More often than not when thinking about eating at a theme park, most people’s first thought is dollar signs. Eating at Dollywood does not have to be expensive if you know what to look for while in the park. It is easier than you might think to save a few dollars and stretch your budget while visiting Dollywood. I’m going to share my three biggest tips as well as share my five favorite treats to match any budget for your next trip to the park.
Invest in a gold pass– You’ve heard other Dollywood Insiders talk about this until we are blue in the face, but a gold pass is worth its weight in, well, gold. You save 20% every single time you use it and that adds up so quickly. I congratulate myself every time I use mine and can hear the cha-ching sound going off in my head.
Utilize park promotions– Another great way to save some money and eat on a budget at Dollywood is through utilizing the promotions inside the park. The Flower and Food Festival offers a dining pass for $29.99 ($27.99) for gold passholders that allows you to select five food dishes throughout the park. This is a great thing to buy and split with a friend as you try five different dishes for a reduced price. Dollywood also offers refillable mugs that can be bought as a day mug ($14.99) or a season mug ($29.99) that allows you to save loads of dollars on drinks throughout the park all year long. See my fellow Insider Kelly’s blog post about mugs to learn more about this promotion.
Opt for big portions and split with a friend– If I’m spending money, I want to get a lot of bite for my buck. I have found that it is so much easier to eat on a budget at Dollywood when you are visiting with friends because you can split the cost of a large dish so that you both get very full while saving some dollars as individuals. Lots of places in the park have incredibly large portions for an affordable price and the meal really goes a long way.
Now that you’ve followed these three tips, let me tell you some of my favorite things to eat in the park that don’t hurt my wallet.
1. Frozen Lemonade– I love stopping by the frozen lemonade stand in Wilderness Pass after letting my stomach drop on the Wild Eagle. With your gold pass, a large cup of this chilly goodness comes out to only $5. If you use your refillable mug, it is only $1.99. This is by far one of my favorite treats in the park and totally hits the spot while not hitting your pocketbook.
2. Pretzel Breadsticks (two count)- Remember how I said I love splitting treats with friends in order to save money? Pretzel breadsticks from Victoria’s Pizza in The Village offers the perfect opportunity for that. Menu price is only $4.99 (less if you have a gold pass) and come in a two pack-one for you and one for a friend. This is also the perfect affordable snack to feed your kiddos while they are riding in the stroller around the park or while riding the train.
3. Foot Long Corn Dog & Tater Twirls– It’s hard to beat a stop in Rivertown Junction to Dog n Taters for deliciously sinful corn dogs and some tater twirls. This is the perfect meal to split (making it $5 a person if you split with a friend) and even the half portion will fill you up. The price is already super reasonable for the portion size, but the ability to split the large portion size makes this meal perfect for dining on a budget.
4. Smokehouse BBQ Pork Fries– This is hands down my favorite meal in all of Dollywood and the size of it makes it worth every penny for your budget. Located at Hickory House BBQ in Craftsman’s Valley, you will be so full from the large deliciousness of crispy fries, pork, cheese, bbq sauce, and cheese. I could split this with four people and it would still fill me up. Opting for larger portions in the park completely maximizes your food budget. Don’t miss these the next time you are at Dollywood.
5. Caramel Apples– You didn’t think I was going to skip out on dessert, did you? I love stopping by the Sweet Shoppe when heading down Showstreet on my way out of the park to grab a caramel apple for the ride home. Coming in at just $5.99, they are the perfect dessert to round out your day and satisfy your sweet tooth. If you take one of these bad boys home and cut it up with a knife, you can have a sweet snack for the entire family.
The next time you are planning a trip to Dollywood, be sure you have your gold pass, refillable mug, and that you grab some bites that have really large portions. Eating at a theme park doesn’t have to be expensive, and Dollywood’s variety and portion sizes make splitting with a friend or family member super easy and affordable. I never leave the park feeling like I just dropped wads of cash. Try out any of my five treat suggestions the next time you are at Dollywood— your belly and bank account will thank me.