I was thinking about summer vacations and the best waterparks we’ve visited, which of course, includes Dollywood’s Splash Country. There’s a powerful combination of the summer sun and water attractions that can end a day of family fun early out of simple exhaustion. For example, when John Paul was a toddler and we were at Disney, he was overwhelmed after playing in the Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station in the heat and needed a break. So, instead of going back to the hotel, we boarded the Monorail. I don’t know how long he dozed. But I drifted off too as we made the loop around the Contemporary, to the car park, to the Polynesian and then the Grand Floridan back to the Magic Kingdom. It was the perfect respite.
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A cabana is a perfect respite
And that, dear reader, is when the bolt of inspiration struck. I really could have used a private retreat. I could surely have used a cabana. Why are cabanas limited to the best water parks in the United States? Specifically, why don’t all theme parks have cabanas? I know for a fact that Disney and Universal have the space. So does the Dollywood theme park for that matter. There is certainly no off position on the genius switch. Somebody get me Disney on the horn. Y’all, call Dolly Parton. Put me on staff. Do they give retainers to Imagineers? I’m over here imagining a brave new world.
What are the cabana options at Dollywood’s Splash Country?
In the meantime, let’s talk about cabana options at parks that have them. Let’s talk about Dollywood’s Splash Country in Pigeon Forge. There are currently four main options when selecting a cabana. Splash Country has surprisingly little natural shade despite its location in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. While many of the loungers near the kid’s area do have some canopies that can create shady spots, those can fill up early and aren’t exactly located conveniently for those who want to ride a water coaster or hit some of the other popular attractions or the wave pool. Dollywood currently offers four cabana-style options, all of which cost extra and do not include park tickets. Remember, prices are subject to change.
1. The Luxury Lounger
The Luxury Lounger is the most affordable but also least luxurious of these options. Located near the Trading Post and the Campsite Grill, Luxury Loungers are two adjustable, cushioned lounge chairs with an adjustable canopy that looks like something off of a rickshaw. They are not completely enclosed. However, they do come with a lockbox so you don’t have to hide your wallet and your phone in your shoe while you hit the lazy river and hope for the best. The downsides? Not ideal if you bring the entire family. Also, there are only six of these and you can’t book them online. You have to inquire about them on the day of your visit. They cost $45 on top of your admission price for the day at the time of this writing.
2. The Canopies
Billed as offering 65 square feet of shade, the canopies – which are like cloth sheds – offer privacy and a storage locker. You can close the canopy and completely shut yourself off from the park, providing a place to change or rest. There are two chaise lounge chairs. Canopies are available near Little Creek Falls, The Cascades, Mountain Waves, and near the entrance to Downbound Float Trip. Reservations for two people only are available online and are recommended but not required. The cost per day is $65 at the time of this writing. You can purchase the day of your visit, but availability is an issue. Dollywood recommends booking as far in advance as possible.
3. The Retreats
Retreats are private cabanas and probably offer the best bang for your cabana buck.
For $210 a day at the time of this writing, you get four lounge chairs, a ceiling fan, a dining table with chairs, a 32-inch satellite TV and secure storage. Food delivery and drinks are also available and can be ordered with a mobile phone. It’s like room service for your little sun tent. The Retreat reservation is for eight people, so it’s good for the whole family. But you can add two additional guests for a small fee. If you want a place where the family and friends can rest, the retreat is the way to go. You get 200 square feet of shaded space. Retreats are located between the Mountain Scream and the wave pool, near the Cascades and by Little Creek Falls. Reservations are encouraged but not required. You can ask the day of, and see if you get lucky.
4. The Deluxe Retreat
The final level is the Deluxe Retreat which is $325 per day at the time of this writing. What does the extra $115 get you? You get a bigger TV, a three-seat outdoor couch and a two-seat loveseat. There are also additional lounge chairs and a fridge with eight bottles of water. You also get a bar counter with bar stools overlooking the river. In addition to all that, you get a 100-square-foot sun deck. And – you get a coffee table. That’s right. The height of luxury is right there in Splash Country. Bring your magazines! Fan them out in a fancy display. Bring your coasters. Maybe a decorative bowl with potpourri. You’ve got a coffee table, baby. Live it up! The Deluxe Riverside Retreats – and their coffee tables – are all located along the lazy river tube ride. There are six deluxe retreats so advanced reservations are recommended but not required.
Make reservations on the Dollywood website here. When purchasing tickets, check Tripster for discounts. Have you tried the retreats or cabanas at Dollywood’s Splash Country? Did you think it was worth it? Let us know in the comments.