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What To Do First At Dollywood

Dollywood is home to more than 50 rides and attractions (not counting the shops, shows and restaurants!), so you may wonder when you walk into the park for the first time…”where do I begin?”

Fortunately, there’s no wrong way to start your first day at Dollywood. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of the options, keep reading for some suggestions tailored for every member of the group:

For the Sightseer:

If you’re someone who likes to get a lay of the land before diving in, the Dollywood Express train ride is perfect for you.

The authentic coal-fired steam engine will take you on a 5-mile, 20-minute journey through the park and the foothills of the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains.

Insider Tip

Download the park’s mobile app so you can create your own Dollywood bucket list!

For the Thrill Seekers: Lightning Rod

If you’re an adrenaline junkie like I am, you’ll want to kick-start your day with an exhilarating ride on Lightning Rod. Reaching a blistering top speed of 73 mph, it’s the world’s fastest and only launched wood coaster.

Lightning Rod is a must-ride for any roller coaster lover, and it’s a terrific way to begin your day at Dollywood.

Insider Tip

To make the most of your first visit to Dollywood, consider purchasing a TimeSaver Pass, which lets you skip the line at some of the park’s most popular attractions.

For the Foodies: Front Porch Cafe

There is so much good food at Dollywood. It can be daunting at first when looking at all the options. But don’t worry, you have an entire day ahead of you. One of my favorite places to eat is Front Porch Cafe.

It’s a sit-down, table-service restaurant with a variety of appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches and entrees — all sourced from and inspired by the East Tennessee region. It’s a great place for an early lunch or a mid-day break.

For the Shoppers:

If you like to shop, get ready to shop ’til you drop at Dollywood’s 20+ shops and boutiques. You’ll exit the park through the massive Dollywood Emporium, so I recommend saving that for the end of the day. One of my favorite shops to visit early in the day is Mountain Laurel Home in Rivertown Junction.

It’s not too far from the park entrance and features items inspired by the Great Smoky Mountains. It’s where I like to do a majority of my birthday—and Christmas—gift shopping.

Insider Tip

Bought something but don’t want to carry it around the park all day? Take advantage of the park’s complimentary package pick-up service. Your gifts will be delivered to the Dollywood Emporium for you to pick up at the end of your day.

For the Kids:

The County Fair area is the perfect place to start for kids, both big and small. The area is home to more than 10 mild-to-wild rides for kids of all ages.

And adults can ride many of them too!

For the Music Connoisseurs:

While Dollywood’s entertainment lineup is always changing, one show you can’t miss is Dreamland Drive-In at the Pines Theater.

The production features hit songs from the 50s and 60s brought to life by a talented cast of performers and musicians. Check the show schedule to see if it is playing during your visit!

So regardless of where you start you first Dollywood adventure, rest assured that you’ve got a great day ahead.

Insider Tip

Want to splurge on your first visit? Consider investing in the VIP Tour add-on experience. You’ll have your own personal Tour Guide for your entire day, front-of-the-line access and much, much more.

By | 2019-03-14T10:15:51+00:00 March 13th, 2019|Trip Planning|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Stevenson (Dollywood Insider 2017-2019) was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, and now lives in Nashville. He’s a devout roller coaster enthusiast and has been a frequent Dollywood visitor since 2001. That love for roller coasters led him to start Coaster101.com in 2005. Since then, the website has become a trusted source for the latest roller coaster news, educational articles, interviews with amusement industry leaders, and of course, all things Dollywood. The world record-breaking Lightning Rod is near the top of John’s list of favorite coasters, which is impressive considering he’s ridden more than 190 coasters across the United States! However, he’s been known to tout Dollywood’s famous cinnamon bread as the park’s star attraction. He looks forward to sharing his passion for Dollywood with the world!
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