If you are into the thrilling aspects of theme parks (coasters!), visiting Dollywood Parks & Resorts while the theme park is closed in the winter may not have crossed your mind. I must confess that it used to not be on my radar either. Suffice it to say, since my initial January trip several years ago, winter trips to Dollywood’s other properties have become an annual tradition. This blog is going to tell you why you’d love visiting during this period, too.
Laid Back, But Open
When the theme park seasons ends, Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa doesn’t close, and Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins are still available for rent. My wife and I love the atmosphere of Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa any time of the year, but it takes on a different appeal during the off-season when it is no longer a bustling theme park companion.
This year, I made reservations the week after Dollywood’s season ended to celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary. We arrived late Friday night and stayed two nights with the intention of exploring the resort and enjoying all it has to offer.
As an extra treat, the Christmas décor was still up, so we were given bonus Christmas time—with a little snow on the ground!
We had a king bed with a sofa in our room, and we were on the third floor facing the outdoor pool area.
I’m going to share a pro tip—make time for a nap! Naps aren’t usually on my to-do list, but they are when I’m staying in these comfy quarters.
While the outdoor pool is seasonal, the hot tub is available year-round. I wasn’t sure how many people would take advantage of the outdoor hot tub with temperatures in the 30s, but we saw quite a few people willing to brave the chill for a dip. The indoor heated pool is another option.
My wife had her heart set on a spa appointment, but learn from our mistake: the atmosphere is quieter and more subdued in the winter, but that does not mean the resort is slow. We tried to get a walk-in appointment and found that The Spa at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort was fully-booked through our stay. Make an appointment as soon as you can. (Call 865-428-9684) I owe my wife a spa day on our next visit!
Resort Meal Options
Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa has incredible food. You never have to leave, unless you want to. On this visit, we enjoyed the DM Pantry and got sandwiches for lunch and sat in the lobby. They have breakfast items available all day—assuming they don’t sell out! I had the bacon and egg burrito for lunch and it was wonderful. The food is made fresh, and they offer a variety of options. A personal favorite is the pizza, which I have had on several occasions in the past.
Not too long after our sandwiches, we decided it was time for the greatest theme park snack anywhere: Dollywood’s famous cinnamon bread. You read that right; you can get cinnamon bread 365 days of the year at the resort! Coupled with a Starbucks cappuccino (the DM Pantry serves Starbucks products), and it was the perfect afternoon.
I couldn’t give you a full picture of the resort’s culinary options without dining at Song & Hearth: A Southern Eatery. We had dinner and Sunday brunch during our stay—you can make reservations on OpenTable so you don’t have to wait. Expect a buffet-style meal with everything from carved meats and vegetables to chicken tenders and pizza for dinner; breakfast includes all your favorites from eggs and bacon to made-to-order omelets and biscuits and gravy. Adults and children of all ages can find something to eat. The food is all extremely good and is one of my favorite places to eat when I’m in Pigeon Forge.
What’s the difference between staying at a resort versus a regular chain hotel? Well, if I haven’t convinced you yet, I have a few more reasons Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa is the experience to choose. There are two nightly activities that you really can’t miss: bedtime stories and s’mores around the fire. The opportunity to toast a marshmallow and squish it between two graham crackers and chocolate is always a winner. Plus, the hosts make it a lot of fun dancing around with the children too.
Bedtime stories is a very sweet tradition. Every evening, a host reads an Imagination Library book to children (of all ages, though I wasn’t going to sit on the ground!) The book I got to hear the night I was there was “Dragons Love Tacos” by Adam Rubin. Even on that very cold night, there were quite a few children gathered around the host reading the book where we find out that (spoiler alert) dragons do like tacos! I will leave it to you to find out if they like crunchy or soft tacos. Hearing the story and seeing the host interaction was a very sweet ending to the day at the resort.
Beyond these activities, you can enjoy the mountain setting as you sit around a gas fire pit and chat late into the evening or explore the halls of the resort and learn about songbird, Dolly Parton.
New this year, there is a concert series on Thursday – Saturday nights at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort during some of the off-season. You can find more details on the concert series here.
And of course, there is a fantastic shop called Pokeberry Lane where you can find resort, Dollywood, Dolly Parton and other fun merchandise.
Because there’s so much to do in the area, Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa is a great home base. We decided to try breakfast at Frizzle Chicken Farmhouse Café. The food was good (I got fried chicken and waffles), but the food is only a small part of why you should check out this eatery. The ambiance is the biggest draw. Several times during your meal, chickens (animatronic ones with names like Dolly PartHEN and Feather Locklear) will wake up and sing for your entertainment.
After breakfast, we drove up to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and took in the view of Gatlinburg. It had snowed recently, so it was quite a beautiful sight.
We weren’t on a long trip, so we didn’t do everything that there is to do. I’d encourage you to make time for one of Pigeon Forge’s dinner shows among other area attractions.
So, if you are looking for a way to get away from it all, Dollywood Parks & Resort is still a great choice in the off-season with lots to do, and perhaps even better, plenty of space to do nothing comfortably.