Good morning! Many of us here in north Alabama enjoyed some time out of school for Fall Break last week, and some are having a break this week. I love this time of year and am so glad that the schools allow for a break from school while the weather is like this!

Today, I’m sharing our experiences with Dollywood. And why we have chosen it over Disney in the past.

Let me start by saying a couple of things. I am not sponsored by Dollywood in any way, these are just my thoughts. I have no issue with Disney whatsoever, it is magical! I am just getting this information out there for someone, especially living in the southeast, who may be looking for a fun place to go other than Disney World.

Here are some basic things you’ll need to know about good ole Dollywood.

  1. It is located in Pigeon Forge, TN. There are plenty of options for accommodations from rustic cabins and lodges to swanky spas to cheap hotels. There is also a new DreamMore Resort that has direct shuttles to the parks. We haven’t stayed there, but it looks nice!
  2. Ticket costs are pretty reasonable. An Adult Day Pass is $65, Child Day pass is $52 and children 3 and under are free. Because we usually go more than one day while we’re there, we always get a season pass. Adult season passes are good from March-December and the season pass gets you into the Dollywood Theme Park as well as Dollywood Splash Country. An Adult Season Pass is $109, Child Season Pass is $97. So that is less than two day’s admission for access to the parks for the entire year. Another option is to purchase a Season Gold Pass for $154. The Gold Pass gets you free parking, which is usually $12, and 20% off food and some merchandise in the parks.
  3. I like this park because it really does have something for everyone. It has very small and slow rides for little ones. It has really big roller coasters for thrill seekers. It has shows indoors for older folks. There is a real working steam train that runs throughout the day, which is a very pleasant ride and especially great for little train lovers. There are wild birds on display, including several bald eagles in a sanctuary. And there is fried food on every corner! Also, there are trees and plenty of seating throughout the park. There are some water rides, so you can get soaked if you want, but you can also stay dry if that’s not your thing or in colder months. We have just had a great time every time we’ve been.
  4. The water park (Splash Country) is right across the street from Dollywood and it is a great one, too. There is plenty for little ones to enjoy and life jackets are provided. They also have really huge and fast water slides for those looking for some excitement. It’s a very big place and there is plenty to do there.
  5. Outside food is allowed in the park. Let me tell you, this saves us so much money! I load up a bag with bottled water, snacks and hand sanitizer and we keep from spending an extra dime while we’re there. No $800 meal plan, no worrying about making reservations to see a specific character, and that makes me happy. Happy enough to maybe get a babysitter and a steak dinner alone with my husband when we’re back home.

The major appeal for me as a parent living in north Alabama is the travel and lower costs involved than Disney World. We are not huge fans of Disney by any means, and after taking our three year old daughter 5 years ago to Disney World, I felt like my other two kids have had as much or more fun in Dollywood when they were the same age. Again, I have no problem with Disney at all, but that trip with my mom, my three year old daughter and me was more overwhelming and expensive than fun.  It takes about 5 hours for us to drive to Pigeon Forge and once we’re there, we really enjoy the mountain views and the option to visit the surrounding towns, hike, fish, or just read a book while the kids play in the hotel pool. My mom usually is able to travel with us and my handsome husband usually has to work. It has ended up being a great bonding time for us each time we’ve been!

I think a full on family trip to Disney World seems like so much fun! It’s just so expensive to do it right, and I imagine we will do that once our kids are a little older. I have been and there is certainly something magical about it!

I’ll admit that I always kind of rolled my eyes when I heard someone mention Dollywood a while ago. There is one small section at the front of the park that has some of Dolly Parton’s memorabilia, but other than that, and the bluegrass music you can usually hear, it’s just a good amusement park. And hey, I happen to love bluegrass!

Feel free to comment with any questions you may have and I’ll see if I know the answer.

Happy Fall!

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