The Complete Guide to Visiting Dollywood

Dollywood is famous for having more stages and live entertainment than any other theme park in the United States. As you might expect from a park-themed after the country music icon, Dolly Parton, this park has a big personality just like its namesake. With plenty of live music, lavish stage shows, and epic coasters the park highlights the beauty of the Smoky Mountains. This guide to Dollywood will help you to make the most of your time at this charming Tennessee theme park.


The Complete Guide to Visiting Dollywood


About Dollywood

Dollywood is an amusement park co-owned by the legendary Queen Of Country Music herself, Dolly Parton. It’s located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee in the heart of the Smoky Mountains. The park officially opened in 1986 and quickly became one of America’s largest theme park attractions. Brimming with good old-fashioned southern charm, history, and heritage, Dollywood has 40 thrilling rides and so much more.

Getting To Dollywood

Dollywood is located in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee making it easily accessible to a large portion of the country. Dollywood is only 12 miles from the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, making it an easy day trip if you are visiting the area.


Passes And Admission

Passes to Dollywood include admission to the theme park only, they do not include admission to Dollywood’s Splash Country Waterpark. But have no fear, there are multi-day and combo park passes available that will allow you to visit both parks. It’s recommended that you buy tickets in advance. The park season is long and it’s generally open from March to December.

Dollywood offers discounted tickets for seniors (62+) and children (4-9), and children under 3 always get in free. There is also a 10% military discount as well.

Keep in mind that multi-day tickets are usually a better value. A multi-day ticket doesn't have to be used consecutively but can be used anytime during a five-day period.


Standard parking at Dollywood costs $25.00 per vehicle, and trailers and RV’s are $30.00. Preferred parking, closer to the park, is also available for $40.00. 

If you stay at either the DreamMore Resort or at the Dollywood Smoky Mountain Cabins property parking is free and there is a free shuttle to both Dollywood and Dollywood's Splash Country.

Best Time To Visit Dollywood

Spring is the best time of year to visit Dollywood. The flowers are in full bloom in the Smokies and Dolly herself tends to frequent the park more often at the beginning of the season in spring.

The end of the season is another great time to visit this Tennessee theme park. One of the most popular festivals of the year is focused around the Christmas season, Smoky Mountain Christmas.

The Rides At Dollywood

The lineup of thrill rides at this amusement park is impressive and it includes the famous Lightning Rod. When the coaster made its debut in 2016, it took the title of the world’s fastest wooden roller coaster. Speeding at 73 miles per hour it also has the distinction of being the world’s first launched wooden coaster. Lightning Rod is also known for being remarkably smooth for a wooden coaster. Here are a few notable thrill rides:

Wild Eagle is a wing coaster featuring a soaring 110 ft loop.

Tennessee Tornado is a classic steel looping coaster that climbs a staggering 163 feet and hits an astonishing 63 mph. It also includes a butterfly loop element paying homage to Dolly’s love of butterflies.

FireChaser Express is a dual launch family coaster, but children must be 39 inches tall to ride it. Beware, it packs quite a punch!

Blazing Fury is the park's oldest coaster and a fairly tame indoor ride that includes some old-school dark ride scenes.

Beyond the roller coasters in the park, there are plenty of other options including the Mystery Mine which includes indoor dark ride scenes as well.

dollywood theme park

Ride The Dollywood Express

Don’t miss hopping aboard the famous Dollywood Express for a trip through the majestic Smoky Mountains. Considered the oldest attraction in the park, this is one of Dollywood's most iconic attractions making it a can’t miss!

The Dollywood Express has been said to be Dolly's favorite ride at the park! Here are some fun facts about it.

The Dollywood Express uses two steam locomotives, the Klondike Katie and the Cinderella. 

The engines were originally built for the US Army and were used in Alaska during WWII to haul troops and lumber.

The Dollywood Express provides a 30-minute ride every hour, rain or shine. The ride takes visitors on a five-mile journey through Dollywood.

Take In A Show Or Live Entertainment

Dolly Parton’s influence is really felt in the entertainment aspect of the park. The shows are reason enough to visit Dollywood and the sheer number of shows and entertainment is staggering. The park offers plenty of country music options such as the Smoky Mountain String Band.

Festivals At Dollywood

Dollywood is known for its festivals as much as its thrill rides. Bonus: the festivals are included in the price of admission. The most famous being the end of the season, Smoky Mountain Christmas ranked as one of the best holiday events at any theme park in the U.S. This festival features dazzling lights and Broadway-caliber shows.

Another great festival to consider is the Flower and Food Festival, which happens in the spring and is the season that kicks off in the park. You'll find tons of beautiful floral sculptures and displays as well as the guest-favorite "umbrella sky" where you'll find hundreds of umbrellas hanging above Showstreet. In addition to beautiful flowers, a wide selection of culinary creations can be found with a full menu of items inspired by spring in the Smokies.

The Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration happens from June to August and offers extended park hours as well as festive summertime events. One of the most popular Dollywood shows of all time is the Gazillion Bubble Show and at night, guests can enjoy the one-of-a-kind night show with hundreds of high-tech drones and fireworks.

Of course, the Harvest Festival is the premier festival of the fall and at this time of year, the sounds turn to gospel music. The park welcomes artisans from all over to demonstrate their craft and talent, and all of the crafts are for sale.

Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas has earned one of the industry's highest awards for 13 years in a row. You can wander through the park and see the more than five million holiday lights as well as the festive holiday performances. Dollywood's signature rides and attractions continue to operate during this festival.

Check Out Craftsman’s Valley

Wander around Craftsman’s Valley where traditional Smoky Mountain artisans sell their trades. You’ll find blacksmiths, leather smiths, candlemakers, glass blowers, jewelry makers, and so much more.

Stop At Chasing Rainbows

If you need a little more Dolly in your life make sure to stop at Chasing Rainbows, a museum that has artifacts and exhibits from Dolly Parton’s career and life. Take a peek into her tour buses and walk through a replica of the Smoky Mountain home where she grew up.

Dollywood Splash Country

Although it is not included in the regular price of admission, Dollywood’s Splash Country is worth the added expense. It’s chock full of slides and rides that are fun for the entire family.

where to eat dollywood

Where To Eat At Dollywood

At Dollywood, the food is one of the main highlights and there are plenty of options to choose from inside the park. Among them are sit-down restaurants, buffets, and of course southern favorites. Here are a few suggestions:

Spotlight Bakery

Famous for their desserts, you’ll want to save room to try some of the sweets from Spotlight Bakery. This place is famous for its 25 lb apple pie and by the slice, a single serving weighs three pounds!

Grist Mill

Whatever you do, don’t skip the cinnamon bread at the Grist Mill in Craftsmans Valley. The bread is served with hot icing and there is a reason that the park sells about 350 loaves an HOUR. There's enough to share and it's worth adding on the apple butter, trust me.

Miss Lillian’s Smokehouse

This smokehouse is also located in Craftsmans Valley and is an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant. If you're looking to indulge in southern food then this is the place for you because Lillian’s serves up favorites such as smoked beef, and smoked or fried chicken. Southern-style sides include green beans with mashed potato and white pepper gravy. All while being entertained with a song or two. It's the perfect place to sit down and enjoy.

Where To Stay At Dollywood


The DreamMore Resort

The DreamMore Resort is just three miles from Dollywood. This resort and spa are inspired by Dolly’s life, memories, and epic imagination. The rooms are spacious, comfortable, and offer family-friendly touches. The amenities include a restaurant, Song & Hearth, which includes a buffet breakfast and dinner. Another bonus is complimentary parking and shuttle services. 

You'll find two resort pools, the outdoor pool has a cascading waterfall and the indoor pool is heated for year-round enjoyment. The family game room has favorites like air hockey, foosball and gaming consoles and you'll also find an on-site playground. 

Unwind and breathe in the mountain air at the resort spa. There's something for everyone!

Dollywood Cabins 

Dollywood also offers off-site cabins which can accommodate small and large groups. The cabins are located in the Smoky Mountains adjacent to the park. They feature full kitchens, fireplaces, and a nearby swimming pool, providing the perfect home base for your Smoky Mountains vacation.

The HeartSong Lodge & Resort is coming Fall of 2023, so stay tuned!

There are plenty of accommodations in the Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Sevierville areas. We always appreciate the at-home feel and ability to spread out in a VRBO.

Tips For Your Visit To Dollywood

Dollywood offers a Time-Saver pass for when the lines get really long in the park. This pass allows you to skip to the front of the lines on most rides, and it also allows you to take advantage of reserved seating at restaurants. There is an extra fee for this pass, but it does help you maximize your visit so you spend less time waiting in line.

You can download the Dollywood App to really maximize your visit to the park. It has interactive maps, live wait times, scheduled shows & entertainment plus exclusive offers.

If you aren’t staying at the resort and want to skip Dollywood’s parking fees consider taking the trolley from downtown Pigeon Forge to the park. The trolly costs $2.50 to Dollywood and kids under 3 are free. 

Dollywood is an experience that you’ll want to share with the whole family, and you’re sure to leave with fond memories of the Queen Of Country and her fantastical theme park.

complete guide to great smoky mountains

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