Quick – what’s the first thing that pops in your mind when you hear the term “theme park?” I bet it’s not Dolly Parton, is it? After my recent trip to the Smoky Mountains, her namesake amusement park – Dollywood – is what comes to my mind.
Dollywood was our last stop during our short stay in Tennessee. Early on a Sunday morning we drove to the park and quickly found a parking spot. Since we got there early enough, we found a good spot and walked to the front entrance. (If you don’t park close, you can hop aboard one of the free shuttles that circle the parking lot.) We presented our tickets and went through the gate. Immediately to our right was a bakery. Too bad we didn’t save room after breakfast so that we could have tried one of the sweet treats.
Nestled among the trees in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, Dollywood has to be the prettiest theme park I have ever visited. Trees are everywhere, which is especially great for escaping the scorching summer heat in the South. When you go, be sure to look into the shady areas – there are some cute and interesting sculptures.
Be sure to watch your step because these cute little fellows make Dollywood their home:
Being that we were at a park, my children wanted to get started with the rides. They pulled out a map and figured out which ride(s) they wanted to explore. The first area that we went to was the Country Fair so that we could ride the Scrambler.
Sure, this ride looks innocent enough, but once it gets going, be prepared. You will feel the force trying to pull you from side to side. It is a lot of fun, though.
In the Country Fair area of the park there are a lot of rides that are kid friendly. I rode the swings with my children, then they went on and rode the Dizzy Disk while I kept my husband company.
Shooting Star at the Country Fair.
After riding a few rides in the area, the kids wanted to move on to the Wilderness Pass to find the bigger rides. Look how cozy the park is:
Once we got to the Wilderness Pass, there was quite a bit of open area. The park has these nifty fans/misters to help cool things down a bit:
Do you like large coasters? I do – NOW. Well, ever since I was in about the sixth grade. You see, when I was little I would scream to the employees to let me off. Then when I was in about the sixth grade, I went on a trip with the youth group from my church. I went from roller coaster to roller coaster and watched as my friends rode the rides and had a good time. I finally got tired of waiting and relented and hopped on a large coaster. The rest is history. I like nice, smooth roller coasters. Not the rickety type that make you feel like you are going to have bruises all over your body after riding.
Since my youngest child did not want to get on the Wild Eagle with my oldest, I rode it with her. TWICE! It was so smooth and exciting. My word of advice – when you go to the entrance of the ride, you will have to choose whether to go left or right up the stairs. Go up the right side of the stairs. By doing so, you will end up riding on the left-hand side of the coaster. Trust me – it’s better. (The trees seem further away, which means that there are fewer bugs/bees, too.)
Since the guys patiently waited for us to ride it twice, we decided to move on and find some other things that we all could do. Together. The summer heat started to get to me a little and I thought it would be a good time to check out the Wings of America Birds of Prey show.
The show takes place next to Eagle Mountain Sanctuary. It’s a nice place to sit and enjoy – yes, actually enjoy – learning about conservation efforts to protect some of America’s precious birds of prey. The show lasts about 25 minutes and conservationists will actually walk down the aisles with some of the stars of the show.
Now please forgive the irony of the next photo, but after the show I was hungry. We made our way to Aunt Granny’s All-You-Care-to-Eat Buffet. Yes, I got some fried chicken. That and the green beans, pinto beans, and mashed potatoes hit the spot.
After enjoying our lunch, the kids rode the Smoky River Rampage and got soaked. Before it started to storm, they were also able to ride the FireChaser Express and a few others back at the Country Fair. My daughter and I were in line for Barnstormer when lightening was spotted in the area and the ride was closed.
There are more photos of Dollywood on the Southern Kissed Facebook page. You can see them by clicking here.
You can learn more about Dollywood by visiting its website by clicking here. A few short notes:
- There is a fee for parking. $10 for regular sized vehicles, $15 for oversized.
- A cup of water is free if you ask for one.
- You can leave the park and return the same day. Be sure you save your ticket stub and get your hand stamped before you leave. You will need to have your ticket re-scanned before re-entering the park.
- Credit cards are accepted. (American Express, VISA, MasterCard, and Discover) Checks are accepted with a valid driver’s license.
- Did you bring Fido with you on vacation? He can visit Doggywood (for a small fee). Be sure to read all of the details about boarding by clicking here.
- According to Dollywood FAQs: If it is raining when you leave the Park and your visit is shortened by the rain, you can request a Rain Check—just ask.
The regular prices of one day tickets are:
- Regular (ages 12-59) $67
- Child (ages 4-11) $54
- Senior (ages 60+) $62
Season passes are available. You can purchase one day or season pass on site or online.