Dollywood is a lot of things. However, 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. Of course, even at that price, the memories we make at Dollywood, and the fun we have, are well worth the price tag. But still, for many, that’s a major portion of the vacation budget.
RELATED VIDEO: How To Save Money at Dollywood: 6 Tips From a Pro
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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:
6. Choose wisely with your games
My entire family is super competitive. So 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 are 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 of 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, but you will also get special offers for deals.
4. Park and ride
Dollywood parking for a standard vehicle is $23 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.
3. Take advantage of the free water
It gets hot and humid in East Tennessee. As a result, Dollywood recognized that customers keeling over from dehydration is bad for business, and 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. So 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.
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. For example, one adult day ticket is $92, while a two-day ticket is $119. This means we get into the park the second day for only $27 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 on both days – is pretty reasonable.
Do you agree with our tips? Let us know in the comments!