My first visit to Dollywood was with my husband and kids. While the amusement park has a lot to offer families, it’s also the perfect playground for us empty-nesters looking for a fun date night getaway- especially during the Christmas season.
My husband and I had the opportunity to see the park all decked out for the holiday, and it was magical. More than four million lights go into creating a colorful landscape that will put a smile on the face of even the grumpiest person to step foot inside the park. The twinkling lights and Christmas songs playing over the park speakers renews the spirit.
The only thing that could have made the night better was if a light snow would have been falling. Call me crazy, but I do love the combination of lights, snow and Christmas music, especially when I’m able to enjoy them while holding hands with that special someone.
December is a great time to visit. Crowds are often smaller than the summer and fall months and many of the main attractions remain open. Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas runs until Jan. 3 and features Christmas shows that include Christmas in the Smokies, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Appalachian Christmas. My husband and I didn’t arrive early enough to watch the shows (I recommend arriving by 4 p.m. if possible so you can catch at least a couple of the performances), but we did stake out a spot near the Dollywood Express to watch the Parade of Many Colors.
If you’re planning a date night, or romantic getaway, Dollywood covers all your bases with dining, shopping, top-notch entertainment, and thrill rides thrown in for good measure. I just have a few tips.
- Visit mid-week for smaller crowds. My husband and I visited on a Tuesday evening and with the exception of waiting only a few minutes to be seated in the Front Porch Café restaurant, we found little-to-no lines.
- Dress warm. While it was unseasonably warm during our visit, the mountain air gets brisk at night. It’s better to bundle up with a warm coat and boots then to spend the evening freezing. Plus, if you plan to ride the Dollywood Express or any of the rides, you’ll appreciate an extra layer or two as the wind from the rides can be especially chilly.
- Book lodging in advance to ensure availability and the best rate. Two incredible lodging options include Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa and Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins. The resort offers valet parking, comfortable rooms with a full-service restaurant, lounge and spa. The cabins offer a more private experience with stunning views, hot tubs, theater rooms and luxurious décor.
- Put your camera in selfie mode and take advantage of some of the fun photo ops located throughout the park. Popular spots include outside the Showstreet Palace Theater, the 30-ft. Christmas tree at Market Square, photos with Santa or Rudolph, and the oversized wreath as you approach the train.
- Upgrade your ticket to a Season Pass. Each season offers new shows and attractions at Dollywood. November and December shine with Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas, spring welcomes the Festival of Nations, and fall features Great Pumpkin LumiNights. So many date night options! You won’t want to miss any of it, and as a Season Passholder, you won’t need to. Plus, Passholders receive perks depending on which ticket you select. Gold Pass Members get free parking and can save up to 20% on purchases made in the parks.
- Don’t leave without Cinnamon Bread from The Grist Mill. Really, this is the best treat to sweeten your date night. Plus, you’ll find hot chocolate for only $2.99 in this location!
- Visit Dolly Parton’s Stampede or Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures while in town. Dolly Parton’s Stampede is hands down my favorite dinner theater. The show is fun and lively and the food is delicious. I’ve visited several times and I’ve never been disappointed. Smoky Mountain Adventures is the new kid on the block. Also a dinner theater, this attraction features aerial acts and live animals. Plan ahead if one of these dinner attractions is on your radar—they fill up during peak times.
My husband and I had a wonderful visit to Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas but one day simply isn’t enough to experience all the park has to offer. Another reason why a Season Pass is a good idea! Have you visited during the Christmas season? What do you enjoy most?