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Dollywood Tips: 17 things you need to know before your next visit

Dollywood sign
Photo by A Roberts/discoverthegreatsmokies.com

Planning a trip to the Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge? Get the most out of your trip with these top insider tips from where to park, how to get discounts, the best times to go to the park, and popular rides, shows, foods, and festivals.

1. Download the Dollywood App

Dollywood app photo collage
Photo collage by A Roberts/discoverthegreatsmokies.com

One tip I always tell people is to download the Dollywood app. It’s such a timesaver and full of information! On the app, you can purchase your tickets and parking, view an interactive map, all the rides, and attractions, showtimes, wait times, and restaurants, and even manage your purchases right on the app. I also recommend buying your tickets on the app to save time and to have a digital copy of your tickets.

My favorite feature of the app is that you can get interactive directions to anything in the park, (think Google Maps but for Dollywood).  No more wandering aimlessly looking for a ride, restaurant, shop, or show ever again! The app is available for both IOS and Android.

The Dollywood App helps you maximize your visit with features such as:

Wayfinding Map – Use the interactive wayfinding map to navigate your way through Dollywood. Find the best route to rides, attractions, dining, theaters, and shops.

Customize Your Experience – Plan your day your way! Create customized lists of all the rides, attractions, shows, and restaurants you want to enjoy during your visit.

Show Schedules – The show schedule displays all the performance times at each theater and venue throughout Dollywood. Never miss a show with the show schedule!

Ride Wait Times – Ride wait times display the current estimated wait times for the most popular rides.

Exclusive Offers – The app also has exclusive offers on food and shopping.

Dollywood preferred parking entrance
Photo by A Roberts/discoverthegreatsmokies.com

2. Get the Preferred Parking

Start your day off right by parking in the preferred parking lot. It’s one of the things I recommend time after time. I know what you are thinking, why get the preferred parking? I’m already paying the parking fee and enough for parking as it is. Trust me the preferred parking is so worth it!

The preferred parking lot has its own special entrance at the front of the park. No more waiting 45 minutes to get on and off the tram to enter or when you are leaving the park. It’s best to buy your parking pass before you go to the park. You can purchase the preferred parking pass on the Dollywood website or on the Dollywood app.

Below are the differences in general parking and the time-saving preferred parking. Dollywood gold season pass holders receive free general parking and a discount for preferred parking.

Parking Pricing Information

General Parking Preferred Parking
Park far from the park. Trams are provided for transportation to the Front Gate.
Park right in front of the park, has a ticket window to purchase tickets and an exclusive entrance to the park.
Fees from 2022.

Local Tip: Here’s a tip if you want to avoid the Dollywood parking fees. Drive to Patriot Park and park for free in the parking lot. Then take the trolley to Dollywood. The Pigeon Forge trolley has a fare each way per person or an all-day pass. If you are staying in Pigeon Forge you could also take the trolley to Patriot Park and then transfer to the Dollywood trolley. The Dollywood transits run every 15 to 20 minutes.

Dollywood festivals photos collage
Spring, Fall, and Christmas Festival photos by media/@dollywood Summer Festival photo by A Roberts/discoverthegreatsmokies.com

3. Visit During a Dollywood Festival

Dollywood features amazing seasonal festivals thought out the year! With each celebrating the beauty and wonder of each season with seasonal décor, special food, and entertainment. You might even get to see Dolly Parton during one of the parades or events. The four yearly Dollywood Festivals are the Flower & Food Festival, Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration, Harvest Festival, and Smoky Mountain Christmas. Any one of these special seasonal festivals is a perfect time to visit!

Doggywood photo collage
Photos by A Roberts/discoverthegreatsmokies.com

4. Doggywood

Traveling with your furry best friend? You can take your dog to Dollywood’s on-site dog boarding. Doggywood has both kennels or cottages. It is open 30 minutes before the park opens, and pick-up is within 15 minutes when the park closes. You can find Doggywood next to Guest Services at Dollywood’s Front Gate. Dollywood recommends making reservations for their day boarding service for your dog because space is limited. Below is the pricing for this great place for your pooch to stay.

Doggywood Pricing

Kennel Runs (4′ x 6′)Cottages (5′ x 5′)
$25 Per Day$35 Per Day
Dogs may share a kennel or cottage if they live in the same house; a $5 fee will apply for each additional occupant. Fees from 2022.

5. Take Advantage of the Military Discounts

Dollywood has an array of deals and one of the best is the military discount. If you are an active or retired member of the U.S. military, veteran, or military reservist, including spouses or dependents with valid military ID, this deal is for you.

With this discount you get $25 off any ticket options, even season passes. You can get the military discount whether you buy your tickets online or at the park. Don’t forget to take advantage of Dollywood’s military discount!

Dollywood seasonal mug and popcorn bucket
Photo by A Roberts/discoverthegreatsmokies.com

6. Buy a Refillable Souvenir Mug and Popcorn Bucket

One of the best deals at Dollywood is the Refillable Souvenir Mugs and Popcorn Buckets. There are two different colored mugs, one that is orange and one that is green. Both souvenir mugs have different conditions. The different colors signify a one-day refillable mug and the all-season refillable mug.

The orange mug is the One-day Unlimited Refill Mug. So, with the orange mug, you get unlimited refills for only ONE DAY ONLY. This is the best option if you are only planning on spending one day at Dollywood.

After that first day, refills cost $1.99 per mug for fountain drinks and $2.99 for frozen refills, or you can get unlimited refills for $6.99 (with wristband) just for the day. Currently, the orange mug costs $16.99. There is a discount if you buy more than one mug ($13.99 for 2, $10.99 for 3). You can also use this mug at Dollywood’s Splash Country and at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa.

The green mug is the All-season Unlimited Refill Mug. With the green mug, you get unlimited fountain drink refills for THE WHOLE YEAR. Currently, it costs $31.99 per mug. Frozen drink refills can also be purchased for $2.99 with this mug. You can also use this mug at Dollywood’s Splash Country and Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa as well.

Another great reason the refillable mugs are such a great buy is that the previous year’s mugs can be filled for $3.99 per refill. Not sure about what mug to purchase? Look below for the pricing information for these great refillable Dollywood Souvenir mugs.

Refillable Souvenir Mug Pricing Information

One-day Unlimited Refill Mug (the orange mug)All-season Unlimited Refill Mug (the green mug)
$16.99 Per Mug ($13.99 FOR 2, $10.99 for 3)$31.99 Per Mug
Unlimited Refills for ONE DAY ONLYUnlimited Refills All-season
Prices from 2023

Somewhat similar to the refillable mug is the refillable Dollywood souvenir popcorn bucket. With the popcorn bucket, it can be used over and over all season. You can also fill the bucket with more than just popcorn. You can fill it up with the park’s popular snacks of kettle corn, cotton candy, or pork rinds for a discount from their regular price. Currently, the popcorn is 6.99 per refill and the price of the refillable popcorn bucket is $11.99.

7. Use the FREE Pre-K Imagination Pass

If you have any preschoolers, you can get the Free Pre-K Imagination Pass. What is the FREE Pre-K Imagination Pass? Any child that is 4 or 5 years old can get a FREE season pass to Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country that is good for the whole year. This deal is a must for anyone with 4 or 5-year-old kids! Visit the website to register your kids by the deadline. Also, if you have any kids under 4, they don’t need a ticket. All kids under 4 get free admission.

Dollywood height measurement center
Photos by A Roberts/discoverthegreatsmokies.com

8. Get Your Kids Measured

If you have little kids under 52-inches tall, make sure to stop at the Ride Height Measuring Center. At the measuring center, your kids will be measured to an exact height and given a color-coded wristband that shows which rides they can ride. You can also get a list of all the rides according to the height requirements. That way you will know which rides your kids can ride. No more stopping and measuring your kids at every ride! The Ride Height Measuring Center can be found on the right when you first enter the park.

9. Arrive Early

One thing you must do is arrive early. When I mean early, I mean before the park opens. Dollywood tends to get busier in the afternoon and the crowds are far lighter in the early morning. You also get to have a nice lunch as others are just getting into the park. You should try to arrive about an hour before the park opens, so you have enough time to park (and maybe apply some sunblock).

Dollywood roller coaster sign
Photo by A Roberts/discoverthegreatsmokies.com

10. Take the Path to the Left

Most people don’t know this handy trick. When you first enter the park, take the path to the left (not the right path, which is the one where the crowd is going). This path will take you to Timber Canyon, which is located at the back of the park. This area of the park contains some of the popular roller coasters of the park (Mystery Mine and Thunderhead). It is also a short walk to a few of the other great roller coasters Dollywood has (Wild Eagle, FireChaser Express, and Tennessee Tornado). This area of the park is usually quieter during the earlier parts of the day, which makes this place a great place to start your day.

Dollywood free water photo collage
Photos by A Roberts/discoverthegreatsmokies.com

11. Free Water

Dollywood has two options to get free water while enjoying the theme park. You can ask for a free water cup at any food stand or restaurant. Guest are allowed to bring their own water bottles into the park. Dollywood also has designated water filling stations that are only used to refill water bottles.

12. Eat Lunch/Dinner Earlier

One of the greatest tips is to eat lunch and dinner early. This tip can be such a timesaver! If you eat at an earlier time the ordering lines are shorter, it’s easier to find tables to eat at, and you get to ride rides whiles others are eating. Eating at an earlier time is a total win-win! I recommend having lunch around 11:00 and dinner around 5:00 pm to beat the hungry crowds.

Dollywood recharging station
Photo by A Roberts/discoverthegreatsmokies.com

13. Charge Your Phone at a Charging Station

You are having a blast at Dollywood, till you notice your phone is about dead. But don’t worry! Throughout the park, there are phone charging stations. So, just find one of these convent stations and charge your phone. Just don’t forget to bring a phone charger with you. Relax and Recharge stations are located in The Plaza at Wilderness Pass, in Wildwood Grove, at the Red’s Drive-In in Jukebox Junction. You can also charge scooters, cameras, and more at the phone charging stations.

Dollywood Heartsong theater
Photo by A Roberts/discoverthegreatsmokies.com

14. Don’t Pass on the Shows

Not a fan of roller coasters? Dollywood has an amazing assortment of shows. There are musical shows that showcase country music, southern gospel, and more. There is also an assortment of musicals (some are only being shown in the summertime). Also, for bird lovers, there is a show that showcases the birds of prey of Dollywood, including the bald eagles from Dollywood’s sanctuary. Seeing one of these shows is a great way to take a break (and great if it’s raining).

Dollywood cinnamon bread loaf
Photo by A Roberts/discoverthegreatsmokies.com

15. Have Some Cinnamon Bread

Dollywood has some amazing food, but without a doubt, the most popular of all Dollywood’s treats is their famous cinnamon bread. This cinnamon sugary, pull-a-part bread is a must when going to Dollywood! This award-winning cinnamon bread currently costs $9.99 with an icing cup. You can also have some apple butter with it for an extra $1.49. Cinnamon bread can be found at the Grist Mill and the Spotlight Bakery.

Dollywood package pick-up photo collage
Photos by A Roberts/discoverthegreatsmokies.com

16. Check Out the Shops

Dollywood has a variety of shops where you can find both fun souvenirs and unique items. In the shops you will find plenty of Dolly Parton memorabilia, Dollywood souvenirs, clothing, jewelry, pottery and home décor, Christmas ornaments, specialty foods, and sweet treats.

There are also many unique items that are made on site by talented artisans. You can watch these artists as they create hand carved wood carvings, hand-forged steel items, hand blown glass items, hand-tooled leather items, and handmade candles.

17. Use the Package Pickup

Dollywood might be a great place for rides, but it is also a great place for tons of unique souvenirs. But who wants to carry all those wonderful things around with you? Luckily there is a solution. Just use the Package Pick-Up!

If you purchase an item that is either fragile, oversized, or over $25, you have the choice to either leave the package with the vendor or store and then pick it up later at the package pick up. It’s easy to do, you just fill out a piece of paper with your information and pick-up time.

As you leave the park, you can pick up your purchases at the Package Pick-Up station located at the Dollywood’s Emporium at the park’s exit. There is also an option to have your package delivered to Dollywood’s Dreammore Resort if you’re staying there.

Dollywood Tips

Even if it’s your first time or the hundredth time visiting Dollywood, a little research and planning in advance will help you will have an amazing time. We hope that these Dollywood tips will help you have the best time at the friendliest park in the world. Get ready for a day full of wonder and thrills!


Check out our video for the best Dollywood tips!

Disclaimer: Attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed in the article are not those of any mentioned business, but the authors, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by these entities. Contact us at info@discoverthegreatsmokies.com for comments or questions.

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  1. I had no idea that Dollywood had so many things to do! We’ve always just passed through it/Piegon Forge and went to Gatlinburg for the smokies. This post inspired me to visit the Dollywood area though, thank you!

  2. This looks like soooo much fun for kids! i LOVE that they have a doggywood as well to look after your furry friends!

    Great tips about eating early too- that is such a good idea!

  3. I love Dollywood! I haven’t been since I was in high school, but I have such fond memories of visiting. Thanks for sharing these helpful tips, like how to use the app, for the next time we go back!

  4. As a Tennesseean, (Chattanooga), great post. I will be in DW on Friday for the media event and hopefully hearing from Dolly herself. Glad to support other Tennessee bloggers.

    1. I hope you get a change to visit and see all the things the beautiful Smoky Mountain region has to offer (including Dollywood)!You are so welcome we love sharing our favorite places from our home in East, TN.

  5. The info on this website is presented very clearly and it all sounds like great fun. Probably will spend a good bit of time here – so much info that I’ll need to do serious studying.