Tennessee Tornado
- Waltzing Swinger
- Wild Eagle
- Drop Line
- Lightning Rod
As well as reservations at the following theaters:
- DP’s Celebrity Theater
- Pines Theater
- Showstreet Palace Theater
Additional thoughts on the Dollywood TimeSaver
Look, I hate that it’s coming to this. I feel a bit like Steve Martin in “The Jerk” when he realizes the carnival game he’s running is a “profit deal.”
Of course, these parks and the multi-million corporations that run them are in it to make money.
Ain’t nothing cheap in Dollywood, after all.
But I am disappointed.
I know you can rationalize and say everyone who gets a ticket is still getting to ride and play and enjoy Dollywood. But with every TimeSaver-like innovation, that $84 regular ticket gets a little less valuable.
When the people who can’t afford to pay double are punished with longer wait times so those who can pay don’t have to stay in line, that feels like something that goes against everything that Dolly is supposed to be about.
Lord knows I’m not Dolly or any of the people she’s trusted to turn Dollywood into a world-class park.
But, if I had her ear I’d tell her to sell the unlimited pass, sell the regular TimeSaver if that makes money, too. But give everyone who buys a ticket a TimeSaver pass or three.
I know logistically they’d have to figure out how that would affect overall wait times in the park, but I feel confident it could be done.
Have you recently been on a Dollywood adventure? What do you think about the TimeSaver pass? Let us know in the comments.