How To Visit Dollywood {budget friendly & travel tips}

It’s that time of year when families start planning their summer vacations. Where are you all headed this year? We love traveling and love it even more when we find great deals on destinations and attractions.

One of our favorite destinations is The Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. There is so much to do in the mountains but also a lot of great attractions to visit in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forget area. Our favorite? Dollywood.

We got the chance to visit a couple of years ago and are so excited to have it in our summer plans again this year. My boys loved all the rides and shows that Dollywood offers.

But the biggest question is… “How can we visit Dollywood without it killing our budget?” I have a few travel tips for visiting Dollywood with your family and not breaking the bank at the same time. Use these budget friendly tips & park tips when visiting Dollywood. {you’ll thank me later}.

  • Take advantage of the “After 3pm, next day FREE” option. If you and your family arrive to Dollywood after 3pm, you can visit the next day for FREE! We took advantage of this last year and saved a lot of money because we got a full day and a half at Dollywood instead of just 1 day. Definitely one of the best money saving tips when visiting Dollywood.
  • A one-day Dollywood ticket can be upgraded to a season pass for only $32 plus tax. The $32 is less than the cost of a one-day ticket so if folks who live within an easy drive visit and think they might come back before the end of the season, it’s economically advantageous to upgrade to a season pass. A season pass provides unlimited admissions through Dec. 30, the last operating day of the 2012 season. The upgrade must be completed before the guest leave the park on the day the one-day ticket is purchased.
  • Bring your own water bottles – it will save you time and money. The park will give you FREE water…yes, throughout the entire park. Bring travel packets of lemonade, ice tea, etc and you have your own flavored drink for free!
  • Work your way backwards through the park. Don’t stop at the first attraction/ride as you walk in the entrance. You’ll have zero lines at the back of the park as opposed to everyone going to the first ride they see as they walk in.
  • Want to avoid crowds? Visit during the weekday – especially during school hours. Thursdays seem to be the less crowded days
  • Bring your own stroller. Dollywood does offer stroller rentals {single and double strollers} but it will save you at least $10 if you bring your own.
  • Take advantage of the Dollywood Babycare Center. This provides a private feeding and changing station. Check out your map upon arrival to find where it is located.
  • Any park restaurant can assist you with bottle warming. This applies to all restaurants, and not concession stands.
  • Get your hand stamped upon entrance at Dollywood. If you forgot something or need to leave the park and want to return, having your hand stamped allows just that.
  • Don’t want to lug your packages or souvenirs around all day? Take advantage of the complimentary Package Pick-up Service. All items you purchase will be sent to the Dollywood Emporium and will be waiting for you as you exit the park on that day. These purchases made must be made before 2 hours of the parks closing time.
  • Parent-Swap Program: When members of a group do not meet minimum height requirements, Dollywood’s “Parent Swap” program provides hassle-free boarding of rides and attractions.  Dollywood’s “Parent Swap” is easy; here’s how it works:  The entire group enters through the regular Guest line where the ride Host will explain and facilitate the “Parent Swap.” (Strollers and/or loose articles are not permitted.)  One adult waits with the child in a secure area (i.e., behind the loading gate or the ride exit gate; a Dollywood Host will direct you to the appropriate location.) while the rest of the group rides the attraction.  Once the group returns, the adults will “swap” places with each other.  On some rides, other group members may be allowed to ride again for the second half of the “swap.”  After the “Parent Swap,” Guests will exit with other riders.
  • One of my favorite things about Dollywood? Their Non-Denominational Church service on Sunday mornings. The service is at 11:30am every Sunday in the Robert F. Thomas Chapel located in the Craftmen’s Valley.
  • Do you homeschool your children like we do? Count this as a field trip! History, physics, zoology and geography are just a few of the subjects your students can explore at Dollywood.  From Archimedes’ principle on the Smoky Mountain River Rampage to the country’s largest collection of non-releasable bald eagles, take your students on one of Dollywood’s many Adventures in Education! Enjoy Science in the Park.

Connect with Dollywood on Twitter and Facebook.

Have you visited Dollywood before? I’d love to hear your tips as well and learn about your experience. Planning a trip to Dollywood? Was this post helpful to you? Let me know in the comments section.

Happy travels!

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  1. says

    We’re headed there tomorrow. One of things they’ve added in the past few years that many people don’t know about is the wristbands for kids. Over near Dolly’s dress shop in the 50’s section is a place to have your kids measured and wrist banded. Then when they get to a ride they can match the wrist band color to the ride color and see if they are tall enough to ride it. It takes a little extra time at the beginning of your day but saves the trouble of host/ess having to measure at each ride. So it’s the first stop we make before we head to the back of the park to ride the coasters.

    • says

      Have a great time and yes, thats a great tip to share! I’ll have to remember that this summer when we go! Cannot wait to hear about your time and see pictures!

  2. says

    Have fun visiting next month Nichole. I can’t wait to hear how ya’ll like it. We had a blast when we went and can’t wait to go back in a few months!

  3. says

    I grew up in TN and Dollywood is a wonderful place to visit. Very family friendly. When my little girls were young I would just have to get the pass for me and we were good to go. I loved it. It provided much entertainment in those early mommy days. Have a blessed day!

  4. J_Peterson says

    I am part of a very large family and we live relatively close to dollywood. We make a trip to dollywood about 5 times a year and are always very impressed by the entire park, from the rides to the kindness of all employees. On these trips there are about 20 of us that go so therefore we always pack sandwich lunches in a cooler that stays in the car. You can get your hand stamped and go to the car and eat the lunch and then return back to the park. This has always worked for us and it is always a lot cheaper than any restaurant in the park.

  5. says

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  6. Melissa says

    Riding the trolley is also a great way to save the $10.00 parking fee! You can park at patriot park or by the LeConte convention center and ride the trolley for .50 per person each way!!

  7. Carole Crisp says

    If you buy season passes, buy 1 gold pass. The gold passholder gets free parking and 20% off all food and merchandise. Buy a popcorn and bring back the bucket each visit. You will get refills the rest of the season for $1.

  8. Michelle says

    Any tips on where to stay for cheap?We are thinking of going Saturday the 21st and go to Dollywood Sunday..

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