Not everyone visiting theme parks is there seeking a thrill. Yes, sometimes you go to try out a bucket list of rides. Other times you go for food, adventure, or to make special memories with your friends or family that don’t (or can’t) involve the big roller coasters.
So, if you’re wondering what other types of things you can do at Dollywood to still have a great time that don’t involve thrill rides, you’re in for a treat.
Here are eight non-coaster attractions I think everyone should try at least once.
Dolly Parton’s Tour Bus
If you’re visiting Dollywood, chances are you are a Dolly Parton fan or you’re at least somewhat interested in getting to know more about the iconic woman behind this wonderland. Parked in the Adventures in Imagination section of the park, you will find Dolly Parton’s $750,000 tour bus that was her “home on wheels” for 15 years. You’ll be able to get on, walk through and have an up-close view of how Dolly lived while touring — an experience exclusive only to those visiting Dollywood Theme Parks and Resorts. This one you should add to your bucket list of things to experience at least once.
Another attraction you’ll want to carve out time for can be located in pretty much every themed area of Dollywood. You’ll find concerts and live shows happening throughout the park and throughout the day. Grab a schedule for all the showtimes and take your pick to catch a concert or other performance happening at one of the theaters. There will be live music and interactive entertainment happening at Showstreet Palace Theater, Dreamsong Theater, Pines Theater, Back Porch Theater and Valley Theater year-round. Add Heartsong, Gazillion Bubble Show (during the summer festival), Little Engine Playhouse (also during summer), and Christmas in the Smokies (during the holiday festival) to your list of things to try. Plus, there’s many other new shows that get added seasonally, so be on the lookout to find one to see during your next visit.
Eagle Mountain Sanctuary
At the center of Craftsman’s Valley, you can see the world’s largest exhibit of non-releasable Bald Eagles. The eagles living here are all disabled and not able to survive by themselves in the wild. At Dollywood, they are cared for by the American Eagle Foundation for rehabilitation and have more than 30,000 square feet of natural living space to roam. So, if you’re an animal person, you’ll want to stop by to witness this one of a kind bald eagle preservation. Download the Dollywood app (or grab a schedule) so you can catch the Wings of America Birds of Prey show during your visit, get educated and witness these magnificent birds of prey up close and in action. It’s magnificent.
Old Flames Candles
Located in Craftsman’s Valley, Old Flames Candles is the cutest shop you’ll want to visit at least once (if not every trip). As soon as you step in the door, you can watch the third generation of candle crafters create the most beautiful assortment of candles you’ve probably seen in your entire life — all by hand. As you turn, you’ll see from wall to wall the most unique and impressive collection of decorative candles that you can purchase as keepsakes. Or if you want to try it out for yourself, visitors of all ages are allowed to dip their own candle. It’s a super neat experience. You’ll be so proud of your work.
Smoky Mountain River Rampage
Although technically this one is a “ride,” it’s not a coaster. Located in Rivertown Junction, this white-water rafting adventure offers an easy-going way for families to coast along the water and get splashed a bit. It has a 36-inch minimum high requirement, so even the smallest park visitors can enjoy this excursion. I took my two-year-old, and she loved it. Heads up: You’ll probably get wet so be prepared! I recommend wearing shoes you won’t mind getting soaked.
Dollywood Express Train Ride
No matter where you are at Dollywood, you’ll probably hear the coal-powered steam engine train chug and roar a mighty whistle nearby. Every hour, park visitors can line up in the Village near Country Fair to climb aboard and enjoy a 20-minute train ride up the mountain and around the park. This is such a cool way to take in the beautiful Smoky Mountain view and Southern charm of the theme park. If you’re going with a large group, this is a perfect excursion to enjoy together since there’s plenty of room to fit busloads of passengers. As a side note, you might want to wear sunglasses in case of debris during the ride!
Before you leave, do yourself a favor and make a stop in Craftsman’s Valley at the Grist Mill for the world-famous, hot and fresh cinnamon bread. Dollywood sells over 200,000 loaves of cinnamon bread every year here, so that should tell you how good this must be! It’s one of the most popular food stops at the park (and rightfully so) so be prepared to wait in a line.
The Wildwood Tree
If you’re in Dollywood near closing hour, end your time at the Wildwood Tree in Wildwood Grove. At night, this enchanted tree comes to life with a three-minute multisensory light show experience and story time. Think of it as a grand finale. Plus, if you’re at Dollywood during the summer or Christmas, you can also catch a firework show that helps make this feel like the best day ever.
So, if you’re wondering about what else there is to do at Dollywood to still have a great time, add any or all of these eight non-ride attractions to your list of things to try at least once.
Dollywood offers a lot more than just thrill-based rides. It’s a park you’ll want to take your time at, explore, sight-see, eat well, shop, participate in family-friendly activities, and take in the Southern, country charm that makes this place feel warm, welcoming and like home. It’s one of the friendliest theme parks around. If you’re planning your trip soon, give any one of these attractions a try to make one-of-a-kind memories with your loved ones.