Pigeon Forge, Tennessee has a reputation as the perfect place for family-friendly vacations. Between the entertaining shows and the endless attractions, there is something for every family member in the Smokies. However, there is one attraction that every person in your family can agree on: Dollywood.
As one of the top amusement parks in the country, Dollywood brings joy to visitors of all ages. Although, as a parent, you can’t help but wonder how visiting Dollywood with kids will go. Fortunately, Dolly Parton had the same concerns and made sure your family trip to Dollywood is a memorable one.
Before you go, read up on these 10 essential tips for visiting Dollywood with kids. You’ll be glad you did!
1) Visit Dollywood’s Centralized Measuring Station First
For the safety of guests, all Dollywood rides have strict height requirements. Parents know that the most frustrating thing is waiting in line for a ride, only to find out your child is not tall enough to ride. Instead, skip the frustration and visit Dollywood’s Centralized Measuring Station right when you arrive.
You can find the measuring station across from the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame on Showstreet. At the station, your child will be measured and given a color-coded wristband. The color of the wristband will help you easily determine which rides your child can go on.
2) Ride the Dollywood Express
The Dollywood Express is an authentic 110-ton coal-fired steam engine that brings guests on a 20-minute ride around the park. Throughout the ride, you and your children will love the scenic foothills of the Smoky Mountains and listening to the engineer. This ride is fantastic for families visiting Dollywood with kids.
When I visited Dollywood with my family, my cousin’s son loved this train ride. We rode it at least 3 times! Whether you need a break to relax or are looking for to accommodate the whole family, the Dollywood Express does not disappoint.
3) Attend the Country Fair
Inside Dollywood, the Country Fair area is designed specifically for kids. You’ll find some of the best Dollywood rides for kids here, from Lucky Ducks to Piggy Parade. Ideal for much younger children, this area of the park caters to the little ones who might not be ready (or tall enough) for roller coasters and thrill rides.
Of course, there are more rides for young children throughout the park. Check out Rockin’ Roadway and the Village Carousel for more kid-friendly thrills.
4) Enjoy the Entertainment
If your kids aren’t into the rides or have exhausted them, take the time to watch one of Dollywood’s many shows. From classic performances to seasonal festivals, there is always a show (or five) happening somewhere in Dollywood. Your family will love the exceptional entertainment and talented performers. No matter if you use the show as a break from rides or your main source of fun for the day, you can’t go wrong with a Dollywood show!
5) Bring a Stroller
As with any amusement park, exploring Dollywood requires a substantial amount of walking. While kids do have a lot of energy, their little legs might not be able to make it all day! Plus, the last thing you want to do when visiting Dollywood with kids is have to carry them everywhere.
Dollywood allows families to bring their own strollers or rent one for the day. Rental prices are $13 for a single and $16 for a double stroller. Ideally, it’s best if you bring your own stroller. Your kids are used to it and you can save a few bucks!
6) Changing and Nursing Stations in Dollywood
Since Dollywood is a family-friendly park, the staff understands the needs of younger children. With this in mind, Dollywood offers changing and nursing stations throughout the theme park. Dollywood’s Baby Care Center, located in Showstreet, offers families a private feeding and diapering area. Nursing stations can also be found in the restrooms in Country Fair, Jukebox Junction, Market Square, the Village and Craftsman’s Valley.
7) Take Advantage of Park Lockers
Just as you might not want to carry your kids all over Dollywood, you don’t want to carry your heavy bags and belongings everywhere. When exploring Dollywood with kids, renting a locker can come in handy. The park offers two types of lockers:
Front Gate Lockers are available at rental services on a first come, first served basis. Front Gate Lockers are $9 for a regular size locker or $12 for a family size locker.
Floating Ride Lockers are available at specific rides. These lockers are a one-time $7 fee and allow you to float from locker to locker without having to pay for a new locker each time. How convenient!
8) Stay Hydrated and Fuel Up for the Day
When I visit a theme park, I somehow always end up dehydrated and hungry within a few hours! If I get like that easily, I can’t imagine how fast it happens for a child. Dollywood offers free water all throughout the park, so make sure your kids stay hydrated, especially during the summer months.
Also, although Dollywood offers a wide range of restaurants, try to eat a large breakfast beforehand. This Dollywood tip comes in handy considering coolers, outside food, and beverages are not permitted in the park.
9) Purchase a Kid’s Meal
The last thing you want when visiting Dollywood with kids is to purchase a full meal, only for them to eat only a portion of it. Several Dollywood restaurants offer kid’s meals with the right amount of food for smaller stomachs. Be sure to visit the following restaurants for these child-sized meals:
- Aunt Granny’s
- Miss Lillian’s Smokehouse and Fried Chicken
- Hickory House BBQ
- Grandstand Cafe
- Red’s Diner
- Victoria’s Pizza
10) Visit Dollywood Twice
Did you know that if you visit Dollywood after 3:00 pm, you can visit the next day for free? This is an ideal opportunity for families who like to take their time inside the park. Instead of rushing through each ride, show, and restaurant, enjoy every moment of discovering Dollywood together.
Plan Your Trip to Dollywood with Kids
Traveling to Dolly Parton’s iconic theme park with your children is easy when you follow this advice. And since I’m feeling generous, here’s another tip for you: use Reserve Pigeon Forge to book your Dollywood vacation. Trust me!