We love calling East Tennessee our Smoky Mountain home… but it’s not quite as lovable with record- breaking temperatures and off-the-charts humidity. With school back in session and our Dollywood days restricted to weekends, the weather is playing a bigger factor in our planning. But we can’t just wait for heat to abate- especially if you’re traveling from out of town to get to experience all the family fun Dollywood has to offer. So how can you beat the heat during these dog days of summer? I’ve sweated and swooned to find the best tips on how you (and me, now!) can stay cool during the hottest of Dollywood days.
While taking on the park spontaneously has its own sense of adventure and joy, the hottest days are not the time to be spontaneous. Plan to hit the more popular rides earlier in the day, when the shaded lines will be cooler. As the day progresses and the temperature rises, plan to head to a museum, shop, restaurant or show to have a reprieve in the nice, cool air conditioning. The shows are all top-notch! DP’s Celebrity Theater, Showstreet Palace Theater, Pines Theater, Heartsong Theater and Dreamsong Theater are all climate-controlled.
Staying well-hydrated in heat is imperative. One of my favorite Insider tips to share is about Dollywood’s generous free water. Any eatery that has a soda fountain will provide you with a cup of free water. We also always get the refillable cup; it pays for itself over and over again throughout the season and is a fun memory keeper to remind us of all of our favorite Dollywood days!
Walk in the shade! It might not sound like it could make a big difference, but shaded areas can be up to twenty degrees cooler than in the direct sunlight. If you need a big refresher, keep an eye out for the misters. As the mist evaporates off of your skin, it cools you (it feels nice, and the kids usually love it!). My favorite area to cool off while traversing the park is the Plaza at Wilderness Pass where there’s a tunnel of misters and fans. There are even benches if you want to soak in the cool mist!
Another later afternoon option is to head over to Wildwood Grove. The line queues are shaded and with plenty of trees and shaded seating; it’s a great place to watch kiddos enjoy the rides while you take a minute to sit. If they’re looking a little overheated themselves, head over to Hidden Hollow. This climate controlled space is the perfect way to convince kids to cool off without them missing out on the fun- because Hidden Hollow is fun! With a huge play structure and plenty of seating, it’s the perfect place to relax…or play with the kids, because this play structure is big enough for adults, too! I’m personally a big fan of the side-by-side slides. If you’re looking for a water feature, get your feet wet by splashing about in Wildwood Creek!
Take on a water ride! You may get soaked, but it’ll feel so, so good. Our family favorites are Smoky Mountain River Rampage and Daredevil Falls. Little ones not tall enough for the water rides? Check out the splash pad areas at Lil Pilots Playground and Firehouse Fun Yard. If you’re really, crazy hot, enjoy a water attraction and then head to one of these cool and comfortable air conditioned spots- the combination of wet and cold air really works wonders!
What are your favorite ways to beat the heat at Dollywood?