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I Love Disney But Find Out Why Dollywood Will Be Our Next Family Vacation

I Love Disney But Find Out Why Dollywood Will Be Our Next Family Vacation

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Disney is magical, but with rising costs and decreasing services, it is not quite the same dream vacation. Find out why we are heading towards Dollywood for our next family vacation.


Credit: Donna

“Incredible experience… Authentic fun… Unforgettable memories… Crafted daily. Spanning 160 acres in the Great Smoky Mountains, Dollywood theme park offers more than 50 world-class rides, high-energy entertainment, award-winning dining, and the friendliest theme park atmosphere in the world!”

In 2022, Dollywood was voted Trip Advisor Traveler’s Choice Award for America’s Top Amusement Park. When Dolly Parton first envisioned Dollywood, she “hoped it would be somewhere folks were excited to come visit and enjoy time together.

Dolly shares, “In the current world, I want Dollywood to be a place where the light shines every day.” This beautiful park is great for families of all ages and sizes. There is much to enjoy in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee at Dollywood Parks & Resorts and the surrounding area.


Credit: Donna

There are two parks for guests to enjoy with both Dollywood and the Splash Country water park. For my (Donna) family, Disney Parks are our favorite to visit, but Dollywood is a strong second.

Dollywood and Splash Country are not your typical theme parks. There is definitely a level of excellence seen throughout the parks with beautiful holiday decorations, friendly employees, beautiful landscaping, and clean and well-maintained attractions.

Dolly Parton first mentioned in 1982 that she was interested in building a theme park in her hometown of Sevierville, Tennessee. At that time Silver Dollar City was in Pigeon Forge. The owners of this park, the Herschend Family, developed a partnership with Dolly Parton and Dollywood became not just a dream, but a reality in 1986.

Credit: Donna

Over these several decades, many attractions were added. There are HUGE thrills for the thrill-seekers with Lightning Rod, Wild Eagle, and the brand new Big Bear Mountain. This park also offers great attractions for the younger thrill-seekers with the Country Fair and Black Bear Trial.

For those guests wanting to enjoy a slower pace, great entertainment is offered throughout the day. My (Donna) husband’s favorite activity is enjoying the Cinnamon Bread at the Grist Mill.

There is definitely a level of excellence seen throughout the parks with beautiful holiday decorations, friendly employees, beautiful landscaping, and clean and well-maintained attractions.

Great Resort Amenities

Credit: Donna

Do you miss many of the great perks of staying at Walt Disney World Resort? You can find many of these same discontinued services while staying at either Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa or at Dollywood’s HeartSong Lodge & Resort (starting November 3, 2023).

These include the following:

  • Each resort guest with a valid Dollywood ticket receives a FREE Dollywood TimeSaver. This is similar to the old FastPass system. Purchased alone this is $60 per person, per day.
  • Purchases made throughout the day from merchandise shops of $25 or more as well as fragile or oversized items will be delivered to the resort for FREE! Simply stop by the front desk to retrieve your item when you return from the park.
  • Resort guests are given priority access to the parks.
  • Resort guests can enjoy FREE trolley transportation from the resort to the parks.

Amazing Discounts

Credit: Donna

The best part is that your family can enjoy these great theme parks for a fraction of the cost of a Disney vacation.

Guests staying at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and spa can enjoy up to FOUR complimentary Dollywood’s Splash Country Tickets (up to a $220+ value). This offer extends until the end of the 2023 season on September 17, 2023.

The more days you enjoy Dollywood, the greater the ticket savings. A one day ticket is priced at $89 for guests ages 10-61. For two days the price is just $109, and three days is only $119. Seniors and children under the age of 10 can enjoy $10 off these prices.

Credit: Donna

They also offer great military discounts as well. Even the youngest mountaineers can enjoy a FREE Pre-K Imagination Pass. For the 2023 season, guests born in 2018 and 2019 can enjoy a FREE Season Pass to Dollywood.

Of course, if you live near the Pigeon Forge area, the Season Pass is a great deal. Starting at just $169, the Season Pass allows guests to visit multiple times throughout the year for one low price.

Dollywood is simply breathtaking at Christmas. You can save up to 25% off a Dollywood DreamMore Resort & Spa stay with check-in dates from March 19, 2023 through January 6th, 2024.

The best part is that your family can enjoy these great theme parks for a fraction of the cost of a Disney vacation.

Homeschool Days

Credit: Donna

Homeschool Days are offered from August 7, 2023 through September 18, 2023. Although the dates change some every year, they are typically always offered in August and part of September.

Guests can enjoy special ticket prices of just $41 for students (grades Kindergarten through 12th grade) and $51 for adults. All guests utilizing Homeschool Days at Splash Country can gain admission for just $37 for guests ages 4 and older.

Credit: Donna

To enjoy these great ticket options, simply call 888-428-6789. You must call 72 hours in advance and be prepared to pay in full at the time of your reservation.

They also offer a discount on rooms at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort. In the past, this was a great saving. This year they only offer 20% off for the Homeschool Days dates of August 7, 2023, through September 18, 2023.

Homeschool Days are offered from August 7, 2023, through September 18, 2023.

More Entertainment Avaialable

Credit: Donna

Along with great theme parks, guests can also choose to enjoy three different dinner shows. These include Dolly Parton’s Stampede, Pirate’s Voyage, and the Hatfield and McCoy dinner show.

My (Donna) family greatly enjoyed the Pirate’s Voyage a few years ago. This is just a short drive from Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa and offers a great night out when not enjoying the theme parks.

Truthfully, no one can truly compare to Disney, but Dollywood does come fairly close on several key factors. With many guests in sticker-shock due to Disney’s current price increases, Dollywood offers a nice alternative to save a bit of money while not sacrificing a wholesome theme park experience.

What do you think of Dollywood? Have you visited it before? Would you consider a trip to Dollywood in place of a Disney vacation this year? Share your thoughts with us and share this news with your friends.

Using a Travel Agent can help you navigate the ins and outs of planning! I am here to help! Please fill out this form and put my name (DONNA) in the Special Request box.

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Jennifer R Cassidy

Sunday 7th of January 2024

We live in AZ and have gone to WDW FL every year, at least once, for the past 21 years. We’re going to Dollywood this year instead. As many others have said… our last trip was eye opening - Disney just doesn’t feel the same. Need a break.

Michael Coren

Sunday 13th of August 2023

Did Disney over 12 times but now they are no longer spontaneous. Everything needs to be preplanned and a cellphone a necessity for your experience. The prices and aggravation caused us to try Dollywood a couple of weeks ago. What a wonderful experience. Great location in the Smokies, reasonable prices, great food, helpful employees and don't miss the shows which are spectacular as well, especially Gazillion Bubbles. Grandkids insisted on going 3 times in 2days. Probably will not do Disney again unless they get their family feeling back.

Sharon Larson

Saturday 12th of August 2023

We have been Dollywood fans for years. We have been about twenty times. Also, let me say we've been to Disney World at least fifty times through the years. It's much simpler to enjoy Dollywood than any Disney park now. For example, no park reservation needed: no ride reservations, either. You can get an express line pass for extra for rides: so, you can have faster access there. The price won't kill the budget. They have a waterpark, too. There are many other Pigeon Forge attractions there, as well. Gatlinburg has many places to see, too. All places are pretty reasonable. Then, you have the added advantage of a National Park. If you go during a park festival, it's really enjoyable. There are a lot of shows to enjoy, as well.

You have a wide choice of resorts to fit all budgets. You have two Dolly resorts to choose from if you want to stay deluxe. Those resorts provide a shuttle to the park. Also, express ride passes are included with your stay at a Dolly resort. We stay offsite: because we are budget minded. Also, we enjoy more than just Dollywood when we go there.

Dollywood actually has a fall season; so, you can enjoy the fall colors in the Smokies while you are there. Most months you can tolerate the weather.

It's been our number one choice for at least the last five years.

Laurel J Weldon

Thursday 10th of August 2023

My daughter and I are going this month Can't wait to see

Tamera Jones

Wednesday 9th of August 2023

Dollywood is much more financially doable. Very affordable and what food we had was delish and the price of a regular restaurant. A great time was had lots of things to do even for non riders. We had a military discount so that was nice.

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