Skip to main content

Nestled in the heart of the Smoky Mountains lies the beautiful mountain town of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Home to family-friendly activities and entertainment of all shapes and sizes, without a doubt the most popular of them all is Dollywood, thanks in no small part to the appeal of the matriarch herself, Dolly Parton.

Everything You Need to Know About Dollywood Wait Times 

Image Credit: The Dollywood Company.

Dollywood is one of the most underrated amusement park experiences in the United States. So what is Dollywood? How much time does one need to spend there? Expert answers to these questions and more can be found in this ultimate guide to Dollywood wait times.


Dollywood Theme Park

Dollywood entrance sign on Showstreet.

Image Credit: Sarah Gilliland.

First-time visitors need to know that Dollywood is not open year-round. Unlike Disney World or Universal theme parks, Dollywood does have a season of closure. Fortunately, while other theme parks are sweltering with summer heat in the busiest times of the year, Dollywood remains relatively cool (and not just because they have a water park on property either).

While the mountains of east Tennessee provide shade and cooler weather, they are also the reason Dollywood closes for a few months during the deepest parts of winter. Regardless of the closures, there are plenty of other times to plan a Dollywood trip throughout the year. Avoid wait times at Dollywood due to crowds, weather, and other factors with this expert advice for your next visit.

Popular Dollywood Rides

Barnstormer Ride at Dollywood.

Image Credit: The Dollywood Company.

One of the first aspects of Dollywood that visitors need to know about is the popular attractions. Ride wait times for popular rides, like roller coasters, often mean long lines, but that isn’t always the case. Just like other theme parks, the flow of visitors changes throughout the entire park depending on the time of day, day of the week, and weather.

Download the Dollywood App to accurately account for current wait times. It’s available on the App Store and Google Play, which is very helpful in navigating the park.

These are some of the most popular rides at Dollywood that can have long waits:

  • Lightning Rod
  • Wild Eagle
  • Mystery Mine
  • Tennessee Tornado
  • Firechaser Express
  • Blazing Fury

Lightning Rod is the most popular wooden coaster at Dollywood, and it can often close due to weather because it is a wooden coaster. If that popular attraction is the most important thing on your list, start there and then worry about other points of interest.

Certainly consider the rides in the Wildwood Grove area of the park. This includes the kid-friendly ride Whistle Punk Chaser that sits right outside the entrance of Wildwood Grove. It is a newer area that is popular for families, and long lines can occur at the singular roller coaster in that area. Other popular areas of the park are Jukebox Junction, Wilderness Pass, and Craftsman Valley (especially during the holiday season).

Water Rides Can Have Long Wait Times

One of the best rides for kids at Dollywood is a water ride in Rivertown Junction.

Image Credit: The Dollywood Company.

Believe it or not, water rides are almost as popular at Dollywood Theme Park as the regular rides. This is especially true in the late spring and early summer seasons when the weather warms up. A family favorite ride at Dollywood is the Smoky Mountain River Rampage. Daredevil Falls, a log ride located in Craftsman Valley, is the other popular water ride in the park.

Depending on the season and time of day, these rides can both have long waits. If you want to get soaked, Smoky Mountain River Rampage is the best ride for that. Daredevil Falls will only get you moderately wet.

How to See Wait Times on the Dollywood App

Dollywood wait times for Big Bear Mountain can be long.

Image Credit: Amy Albers.

From the home page of the app, tap on the word “Explore” under the heading “Theme Park.” Next, the map of the park will populate on your screen. Once there, you can choose rides, dining, shows and events, festivals, or shopping. Tap the word “Rides,” then swipe up to view all the open rides and their current wait times.

To customize Dollywood ride wait times even further, tap the word “Filter.” It will bring up a menu to customize the rides you see based on height requirement, type of ride, or whether or not they are TimeSave eligible.

Use the interactive map in the Dollywood app to determine the best route around the park so you have plenty of time to dry out from water rides before you head home!

How to Avoid Dollywood Ride Wait Times

One of the best rides for kids in Dollywood in the section called Country Fair.

Image Credit: The Dollywood Company.

Now that you know which rides might require you to wait, let’s talk about the best ways to avoid those potentially long lines. Busy days are not always avoidable, especially if you have to take a vacation during a certain time of year or around a holiday for work or school reasons. The good news is that, unlike Disney theme parks, the longest lines at Dollywood are usually no longer than an hour’s wait.

One of the most popular and simplest ways to avoid long ride wait times is to purchase the TimeSaver Pass. Depending on the date of your visit, this add-on to your regular Dollywood tickets can be anywhere from $60-$70 per ticket. A one-day pass allows you to skip the line up to eight times in one day. The eight “line skips” can be for different rides, the same ride eight times, or a combination.

TimeSaver 1 Day Unlimited pass allows unlimited skips plus unlimited daily show reservations at participating theaters. This pass price ranges between $80-$85 per ticket to add it on.

Season Pass Holder Options and Benefits

Holding up at ticket for Dollywood theme park Like other theme parks, Dollywood offers season passes that are good for the operational year. These range from Silver ($159+ tax), Gold ($214+tax), and two-park Gold which includes entrance to Dollywood Splash Country ($269+ tax).

Gold Passholders benefit from “Early Saturday Ride Time” and “First Hour TimeSaver Line Access.” Early Ride Time allows access to a select attraction for one hour before the park opens to the public on Saturdays from March to October. First-hour access is achieved by presenting your Gold Season Pass at the TimeSaver line during the first hour of park operation each day.

Skip the Line by Staying at DreamMore

DreamMore Resort Fountain

Another consideration for the entire family might be staying at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort. There are many benefits of exclusive offers reserved for resort guests. For example, every resort guest with a valid park ticket gets one complimentary Dollywood TimeSaver pass per person per day. 

In addition to the TimeSaver at Dollywood, guests of the resort can participate in the Early Ride Time on Saturday mornings at either Dollywood or Dollywood’s Splash Country one hour before park opening. While the hotel prices are not inexpensive, the perks can add up.

Special Events Can Be Busy

Image Credit: Curtis Hilbun/Dollywood.

Dollywood also has special events throughout the year that correspond to the season. While the beginnings of each festival season can be busy, the festivals often extend long enough to make visiting during a slower time a possibility.

A great way to take advantage of a slower time is by visiting the park during a weekday. School is in session, many folks are at work, and the park is still decorated for the seasonal festivals.

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas is one of the busiest festival seasons, followed by Harvest Festival and Flower and Food Festival. Each of these festivals has unique features, and if you want to make them part of your park visit, early planning is key to avoiding a huge crowd.

What Else Has Wait Times?

Dollywood Express takes riders around the park.

Besides rides, certain shows and even restaurants may have a wait time you’ll want to know about. As previously stated, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas is an incredibly popular festival. The live music and incredible experience of seeing the stage shows are worth a break from the intense rides! Check the daily show schedule for performance times so you can leave yourself enough time to enjoy these performances as part of your full Dollywood experience.

Dollywood guests will queue up early for fresh Cinnamon Bread from the Grist Mill in Craftsman Valley. Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid the wait time for the famous cinnamon bread. However, if you’re okay with it not being right out of the oven, it is also sold at the Spotlight Bakery on Showstreet.

Two popular restaurants, Front Porch Café and Aunt Granny’s Restaurant, can often have long waits. Put your name on the list, go ride some rides, and they’ll text you when it’s your turn to be seated. However you choose to experience Dollywood, we hope these tips help you avoid spending your entire day in lines!