According to the urban dictionary, mom hacks are defined as a tool or technique that makes some aspect of a mom’s life easier or more efficient. As a mom of four under the age of ten years old, I will take all of the #momhacks I can get. Who’s with me? There are SO many things I wish I had known when we started taking trips to Dollywood with the kids. I have compiled a list of money and time-saving mom hacks that I have learned over the years.
Mom Hacks for Services and Facilities
Download the Dollywood App
Did you know that Dollywood has an app? Go to the app store on your mobile device and download the free Dollywood app before your next trip. From the app, you can view park hours, information on tickets and passes, wait times for rides, show schedules, list of eateries, list of crafts and list of shops. Each section also shows the location in the park. There is also an interactive park map. Another neat feature is a section to make a list of all the things you want to see and do at the park.
Insider Tip: You must have location services enabled on your mobile device in order to view wait times for the rides and also to help you find your way to your next destination on the interactive map.
Centralized Measuring Station
If your child is under 48 inches in height, take them to the Centralized Measuring Station as soon as you enter the park. The measuring station is located next to the Dollywood Emporium across from the Southern Gospel Hall of fame as you enter the park. Your child’s height will be measured and they will receive a color-coded wristband. The color-coded wristbands correspond to the color-coded information on the signs for each ride. This saves time because the ride attendants will not have to check your child’s height each time they enter a ride.
There is a lot of walking involved at Dollywood. Strollers are permitted at the park. Please note that if you bring your own stroller and ride the tram into Dollywood, the strollers must be folded up and placed in the front of the tram near the driver. There are signs throughout the park for designated stroller parking for each ride or show. Did you forget the stroller at home or at the hotel/cabin? You can rent a single or double stroller if you forgot to bring one. Strollers are available at the Rental Services building next to the Centralized Measuring Station. The strollers are offered on a first-come, first-served basis so be sure to check availability on them as soon as you enter the park. The rental fee is $13 for a single stroller or $16 for a double.
Insider Tip: If you have a Gold Pass, you can use it for your stroller rental. It will save you a few dollars!
Don’t want to carry your items around with you all day? Lockers are available for rent at the Rental Services building as well. Locker rentals are also on a first-come, first-served basis. The rental fees for front gate lockers are $9 for regular-sized lockers or $12 for family-sized lockers. There are also floating ride lockers available. Ride to ride locker rentals are available at the following rides: Wild Eagle, Mystery Mine, FireChaser Express, Daredevil Falls, Barnstormer, River Rampage, Tennessee Tornado, Country Fair, & Lightning Rod. Ride lockers are a one time fee of $7 (only available in regular size) for a floating locker. This allows you to rent and float from locker to locker without having to pay for each new locker.
Did you forget to pack something? Items such as OTC medications, band-aids, sunscreen, etc can be purchased in a few locations throughout the park. The Dollywood Emporium, Gazebo Gifts, Mine Shaft, Ranger Supplies, Temple’s Mercantile and Hillside General Store have these items available for purchase.
It’s always good to familiarize yourself with the locations of the First Aid Offices inside Dollywood, especially when visiting the park with kids. There are three offices located throughout the park. One is located in Jukebox Junction near the Pines Theater, one is located in Wilderness Pass near River Battle and one is located in The Village near the train crossing. Medical personnel is on duty during park hours.
Lost & Found
Did you lose an item in the park? You can visit the Lost & Found window located inside Dollywood adjacent to Guest Services at the front gate ticket plaza to see if someone turned it in. If you realize that you left an item behind after you leave the park, you can call 865-428-9838 or fill out the form here.
I remember losing a hot pink fanny pack (don’t laugh, it was a school field trip many moons ago). Thankfully, someone turned it in to Lost & Found and I was able to get it back!
Did you know that Dollywood has a calming room for those with special needs who may have a sensory overload during their trip to Dollywood? The room has sensory items such as a weighted blanket, fiber optic strands and a teepee. To learn more about this room, you can call 1-800-Dollywood (1-800-365-5996) before your trip or you can visit the Ride Accessibility Center upon your arrival to the park. The Ride Accessibility Center is located adjacent to the Dollywood Emporium.
Family restrooms featuring their own private entrance are located in the following sections: Country Fair, Owens Farm, Wilderness Pass, and Showstreet. These restrooms are super helpful when you have several kids. I highly recommend taking advantage of them if you can!
Nursing and Changing Facilities
Restrooms with vending facilities are located in Rivertown Junction, Craftsman’s Valley, Country Fair, and Jukebox Junction. Restrooms with nursing stations are found in Country Fair, Jukebox Junction, Market Square, The Village, and Craftsman’s Valley.
Baby Care Center
The baby care center is located in Showstreet. It offers a private nursing area with six gliders and footstools. It is also climate-controlled. Two baby changing statins and a restroom are located inside the baby center as well.
All park restaurants can assist you with warming a bottle. This does not include any snack or vendor stands. Simply ask a host or server to assist you.
Did you know Dollywood offers a complimentary Package Pickup service? All items purchased inside merchandise shops throughout the park will be located at the Dollywood Emporium for convenient pickup as you exit the park. How does this work? When purchasing your items, let the cashier know that you want to use the Package Pickup service. You will receive a card with the time(s) your pickup will be available. When you arrive at the emporium on your way out of the park, head to the Package Pickup counter where your items will be waiting for you. Note that package pickup is available on purchases made prior to two hours before the park closes. Package Pickup will remain open for your pickup until park closing.
Was your trip cut short because of rain? You can visit the Ticket Annex, Guest Services and any of the one-day ticket windows and ask for a rain check. Rain checks are valid until the end of the season and are NOT available for season pass holders.
Mom Hacks for the Best Park Experience
Put It In Reverse
We love to explore the park ‘backward’. Generally speaking, those who enter the park head to their right after entering the gates. We love to head left and begin at Timber Canyon. Our journey usually goes a little something like this: Timber Canyon, Wildwood Grove, Wilderness Pass, Craftsman’s Valley, Owen’s Farm, The Village, Country Fair, Rivertown Junction, Jukebox Junction, Adventures in Imagination and Showstreet. This is the path we usually take unless we have a specific thing in mind that has to be completed at a certain time, such as watching a show or eating at a certain restaurant.
Country Fair & Wildwood Grove
Both Country Fair and Wildwood Grove are designed for kids. These two sections are where we spend most of our days. There are also several eateries located inside both sections.
Attractions inside Country Fair include Busy Bees, Demolition Derby, Dizzy Disk, Games, Lemon Twist, Lucky Ducky, Piggy Parade, Shooting Star, Sky Rider, The Amazing Flying Elephants, The Scrambler and Waltzing Swinger.
Attractions inside Wildwood Grove include Black Bear Trail, Dragonflier, Frogs & Fireflies, Great Tree Swing, Hidden Hollow, The Mad Mockingbird, The Wildwood Tree, Treetop Tower, and Wildwood Creek.
Oh my goodness, y’all….I wish I had known about this magical thing the first time my husband and I rode Lightning Rod. The wait time was roughly 30 minutes. He rode first while I entertained the kids with dipping dots at the base of the ride. I’m not sure what he did to entertain them while I waited 30 minutes for my turn to ride. I wish I’d have known about the parent swap so we could have saved a TON of time. What exactly is parent swap? The entire group enters the ride through the regular line. Once you arrive at the front of the line, you will let the ride attendant know that you wish to do a parent swap. One adult waits with the children in a secure area (the ride attendant will direct you to this location) while the rest of the group rides the attraction. Once the group returns, the adults will swap places with each other. After the parent swap concludes, guests will exit with other riders.
The following eateries offer meals for kids: Aunt Granny’s, Miss Lillian’s Smokehouse and Fried Chicken, Hickory House BBQ, Grandstand Café, Red’s Diner and Victoria’s Pizza. (We are partial to Red’s Diner and Victoria’s Pizza).
The portions of the adult meals are usually large enough to share between two people. This is very useful for our kids because they typically don’t eat a lot when we are in the park. They’re too excited for their next adventure. Splitting meals between them helps us to not waste food as well. We usually buy two meals to split between them.
Insider Tip: If you eat a place that does not offer kids’ meals, split orders.
Purchase Refillable Mugs and Popcorn Buckets
If you plan on making more than one trip to Dollywood in the calendar year, I highly recommend purchasing refillable mugs and/or popcorn buckets. Use these mugs to save on unlimited beverage purchases of $.99 fountain drink refills and $1.99 refills on all hot or frozen beverages throughout the entire 2019 season. Popcorn refills are also $.99.
Attire for Water Rides
Plan ahead for water rides (and the splash pad located inside Wildwood Grove) by wearing clothes that dry quickly. My boys and hubby usually wear their swimming trunks with an athletic or thin cotton shirt. My daughter and I wear swimsuits with an athletic shirt and shorts over the swimsuits. I recommend wearing comfortable waterproof sandals. Our favorite place to purchase waterproof sandals is in a quaint little shop inside The Village in downtown Gatlinburg.
Insider Tip: Renting a locker is a great way to store dry clothing if you prefer to change clothes at some point during the day.
Did you know that there are playgrounds and play areas located throughout the park? Granny’s Garden and Lil’ Pilots Playground are located in Owen’s Farm. Firehouse Fun Yard is located in Wilderness Pass and has water features. Lumberjack Jam Band, located in Timber Canyon, is an area with large musical features in which you can make sounds. There is also an area with large musical features next to the Wildwood Creek Splash Pad inside Wildwood Grove. Hidden Hollow is an indoor play area that is located in Wildwood Grove as well. We love to use these play areas because there are times when not all of us will be riding a ride. These keep the kids entertained while waiting.
Insider Tip: Utilize the play areas while other members of your group are on rides.
I sincerely hope that you have found this list to be helpful and will be able to use this information while planning your next visit to Dollywood.
If you enjoyed reading this post, be sure to check out a recent post about our first stay at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort!
Do you have any mom hacks for Dollywood that you would love to share? I’d love to hear them. Comment below with your favorites!
Thinking of planning your Smoky Mountain getaway? I have compiled the ultimate list of discounts, free activities and more to help you make your next vacation a budget friendly one.
Please note that some of the dates for the discounts are time sensitive while other prices are available year round. Keep checking back as I will be adding new attractions and/or accommodations as I receive the information.
Dollywood, Dollywood’s Splash Country, Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort
Special Rates are available to homeschool students & families during Homeschool Days at from August 5 – September 30th, 2019!
We absolutely love DreamMore Resort and Dollywood and can’t wait to go back. I highly recommend staying at the resort and taking advantage of this AWESOME deal during homeschool days. You receive complimentary transportation to the Splash Country and Dollywood from the resort.
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies always offers a homeschool rate of $10.99 plus tax per person. This discount is for the homeschool students and their immediate parents and siblings living in the same household. Any other family members will be full price. To receive this discount you must provide Guest Services with a home school membership card, attendance record or letter of intent upon arrival. We also offer monthly homeschool programs at the Aquarium. Attached is an information sheet about the dates, times and topics. (Reservations are required for monthly programs at least 24 hours in advance.) Visit the education portion of their website for more information.
In addition, Ripley’s offers homeschool discounts at all Sevier county Ripley’s attractions. The costs are shown below:
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum: $10.99+ tax per person
Guinness World Record Adventure/Ripley’s Haunted Adventure/Ripley’s Moving Theater: $7.00+ tax per person per attraction
Old MacDonald Mini Golf/Davy Crockett Mini Golf: $5.00+ tax per person per attraction
Ripley’s Mirror Maze: $4.00+ tax per person
Explore American history from a different perspective in five unique galleries that burrow deep into criminal profiles, the penal system, victim’s stories, crime prevention, forensic science, law enforcement and our justice system. The museum is 25,000 square feet, spread over 2 floors and includes over 100 interactives.
For updates on homeschool promotions or other educational promotions or programs that may be of interest to you please sign up for their homeschool newsletter.
Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud Show and Adventure Park
The Dawson and McGraw families are going head-to-head and axe-to-axe in 13 Lumberjack events! Watch as they perform activities like axe-throwing, chopping, speed climbing, log rolling and more! Audience members and even kids will have the chance to participate in the show! And if you really want to test your Lumberjack skills visit our new Lumberjack Adventure Park! Last year, the dates were November 1-15th. Prices were $14.95 for adults and $6.95 for children (plus tax). I have spoken with them and there are no dates set for 2019 Homeschool Days, but they will be doing it! I would suggest following their Facebook page as they will announce the dates in either September or October.
History, science, geography, language and social studies are fun to learn when boys and girls participate in the “teacher approved” Titanic Scavenger Hunt at the World’s Largest Titanic Museum Attraction. Upon entering the World’s Largest Titanic Museum Attraction, students will receive a ‘boarding’ pass with the name of a passenger who made the maiden voyage. Using the ‘ship’ as a classroom, students learn life lessons… on their scavenger hunt sheet.
One of the top things to do in Pigeon Forge, WonderWorks Indoor Amusement park, is one of the best Pigeon Forge Attractions. With over 35,000 square feet of “edu-tainment” WonderWorks is an amusement park for the mind. The attraction combines education and entertainment with more than 100 hands on exhibits that challenge the mind and spark the imagination.
This once top-secret laboratory was located in the Bermuda triangle. An experiment gone awry lifted the laboratory carrying it to Music Drive in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee where it landed upside down. Luckily all of the exhibits remained intact and available for guests to explore.
Rowdy Bear Mountain Adventure Park – Downtown Gatlinburg
Rowdy Bear Mountain Adventure Park in Downtown Gatlinburg offers coaster rides for $10 and the Glider for $14. You can also purchase a combo wristband for $24 and get 2 Coaster Rides and 1 Glider Ride.
Rowdy Bear Ridge Adventure Park – Pigeon Forge
Rowdy Bear Ridge Adventure Park in Pigeon Forge offers a half-hour wristband for $10 to do their outdoor tubing hill.
Want to fly high, flip into an airbag, or dunk like Jordan? Sevier County’s first trampoline park located at the foot of the Smoky Mountains National Park offers a safe and extreme adventure for people of all ages. Located between light #8 and #10 on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge near Dolly Parton’s Stampede, just minutes from Sevierville and Gatlinburg. Top Jump will be offering a week of free homeschool days in the fall. Make sure to follow their Facebook page so you won’t miss their announcement when they make a post regarding the Homeschool Days!
Over 18,500 square feet of space awaits you at Crave Golf Club in Pigeon Forge. There are two courses with 19 candy-themed holes in each, both indoor and on the roof which are both fully handicap accessible. At each hole, use the spinner and add another layer of fun and excitement to your experience! Top Jump will be offering a week of free homeschool days in the fall. Make sure to follow their Facebook page for their announcement so you won’t miss their announcement when they make a post regarding the Homeschool Days!
Wilderness at the Smokies
Rate of $79 in SHL and $99 for Studio Suites in RL. Upgraded pricing available.
Stay dates of October 20 thru November 7. Sunday thru Friday
Promo Code: HMSC19
Can be booked online or over the phone.
Sevier Air Trampoline and Ninja Warrior Park
The homeschooling rate is $12 per hour, $10 if you bring your Sevier Air jump socks.
The following attractions offer group rates.
Rainforest Adventures Discovery Zoo
Offers a discount for groups of 20 or more.
Photo Courtesy of the Island Pigeon Forge
The Island at Pigeon Forge
The island has experiences for kids of all ages! Visit their website for more information on group rates.
Looking for free or low cost things to do?
The following locations offer a ton of fun for free or very low cost. If you know of an activity or attraction that is not listed below, please email me.
The Island at Pigeon Forge
Looking to take a day trip? Here are a few attractions within a 2 hour (or less) drive from the Great Smoky Mountains.
BUSH’S® Visitor Center – Free
The BUSH’S® Visitor Center is located at 3901 US-411 in Dandridge, TN. You can trace the values and events that made BUSH’S BEST® what it is today. And it’s all housed in the original A.J. Bush & Company general store, founded in 1897. Open year-round, Monday through Saturday, and closed on Sundays and major holidays*. Hours vary depending on the season, so please call 865-509-3077 to find out the current schedule.
The Lost Sea Adventure – Homeschool Discount
Located just 7 Miles off I-75 at 140 Lost Sea Road in Sweetwater, TN. Every Monday, August through May, you may bring your home school students to the Lost Sea, regardless of the number in your group, and receive the educational rate. Just bring a homeschool ID, letter of intent or attendance record to the Lost Sea ticket desk to purchase your tickets at the special Home School Days rate. If you are bringing a group of 15 or more please call 423-337-6616 Pricing: Students (K-12th Grade) $10.00 Adult $18.95
Mayfield Dairy Farms
Visit the Athens, TN dairy to see for yourself how your favorite Mayfield products are made with a fun and educational behind-the-scenes tour! While you’re there, browse the Mayfield gift shop and purchase a generous scoop of your favorite ice cream at their old-fashioned ice cream parlor. It’s fun for the family or a perfect field trip for schools, church groups, or any other organization.
Muse at the Mall
The Muse Knoxville is a non-profit children’s S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) museum with educational exhibits and play spaces.
Ijams Nature Center
Ijams Nature Center is a nonprofit, 315-acre educational nature center for all ages, abilities, and walks of life. Their mission is to encourage stewardship of the natural world by providing an urban greenspace for people to learn about and enjoy the outdoors through engaging experiences.
Who doesn’t love a Big Mac? What if you could have a healthier version? Would you try it? I came across the recipe for this salad a few months ago and couldn’t wait to give it a try.
It’s very simple as it only has four ingredients; chopped pickles, shredded cheese, cooked hamburger meat, and thousand island dressing. Just mix and eat!
I have to say that my favorite pickles and Thousand Island dressing are what make this recipe so yummy!
The question that is on everyone’s mind at this point is, “Does this really taste like a Big Mac?” My answer? Yes and no.
Yes, it reminds me of the taste but for obvious reasons it does not taste exactly like a McDonald’s Big Mac because Thousand Island dressing and McDonald’s Big Mac sauce are not the exact same flavor. But, I think it’s a great alternative and is Keto-friendly and you don’t feel like you are missing out on a Big Mac!
I know that I’ve seen several different ways to make this recipe. However, this is my favorite way to eat it and is my go-to recipe as it’s quick and easy. Do you have another recipe for Big Mac Salad? What’s your favorite way to eat it?
Love this recipe? Check out another salad recipe!
Wastin’ away again in Margaritaville. Searchin’ for my lost shaker of salt.
Not really, but it sure was fun to sing the song while staying at the Margaritaville Resort in Gatlinburg, TN for the hubby’s 39th birthday.
I was informed about a week or so before his birthday that he’d requested to take off work on the day before and the day of his birthday. His birthday fell on a Tuesday which was perfect for a short three day/two night getaway to the mountains.
Operation Last Minute Hotel Search was a go.
Do you know how hard it is to find accommodations for six people last minute? Very hard, I assure you. Very hard.
I searched for hours trying to find the best deals and came across Margaritaville Resort in Gatlinburg. I was so glad to see that the resort had vacancies! After checking out all of the photos and resort amenities, I quickly booked the resort and couldn’t wait to surprise the hubby. I spent the afternoon doing laundry and packing (with the help of the kids) while he was out for the afternoon and evening.
He came home to packed suitcases and knew we were going away for a few days but didn’t have any idea where we were going.
Let the Adventure Begin
We woke up on Sunday morning and ate breakfast, loaded the car and headed out. We drove to Pigeon Forge and stopped for lunch before heading to do a little shopping at Tanger Outlet.
Check in time for the resort was at 4:00 pm. We had finished our shopping around 2:30 and I called the resort to ask if we were able to check in early and she said they had a room ready. We headed to the resort in Gatlinburg and checked in. We didn’t leave the hotel until breakfast the next day.
We booked a Double Queen Family Suite which is a one bedroom suite with two queen beds, children’s room with a queen sleeper sofa, dinette, bathroom with rain shower and tub and a porthole window instead of balcony.
Room amenities include:
- 50” LCD Smart TVs
- Refrigerator & Microwave
- Keurig Coffee Makers
- Complimentary WIFI
- In-Room Safe
The hubby went on a solo tour first this time since it was his birthday celebration. If you read the post about my 39th birthday, you’ll know that I took the opportunity to tour DreamMore Resort alone before taking the rest of the family on a tour.
He came back to the room to grab the rest of the family and take us on a tour.
After our family tour concluded, he took the kids back up to the room while I walked around the resort to take photos.
Resort amenities include:
- Indoor Pool
- Hot Tub
- Outdoor Pool Area with Waterslide
- Covered Terrace with Fireplace
- St. Somewhere Spa (Full-Service Spa)
- Changes in Latitudes Lobby Bar, LandShark Bar & Grill, Joe Merchant’s Coffee & Provisions, In-Room Dining
- 24-Hour Fitness Center
- Guest Laundry
- Gift Shop
Fun in the Sun
The kids couldn’t wait to take advantage of the pool area so we headed down to check out the pool with a slide, kiddie pool and hot tub.
After much needed fun in the sun, we headed back to the room and ate dinner. Helpful tip! We learned our lesson from the trip to DreamMore in which we spent entirely too much money on food. This time we planned ahead and brought bottled water, chips, bread and items for making sandwiches. We had two meals in the room and saved money by doing so!
Night Night, Sleep Tight
The kids took some time to wind down before going to sleep in the oh so comfy beds!
Wake up! It’s time to play!
Can’t start the day without a cup of coffee. Thanks to the Keurig Coffee Maker in the room, it’s simple and easy.
We headed to Flapjacks in Gatlinburg for breakfast before taking advantage of the empty pool at the resort. The kids had pancakes while the hubby and I opted for eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits and toast.
After breakfast, we headed back to the resort and to the pool. We had much fun being the only ones at the pool. It was nice to have the entire pool area to ourselves for a while.
We headed back to the room for a bit of relaxation time. We had made plans the night before to walk around downtown Gatlinburg. We went to the Mountain Mall and to The Village before grabbing lunch at Best Italian.
After lunch we headed back to the resort to rest before our evening trip to Dollywood. We purposely waited until later in the day to go so that we could stay for the fireworks at closing (and wait for the temperature to cool down a bit).
We made a stop at Rocky Top Mountain Coaster on the way to Dollywood. The hubby has tried to get me to ride one on previous trips to the mountains. I politely declined each time he mentioned it. I figured that the seven year old would go with him this time (and I was right) so I suggested that he stop at one while we were in town. They had a blast riding the mountain coaster. This particular coaster was close to Dollywood so it was a perfect time to stop.
We left the coaster and headed to Dollywood. The hubby dropped us off at the gate and found a parking space in section B. It didn’t take him long to catch up to us once inside the park.
The lines for rides weren’t long at all and the crowd size was great. The kids were super excited to check out Wildwood Grove, the newest and largest expansion to Dollywood. They got to ride several rides in both Wildwood Grove and Country Fair. They especially enjoyed the Dragonflier, Great Tree Swing, Blackbear Trail and Frogs & Fireflies.
During the Summer Celebration at Dollywood (June 22 – August 04), there is a nightly fireworks show called Dolly’s Nights of Many Colors. The fireworks are launched from the new Wildwood Grove area at 9:40 each night. The fireworks last approximately 10 minutes.
We headed back to the hotel after we left Dollywood. But not before making a 10 pm run to Krispy Kreme in Pigeon Forge on the way back to Gatlinburg. I mean, who can resist Krispy Kreme?
Everyone took showers and headed to bed after we arrived back at the resort. It didn’t take long for everyone to fall asleep. I imagine they were worn out after an action packed day.
It’s Not Goodbye, It’s See You Later
We woke up and decided to go back to Flapjacks for breakfast. We had the same breakfast as the day before. Why mess with a good thing, right?
After we had breakfast, we headed back to the hotel to pack up and check out. I couldn’t believe the trip was already over. As I stated earlier, time files when you’re having fun!
The trip was not complete without stopping at … you guessed it … Smoky Mountain Knife Works on the way home.
Until next time, Smoky Mountains, until next time…