Things to Do at Dollywood: The Ultimate Family Adventure Guide
Ready to explore the top-ranked theme park Dollywood? This 2023 guide has the best things to do at Dollywood, food, shows, where to stay, and more!
Get Ready for a Wild Ride!
Pigeon Forge, nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, is home to Dollywood, a theme park like no other. Its unique blend of thrill rides, live entertainment, and Southern charm makes it the perfect spot for an unforgettable family vacation.
Heart-pounding Roller Coasters
Hold onto your hats! Dollywood’s roller coasters will have the whole family screaming for more. From the Wild Eagle, the first wing coaster in the United States, to Lightning Rod, the world’s fastest wooden coaster, there’s no shortage of heart-stopping action. And don’t forget the twists and turns of the Tennessee Tornado and the high-flying adventure of the Mystery Mine.
Wild Eagle: Soar High on the First Wing Coaster in the U.S.
Wild Eagle is truly a unique experience, as the first wing coaster in the United States. This thrilling attraction takes you on a breathtaking journey that simulates the sensation of soaring like an eagle.
With its innovative design and breathtaking thrills, Wild Eagle is a must-ride for any roller coaster enthusiast visiting Dollywood.
Lightning Rod: Feel the Power of the World’s Fastest Wooden Coaster
Our favorite roller coaster at Dollywood is Lightning Rod. This ride picks up speed as soon as you leave the station and doesn’t let up until you return to the station. Due to its popularity, it consistently has the longest line, so if you arrive at the park early, ride this one first. Additionally, this ride experiences periodic maintenance shutdowns.
Launching from a standstill, Lightning Rod accelerates from 0 to 45 miles per hour in just 20 seconds, thanks to its powerful magnetic launch system. As you race along the track, the coaster reaches a speed of 73 miles per hour, making it the fastest wooden coaster on the planet.
Tennessee Tornado: Whirl Through the Skies on This High-Speed Steel Coaster
As you ascend the 163-foot lift hill, take a moment to enjoy the picturesque views of the Smoky Mountains before plunging down a dramatic 128-foot drop. The Tennessee Tornado then sends you racing through a massive 110-foot-tall loop, followed by a sidewinder inversion and a final corkscrew twist.
This ride frequently has the shortest wait time for any of Dollywood’s large roller coasters.
Mystery Mine: Venture into the Unknown on This Unique Steel Coaster
Dare to explore the depths of an abandoned coal mine on the Mystery Mine, a unique steel roller coaster that combines dark ride elements with thrilling coaster segments. This immersive attraction takes you on a suspenseful journey of twists, turns, and heart-stopping surprises.
As you navigate the eerie, dimly lit mine, watch for sudden drops, sharp turns, and disorienting inversions. The highlight of the Mystery Mine experience is the beyond-vertical 95-degree drop, which sends riders plummeting into the darkness below.
FireChaser Express: Join the Firefighting Adventure on This Family-Friendly Coaster
Climb aboard the FireChaser Express and join the ranks of brave firefighters on this family-friendly roller coaster featuring a unique dual-launch system. This exciting ride propels you forward and backward through twists, turns, and drops as you put out fires and save the day.
Because of its popularity, this ride can have one of the longest wait times in the park, along with the most popular ride, Lightning Rod.
Dragonflier: Take a Magical Flight Through the Forest on This Suspended Family Coaster
Nestled in Dollywood’s enchanting Wildwood Grove area, the Dragonflier is a suspended family coaster that takes riders on a thrilling flight through the forest. This charming attraction features smooth, swooping turns and exhilarating drops perfect for younger thrill-seekers and seasoned coaster enthusiasts.
Other Thrills and Adventures for Older Kids
Daredevil Falls: Make a Splash on This Thrilling Water Ride
Daredevil Falls is a heart-pounding water ride that takes you on a wild journey through an abandoned logging camp. The excitement builds as you navigate the twists and turns of the river, passing through a rickety sawmill and encountering the occasional splash.
The highlight of Daredevil Falls is the breathtaking 60-foot drop, which sends riders plummeting down the waterfall at a thrilling 50 miles per hour, culminating in a massive splashdown finale. This exhilarating water ride is perfect for thrill-seekers and families alike, especially on a hot day looking for a refreshing way to cool off.
While this ride is starting to show its age, it’s still a fun way to cool off!
Barnstormer: Soar Through the Skies on This High-Flying Swing Ride
Get ready for an exhilarating adventure on the Barnstormer, a thrilling swing ride that takes you soaring through the sky like a stunt pilot. Inspired by the daring aerial acrobatics of 1920s barnstormers, this exciting attraction sends riders swinging in an 81-foot-wide circle at speeds up to 45 miles per hour.
The Barnstormer is an eye-catching addition to Dollywood’s lineup of thrill rides, offering an unforgettable experience for guests of all ages.
Drop Tower: Experience a Heart-Stopping Free Fall
Feel the adrenaline rush as you’re lifted to the top of the Drop Tower, a pulse-pounding free-fall ride that sends riders plunging from 230 feet. As you reach the summit, take a moment to soak in the stunning views of the Smoky Mountains before experiencing the exhilarating sensation of free-falling at speeds up to 72 miles per hour.
The Drop Tower is a thrilling, intense attraction perfect for adrenaline junkies and those seeking a gravity-defying experience.
Smoky Mountain River Rampage: Embark on a Whitewater Adventure
The Smoky Mountain River Rampage is a fun-filled water ride that invites riders to embark on a winding journey through raging rapids and swirling currents. As you navigate the twists and turns of the river, you’ll encounter unexpected splashes, spinning whirlpools, and a series of drenching waterfalls.
This exciting water ride is perfect for families and thrill-seekers, offering a refreshing, exhilarating way to cool off on a warm day in Dollywood. Just be prepared to get soaked, as the Smoky Mountain River Rampage lives up to its name with plenty of watery surprises in store for riders.
Rides for Younger Kids
Dollywood offers an array of attractions designed with younger kids in mind, ensuring that even the littlest adventurers have a fantastic time. From gentle rides and interactive play areas to exciting family-friendly attractions, there’s something for everyone in your group.
Whistle Punk Chaser: A Junior Coaster for Aspiring Thrill-Seekers
Whistle Punk Chaser is a junior coaster designed for younger kids eager to experience the thrill of a roller coaster. This family-friendly ride features gentle twists, turns, and dips that will introduce little ones to the excitement of coaster riding while keeping the thrills manageable and fun.
Black Bear Trail: Take a Scenic Ride on the Back of a Friendly Bear
Black Bear Trail is a delightful, slow-paced ride perfect for young children who want to experience the magic of the Smoky Mountains. Kids can hop on the back of a friendly, animated black bear and embark on a scenic journey through a beautifully landscaped wooded trail.
This charming ride is fun and educational, as it introduces young riders to the native wildlife of the Great Smoky Mountains. With its gentle motion and immersive atmosphere, Black Bear Trail is an ideal attraction for families with small children.
Dollywood Express: All Aboard for a Memorable Journey
The Dollywood Express is a beloved attraction that delights guests of all ages. This authentic coal-fired steam engine takes riders on a picturesque, five-mile journey through the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. As the train winds through the park and surrounding forests, passengers can enjoy breathtaking views and experience the charm of a bygone era.
The Dollywood Express is more than just a ride; it’s an unforgettable adventure that offers a unique glimpse into the region’s history and beauty. Young children will be captivated by the sights and sounds of the steam engine, while older guests will appreciate the nostalgia and craftsmanship of this classic attraction.
Frogs & Fireflies: Hop and Leap on this Whimsical Ride
Frogs & Fireflies is a delightful attraction that invites young children to hop aboard friendly frogs as they chase twinkling fireflies through the night. This gentle, circular ride is perfect for little ones who want to experience the thrill of a classic amusement park attraction. The colorful, whimsical design and charming theme make Frogs & Fireflies a must-visit ride for families with young kids.
Lumberjack Lifts: Test Your Strength on this Fun-Filled Ride
Kids and parents can test their strength and coordination at Lumberjack Lifts by hoisting themselves to the treetops in custom-built, log-themed vehicles. This interactive ride encourages friendly competition and teamwork, making it a great attraction for families with young children.
Rockin’ Roadway: Cruise the Open Road in Classic Cars
Rockin’ Roadway takes young children on a nostalgic journey as they cruise the open road in colorful, classic cars. This family-friendly attraction allows kids to steer their vehicle along a winding, scenic track. It’s the perfect ride for little ones who love cars and adventure.
Village Carousel: A Timeless Classic for All Ages
Step back in time and enjoy a nostalgic ride on the Village Carousel, a beautifully restored antique carousel that delights guests of all ages. With its colorful menagerie of hand-carved animals and traditional organ music, the Village Carousel is a charming attraction that evokes memories of simpler times and captures the essence of a classic amusement park experience.
Blazing Fury: A Fiery Adventure on a Classic Indoor Coaster
Experience the excitement of a runaway mine train on Blazing Fury, an indoor roller coaster that combines thrilling drops, sharp turns, and immersive storytelling. As riders race through a burning 1880s town, they’ll encounter dramatic scenes, special effects, and unforgettable moments that make Blazing Fury a unique and thrilling experience for the whole family.
While Blazing Fury isn’t a very fast ride, it does have one small drop at the end. The ride is also in the dark, so it can be scary for younger kids.
Great Tree Swing: Swing High on this Classic Attraction
Hold on tight and prepare for a swinging adventure on the Great Tree Swing, a family-friendly ride that sends guests soaring through the air on a giant pendulum. As the swing peaks, riders will experience the exhilarating feeling of weightlessness before swinging back down in a thrilling, adrenaline-pumping motion. The Great Tree Swing is a fantastic attraction for kids and parents, offering excitement and fun.
Country Fair: A Whimsical Wonderland of Rides and Attractions
The Country Fair area of Dollywood is a delightful, whimsical wonderland that captures the charm of a classic carnival. Country Fair offers endless fun for kids and families alike with various rides and attractions.
The Country Fair area is great for younger kids and offers all of these rides:
The Waltzing Swinger: A Whirlwind of Family Fun
Experience the thrill of a classic swing ride with a twist at The Waltzing Swinger. This family favorite sends riders soaring through the air as the swings gracefully spin and tilt, creating a waltz-like dance in the sky. The Waltzing Swinger is perfect for kids and parents, offering an exhilarating and memorable experience.
Dizzy Disc: Spin into a Whirlwind of Excitement
Prepare for a spinning adventure on the Dizzy Disc, a unique attraction that combines the spinning motion of a classic carousel with the exhilaration of a roller coaster. Riders sit on a giant, rotating disc that glides along a track with thrilling dips and turns, creating a dizzying experience that will leave you grinning from ear to ear.
Sky Rider: Take Flight on a High-Flying Adventure
The Sky Rider is a delightful ride perfect for younger children who dream of soaring through the sky. This family-friendly attraction lets kids hop on board colorful, airplane-shaped vehicles that spin around gently, and circularly. Riders can enjoy the exhilarating feeling of flying high above the park as they take flight.
Amazing Flying Elephants
Embark on a magical journey with The Amazing Flying Elephants, a delightful ride that lets young children take control of their own colorful, flying elephant. As they soar through the air, kids can adjust the height of their elephant, creating a personalized and enchanting experience that will leave them feeling like they’re flying high above the clouds.
Take to the skies on the Amazing Flying Elephants, a charming ride where kids can pilot their own elephant, soaring up and down in a gentle, circular motion.
Other Country Fair Rides:
- Lemon Twist: Spin and twirl on the Lemon Twist, a delightful teacup-style ride featuring bright, colorful lemon-shaped vehicles that kids and families can enjoy together.
- Lucky Ducky: Kids will love taking a spin on the Lucky Ducky, a gentle, circular ride where they can choose their favorite duck to ride around the pond.
- Piggy Parade: Join the fun on the Piggy Parade, a delightful merry-go-round-style ride featuring adorable, pig-shaped vehicles that kids can ride as they go round and round.
- Shooting Star: Experience the excitement of a classic drop tower on a smaller scale with the Shooting Star, a kid-friendly ride that sends little ones gently bouncing up and down.
- Busy Bees: The Busy Bees ride is a playful, bee-themed attraction that lets young riders experience the sensation of flight as they spin around in a circular motion.
- Bumper Cars: No visit to Country Fair would be complete without a ride on the Bumper Cars, a classic attraction where kids and families can enjoy a fun-filled, bumping adventure.
Shows, Festivals, and Crafts
More Than Just Rides: Discovering Dollywood’s Rich Heritage
Dolly’s Story and the Chasing Rainbows Museum
Eagles & Wings of America Show: Birds of Prey Take Center Stage
Discover the majesty and beauty of America’s national bird at Dollywood’s Eagle Mountain Sanctuary. This incredible exhibit, located near the Wild Eagle roller coaster, is a partnership between Dollywood and the American Eagle Foundation to protect and preserve these magnificent creatures.
The sanctuary provides a safe and natural habitat for non-releasable bald eagles injured or unable to survive in the wild. Visitors can observe these awe-inspiring birds up close while learning about their conservation, rehabilitation efforts, and important role in our ecosystem.
Discover the majesty and beauty of our nation’s birds of prey at the Wings of America Show. This captivating and educational presentation showcases a variety of native raptors, including eagles, hawks, and owls. Expert handlers share fascinating facts about these incredible birds, their habitats, and their important role in the ecosystem. The Wings of America Show is a must-see attraction for families and bird lovers of all ages.
World-Class Entertainment and Live Shows
Dollywood’s Exciting Shows in 2023: Entertainment for Everyone
Discover a fantastic lineup of live performances and captivating shows throughout Dollywood in 2023, offering entertainment that caters to diverse tastes and interests.
- The Tones at The Village Depot: Enjoy the sweet harmonies of this mixed cappella group as they perform contemporary pop melodies in The Village area, captivating audiences with their intricate vocal arrangements.
- Harmonies Of The Heart at Dreamsong Theater: Experience a heartwarming tribute to the iconic Dolly Parton as talented singers and musicians bring her songs and stories to life in this 30-minute show.
- The Kingdom Heirs at Pines Theater: Delight in the uplifting sounds of Southern gospel music with Dollywood’s own award-winning quartet, The Kingdom Heirs, as they perform timeless gospel classics and chart-topping hits during their 30-minute show.
- Smoky Mountain String Band at Market Square Stage: Immerse yourself in the authentic mountain music of the Smoky Mountain String Band, as they fill the air with the beautiful strains of traditional tunes during their 20-minute performance.
- A Brighter Day at Back Porch Theater: Join this lively 20-minute production featuring four vocalists and a five-piece band, as they perform a curated selection of songs from various genres, bringing energy and joy to the stage.
- Wings of America Presents a Zookeeper Chat in Craftsman’s Valley: Don’t miss this unique opportunity to learn more about the beautiful birds featured in the Wings of America show, as one of Dollywood’s knowledgeable zookeepers shares fascinating insights and information during an educational session.
An Enchanting Christmas Season at Dollywood
Experience the magic of a Smoky Mountain Christmas at Dollywood, where the holiday spirit comes to life in a spectacular celebration. Dollywood transforms into a winter wonderland, complete with dazzling light displays, festive live performances, and heartwarming holiday shows, making it the perfect destination to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.
As you stroll through the park, marvel at the twinkling lights and festive decorations adorn every corner. Indulge in seasonal treats and warm beverages to keep you cozy while you explore the enchanting atmosphere.
Don’t miss the special holiday-themed shows, such as the beloved Christmas in the Smokies, featuring talented singers and dancers performing festive favorites. And for a touch of heartwarming nostalgia, catch the heart-tugging adaptation of Dolly Parton’s holiday story, “Dolly’s Christmas of Many Colors.”
The Fabulous Fall Festival at Dollywood
Autumn at Dollywood is a time of vibrant colors and festive fun with the annual Fall Festival. This celebration of the season brings together the best of Southern traditions, food, and entertainment, creating an unforgettable experience for the whole family.
Witness the park’s transformation as the foliage takes on brilliant hues, and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere filled with fall’s sights, sounds, and flavors. From pumpkin-spiced treats to warm apple cider, your taste buds will thank you for the delicious seasonal offerings.
During the Fall Festival, Dollywood also hosts the Harvest Festival, showcasing the talents of skilled artisans and craftsmen across the country. Explore the Craftsman’s Valley, where you can watch live demonstrations and even take home a unique souvenir.
Be sure to catch the incredible live performances during the festival, including the famous Southern Gospel Music Celebration, which features some of the most renowned names in gospel music.
Learn about the life and career of Dollywood’s founder, the legendary Dolly Parton, at the Chasing Rainbows Museum. This interactive exhibit showcases her journey from a humble childhood in the Great Smoky Mountains to becoming an international superstar.
Flower & Food Festival (April-June):
Indulge your senses at Dollywood’s Flower & Food Festival, a delightful event featuring vibrant floral displays, delectable culinary creations, and fun for the whole family. Stroll through the park and discover a colorful wonderland of flower sculptures and gardens, while sampling various mouthwatering dishes at themed food booths.
Summer Festival with Night Drone Show:
Light up your summer nights at Dollywood’s Summer Festival, where you can experience an incredible night drone show that will leave you in awe. Witness a mesmerizing display of synchronized drones illuminating the sky with dazzling patterns and colors, creating an unforgettable spectacle that the entire family will enjoy. Don’t miss out on this unique and exciting event during your summer visit to Dollywood.
Craftsman’s Valley: A Hub of Artistry and Skill
Immerse yourself in the talents of master craftsmen at Craftsman’s Valley, where you can watch artisans demonstrate their skills and create unique handmade treasures. Discover the beauty of glassblowing at Mountain Blown Glass, as artists shape molten glass into stunning works of art. Step back in time at the historic Grist Mill, where you can see the process of grinding grains into flour, and don’t forget to try the famous cinnamon bread baked on-site.
Witness the sparks fly at the Blacksmith Shop, where skilled blacksmiths forge intricate metal pieces using traditional techniques. Watch as they heat, hammer, and shape raw metal into beautiful, functional art right before your eyes.
Old Flames Candles: Create Your Own Keepsake
Make lasting memories with a hands-on experience at Old Flames Candles. Choose your favorite scents and colors to create your own custom candle, a perfect souvenir to remind you of your visit to Dollywood. This family-favorite activity is sure to delight visitors of all ages.
Explore More Artisan Crafts
Throughout the park, you’ll find an array of talented craftsmen and artisans showcasing their work. From pottery and woodworking to leathercraft and handmade soaps, there’s something for everyone to enjoy and appreciate. Be sure to explore these unique shops and demonstrations during your visit to Dollywood, and take home a piece of the Smoky Mountains as a keepsake.
Delicious Southern Cuisine
No trip to Dollywood would be complete without indulging in some mouthwatering Southern fare. From Aunt Granny’s famous fried chicken to the heavenly funnel cakes at the Front Porch Café, there’s something to satisfy every craving.
Tips and Tricks for the Best Dollywood Experience
- Best Time to Visit: To avoid long lines and crowded parks, plan your visit during off-peak times like weekdays in early spring or late fall.
- Dollywood App: Download the Dollywood app to help navigate the park, check ride wait times, and get the latest updates on special events.
- Timesaver Pass: To make the most of your time at the park, consider purchasing a Timesaver Pass, which allows you to skip the lines for select attractions.
- Rain Check: If it rains during your visit, don’t fret! Dollywood offers a rain check that allows you to return for free on another day within the same operating season.
- Combo Tickets: Save money by purchasing combo tickets for the Dollywood theme park and its water park, Dollywood’s Splash Country.
What are some of the best rides at Dollywood for young children?
Young children will enjoy rides like the Firehouse Fun Yard, the Carousel, and the Busy Bees in the Country Fair area.
What time of year are the Harvest Festival and the Smoky Mountain Christmas events held?
The Harvest Festival typically occurs in the fall, usually from late September to early November, while the Smoky Mountain Christmas event runs from early November through early January.
What are some interesting facts about Dollywood?
Dollywood is located on 150 acres and is co-owned by Dolly Parton and Herschend Family Entertainment, which also owns Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. The park opened in 1986 and has since become one of the most visited attractions in the United States.
What are the best things to do at Dollywood for country music fans?
Country music fans will love Dolly Parton’s My People, My Music, a live show featuring her family members and the live musical performances at the Pines Theater and the Back Porch Theater.
What are some of the major attractions at Wildwood Grove, one of the newest areas at Dollywood?
Wildwood Grove boasts a variety of family-friendly attractions, including the Dragonflier roller coaster, the Great Tree Swing, and the Wildwood Tree, which comes alive with music and lights at night.
Does Dollywood offer a variety of food options for guests with dietary restrictions?
Yes, Dollywood has plenty of options for guests with dietary restrictions, including gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan choices at various dining locations throughout the park.
Dollywood is a great place for families to make memories that will last a lifetime. With its thrilling rides, live entertainment, and unique cultural experiences, there’s truly something for everyone. So pack your bags and head to the heart of the Smoky Mountains for the ultimate family adventure!