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MAZ

Jan 30, 2014
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I'm thinking about spending a week here with my family before fall. We've always gone to the Outer Banks and this place seems like an exciting change. My main questions are...Is there anyone on this forum that could share some 'out of towner' info on Dollywood? Cabins look nice for a weekly stay but are they really? Seems like cooking my own breakfast and dinner in the kitchens they provide would be huge savings. Is Dollywood really as 'kid friendly' as it appears to be?(for a 3.5 yr old) Is the waterpark good enough to justify getting the 'summer of fun' cards for the whole week? Will I be bored after 2 or 3 days, or will the place keep my interest? Any kind of trip report would be cool. Or direct me towards one that you trust or used would be cool. Hopefully there is somebody here who has done what I am thinking about doing!
 
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Ziva

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It's been a bit since I've been to Dollywood, but I used to go all the time as a kid/teen. First of all, the cabins can be a mixed bag -- definitely food savings, but they can occasionally be dirty or have bug/animal problems. It really depends on the cabin itself! Dollywood is extremely kid-friendly -- there's lots for kids and families to do. Environment/crowd-wise, it's very similar to BGW, but there are a lot more kid rides. Can't speak on the water park, that's new to me. I usually think of Dollywood as a 1/2 day park, but that might be really different with a small child. There are also a LOT more coasters there than when I last went, and I imagine that if you might be waiting for a bit if you want to ride any of the big ones.

If you have more questions, feel free to shoot me a PM -- I'd be happy to give my recommendations about Dollywood and/or the surrounding areas and attractions!
 

Mushroom

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I visited Dollywood for spring break in 2013, and enjoyed the trip so much I returned for 2014's spring break. Dollywood is an extremely wonderful park. The theme is somewhat reminiscent of Old Virginia at KD, but each area has its own distinct country theme. I did not stay on-site at the park, nor did I check out the waterpark, but I'm happy to share what I do know.

For one thing, get in on the park's "Q2Q" system. It's the closest thing they have to a fast pass, and it's essentially a small electric pager where you can reserve your spot in line on most of the park's rides. Basically, you select a ride you want to ride and you wait the given wait time for the attraction... but you don't have to spend your time in line. Then, when it's time to ride, you and your entire party can march up the special Q2Q queue line, get your pager scanned, and enjoy the ride. So, you'll end up doing the same amount of waiting for the ride, but you have the chance to do other things while you wait. It really does end up saving you a ton of time. You only need to pay for one pager system, plus a smaller fee for each additional person who uses it. I don't typically purchase the fast pass option (I'm not Nic :p), but in this case it's definitely worth it. Also, the fact that you're *technically* waiting in line just like everyone else (just not physically standing in the line) makes me feel less guilty when I zip by the "plain folk" in line. :p

The park's coaster collection is stellar. Most of their coasters are all located along one long strip of land, which makes navigation easy. The first coaster you come across will be Blazing Fury, which is a combination dark ride/roller coaster. Being one of the park's oldest and most outdated attractions, I personally did not like this one at all and did not ride it on my second visit. But, I would recommend trying it at least once. Tennessee Tornado is an Arrow looper, much like Anaconda, but the speed and relative smoothness make it one of my favorite Arrow loopers. FireChaser Express, the new coaster, is one of the coolest family-friendly coasters ever. The unique launching system, the scenery, the theming, the dark ride section, and the forwards/backwards element is fantastic. Wild Eagle is next: a truly amazing B&M wing coaster. Do this one a couple of times; you won't regret it. Mystery Mine is a great dark ride/dive coaster combo with some insane theming. Thunderhead is the park's wooden coaster, and with the insane speed, quick turns, crossovers, and great pacing, this one one of my all-time favorite wooden coasters. How I wish KD could get something like that... :p Dollywood is fantastic at getting the perfect balance between a strong theme and a thrilling ride.

Anyway, all of the park's coasters got extremely crowded when I visited. Some of the coasters are relatively low-capacity, and others are just insanely popular (some, like the new FireChaser, are both!). The other rides didn't get insanely bad lines, but the coasters all get unbearable lines. Grab a Q2Q and spare yourself from going insane.

When I visit, the park has a "Festival of Nations" in progress, so I can't speak for the main season shows, but I hear they are very good... almost BGW caliber.

Much like BGW and KD, be sure to stop and smell the roses at Dollywood. There's a glass-blowing demonstration, different candle carvers and craftsmen, bakers, and so many other things to experience. The natural beauty of the mountainous park, from all the streams and lakes to the rolling hills and charming architecture, is unrivaled. It's funny, the park experience is very similar to BGW, but at the same time it's very different.

Also, check out some of the Dolly experiences if you get a chance. You'll have to wait a good 20 minutes or so for this, but getting to tour Dolly's retired tour bus is super cool. And the museum about Dolly's like, Chasing Rainbows, is very interesting. After realizing just how expansive the entire experience was, I started getting a little ride-antsy, but there is so much fascinating and inspiring stuff in the museum, you won't be able to appreciate the park the same if you don't visit. There's a very clever, subtle reference to Dolly's "rags-to-riches" story in the architecture of the entire building. Let me know if you pick up on it. ;)

The main children's area is the "Country Fair" area, with a carnival theme. There is a kiddy coaster in between the size of Taxi Jam/Great Pumpkin and Grover, a Zamperla Disk'O (one of my all-time favorite flats; not necessarily a kid's ride, though), a mini drop tower, teacups, flying elephants, etc. There are plenty of other family rides and kiddy rides throughout the park, too. Also, be sure to check out the steam train. It's a full-sized steam train, larger than the one at BGW (although the pollution it emits must be terrible), and it's so scenic; I really regretted passing it up the first visit I took.

As far as time, I would say you only need two days for the park itself to experience it in its entirety, revisit your favorites, and tackle the park at a relaxed pace. The park is comparable in size to BGW and KD, but the number of attractions is lesser. Two days should be plenty of time to experience the park completely without being rushed. You may want some extra time for the water park, but you could probably squeeze that into your second day and be fine.

Anyway, those are my little tips for the park. Hope this helps!
 

Shane

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I've been planning on going for some time now. I'd like to get a Cabin. Do ya know if they have an upgraded version of Q2Q like Six a Flags that lets you skip the line. SF uses the same hardware software as Dolly and they have a tiered system.
 
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MAZ

Jan 30, 2014
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Shane said:
And on the Dollywood note, I have a lot to say about the park, but this is not the thread to do so. I will just say this, Liseberg and The Applause Board should revoke Dollywood's winning of the Applause Award, they don't deserve it. That being said, I did have fun and enjoy both parks.
I'd love to hear what you have to say about Dollywood. Maybe this thread is more appropriate?
 

Luke

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Jul 20, 2011
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I'm planning on going to Dollywood soon. Does Dolly Parton actually walk around there? Is she like the Mickey Mouse or Snoopy of the park? I really want to meet her! (and Cher...but one can dream)
 
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Apr 29, 2011
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Luke said:
I'm planning on going to Dollywood soon. Does Dolly Parton actually walk around there? Is she like the Mickey Mouse or Snoopy of the park?

No.

She is rarely in the park. And this year she has an upcoming summer tour so that will keep her occupied for a while.

She does have another visit scheduled May 6 but nothing after that.
 
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MAZ

Jan 30, 2014
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Well.....4 years after my original post, we are finally headed to Dollywood! We leave in the morning. I rented a cabin on the mountainside with Dollywood in the valley below. We'll be in Pigeon Forge till next Friday and I am SO looking forward to the R and R in this cabin. Can't wait for some awesome coaster rides too! I can't believe how long it has taken me to put this trip together. Better late than never I guess.
 
Apr 5, 2011
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Not sure if your family would be interested, but I really loved the aquarium there. There's also the dinosaur dark ride, but it was pricey and is one of those things you really only enjoy if you're the person who likes bad movies.
 
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Zachary

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Sep 23, 2009
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I've done the four oldest Alpine Coasters near Dollywood. One or two have opened since I was there, so I can't speak for those.

Anyway, avoid the Ober Gatlinburg coaster like the plague. It's an absurdly expensive nightmare.

That said, I had great experiences at the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster, The Coaster at Goats on the Roof, and the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster.
 
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I booked a week of camping in Pigeon Forge next month which all but guarantees I'll be going to Dollywood. I'm really looking forward to checking out the area (and Maz's now mandatory trip report :) ). It looks like it has quite a bit to offer.
 
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MAZ

Jan 30, 2014
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Richmond
Well, here I go. We visited Dollywood twice, and splash country twice. Both are fantastic parks! I'll start with the only complete disappointment for this trip. Lightning rod, the parks custom RMC, was closed. Apparently for the last two months. That sucked, and I'll just say, 'whatever'. Other than that, this park is extremely charming.

Tennessee Tornado, (arrow looper) was the most forceful arrow looper I have ever been on! My face was melting the whole ride. It wasn't rough, it was just relentless.

Wild Eagle was my first ride on a B&M wing rider. It was great! Like an edge seat on Griffon, but way longer, and more 'twisty'. It was also my seven year old daughters' first ever B&M. (It has a 50" height requirement) she loved it!
Mystery Mine was one of my favorites. I'm not sure who made this coaster, but it was pretty dang fun! Good theming too.
The log flume is completely re-rideable. We rode it five or six times.
Firechaser was good family fun. No big drops, but that thing is WAY up in the air the whole time!
Mountain Slidewinder was a crazy raft ride from hell! Completely unique ride to this park. Well, I've never been on anything like it.

The train ride was fun, but the scenic aspect was disappointing. We ended up with black cinder all over us by the end. It is coal powered. Don't wear any white clothes on that one!
Thunderhead, the GCI woody, was frikin balls to the wall! So fast! The station buzz through was really cool too! (This one is for pro's)
We have decided to extend our vacation here in Pigeon Forge for two more days because we just don't want to leave! We did Hard Rock Cafe for dinner tonight, and pack up in the morning to move to a different cabin. I'll write more about Splash Country when I get a chance. Beans and disease!
 
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