Not your average theme park
Situated in the beautiful Great Smokey Mountains in Tennessee Dollywood is a must-visit for theme park enthusiasts and families alike. Why? Because it is a gorgeous park with food, rides, and game offerings for everyone. Visiting Dollywood has been on my theme park bucket list for years now, and finally, my family and I had a chance to visit. We went into our visit not knowing what to expect and we came out the other side in love with Dollywood. I am planning on writing several posts about our visit to Dollywood, but this post will focus on visiting Dollywood with kids. Covering the best areas of the park for kids, where to go to get out of the heat/rain or to rest, and more. Are you ready? Let’s go!
Disclaimer: My family and I did receive complimentary media tickets to the park in exchange for posting about our experience on my blog and social channels. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
The Big 3: Rides, Food, and Places to Rest
There are so many things that make visiting Dollywood with Kids a blast. The first is its location and setup. The park is situated in the mountains and when you enter the park, and its different sections, it’s like walking into other worlds. (Seriously, Dollywood is the most beautiful theme park I have been to.) If you are taking kids I highly suggest you familiarize yourself with the park layout before your visit to make sure you are aware of what I call the big 3. Food, rides, and places to get out of the heat/rain or rest. Because with kids you know they are going to want to ride as many rides as they can, but they are going to get tired and hungry as well. Haha!
Kids Rides – Wildwood Grove and Country Fair
If you have young kids there are 2 sections of the park that you will probably be spending all your time in. Wildwood Grove and Country Fair. These sections contain the most rides for really young kids. (I am talking 7 and under.) But they are on different ends of the park. So, to maximize your time at the park I really do suggest making a plan before you visit. I personally, suggest starting your day in Wildwood Grove and then making your way to Country fair as the day goes on. Why? One word. Food. Haha!
Wildwood Grove only has 3 food options and 2 of them are desserts. While Till & Harvest Food Hall is good, if it is not operating at 100% then you could be waiting in line for over an hour to just order food. (This happened to us and we lost precious time.) But Wildwood Grove does have character meet & greets as well as an indoor air-conditioned play area called Hidden Hollow.
As for Country Fair, there are more rides and food options in this section of the park. There are even fair games! There is also the Dollywood Express Train which is a really good ride if you need a rest. The only thing about the Dollywood Express is it is a very popular ride. People start waiting in line 30 minutes before the train departs, but is so worth waiting for. (Dollywood Express was actually my 3 year-olds favorite ride.) As for food, Country Fair has slightly more food locations with a wider variety of offerings. Country Fair is also really close to Market Square Big Skillets that has some really good steak and sausage sandwiches.
Dollywood Express Steak Sandwich from Market Square BIG SKILLETS
Food – Because kids gotta eat
Personally, I love visiting theme parks and eating all the food. Theme park food is some of the best vacation food there is. I mentioned a couple of places for food above when talking about Wildwood Grove and Country Fair, but there are a couple more places that my kids really enjoyed. If you are getting ready to get in line for the Dollywood Express, but need to grab a snack first I highly suggest stopping at Victoria’s Pizza. (It is right across from the Dollywood Express.)
If you need to cool down there are tons of Dippin’ Dot’s locations around the park, but Showstreet Ice Cream is the place to go if you need more variety. Also, if you are not a huge ice cream fan you can walk across the street to Spotlight Bakery and grab a cookie or rice Krispie treats the size of your head. They also have a 25 lbs apple pie which is the biggest apple pie I have seen on dry land.
Places to rest or to get out of the rain
Every parent who has taken their kids to a theme or amusement park has been there. It’s halfway through the day you have gotten on some rides, eaten some food, but the kids are starting to get hot and tired. (Or it has started raining and you want to get the family out of the rain.) Dollywood has taken families who will be visiting Dollywood with kids into account and they created so many great places where you can cool off or run too if it starts raining, but again it is important to know where they are.
The main areas to be able to cool off or get out of the rain when you have kids are Wildwood Grove, Adventures in Imagination, Showstreet, Jukebox Junction, Country Fair, and The Village. (Once you start making the loop around Wilderness Pass and Timber Canyon there are fewer places to get out of the rain.) After our visit, I can say our favorite places to get out of the heat or rain are Hidden Hollow in Wildwood Grove, the Chasing Rainbows Museum in Adventures in Imagination, and all of the shops and Bakery on Showstreet.
Why we love these places
Hidden Hollow in Wildwood Grove is a huge indoor jungle gym play area. It also has restrooms, a baby care center, first aid, and more. I wish Dollywood had more locations like Hidden Hollow around the park because it has everything parents need. The other place my kids and I loved visiting is the Chasing Rainbows Museum. (It is the perfect place to go in and get out of the heat or rain.) My girl’s loved seeing all of the costumes and learning about Dolly. Lastly, my favorite way to get out of the heat or rain is to go shopping! Haha! While there are tons of shops throughout the park my favorite stretch of shops is on Showstreet. It is the best place to grab a bite to eat and souvenirs before heading back to the Dollywood Dream More Resort, or just heading home for the day.