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Dollywood on a Budget: Money Saving Tips

Dollywood Guide
Dani Gamutan
Article By: Dani Ruben
Last Updated: July 26, 2022
Dollywood's thrilling rides, tasty food, colorful festivals, and picturesque backdrop of the Smoky Mountains make it well worth the money to visit. However, there's plenty of ways to ensure that you get the most value out of a trip to the theme park, especially if you're already spending quite a bit of time and money to get there. Thankfully, doing Dollywood on a budget isn't difficult.

Knoxville isn't exactly the cheapest airport to fly in to, nor is Pigeon Forge easy to access via car from most places. When you consider the cost of tickets, parking, food, and souvenirs, everything can really start to add up.

These tips and tricks will help you confidently do Dollywood on a budget, so that you can stress less and enjoy your vacation more!

1. Get a 1-Day Ticket

Potential Savings: $15 - $30
Dollywood is a decently sized amusement park, but it's very doable in just one day if you manage your time well. You can easily ride most of the rides and eat at 4 or 5 places around the park in a single day, even during the busy summer months.

While a 2-Day or even 3-Day ticket provides great value at just $15-$30 more than a 1-Day ticket, there's really no need to do more than a day at the park unless you really prefer to take your time or have a large (5 or more people) group that tends to go a little slower. If you do prefer more a more relaxed schedule or want to do everything at the park, then absolutely go for the 2 or 3-Day tickets.
Buy Dollywood Tickets

2. Check for Ticket Discounts

Potential Savings: $5 - $20
Dollywood tends to have a few promotions throughout the year where you can snag day tickets for a little cheaper than usual. Check their website for special offers and see if you can plan your trip on dates when they are having those specials.

Also, don't forget military discounts! This discount can only be used with valid ID at the front gates, but it can save you quite a bit.

3. Take the Pigeon Forge Trolley

Potential Savings: $17 - $18
If you take your own car to visit Pigeon Forge, you can avoid Dollywood's $20 parking fee by using the convenient Pigeon Forge Trolley. The trolley even takes you right to the front gate, which is closer than parking and walking.

You can either park for free at Patriot Park and take the direct trolley to Dollywood or keep your car at your nearby hotel and take the trolley to Patriot Park and switch to the Dollywood trolley. If you fly in and are dependent on taxis or other transportation to get around, you can take a trolley from your nearby hotel to Patriot Park and just switch to the Dollywood trolley from there.

The trolleys are about $1.00 per ride, or you can purchase an all-day ride wristband at the Fun Tim Trolley Main Office for $3.00. The office is located next to Patriot Park, which is also the hub for all the trolleys that branch off in different directions. Even if you end up paying $2.50 for a ride to the Trolley Main Office and another $3.00 for the wristband, that's still much less than paying $20 for parking.
Pigeon Forge Trolley Info

4. Choose Quick Service Meals

Potential Savings: $10 - $30 per meal
The biggest expense once you're in Dollywood is undoubtedly the food. This theme park has fantastic food that you can see and smell as you make your way through the park. The sit-down restaurants are popular and serve up some great hits, but they're not particularly great for doing Dollywood on a budget.

By choosing to eat at quick service restaurants, like Hickory House BBQ, Red's Drive-In, Victoria's Pizza, or the Dog House, you can get a cheaper meal that's also served quickly. That means you waste less time waiting on food and more time enjoying the park. The food at these restaurants are still great quality, and sometimes are even similar to what's served at the sit-down restaurants.

The down side is that quick service locations can get busy during peak meal times. If you avoid those peak hours (11am to 1pm and 5pm to 6pm), you usually won't have to worry about that.

5. Get the Cinnamon Bread

Potential Savings: Depends
Aside from being the most popular treat to get at Dollywood, getting the Grist Mill cinnamon bread can save you money by covering your snack cravings for the entire day. For under $10, you get a decently sized tin of delicious cinnamon bread that you can nosh on slowly while you're trekking the park.

It's large enough to divide into 4 or even 5 sizeable snack breaks, which means you don't have to spend money on other snacks. Or, if you visit with a group, this treat is very shareable and one of the best value snacks in the park.

6. Share Meals

Potential Savings: $5 - $10 per meal
If you go to Dollywood with friends or your family, you can save a bit by just sharing your meals. The portion sizes in the theme park are fairly decent, with most entrees large enough to satisfy two people.

For sharing, we recommend the BBQ Pork Fries or large sandwiches at Smokehouse BBQ, the pizzas and breadsticks at Victoria's Pizza, the Meatloaf Stacker at the Front Porch Cafe, the cinnamon bread at the Grist Mill, pork rinds at the Pork Rinds stall, and the funnel cakes at Splinter's Funnel Cake.

7. Bring a Water Bottle

Potential Savings: $3 - $12
At 150 acres, doing Dollywood generally means putting more than a few miles on your step counter for the day. You'll want to stay hydrated from all that exercise, but, in true theme park fashion, the drinks can get pricey -especially if you're buying 3 or 4 or more of them throughout the day.

Guests are allowed to bring in one unopened bottle of water to the park. When it's empty, you can refill it at water fountains as you go. They're usually located near the restrooms, so there'll be plenty of opportunities to fill up.

You can also ask for free water from restaurants and eateries and fill up that way. Water from restaurants will be colder and better filtered, but you might have to wait in a line.

8. Buy a Refillable Soda Mug

Potential Savings: $5 - $15
Not a big fan of straight water? You can purchase a refillable soda mug for about $15 which you can then use for $1 refills on fountain drinks. It's cheaper than buying bottles of soda as you go, and you get to a nice little souvenir to take with you when you leave!

9. Text DWPARK to 41274 For a Daily Special Offer

Potential Savings: Depends
There's a sign near the Dollywood Express rail station that tells guests to text that number to get a daily special offer for the theme park. The offer usually involves a small discount at a shop or restaurant in the park. It's usually not very large, but if you're waiting on the train anyway, you might as well see what savings they have to offer.
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