If you have Dollywood Season Passes, you already know about the huge cost savings that these passes provide when you visit the park more than once. But have you ever considered using them more than you already do? Have you thought about making your visits more frequent but not committing to a full day of Dollywood?
As someone who lives in Knoxville and is just a short drive away, my family prefers to enjoy the parks as much as we can but without making it a full-day commitment. My family calls our quick visits “power hours,” and I want to share with you our tips and tricks on how we accomplish as much as we can in just a few hours at Dollywood.
Setting Expectations Beforehand
Think about setting goals and discussing what you and your party want to accomplish BEFORE you arrive. Remember, you do not have to do it all! For our family, we will talk about our power hour goals and set flexible expectations during the car ride to the park. Whether we decide to make it a rides-only day, or we just want to take a relaxing stroll through the park to simply enjoy the food and entertainment, we make it a priority to be on the same page regarding what is important to each of us.
Go Against the Flow
Since my son’s (current) favorite ride is FireChaser Express, and we have historically experienced that it’s a lot of other people’s favorite, too, [i.e., the wait time can be longer], we start left after coming through the turnstiles and work our way around the park from there. We power walk the hill toward Timber Canyon and make FireChaser Express our first stop, enjoying it several times before the line gets backed up. Then, we check the Dollywood app’s list of wait times to decide where to go next. A stop by Wild Eagle and Wildwood Grove is typically on the quick-trip itinerary!
Utilize the Resources that Dollywood Provides
Plain and simple: utilize the free Dollywood app to make your visit as efficient as possible. Not only will it help you keep track of operating hours, ride times, restaurant openings, show and train times, you can even customize your trip beforehand by making a list of things to do on your visit. The app helps us strategize our next steps on the spot when obstacles affect our original plan.
Think About Your Meals
As someone with Celiac Disease, I know how important meal planning is and am constantly thinking about what, how and when I am going to eat when I am not at home. To add ease to our quick-trip adventure, thinking about how and where we are going to dine at the park ahead of time using these strategies has not only reduced my anxiety but has also made our trips more enjoyable overall.
Here are a few strategies we follow when it comes to these Dollywood quick-trip mealtimes:
*If we decide we’re going to be laser-focused on our to-do list, we consume a bigger breakfast/lunch/dinner (depending on what time of day we’re visiting) before we arrive so we can make the most of our time without stopping to eat.
*If we want to grab lunch, we eat early to avoid the rush. OR, we keep checking our to-dos off the list and wait until the main lunch crowd has cleared.
Find Days and Times That Are Likely To Be Less Crowded
Let’s face it, Dollywood is beloved! But, the crowd doesn’t all arrive early. Therefore, my family prioritizes arriving before the rope drop. Not only do we get closer parking to avoid less tram wait times, we also get to take advantage of the Golden Hour perk that is included with Gold and Diamond Season Passes. This allows us to ride our high-demand favorites before the crowd grows.
In the summer months though, we focus our time and energy on evening power hours. We prefer to arrive to the park between 4 – 5 p.m. because we have learned that not only is it a time when a lot of park guests are typically leaving or taking a dinner break, but it’s an ideal time of the day to beat that summer heat!
I couldn’t close this blog without reminding you to consider visiting Dollywood on days when the forecast looks unfavorable. We power through the most rides on these days in just a few hours as the potential weather often keeps people home. Even if there’s inclement weather, we have the opportunity to focus on other activities that we may not do on a regular basis like shopping, watching the master craftsmen or making a customized souvenir in Craftsman’s Valley, attending some show-stopping performances or visiting Dolly’s Tennessee Mountain Home.