Dollywood with a senior?

My Sister and I were happily surprised when our 68-year-old mother suggested we take her to Dollywood next month. I jumped at the chance to finally ride Thunderhead and Mystery Mine.

We will only have one day in the park and I want to make the most of it for all three of us. Mom wants to see the shows and sis and I want to hit the coasters when we are not in some of the shows with mom.

I'm thinking a Q-Bot might be the best bet, but I've never used one of these before and I'm not sure how one would work for three people who want to split up at times. For example, will we be able to book a showtime for her and a ride for each of us to go on after we take her to the show and before we have to meet her when it's over? Does it work this way? Is it even worth the trouble?

Additionally, we will also need to rent a wheelchair for mom. She can get around fine in general, but cannot go long distances all day without the chair. Mom will probaly want to ride some of the more sedate rides. Since we will have the chair to deal with, will one of us have to wait with it while the other rides with mom or will there be a place to leave the chair while we all ride?

Any tips for our trips are really appreciated. Mainly, we want mom to have a great day. BUT we really, really want to get our coaster fix without leaving mom bored on the midway while we wait in line. Thanks guys!

Mark Small's avatar
Well, if your mom really wants to hit the shows, then definitely get the Q-Bot. The shows are reserved independently from the rides, and can be reserved when you pick up your Q-Bot. They also have special reserved seating for q-bot holders.

You can then reserve rides right from the Q-Bot device.

I'm not sure how the wheelchair would work at certain rides, but the rides should have a handicapped entrance that takes you to the ride platform, you'd leave the chair, mom could ride, then when the ride was done, you'd go back out the same way.

Be sure to get there when the park opens and reserve your Q-Bots right away. They have a limited quantity, and they go fast.

Motorized wheelchairs are available for rent at the front of the park. There's also a large handi-capable parking lot which is very close to the front gate. I would suggest a motorized wheelchair over a regular wheelchair b/c Dollywood is very hilly.

For Q-bot, you don't really need it for the rides. Maybe for Mystery Mine, and Thunderhead, but Tn Tornado almost never has a wait and Blazing Fury seldom does either - 10-15 minutes generally speaking. Q-Bot comes in handy for the shows as they fill up extremely quickly, so if you're mom is most interested in shows, then I would suggest getting a Q-bot.

I would suggest calling Dollywood and asking about specific questions you may have that do not get answered on here, or check their website. They are extremely helpful both on the phone and when you arrive in person. Hope that helps! :)

The way Dollywood is, you could probably snag one of their roving PR people to watch the chair when you catch a ride with your mom.

That place is extrodinarily accomidating and has the most polite staff I've ever seen.

Have a great time! Eat lots of food.

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coasterqueenTRN's avatar
I keep trying to get my senior parents to go to Dollywood since I know they would love it. They can't ride anything but they would love the park and especially the shows and food. Maybe one of these days. ;)

My friends and I used the QBot and I am glad we did. The park was SO packed the day we went and it worked out really well, better than other experiences I have had at the Six Flags parks.

I also like the fact that you don't have to physically go up to the sign by the coaster and point to reserve something. You can reserve anything from any spot in the park. :)

Have fun, yeah, eat LOTS of that yummy grub!


Thanks guys. I can't wait. Sounds like Dollywood is very customer-service oriented and that the Q-Bot will work out perfectly for all of us. Everyone keeps mentioning the food. What are the best bets for food in the park?
Food:Timber Canyon area - LumberCamp has some great fries and chicken.

Craftsman Valley - Granny Ogle's Ham & Beans rocks. Mrs. Lillian's Chicken House is pretty good too, and you get a free drag show with every meal.

Showstreet area - Sweet Shoppe has great ice cream and other sweet stuff. Say hi to Ruth Anne!

As you walk through the park you'll smell all kinds of things cooking in large skillets - it's all delicious. All the food at Dollywood is great.

The Backstage Restaurant in the Showstreet area is very good too. It is a full service sit-down restaurant, so you can relax a bit from the hustle of the park there.

Also, if you get to the park early, try the Breakfast Buffet at Aunt Granny’s. They serve from 8am (before the park opens) until 10:30.

*** Edited 6/20/2007 11:30:47 PM UTC by Dukeis#1***

coasterqueenTRN's avatar
^Yum! Agreed! :)

rollergator's avatar
When I first saw this thread, my initial thought was "Dollywood is one of the parks I'd really *recommend* if asked what parks would be suitable for taking non-riders and/or seniors".

I need to get back there...badly. Maybe I'm just hungry? ;)

coasterqueenTRN's avatar
^For the food or the wood? ;)

Both? :)

A friend of mine called me the other day and asked me all about Dollywood. He's on a southern coaster trip and wanted to know if it was worth it. I made him PROMISE me to stop by Dollywood as he is a GCI fan as well.

I also explained that DW is just the type of park where you have to enjoy it all. It's not all about Thunderhead.

Yeah, even I admit to that! ;)


Sorry to bump my own thread here, but you guys have been so helpful already. I was hoping someone might know if Dollywood has any deals on admission like Six Flags and the coke cans. We are not from the area and I can't seem to find info on any discount offers online. Also since we will be needing to rent a wheelchair and a Q-Bot, I want to arrive early as they are both limited items. I know the park opens at 9 but how early should we get there to avoid long lines at the ticket/rental booths. We will be staying on the strip in Gatlinburg, so we will have a bit of a drive to the park and I've heard Gatlinburg/Pidgeon Forge traffic can be bad on the parkway. *** Edited 6/22/2007 4:08:44 AM UTC by CPMagNut***
The only deal that I am aware of is for Splash Country.

Dollywood specials are few and far between. As far as arriving early....You may want to consider getting at the park at 8am. You shouldn't have any trouble doing this, the parking lot is open at 8 I believe - or maybe even earlier than that. Its not too uncommon for them to open the park around 8:30 even when advertised opening it at 9. The majority of the rides would open at 9, but the park and the shops CAN open early. I'm not sure if that happens every day, but I know that it does happen. It may just be a weekend thing....i'm not positive.

I was there on Tuesday and it was pretty crowded but they move the lines pretty quick. I never waited more than 15 to 20mins for both MM and TH. I agree with Dukeis#1 as I had lunch at backstage and the food is great. IMO this is one of the best parks I have been too. Make sure you take the train ride while you are there and get there early if you don't have a handicap sticker you will have to park far away.

CPMagNut said:
Also since we will be needing to rent a wheelchair and a Q-Bot, I want to arrive early as they are both limited items. I know the park opens at 9 but how early should we get there to avoid long lines at the ticket/rental booths.

I wouldn't worry too much about getting there early to get a Q-bot. My family was there last Saturday, and arrived at about 3 pm. I didn't think there was a chance we could get a Q-bot, but when we got to the rental place they had plenty left. Maybe my experience was a fluke, but I wouldn't sweat over getting there early, especially if you'll be there on a weekday. Oh, and don't forget to eat some fried chicken :)

I would try to get to the park around 9 to avoid the lines at the ticket booths. Just as long as you are there before 10 you should miss the crowds at the entrance.

CPMagNut said:
We will be staying on the strip in Gatlinburg, so we will have a bit of a drive to the park and I've heard Gatlinburg/Pidgeon Forge traffic can be bad on the parkway.
I don't think you'll have much of a problem with traffic from Gatlinburg to the south end of Pigeon Forge/Dollywood. The stretch of the parkway from Sevierville to Pigeon Forge is the notorious part. Highway 66 from I-40 to Sevierville can get pretty bad too.
Plan ahead, when you go to the park, Wheel Chair and ECV (motorized wheel chairs) rentals (respectively $10 and $37 I think) are left from the entrance just on the other side of the gift shop (Mystery Mine and Thunderhead are up that hill you'll see quite a ways), Q-Bot is to the right from the entrance just across the first bridge on your right (past the first snack place and restrooms).

I recommend (unless your Mom can walk the steeper paths) avoiding the area where Mountain Slidewinder and the kids water play structure is (that's really all there is up there) since there is only one pathway up to it and back down that is accessible by wheelchair/ECV, all others are too steep. Wait until you get to the fountain just before Market Square before turning to go up Craftsmans' Valley. (Grab Cinnamon bread from the Grist Mill just past the RR testle on the left! I like it better than funnel cake which you can get just about anywhere now). Once you start up Craftman's Valley you have a choice... Go uphill towards the shops, TN Tornado and Blazing Fury or hang an immediate right just after the RR trestle and go through the cave towards the Country Fair section (this is better than taking the hill up from Market Square/Aunt Granny's). Note, most theatres are VERY accessible by anyone, there is a little bit of a hill getting to one of them, otherwise they aren't too steep of a grade.

Enjoy! and don't forget to grab a handicap guide at the wheelchair rental building, it lists the limitations for riders and how to access certain rides for those with disabilities.

I almost forgot, turn around and go backwards at RR crossings if you are pushing someone in a wheelchair (You'll be reminded) otherwise you won't get across (or you'll dump the person out of the chair if going too fast). *** Edited 6/27/2007 1:20:28 PM UTC by jshorerzd***

Dollywood is truly one of those places for everyone. The staff you will find is mainly older people, and yes as everyone says they are also very friendly.

As far as food i wouldnt really know as much as regulars, but they did have some great smellig stuff, but the most recommended area was auntie's restaurant. They also had amazing smelling brats or sausages where they cook em in a giant wok if you like that kinda stuff.

The rides package is limited, for non riders/seniors, but the train ride is pretty nice for those types of people. But the shows are a must, and also the sites such as the gallery of her items, and pictures. They also have the house recreation, and the shops of the craftsman, all i can say is wow. Especially the woodworking, its a slice of the past that is just about as amazing a thing i have ever seen in a park. Also I recommend checking out the eagles, not a thing you see everyday and those things are majestic.

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