A Family’s Guide to Visiting Dollywood


Dollywood is a staple in Tennessee. The theme park has actually been around since the 1960’s, however in 1986 Dolly Parton became involved in what was then Silver Dollar City, and renamed it Dollywood! Back in the 80’s, we still had Opryland in Nashville, but I am sure most of you visited as a child, especially once Opryland closed. Whether you go every year, have season passes, have never visited, or haven’t went since you were a child, I want to explore the many reasons that you and your family should add this to your list of travel destinations this year!

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Dollywood was voted as the number one theme park in the U.S. according to TripAdvisor.

And let me tell you, it lives up to the hype! We had the chance to explore the theme park last month, and hear and see the new features and attractions that will be coming in 2023, and you do not want to miss out!

First, is the much anticipated Big Bear Mountain rollercoaster. It is going to be amazing! It is a family rollercoaster, that will take you on a storytelling adventure as soon as you enter the ride plaza. The track is 3,990 feet in length, has three launches, two tunnel pass- throughs, and much more! This coaster will be a little under two minutes long. Dollywood is very focused on families, and they hope this will be an experience the family can enjoy together, with the minimum height being 39 inches. Opening date will be announced very soon, and it will be available for you to ride sooner rather than later during the spring season.

The second anticipated opening involves a new resort! Dollywood’s HeartSong Lodge & Resort will be opening this fall. While Dollywood has the DreamMore resort already, this resort will offer the same great hospitality and amenities, but will wrap you in nature and give you that Smoky Mountain feel as soon as you enter. Get ready for a massive four-story atrium lobby with lantern-inspired windows, and the most beautiful two-story stone fireplace you have ever seen. There will be 302 rooms, each making you and your family feel comfortable and right at home. Many rooms will offer balconies, where you can sit and take in the serene surroundings! There will be a pool complex, with outdoor bar and event space. You can also expect meeting rooms, a wonderful culinary experience, and much more! Keep an eye on reservations to open up, and make sure you secure your room!

Dollywood is known for their family-focused events and festivals.

No matter what time of year you visit, you can expect something fun on the calendar. This season kicks off with the I Will Always Love You Celebration ( March 11- April 8). This celebration centers around Dolly’s iconic song of the same title, and honoring her. It has been 50 years since she wrote the iconic song! You can expect fun food, and highlighting a songwriter/songwriting series during this time.

Next up is the Flower & Food Festival (April 21-June 11).

If you are a foodie, this festival is definitely for you, but everyone will enjoy the beautiful floral displays and the amazing culinary experience. We had a chance to sit down with the culinary team and you will not be disappointed with what it coming! The amount of time and thought they put into their menus is astounding, as they are very focused on the guest experience. We also had a chance to try some of the foods coming to the menu during this festival, and my mouth is watering just thinking about it! I highly suggest getting the tasting pass- The Flower & Food Festival Tasting Pass allows guests to enjoy up to five (5) festival food tastings at select festival food locations at Dollywood. Guests can choose to redeem all five (5) tastings at one location or a combination of approved festival locations. It is a great value and you will want to try it all!

The Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration (June 17-August 6) is a great summer vacation.

You will experience things such as a bubble show, fireworks and drone show, main street performances and much more! And during the summer, you can also visit Splash County (May 13-August 27). Splash Country was voted a Top 10 outdoor waterpark, and is sure to be a fun time for all family members! You can choose to explore adventure with the slides and rides, or relax in the lazy river or pool. If you have babies, or a big family, I highly suggest renting a retreat! It is a spacious retreat where you can relax in the shade, order food to be delivered straight to you, and even watch tv if you desire! Make your reservation early for these, as they go quick!

Autumn brings the Harvest Festival (September 20- October 30).

This is my favorite season in the Smokies because the air gets crisp and the leaves change into beautiful hues. The landscape is amazing. This festival will feature apple and pumpkin treats, and at night you can see the Great Pumpkin LumiNights! This display is larger than life and provides a glow of family-friendly harvest decorations.

Last for the year is the Smoky Mountain Christmas ( November 4-January 6).

I can’t think of a better place to spend the holidays than Dollywood! This festival has been voted America’s Best Christmas event for over a decade, and it lives up to the hype! You can expect more than six million twinkling lights, Christmas themed shows, Santa’s village, Christmas trees, Glacier’s Ridge and more!

While you are planning your trip, I highly suggest staying on site at a Dollywood resort.

If you go before fall, make sure to stay at DreamMore Resort and Spa. Later in the fall, you will have your choice between DreamMore or the new HeartSong Lodge & Resort. You cannot go wrong with either. I felt right at home staying at DreamMore. You can expect inviting lobbies and common spaces, pools, dining, a game room, friendly staff, and many activities for the kids. Camp DW provides activities for the kids to enjoy, such as crafts, games or storytelling. And at night, you can enjoy s’mores by the fire pits and hear a bedtime story! You get exclusive privileges by staying here as well. These include priority access to the parks, complimentary TimeSaver passes (can be used to access select rides and unlimited daily show reservations when applicable), door-to-door transportation, and early Saturday entry!

After speaking to different Dollywood employees, it is very clear that they are most focused on your experience. The culture here is noticeable. They want this to be something you can experience together as a family, spanning over many generations. They want your family to be able to stick together in the park, meaning your teenager can ride a rollercoaster, while the littles are playing in a splash pad or play area nearby. You don’t have to enter the park and immediately separate to do your own thing, just to meet back at the end of the day. Dollywood is a place you can get away from everyday life and spend quality time together, laughing and having fun.

Dollywood is also focused on making this a safe environment for all.

This includes a room for mothers to nurse and feed as needed, a calming room at both parks for people who may experience sensory overload, and a ride accessibility center that guests can determine which rides are safe for them.

Now that you have decided Dollywood is a must visit for you, let’s talk about ticket options. Living in Middle Tennessee, Dollywood is a short drive for us (around 3 hours). Season passes are definitely the best option and provide the best value. You can choose from the silver or gold pass, and with the passes you get retail and dining discounts, the option to bring a friend, and more! The silver pass pays for itself in less than two visits! If you have a Pre-K child (born in 2018 or 2019) they can their Pre-K Imagination Pass for FREE!

When you are a season pass holder, you also get discounts at other parks, aquariums, zoos, museums and shows. Dollywood also offers military discounts, homeschool days and sensory sensitive days! If you are traveling with your dog, you can check them into Doggywood for the day!

Make your reservations today for your trip to Dollywood!


  1. Super helpful article! We love Dollywood but have been twice and so much has changed, and I’ve always wanted to stay at DreamMore! Thank you for this!

  2. I’m a single mom to Amanda who’s has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy quadriplegia with seizures.We live in Northwest Tn.We’ve never been to Dollywood.I truly believe Amanda would love the park and the resort.She loves people and I would enjoy the spa.

  3. Dollywood has always been a fun place for our family! I have a 6 year old who would love another trip since she’s a little taller! 😉

  4. Such a great blog!! I enjoy following you on instagram as well. As a mom of a little one I’m always looking for new things to try in and around Nashville.

  5. I haven’t been since I was a kid, so much has changed and I can’t wait to see it all and take my kids soon!


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