Have you ever traveled with a large group? Perhaps for a family reunion, class field trip, or another occasion? The nuances of traveling with such a big group can be difficult. This summer my entire family traveled to the Smoky Mountains for a reunion. Somehow, we all ended up going to Dollywood on the exact same day.
While entirely possible, navigating Dollywood with a large group can be tricky. Considering our particular group ranged from infants to older adults, we had a myriad of interests to cater to. To conquer Dollywood with your group, use these tips.
Purchase Tickets in Advance
Depending on the season, the ticket lines at Dollywood can be insane. It is one of America’s most popular theme parks, after all!
To avoid waiting in line with your group, purchase tickets prior to your visit. Since we purchased our tickets through Reserve Direct, we went straight to the gate and used our smartphones to enter the park. The entire process took a total of 3 minutes including the security check. Simple!
Use Group Discounts at Your Discretion
While most ticket providers and theme parks offer group discounts, they are not always advantageous for large groups such as a family reunion. We found it was far more convenient for each individual family unit to purchase the number of tickets they needed, rather than try and get a total count.
We took this route as each family had different needs. Some were traveling with small children who may need to enter the park later in the day to sneak in a nap time. Others wanted to ride roller coasters all day long! If we tried to use a group discount to experience Dollywood with a large group, it may not have worked out in everyone’s favor.
However, if your family or group is of a reasonable size, it is in your best interest to see what group promotions are available. In our case, dealing with 30+ people meant forgoing group rates at that time.
Know the Park Rules
Dollywood, like all theme parks, has a strict set of rules and security measures. This means certain items are not permitted inside the park. While your group likely isn’t bringing any malicious items, this piece of advice is aimed at those traveling with children.
Before visiting the park with your group, make sure everyone knows the following items are prohibited from entering Dollywood:
- Outside food and drink
- Alcohol and weapons
- Pets (Doggywood kennels are available)
While toys and other children’s items are allowed inside the park, carrying it all can be cumbersome. Dollywood offers front gate and floating lockers for your convenience. Strollers and wheelchairs are also allowed inside the park and are available for a fee on a first come, first served basis.
Knowing this information in advance can help expedite your admission and entrance into the park as a group.
Grab a Map
With so much to offer, Dollywood is gigantic! It is far too easy to get lost, especially for young children. You’ll want to urge your group members to each grab a free map at the front gate. The park maps contain everything from ride locations to restaurants to show venues.
If you forget to grab your map and do get lost, simply ask any Dollywood employee for directions. They’re all super friendly and willing to help you find your way to the next ride or destination.
Don’t Stay Together
The most important part of visiting Dollywood with a large group is to split up. It is impossible to accommodate everyone’s needs when you stick together throughout the day. You’ll end up having a few people that want to tour the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame while others want to get in line for the Wild Eagle. Factor in food, energy levels, weather and more, and it can be downright chaotic.
When we got to the park, my family split up into groups. Those with small children went to the Country Fair area of the park or to one of the shows, while the adults and teenagers headed to the roller coasters and thrill rides. We all explored the park at our leisure and wound up running into each other throughout the day. It was a perfect situation for all involved.
Choose a Time and Place to Meet
If you’d like, tell each member of your group a time and place to meet within Dollywood. Whether you want to take a group picture, watch one of Dollywood’s extraordinary performances, or grab a bite to eat together, you’ll be able to. This is where that map comes in handy, too!
My family attempted to meet up at the bumper cars for a rowdy, no-holds-barred ride and a group picture. Unfortunately, a thunderstorm had other plans! Don’t worry, though—we spent plenty of time together as a group throughout the reunion.
Bring Your Phone and Charger
Although you don’t want to spend your day texting or on social media when experiencing Dollywood with a large group, having a cell phone is imperative. If the group plans change or ominous clouds roll in, your smartphone can update you right away. This is a great way to stay in touch with the group throughout the day, as well. Group texts ensure everyone stays informed throughout the trip.
Remember to bring a charger or external battery, too! The last thing you want is a dead smartphone at a theme park.
Organize Your Trip to Dollywood with a Large Group
Is your family or organization heading to the Smokies soon? Make sure a day or two at Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country are on the list. Follow our tips and your group trip will go just fine. Don’t forget to take a group picture in front of the Dollywood sign or the Wild Eagle!