I love pools and water parks. I always have. I’m part of that generation of little girls who grew up imitating Ariel from The Little Mermaid (I see all of you nodding your heads—you know what I’m talking about!). Too bad my fair skin and hair just can’t take the summer sun for very long—I start to look more like Sebastian than a mermaid, if you catch my drift.
You also? You’re in luck. You can have your cake and eat it, too, when you visit Dollywood’s Splash Country.
Our water park is no concrete jungle. It’s lush with trees and natural shade, so there’s a good chance you will find a nice spot under a tree. But, if you want to plan ahead to be sure you’ll have a place out of the sun between your splashing and sliding, here’s what I can tell you:
If you arrive by 9:30 a.m., you should be able to stake your claim under a butterfly shade in Little Creek Falls, or one of the shade structures on the wave pool deck, or under a tree in The Cascades area.
If you don’t want to leave your shady-spot-luck to chance, Dollywood’s Splash Country offers three guaranteed options—Luxury Loungers, Canopies and Retreats.
New this season, guests can rent a Luxury Lounger. Because it’s new, these won’t be available to reserve in advance online. You’ll just need to visit the Hospitality booth to reserve one when you arrive. The Loungers are $45 ($40 with a Gold Pass discount) and come with an adjustable shade, two lounge chairs and a lock box. For inquiring minds, the shade does not cover the whole chair.
If you would prefer the option to draw the shade closed, you can reserve a Canopy for $50 ($45 with a Gold Pass discount). This option also comes with two lounge chairs and a lock box. You can book one online in advance of your visit. Nap time, anyone?
For the ultimate water park experience—this, coming from a mom of two little boys—I would encourage you to consider reserving a Retreat. There is not only shade but you’ll also have a ceiling fan and a phone to order food from Campsite Grill’s menu. There’s a table and seating for 10. This is what my family chooses when we bring the grandparents and cousins with us. It rents for $190 ($170 with a Gold Pass discount). Split this cost with friends and you will understand the value!
So, find a shady tree, claim a spot under a man-made structure, or rent a spot to guarantee you’ll be out of the sun because it IS possible to have your cake and eat it, too, when you visit a water park.