I love living in Tennessee for so many reasons! We have the Great Smoky Mountains in our backyard, the weather is gorgeous and everyone is super friendly. We also have great schools, the housing is super affordable and we have so much to see and do here. One of my favorite spots to take the family is Dollywood, in Pigeon Forge, TN. where you get more than a traditional amusement park.
While you can find a ton of great rides, you also get fantastic shows, shopping, food and some of the most beautiful grounds I have ever seen. My mother loved to come to see the beautiful foliage, flowers, grist mills, railroad and other beautiful things to see. The kids were fascinated with the blacksmith who is on site making a ton of cool things for your house from hand. They use the same equipment and procedures as those men from hundreds of years ago. It was so cool to watch this guy who was super friendly and funny as well as extremely talented.
I have an older brother who lived in Florida who would come up to Dollywood every year just for the large number of handmade wares available. Dollywood has over 35 different places to shop, making it the shopper’s dream come true! You can find everything from clothing and accessories to home decor, crafts, furniture and more. About 5 years ago, he brought my sister in law up to see the fine craftsmanship of the wooden wagons for sale from Valley Carriage Works. He could not stop talking about them the entire trip and he finally talked her into bringing one down to their home in Florida! It still stands in the small grassy area on the side of the house and will so for years to come.
We were lucky to have chosen a day where the weather was absolutely gorgeous. It was a bit overcast, a lovely breeze was blowing and the crowds were very manageable. Henry’s favorite rides are the water rides and he can ride them over and over again, which is just what we did! We love the Daredevil Falls because you start out with a nice and easy ride through the gentle waters and then WHAM! You are going down a 60-foot drop at a thrilling 60 mph! I screamed my head off and made the entire family laugh at me! I decided to take the next ride off for picture taking purposes. My family would be the ones in the back of the ride where Henry swore you got the “best bang for your buck!!”
I can say they laughed their heads off at me screaming when we went over that big drop on Daredevil Falls. I was the one who got the last laugh when we rode the Smoky Mountain River Rampage. This is the ride where you will really cool off on those hot Tennessee days and this day was no exception. As you can see, Caitlin was in the hot seat and was absolutely soaked when we were done! This ride is similar to white water rafting and it is filled with dips, twists, turns and lots and lots of water!
There are almost 40 great rides for every age and comfort level. The FireChaser Express is what I would call an intermediate roller coaster. What sets this ride apart from any other I have see is it goes forwards as well as backwards! I stayed behind with Henry, while Chris and Caitlin rode and you could see them laughing and screaming all at the same time!
If you are a real daredevil like my husband, you can ride the Wild Eagle which is the first coaster which makes you feel like you are actually flying. If you are a die hard coaster fan like Chris and Caitlin, be sure to check out the Tennessee Tornado which has a 128-foot drop through an actual mountain at speeds of 70 mph. The lines for the coasters are by far the longest, so we make sure we have something to pass the time like playing “Heads Up” on Caitlin’s iPhone while we wait.
If you do not like waiting in line, you can always purchase the Q2Q for an additional $20 per person. The Q2Q is a small electronic device which reserves your place in line at select shows and rides. To be honest, I wish I would have bought this because Henry has such a hard time waiting in line. With his autism, he gets a bit claustrophobic and often times he gets agitated and wants to leave lines before we ever get to the ride. This happened 3 times while we were at Dollywood, once for almost 55 minutes, so it can get a little frustrating! If you have special needs kids, I would highly recommend this for your peace of mind and to make your time more enjoyable.
For the younger kids, there is a completely separate area with rides for the very young to the older crowd as well. This is where Henry feels most comfortable, so we always spend a big chunk of our time here. The rides are not what you would call “baby” rides because they get my heart beating a bit fast,. They are not as scary as the ones for the older crowd, but we all enjoy this part of the park. .If you are in the mood for lots of photo opps, Dollywood has more than you could count! I love taking pictures and we got so many great shots to fill our family vacation photo album. I love this picture of Chris in the coffin. It is hysterical!
If you want great food, you are in a food lover’s paradise with Dollywood. The wonderful aromas are all over the park, making it very difficult to choose where to go and what to have for your meals and snacks. You will get amazing southern cooking from sit down to walk around the park snack food. We are partial to Red’s Drive In, which is like a 1950’s diner. They have the best burgers and fries in town and we always make sure we stop there for lunch. The other reason we love this area is because they have several classic cars on display. My husband loves old cars, so we make sure we carve out enough time for him to get his fill! It looks like Caitlin got into mischief and was captured by the local police! In order to save money at the park, I highly recommend the refillable mugs which range in price from $15 for one to $30 for a 4 pack. Te refills are only $1, so you can really drink as much as you want and save money while you do so.
Dollywood also has several live shows ranging from music to comedy and just about everything in between. We typically do not visit the shows because the kids are too interested in the rides. That is a big reason why you should come back with just the adults when you can so you can take your time and really see all that Dollywood has to offer. That is what makes this more than just your average amusement park. They also offer many festivals and events throughout the year for the whole family to enjoy. One of our favorites is the award winning Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival. You will not believe how gorgeous the four million holiday lights look at night. You can also enjoy several holiday performances, including Dollywood’s A Christmas Carol. Because there is so much to do for most of the year, I would recommend buying the season’s passes.
The tickets normally range in price from $47 for kids to $60 for adults and parking is an additional $10. With the Season’s pass, you pay just $94 for adults and $82 for kids, which means after 2 visits, you have paid for your passes. Be sure to follow Dollywood on Facebook and Twitter to stay current with all of their latest news and specials.
For more information: Dollywood 2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd Pigeon Forge, TN 37863 Phone:(865) 428-9488