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

People pose in front of Dollywood signage

If you follow these tips on going to Dollywood, you'll be a Dollywood pro in no time (photos by TheSmokies.com staff)

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

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/TheSmokies.com)
The TimeSaver pass starts at $44 (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

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/TheSmokies.com)

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.

Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at info@thesmokies.com for questions or comments.


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24 thoughts on “What not to do at Dollywood; 8 tips from a local”

  1. Omg! Fellow local here! I grew up in Cherokee and then we moved to Sevierville; so, I too have ALWAYS had a season pass! After we moved to Sevier county, I even got to go on “field trips” to Dollywood! The Blazing Fury(though when I ride it now it seems SO lame in comparison)it was one of only a couple roller coasters there and truly was the WHOLE point of a trip to Dollywood for me for quite some time!!! When we went there on “field trips” it was always The Blazing Fury that you got to ride alone with the guy you were “going” with🤣😂🤣or wished you were🤣🤣

  2. I’m going to Dollywood on Saturday, for the first time since the early 90’s. The first time I ever went I went just my mom and I. She doesn’t ride rides so I rode Blazing Fury alone. I LOVED it and got back in line several times. Came home to find out I was expecting my daughter! So I always say that was sorta her first coaster. I’d never make fun of it. So unique!!

  3. Does anyone know if I need to buy a time-saver for each ticket holder? It’s a family of 4 with one child under 4

  4. Hello I’m going to Dollywood next week. I’ve read that with Covid they weren’t allowing you to put your stuff into the cubby while you ride the roller coasters. Is that true or are you still able to leave your bags? Thanks

  5. Do you recommend buying Dollywood tickets on line hours before it opens in the morning or is it OK to get them at the gate , just arrive way early ?

  6. Hi Vacation Traveler! It’s likely a matter of personal preference, but I like to buy online in advance since it tends to help speed things along when you get there. 🙂

  7. Did they do away with on ride photo passes? I thought there was one good for a full year, but can’t even find the daily one.

  8. Hey Patches! On-Ride Photos (Photo Passes) have been temporarily suspended due to staffing issues at Dollywood.

  9. If I buy a ticket online can anyone use it or is only for the name it was purchased in? I only see a portion of the last name on the ticket. Also if it is a two day pass does the same person have to use it the 2nd day? Thanks!

  10. Hi Cindy! I believe for two-day passes, the same person is supposed to use it both days. You can buy more than one pass under the same name if you’re purchasing for your family, but be careful of purchasing passes from other individuals who are reselling. When in doubt, contact Dollywood customer service. Hope that helps!

  11. Hi Patty, if you have a Bring A Friend ticket, it is one per passholder. From Dollywood: “Remember, Bring-A-Friend tickets provide free admission (a value of $84). The 2022 flexible Bring-A-Friend Free tickets can only be used during the 2022 season. They have blackout dates of Fridays and Saturdays as well as select weeks throughout the year. These tickets can be used one per passholder and the passholder must be present…”

    Hope that helps!

  12. Hi Alaina,

    We plan on going to Dollywood the week of Christmas. Do you recommend buying tickets in advance? Are they likely to sell out? I would like to hold off until I can view the weather forecast.

  13. Hi Lisa! I can’t give you a 100% guarantee – but you should be able to wait until you’re able to see a weather forecast. If you wait until the day of, try to arrive on the early side. If you’re concerned, you could keep an eye on the tickets (go online as if you’re buying a ticket) and make sure it still shows availability. Dollywood says that “your ticket is valid for one visit within 5 operating days of the date selected” [when your purchase]. They’re closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Hope that helps! 🙂

  14. If I purchased a two day ticket do I need to purchase 2 parking passes (one for each date)?

  15. Hi Paloma, you can pre-purchase standard parking online for $22.80 (which comes out to $25 after tax, currently). If you have a Gold or Diamond pass, parking is free. If you opt for preferred parking, it is on a first-come, first-served basis – so buying online has an advantage. Hope that helps!

  16. We went to Dollywood a few weeks back but it rained us out so they gave us a rain check ticket each. Now, we’re planning to go back but 2 of us in our original group isn’t going. Can we let 2 other people use the tickets instead?

  17. Hi Tipper, I think technically the Dollywood tickets are non-transferable according to the Dollywood terms and conditions but I’m not 100% sure on the rainchecks. I’d check with customer service to be sure. Hope that helps. Remember if you’re going this season to make a reservation. 🙂

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