Dollywood Guidance

My family and I are headed to Dollywood; we’ve never been and not sure when we’ll get back there. Any tips/tricks/strategies anyone has to share for visiting the park would be much appreciated.

-5 people.
-1 day visit.
-Memorial Day weekend.
-We expect it to be very crowded and will purchase Time Saver Unlimited.
-Concerning rides, the kids are all daredevils, my wife a bit more moderate as aggressive rides will give her headaches. Expedition Everest, for example, is about her limit.

-My plan is to get to the park well before opening, and head straight to Lightning Rod (if open) since it’s unreliable. After that… I'm hoping to zig while the crowds zag. Are we better off headed towards Thunderhead and go clockwise around the park, or go towards the Country Fair area then go counter clockwise around the loop? Or with Timesaver passes, does it matter?

-The day of our visit will depend on the weather. How far in advance will Time Saver passes sell out on a busy weekend?

-It looks like park reservations are gone for passholders, but I can’t tell how it works for the GP. I have to pick a date, and I can use my ticket within 5 days of that date. Is that it?

-I’m going to assume Lightning Rod, Tennessee Tornado, Thunderhead, and maybe Wild Eagle are rides my wife will want to sit out. How is Mystery Mine? I’ve read mixed reports on it.

Any other tips would be much appreciated. Thanks!

Last edited by Danimales,
bjames's avatar

You can easily get the park done in a day and have second or third rides on most things with the time saver unlimited. I'm not sure how busy it is over that weekend, but if you only wanted to hit the major attractions once or twice, you don't even really need the unlimited, you can get the timesaver that gives you like 8-12 line skips (don't recall the name). I can't speak to how far in advance you should purchase those, though.

When I went I did the reverse loop starting at Thunderhead and ending at county fair, just because it was the opposite direction most of the crowd was going. It's actually kind of hard to find the path up to Thunderhead from the entry area unless you know where you're going, so I expect most people don't get to the back of the park until later in the day.

Lightning Rod was up and down the whole day I was there...I believe you can check the Dollywood app for status updates, so no need to waste time walking all the way to the ride entrance every time. If it's not up when you first get there, just keep checking it throughout the day.

Mystery Mine might be a bit too much for your wife if she is sensitive to g-forces, but it's only a little bit more intense than Firechaser. Some of the inversions are a bit tight and intense I suppose.

I last visited in May 2021 (the thursday before memorial day), but my experience was probably different since there were still a lot of people too afraid to leave their houses because of COVID. If anything I'd expect it to be busier than past years just because of all those people making up for lost time haha.

"The term is 'amusement park.' An old Earth name for a place where people could go to see and do all sorts of fascinating things." -Spock, Stardate 3025

Wild Eagle beat me up pretty good (ala Mean Streak). Hard pass for me.

Not sure the time of year you are going but if they have any live shows running don't miss the opportunity to catch a couple. They are right up there with Disney in terms of quality.

And, go hungry. Some of the best theme park food I've ever had was at Dollywood.

Time Saver gets you to the front of the line up to 8 times. To upgrade to the unlimited it's an extra $20pp. I figure at that point, I might as well!

eightdotthree's avatar

Lightning Rod is a crapshoot. I’ve visited Dollywood 3 times since it opened and it’s never opened with the park. I’ve only managed 3 rides

I like to ride Blazing Fury first thing then walk back to Flying Eagle and Fire Chaser.

Thunderhead seems to have a shorter line later in the day.

Mystery Mine is cool but it has some violent head bangy movements.

Don’t skip Dragonflier!

Cinnamon bread.

Since you’ll have time with Time Savers Unlimited make sure that you do not miss these non coaster rides/shows:

1. Dollywood Express: This is not a fancy transportation option, it is a full on attraction. Board the genuine Baldwin coal fired, WWII veteran steam locomotive on a 20 min ride up and down the mountain. It leaves at set times, and you’ll want to show up at least 15 min before boarding. Do not miss.

2. Heartsong: This is a movie, with in theatre effects, it stars Dolly Parton and essentially takes you through a year in the Smokies using Dollys songs. Another poster once explained it best to me: this movie is the soul of the park. Do not miss it.

3. Dreamland Drive Inn: Dollywood is best known for its shows and this is a summer favorite. This rock and roll show takes you through the 60s. Just a great show.

3. Cinnamon Bread: If you’ve been to a Herschunds park before you probably know about this amazing treat but in my humble opinion the DW version is the best. Get it at the Grist Mill here.

4. The log ride is fun, they have a Disk-o, an S&S Screamin Swing, and the black bear powered coaster is a hoot.

5. The coasters are all great and none are “credit rides” you’ll want to reride all of them. Fire chaser Express is the wildest kid coaster ever made, Thunderhead is my favorite GCI, Tennessee Tornado is a smooth arrow looper and Blazing Fury is a nostalgic blast (and that’s only the supporting cast.) You’re going to have a great time.

2022 Trips: WDW, Sea World San Diego & Orlando, CP, KI, BGW, Bay Beach, Canobie Lake, Universal Orlando

LostKause's avatar

See a few of the shows. I don't even like country music, and I really enjoyed the shows.

Other than the fair rides, I can't think of any rides there that can be skipped.

I can't imagine only being at Dollywood for one day. When I go, I spend several days in Pigeon Forge, and spend at least half my time at Dollywood. It's unique to other parks.

I haven't been there in a few years. Now you're making me want to go back.


"CoasterBuzz - It feels like home" :)

Brent Sullivan's avatar

I have never been to Dollywood.

It's on my list but have just never made it. I need to fix that!

echoing previous comments.

Dreamland show is really good. I mean REALLY good. Time Saver is a requirement, especially on holiday weekend. Iron Eagle is rough, don't know why, but I got serious pile driver pain on it. Lightning Rod is all that it's cracked up to be.

Zigging and Zagging isn't quite as easy as you might think because of the loop design and the elevation change (side of a mountain). You won't do the full loop more than twice. If you're trying to avoid crowds, go directly to Blazing fury and knock it out, then Tennessee Tornado (possibly the best of the Arrow loopers, preference for me is next to last row, (1st row, last coach).

Operations on flat rides SUCK. Lots of Elderly workers who are not concerned with load/dispatch times. Can be very frustrating for the smaller rides in County Fair section.

Cinnamon Bread. Seriously.

Do not skip Dragonflier

Daredevil falls is extremely wet. Also the continuous loading confuses the locals. It's worth it just to watch the GP struggle.

Last edited by CreditWh0re,

> Dreamland show is really good. I mean REALLY good.

Agreed. It runs just about a full hour, very unusual for a theme park show, and I walk out wishing it could have gone a bit longer.

> When I go, I spend several days in Pigeon Forge, and spend at least half my time at Dollywood.

I am usually in the area for a week. I go hiking in the mountains most mornings, and hit the park for an hour or two in the evening most days. I might do one "full" day to fit in the train or a show or two. I end up buying a season pass for this, which isn't the most economical way to see the park, but it's also not ridiculously expensive.

OhioStater's avatar

eightdotthree said:

Don’t skip Dragonflier!

I was hoping someone said this. Packs a decent punch for a family coaster and the layout with the tunnel is impressive.

I also would not skip the train ride (I don't think anyone mentioned this yet). It takes you on a cool journey, and is just impressive to look at.

You'll have a blast. One of our favorite parks to visit.

Fire in the Hole! (you'll know what that means after your trip).

Promoter of fog.

Even though I live 12 hours away, I usually go at least twice a year, once in the Spring for 5 nights. I spend 2 days doing outdoor stuff in GSMNP or the Blue Ridge Pkwy and 2 days at Dollywood and once in November for 3 nights (2 days at Dollywood, Christmas is awesome.) Summer trips are every few years.

2022 Trips: WDW, Sea World San Diego & Orlando, CP, KI, BGW, Bay Beach, Canobie Lake, Universal Orlando

ApolloAndy's avatar

Don't skip the train. Or Maverick. Or Knoebel's. I mean, it's on the way.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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