We took a family trip to Dollywood in April on what turned out to be the first really warm day here in Tennessee and we had so much fun watching our (then) 18 month old enjoy her first amusement park rides! We knew our fearless girl would love riding anything they’d let her on, but Dollywood has rides for everyone!
Here are my tips for enjoying Dollywood with a toddler, and a few extra tips too…
Bring an umbrella, fan, and spray bottle in the summer months!
There aren't a lot of shaded areas and there can be lines, so we have thought about bringing an umbrella on our next trip during warmer months to help shield Iris (and ourselves) and not worry about her getting burnt while having fun. We will definitely be bringing a little fan and spray bottle along with the usual sunscreen.
Work your way up.
I’m sure you already have an idea of your child’s preference for “scary” things like rides and what they can and can’t handle, but even so, if this is your first time doing amusement park rides that is a whole other ballgame for your toddler. Iris loves anything as wild and crazy as possible and being scared, but we started with the train, then went for the carousel (she was a bit unsure for a minute), and then rode rides like the flying elephants and the tea cups.
Map Out Your Day.
This goes hand in hand with the last tip, but rather than wander aimlessly (since your toddler will need a nap at some point and, if you’re there in the summer, it’s too hot to wander), make sure to scout out the rides ahead of time and make a loose plan for the day. Most of the toddler rides are in Country Fair, so you can plan to spend a lot of your day there. If you need a break from the heat grab a Dippin Dots like we did or catch a show in the ac!
Try the barbeque!
If you’re there during a meal time, we recommend the BBQ at Hickory House BBQ. We had the pork sandwiches and they were amazing, Iris was all about the corn. Amusement Business Magazine named Hickory House BBQ the best pork barbeque of any theme park in the country, so obviously they’re doing something right!
Go during the holidays.
We’ve been during Christmas and are SO excited to be going during Halloween this year! Dollywood is extra magical when it’s all decorated for the holidays. I know most people go during the summer, but if you’re able to make a fall or winter trip I highly recommend it. Especially during the fall, Tennessee is insanely gorgeous when the leaves change and the Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg area are so beautiful and the weather is perfect for being out all day at the park.
Here’s a video of our first family trip to Dollywood:
We were given complimentary tickets for this trip to Dollywood, but all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.