Courage to Ride: Helping Kids Build Coaster Confidence

As a Dollywood Insider, the number one question I’ve been asked is “Should I take my toddler to Dollywood? And if I do, are there any rides that they’ll enjoy?”

The short answer is, yes and yes!

I grew up loving roller coasters. From the moment I was tall enough to ride, I loved them!

My daughter, though, not so much! But guess what? She LOVES Dollywood, and here’s why:

⁃We never push her beyond her limits. If she seems too scared, we back off and
go back to an easier ride.

⁃We leave on a positive note, even if she doesn’t make it to a “scary” ride, we
always talk about how much fun she had on the easier rides.

⁃We’ve incorporated a fool-proof way to build her confidence and courage on the

If you’re taking your toddler to Dollywood for their first time, or if your child is hesitant to try new rides, Wildwoood Grove is the perfect place to build their courage. Wildwood Grove is packed with rides, play areas, face painting and everything your little one will love! We’ve created an easy to follow list of rides to try (in order from tame to courageous) to build your little one’s courage at Wildwood Grove:

Start with Black Bear Trail

This ride is exactly what it sounds like—you ride a black bear, but lucky for your toddler, it’s a tame bear. This ride is slow and on a flat terrain. It’s a perfect opener to get your child excited and confident to try other rides.

Next: Frogs & Fireflies

Now, let’s get those bellies tickling with Frogs & Fireflies. This ride must be what it would feel like to ride a magical frog. It has just enough ups and downs (frog jumps) to thrill your toddler but not scare them.

Scale the Heights with Treetop Tower

Conquering heights with Treetop Tower is next. This ride allows you to sit inside an acorn that goes up in the sky and starts to spin. This one isn’t for the faint of heart, and if you get motion sickness, you might have to put your parenting pants on to make sure you don’t show weakness to your little one. They will more than likely handle this one better than you.

Let Your Child Steer Mad Mockingbird

The Mad Mockingbird will start to test your toddlers grit. This ride will get your toddler soaring.  You’ll even have some control over how exciting you want to make this ride by allowing your little one to turn the head and cut through the wind like a rudder on a boat.

The Great Tree Swing Test

The Great Tree Swing mirrors the traditional pirate ship rides you may have seen. This swing will take you and your child to great heights, as you start to swing higher and higher! This one was a bit tougher for my daughter as the drops feel pretty intense for an almost 3-year-old. She needed me to hold her tight but after it finished, she was very proud to tell her mommy that she wasn’t scared.

Coaster Ready: Dragonflier

The grand finale is next, the moment we have been training for—Dragonflier! This ride requires the rider to be 39 inches tall, compared to the 36 inches of previous rides. This is a legit roller coaster! At this point, we did everything we could to prepare our daughter, easing into the fun slowly, and now she was ready. She knew it was the only ride she hasn’t tried, so her ego was ready to prove that she was a big girl. We gave each other a quick pep-talk, walked toward the ride and got right in! I was thankful that we went on a day that wasn’t busy, and there was no wait to ride. This gave her less time to overthink it. When we finally came to a stop, she was a little overwhelmed, but I think in a good way because there were no tears, and again she was so excited to tell her mom what happened.


Whether your toddler is a thrill seeker or a little more reserved, there is something for everyone at Wildwood Grove.

By | 2021-11-23T13:50:06+00:00 November 23rd, 2021|Attractions|0 Comments

About the Author:

Born on the East Coast, Buddy (Dollywood Insider 2021-Now) lived his first 25 years of life in Long Island, New York. He went to a small private school growing up where he excelled in sports and eventually went on to play college basketball for Queens College in New York City. At 25, Buddy decided to make a move to the other side of the country, landing in Huntington Beach, California. Initially, Buddy was not sure why he felt led to California, but after a few months it was evidently clear—God wanted him to find his wife Tasha there. Tasha shared the same excitement for travel and food, so the two of them started an Instagram page they named FoodieOC. What started as a fun page to showcase their travel and eats to friends and family quickly turned into a part-time job filled with lots of fun and food. Their food page has taken them all over the country and has been documented through their blog and Instagram page which now has more than 65,000 followers. Buddy is very excited to be part of this Insiders panel and plans to highlight all of the wonderful things Dollywood has to offer, especially their outstanding cuisine. You can follow him, Tasha, their 2-year-old daughter Brooklyn, and newborn Isabella on Instagram to get all the inside tips they share.
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