Spring is coming! Spring is coming! And that means Spring Break will be here before we know it. I always look forward to traveling with our family, but it certainly requires forethought and a great deal of planning ahead. Our Spring Break is less than eight weeks away, so it’s time to get some fun cooked up! Today, I present to you an option besides the beach or Disney World. Don’t dodge Dollywood! I’m sharing our personal experiences with Dollywood and why we have chosen it over Disney in the past.
Let me start by saying that I am not sponsored by Dollywood in any way, these are just my thoughts. 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.
Here are some basic things you’ll need to know about good ole Dollywood.
- It is located in Pigeon Forge, TN. There are plenty of options for accommodations near the park 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!
- Ticket costs are pretty reasonable. A Basic Adult (ages 10-61) Day Pass is $69, Child (ages 4-9) Day pass is $56 and children 3 and under are free, a Senior (ages 62+) is $64. Because we usually go more than one day while we’re there, we typically get a 2-Day Ticket or a season pass. 2-Day tickets are $89 for adults, $76 for children and $84 for seniors. This saves roughly $50 per ticket if you know that you are for sure going for two days. Adult season passes are good from November 2017 – January 2019 and the season pass gets you into the Dollywood Theme Park, and for additional costs, you can also visit Splash Country, which is just down the road and is an excellent water park! A Theme Park Adult Season Pass is $109, Child Season Pass is $99, and Senior Season pass is $99. If you plan to visit the park more than two days during your trip, or throughout the year, the Season Pass is obviously the route to take. Another option is to purchase a Season Gold Pass for $169. The Gold Pass gets you free parking, which is usually $12, and 20% off food and some merchandise in the parks. There are additional discount for groups larger than three. Compared to Disney’s basic ticket prices, these are quite reasonable.
- Special Military tickets are available for U.S. active or retired military, disabled veterans, and military reservists, spouses and dependents when valid military personnel IDs and dependent IDs are presented. Those tickets must be purchased at the gate and are discounted 30%: Adult $48.30, Child $39.20, Senior $44.80.
- I like this park because it really does have something for everyone. It has very small and slow rides for little ones in the Country Fair area. It has really big roller coasters for thrill seekers, and for those who forget that they are older and now get vertigo when they spin more than 4 times in a row! It has shows indoors for older folks that may need to rest a while. 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!
- 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 with several smaller splash pads with waterslides, 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! The water park opens March 19th.
- 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.
- There is always some sort of festival going on in the park. This spring’s is Festival of Nations and will include lots of music, art and entertainment from areas all over the world. Think German stilt dancers, traditional music from the Andes mountains, Irish bluegrass, National Dance Company of Siberia and Flamenco dancing.
Dollywood’s major appeal for me as a parent living in north Alabama is the rather short travel time to this area. We also appreciate 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’ll admit that I always kind of rolled my eyes when I heard someone mention Dollywood years before I actually went. 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!