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.:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.