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How to do Dollywood in One Day

Dollywood Guide
Dani Gamutan
Article By: Dani Ruben
Last Updated: 2/20/2022
Dollywood's charming country vibe and beautiful backdrop of the Smoky Mountains attracts visitors from all over the world. Unfortunately, it's not a particularly easy theme park to reach if you don't already live near it, so most of us don't get to visit often.

With so much to do in Pigeon Forge and nearby Gatlinburg, you may end up only having a single day to visit this delightful theme park. Thankfully, doing Dollywood in just one day is not a monumental task.

By being a bit strategic about which lands to hit first, planning your dining in advance, and making use of the convenient Dollywood phone app, you can make the most of a single day trip to this popular amusement park. We've got the best tips and tricks to help you know how to do Dollywood in one day, so that you can feel confident on your next trip to the park.

Before You to go the Park

1. Purchase your tickets online

You can save time in the morning if you purchase your Dollywood theme park tickets online before you go. After you pass security check, you can walk right to the park gates and scan your ticket for entrance.

2. Download the Dollywood app

This nifty app will help you map out the park and see ride wait times. It'll be a key component of ensuring your trip goes as smoothly as possible.
App Store Icon
Google Play Icon

3. View the Dollywood Map & create a hit list

Using either the Dollywood app or an online Dollywood map, review the layout of the park to give familiarize yourself with how the space is laid out. This 150 acre park is fairly straightforward, but there are a few areas that are tucked away and require a little more attention to visit. Create a hit list of all the rides and attractions you'd like to see, along with a few places you want to eat at. This will help you prioritize your day at the park.
Download Dollywood Map

4. Have a light breakfast

If you're the type to skip breakfast completely, you can ignore this. However, if you tend to get hungry before noon, we recommend picking up something small like a coffee and a pastry before you head to the park. A heavy breakfast will leave you too full for all the walking the theme park requires.

How to do Dollywood in One Day: In the Morning

1. Head to Timber Canyon first (to the left!)

When you enter Dollywood in the morning, you'll find yourself on Showstreet. Most of the shops and restaurants will be to your right, and it will seem like the most obviously location to walk toward. Because of that, most of the crowd will veer in that direction.

However, if you're trying to do Dollywood in one day, you should head to the left and make your way up the hill to Timber Canyon. This section of the park will be much quieter in the mornings, which allows you to get plenty of rides and attractions in before the long wait times come later in the day.

Take the path up the hill to Timber Canyon, then continue up the hill and wind your way around the park through the other lands to make a full loop. The walk can get very long, and there aren't any shortcuts that cut through the loop, so it's ideal to just go through the loop once to save yourself the extra time and steps.

2. Get your priority rides in first

Starting with the rides in Timber canyon, get cracking on riding everything you want to ride! This will be easier if you already reviewed some of the rides in the park and made yourself a hit list. If you're not sure which rides to try, here are our recommendations:

Mystery Mine | Timber Canyon
Thunderhead | Timber Canyon
Dragonflier | Wildwood Grove
Great Tree Swing | Wildwood Grove
FireChaser Express | Wilderness Pass
Wild Eagle | Wilderness Pass
Blazing Fury | Craftsman's Valley
Daredevil Falls | Craftsman's Valley
Tennessee Tornado | Craftsman's Valley
Smoky Mountain River Rampage | Rivertown Junction
Lightning Rod | Jukebox Junction
Dollywood Express Train | The Village
Sky Rider | Country Fair
Dizzy Disk | Country Fair

After Timber Canyon, you'll want to veer left to cover the Wildwood Grove area before returning to the main path to through the rest of the park. Walking through this main path, you'll hit Wilderness Pass, then Craftsman's Valley, then Owens Farm (although there really isn't much to see at Owens Farm), then Rivertown Junction.

At this point, you can either choose to do Jukebox Junction before heading to The Village and Country Fair, which are in the opposite direction. Or you can do it backwards by going to The Village and Country Fair first, then swinging back around to Jukebox Junction.

If you have younger children, we recommend doing The Village and Country Fair before Jukebox Junction, because Country Fair is the main hub for rides for younger kids. If you're more concerned about ride wait times, go to Jukebox Junction to get Lightning Rod out of the way.

How to do Dollywood in One Day: In the Afternoon

3. Make dining reservations 30-60 minutes before you actually want to eat

If you plan on eating at one of the sit-down restaurants in the theme park, there's a chance you'll have to wait a bit before being seated, especially if the park is busy. Front Porch Cafe, Aunt Granny's, Miss Lillian's Smokehouse, and Granny Ogle's Ham 'n' Beans are the restaurants you'll want to approach in advance to get your name on the wait list.

While you're waiting for your turn to be seated, you'll probably have plenty of time to get one or two more rides in, or you can catch a show at a nearby performance area to make your wait more enjoyable. This maximizes your time in the park, since you're only going to do Dollywood in one day. The Valley Theater at Craftsman's Valley or the Back Porch Theater in Rivertown Junction are great places to catch a show.
Restaurants in Dollywood

4. Ride the Dollywood Express Train for a break

Covering all of Dollywood in one day can be exhausting, so a mid day break either before or just after lunch is usually a great idea. The Dollywood Express Train is one of our top recommended rides for this park, since it's a unique experience that you can't get from any other theme park. This is because the train takes you through the nearby Smoky Mountains, which is a beautiful ride.

The train ride itself is about 20 minutes long, and the wait for the train can take quite a while too, depending on when you arrive and how busy it gets. Don't be discouraged by long lines at the train depot; the train can hold many passengers.

5. Do Adventures in Imagination and Showstreet Last

When you're done with the rest of the park, you can head over to these last two lands, which will put you conveniently right back at the entrance.

Adventures in Imagination has the Chasing Rainbows Museum and Dolly's Home-on-Wheels attractions. The museum is rarely ever busy, so you can go through it at a leisurely pace. The Home-on-Wheels attraction only allows a few people in at a time, so you may have a short wait, but the line never gets too long for that.

Showstreet has all the shops and a few eateries for you to peruse through at the end of your day. By leaving your shopping to the end of the day, you avoid having to carry your purchases all throughout the park.
These are all our recommendations for how to do Dollywood in one day! By using this tips, you should be able to see a majority of the park and experience everything on your priority list.
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