Last minute trip to...Dollywood!

Please excuse the non-WDW topic, but my husband just informed me that while we’re in Tennessee for Thanksgiving he wants to check out Dollywood. I just went on their website and Wow! Not what I expected! Now I’m freaking out because I haven’t done my months (ok, years :grin:) long research prior to our trip and I know nothing about this theme park. We’re also from California and know very little about this area in Tennessee. I did a quick search to learn that the resort is full so we’ll have to stay elsewhere. Travel party is me, husband, DD17 and we have 3 nights to spend in the area. This group is a treasure trove of information so if anyone has any info, insight, plans, anything…,please chime in. Apologies if this post is not allowed here. I will remove or move if needed.
Thank you.


Check out that thread.

Also paging @Dreamer .

I’m (fairly) local to Dollywood but have only been twice. Loved it.

You have a month! I’m sure you’ll come up with a great plan.


We did four nights in Gatlinburg for spring break and enjoyed it way more than I thought we would. Dollywood was great - facing staffing issues big time but still a fun time and the coasters there are very fun. We also really enjoyed our day at Anakeesta park and driving the Newfound Gap Road over to Cherokee. If you’re into hiking, the area is a treasure of trails of all difficulties. There are also several alpine coasters in the area - we road Moonshine Mountain Coaster many times and it was a highlight.

We did a cabin through VRBO and loved that experience but not sure if the fees would be too much for a three night stay. There seemed to be loads of hotels in Gatlinburg and pigeon forge though.

We enjoyed a dinner at Alamo steakhouse and a breakfast at Little Pancake House - nothing earth shattering but solid food. Skip Flapjack house -it’s a chain on par with ihop. Clumpy’s ice cream came highly recommended and was always busy - the bakery treats were good and so was the ice cream, but it’s Hersey’s brand ice cream.


We made this drive… on accident, lol. Before GPS, looked like a short cut. It was dark and before we knew it we were on the other side of the mountain in NC.


Just want to add, watch out for rentals on the mountains, especially if you don’t 4 wheel drive. Pigeon Forge and downtown Gatlinburg rentals are safer from that point.


Not sure how much i would appreciate that drive in the dark and on accident lol! It’s so beautiful during the day.


Just piling on because I live around here, too – haven’t been to Dollywood in 5 years, but my sister and I got the paid fast passes (whatever they were called at Dollywood back then) last time and rode amaaaaaazing roller coasters all day. It was a blast! My sister worked at the park the year before it turned into Dollywood; it’s mindboggling to see how it’s grown since 1984.

Lots of outlet shopping up there; Gatlinburg has a ski thing; and as @SamRothstein mentioned, trails of all sorts abound in the area. Everyone always says go to Cades Cove… so, OK, go to Cades Cove. I wish I lived there, but without the traffic. LOL

My favorite restaurant in the area (locally owned) is Big Daddy’s Pizzeria. Same family owns Alamo Steakhouse, Bennett’s Pit BBQ, and some family-style restaurants. Big Daddy’s gets my vote every time I wander that close the mountains, though. My husband’s favorite is Bennett’s. Either way, you’ll eat well.

If you were going in the summer, I would recommend River Rat Tubing, but alas, it is too chilly for that in November.

Oh, and if you’re going over the mountain to Cherokee, two warnings: 1., Cherokee looks really depressing in places, and 2., if the road is open on your way there, but then it closes because of wind or snow or ice or anything like that, the drive back is about three hours longer.

And have fun! Yay! Dollywood!


Dollywood will be fun at that time of year. There are good shows to see.
Cabin rentals are the big thing in that area. It is a popular time to visit so I would start looking right away.
Are you looking to do just one day at Dollywood? There is so much to do in that area–some of our favorites are hiking and visiting the aquarium.

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A few Dollywood-specific tips:

  • The park is basically one big circle going up a mountain without a way to get across.

  • Ride Lightning Rod first. It is known to break down throughout the day. A decent line forms in the morning before the ride actually opens, but it’s better to wait at that time than later in the day.

  • They have their form of Genie+ called “Time Saver Pass.” It’s mostly for the big roller coasters. When we stay at the DreamMore Hotel, they are included in your stay. They are “nice to have,” but not a “must have.”

  • Sit towards the back of the steam train. Wear sunglasses when the train starts moving. Getting a cinder in your eye is not pleasant.

  • The Dragon Flyer appears to be a “kiddie rollercoaster,” but it’s actually a fun little ride. I wouldn’t skip it.

  • Ride the Blazing Fury. There is nothing blazing or furious about it. It’s a time warp to when the park originally opened and we love riding it. We get some good laughs out of it.

  • Most importantly, eat the cinnamon bread from the Grist Mill. Don’t let the line scare you. It’ll move fast and it’s worth it. Get the dips with it too.


We always eat here :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Interesting–I never knew it was anything else.



We live about 1.5 hours from Dollywood and have been season pass holders for almost 20 years. We do about 4 day visits a year, and then a week-long jaunt every other year. 100% agree with @JWillRain 's tips above (especially regarding: 1)Time Saver Pass, especially if you are roller-coaster people. Those lines can get long! 2) Wearing some type of glasses on the train to keep ash out of your eyes. It hurts! 3) Cinnamon Bread & DIps.
I will add to make sure that you have some after dark time in the park during the Smoky Mountain Christmas event so that you can enjoy all of the lights. I will also say that I enjoy the shows that they do at the holidays more than the ones that they put on other times of the year. Remember to layer and bundle up. It can be coooollllddd up here that time of year, especially after dark!
We don’t do the cabins, as we like to have closer, easier access to Parkway so we can go back and forth to Gatlinburg. We usually stay here:
The accommodations are similar to DVC 1-2 bedrooms with a full kitchen. They have a heated indoor pool if you like to swim in the colder months. It is right off of Parkway which is the main drag for Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, and 5 minutes from Dollywood. If you get or request a room with a balcony facing the golf course, you can watch the fireworks at Dollywood on nights that you aren’t there. In the winter, we spend more of our non-Dollywood time in Gatlinburg than Pigeon Forge.
Our favorite winter activities:
1.Snow Tubing at Ober Gatlinburg
2. Christmas Lights Trolly Tour
3. Taking the Gatlinburg Trolly to the Smoky Mountain Artists Community Loop to do some holiday shopping.
4. Visiting the Village Shoppes in Gatlinburg to get doughnuts at The Doughnut Friar.
5. Bluegrass Christmas in the Smokies Festival( if that’s your kind of thing). Usually around 11/17-11/20, but I’m not sure this year.
Our favorite casual restaurant in Pigeon Forge is The Old Mill Pottery House Cafe. They have a larger main restaurant, as well, but we prefer the cafe.
Sorry that this is so long! I hope that you have a great trip:)


It was also drizzling. We weren’t comfortable even turning around. I bet it would have been a beautiful drive in the day though, lol

We like this place, too. We always travel with another couple and the husbands love the chicken and waffles.


Silver Dollar City! Amy was a saloon girl. She did the can-can and her solo was “Tennessee Waltz.” I got several of her freebie tickets. My favorite thing – back then, when there were not all the cool roller coasters – was trying to grab the brass ring on the carousel. It was the fastest antique carousel in the United States of America! Positively thrilling!

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I am heading there this weekend for the first time ever! It’ll be myself and my best friend from MI, so an adults-only trip.

I have done no planning other than joining Dollywood Junkies group on Facebook for wisdom on food/housing.

Looks like the parking pass for priority parking is excellent value, otherwise parking can be somewhat of a cluster- resulting in a long walk or a long wait for the tram.

There doesn’t seem to be a huge “rope drop or bust” crowd around there though, so my plan is to rope drop for parking. I’m also pregnant so will be opting out of coasters, which saves on a lot of planning aspects. I’ll be there to enjoy shows, food, atmosphere, and friendship. My impression (someone please correct me if I’m wrong) is that their non-height requirement rides (aka the ones for the preggers) are mostly carnival rides and don’t have the same variety that Disney does, so that was a little disappointing, but overall I’m just looking forward to a relaxed trip.

I’m going for the harvest festival tasting pass as the value is great so long as you don’t use it primarily on drinks and desserts. I’ll be using it for hearty, savory menu items and will definitely get my money’s worth.

We are staying at The Inn on the River which looks absolutely charming with a fire pit and free apples in the lobby and free popcorn in the evenings and a lovely river for strolling.


Yes, that’s what I found when we went in May. I can’t ride coasters (not preggers, just get motion sick! :joy: ), so I didn’t ride anything. The kids area is very nice, but the rides don’t have the same appeal as Disney. However, we went during the Flower Festival, so the park was absolutely beautiful. We also went to see a musical group perform twice because our friends know them. I still enjoyed myself.


Yeah, their rides go from county fair-to-thrill pretty quickly without much in between. You could definitely do the train, carousel, maybe the river rampage(?), and possibly the Whistle Punk Chaser coaster(kiddy coaster, but much more comfortable/roomy for adults than Barnstormer @ Disney). The bird shows are neat and there’s some tasty snacks to enjoy.

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This sounds wonderful. I hope you’ll do a trip report and maybe share some photos!


I remember these. They were lovely.