Dollywood Theme Park is Pigeon Forge, Tennessee’s top destination. And, I know exactly why! With approximately 160 acres in the Great Smoky Mountains, Dollywood offers fun for the entire family! But, if you’re like me, and tend to shy away from the busiest times of the year, I want to help you out a bit by telling you the best time to visit Dollywood!
We recently visited this beautiful theme park and it seems as if we picked the perfect time to do it. I’ve visited Dollywood in the past, but it was during the summer months. This visit was noticeably less crowded, which made it easier for us to navigate the park and take advantage of several attractions that usually have long wait times. Here, I’m giving all the insider tips to help you plan your Dollywood vacation.
This trip was hosted by The Dollywood Company, but all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. That means I will receive a small commission for any purchases made through these links at no additional cost to you.
What is Dollywood?
Dollywood is a family amusement park located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Many families choose Dollywood as their family vacation destination because it has attractions that can ensure a great time for everyone in the family. In addition to roller coasters and other classic amusement park rides, Dollywood also offers live music, dinner shows, a 35-acre water park, and beautiful mountain views. There’s food, fun, and entertainment for every member of your family.
As the name might suggest, Dollywood is partly owned by Dolly Parton. In addition to the main theme park, Dolly Parton and Herschend Family Entertainment own Dollywood’s Splash Country, Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort, and Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins. So, whether you are looking for a roller coaster, a water ride, comfortable lodging, or fun music, you’re in for a treat.
Dollywood was inspired by Dolly Parton and she is often referred to as the “Dreamer in Chief” of all things Dollywood.
Where is Dollywood?
Dollywood is located in Pigeon Forge, Tennesee less than 40 miles southeast of Knoxville. It’s minutes away from the gateway of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. (And since you’re at the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, you can enjoy all the fun that the area has to offer.)
Many people who visit Dollywood opt to lodge in Gatlinburg or Sevierville, both of which are in close proximity to the theme park.
Visiting Dollywood is what I call a 2-for-1 vacation because not only do you get a fun theme park, but you also get the breathtaking views and picturesque scenes of the Smokies!
What is the best time to visit Dollywood?
Answers vary regarding the best time of year and best days to visit Dollywood. If you want to avoid long lines, I suggest you visit Dollywood in the Spring. I visited Dollywood in early May and it was the perfect time! The weather was nice, parking was a breeze, and there were minimal wait times for rides. Plus, we visited during the Flower and Food Festival, so we got to see some very beautiful flower displays and try some very tasty foods while we were there.
And since we’re talking about the Flower and Food Festival, I have to tell you about the 1 million+ blooms that were throughout the park and the many varieties of mac and cheese available at the park!
Okay, let me get back on topic! CabinsUSA.com states that Dollywood is most crowded during the summer and fall. That means visiting during early January and early May may be your best options for planning your trip. There are several other websites and blogs that favor the winter season over the summer months as the best time to plan your Dollywood vacation.
What is it like at Dollywood?
Dollywood is home to America’s largest theme park attractions. It’s fun for young children, but it’s fun for adults, too. I recently visited Dollywood on a couple’s trip to the Great Smoky Mountains and we had so much fun. Since we visited in the Spring, there were fewer crowds. We were also able to easily navigate the parking lot and access the park entrance very easily.
Spring is known for its rainy days, so make sure to check the forecast. We were there on a rainy day, but the rain didn’t last for long and those overcast days kept us from getting too hot while we were there. I’m convinced that Spring really is the best time of year to visit the Dollywood parks!
Is Dollywood just for kids?
While kids are probably the hugest fans of Dollywood, the park is known for being a fun time for everyone in the family. This wasn’t my first time visiting Dollywood, but it was my first time visiting with a group of adults. We had such a good time. We spent so much time walking around admiring just how beautiful Dollywood is! From the moment we pulled up to the entrance, we were in awe of how beautifully manicured the property is. (Isn’t it funny how the little things can make such a big difference to adults?)
What can adults do at Dollywood?
Here are a few insider tips for adults visiting Dollywood:
Walk under the Umbrella Sky.
After we checked in, we entered the park and immediately noticed the beautiful Umbrella Sky! According to the Dollywood blog, the Umbrella Sky made its debut during the inaugural Flower & Food Festival. It quickly became a fan favorite and returns every year. The Umbrella Sky is another reason that Spring is my favorite time of year to visit Dollywood!
Make sure to pack some comfortable walking shoes for your day at Dollywood!Design by Cherith Fluker
Enjoy an entertaining show.
Dollywood truly has some of the best shows. After walking under the Umbrella Sky, we approached a show in progress. We got to see The Hall Sisters at the Robert F. Thomas Chapel. Their performance was great. There were so many shows going on throughout the day! So, if you’re not someone who likes to ride coasters, you’ll still have several choices for some great entertainment.
Make sure to check Dollywood’s Daily Schedule for entertainment updates.
Eat some delicious snacks or meals.
I visited Dollywood during the Flower & Food Festival, and let me just tell you, it was amazing! There were so many delicious-looking foods like the smoked mac and cheese and bacon fries! Y’all there was food everywhere we looked and the aromas made it very difficult to pass by without wanting to taste something. (Good thing we did a lot of walking!)
Luckily, you don’t have to wait until the Flower & Food Festival to get great food in Dollywood. No matter when you choose to have your Dollywood experience, you’ll have access to dining and snacks at places inside the park like Aunt Granny’s Restaurant, Country Cookers Kettle Corn, Crossroads Funnel Cakes, and the Grist Mill–home of Dollywood’s famous cinnamon bread.
Outside food and drinks are not allowed inside the park, but you can leave the park and re-enter. (Just make sure you get your hand stamped before leaving and keep your original ticket if you plan to return!)
This insulated picnic basket would be perfect for packing your lunch.
Ride some fun roller coasters and other rides.
Last, but not least, no trip to Dollywood is complete without riding a fun roller coaster or other rides. With more than 50 rides, Dollywood is sure to have something that you’ll enjoy. If you like coasters, you’ll enjoy Lightning Rod, Mystery Mine, or Tennesee Tornado. I can’t give a firsthand review because I was way too scared to ride any of those. But, judging by the screams, it was a fun time for roller coaster enthusiasts!
If family coasters are more your speed, make sure to check out FireChaser Express, Blazing Fury, and Tennessee Tornado.
You can get a full list of all the rides at Dollywood here.
In conclusion, my favorite time to visit Dollywood is Spring. But the best time of the year to visit Dollywood is whenever your heart (and time) desires! Purchase your Dollywood tickets and prepare to create some fun memories!
An Open Suitcase, Guide to Visiting Dollywood
Visit My Smokies, Dollywood Tips: 6 Ways to Avoid Lines at the Pigeon Forge Amusement Park