As the Dollywood brand has grown, so has the diversity of markets from whence our visitors hail. What was once a sleepy, regional theme park is now a popular family destination featuring a 160-acre theme park, 35-acre water park, resort and cabin properties. With the caliber of attractions we have to offer, families and enthusiasts are traveling from across the country—and even across the world—to experience our slice of the Great Smoky Mountains.
As an East Tennessean, one of my observations about the popularity boom Dollywood has enjoyed is that it is due largely to its warm atmosphere, world-class attractions and its Smoky Mountain location. Most similar parks are in big cities: Charlotte, Atlanta and Orlando, to name a few. Not Dollywood. Dollywood is tucked away into the foothills of Pigeon Forge—a town that many people outside the East Tennessee region don’t recognize by name.
The mountain town built on Appalachian culture works very well for our theming because it’s authentic. It’s simple. Slower. But with all that charm of a small town, come the other considerations like how to get there. There is a small, public-use municipal airport in Sevierville. But if you don’t have access to a private plane, your next closest option is McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville. I think that most Dollywood-bound visitors who fly will choose Knoxville as their destination, so let’s take a closer look at the logistics of traveling to Dollywood by air.
Airlines and Destinations
There are five airlines that service McGhee Tyson Airport: Allegiant, American Airlines, Delta, Frontier Airlines and United. And, there are more than 20 cities with direct flights.
When to Book
To get the best rate, professional travelers advise you book your flights a month to three weeks before your trip. If you are looking for a more spontaneous adventure, Allegiant is known for deals on shorter notice—and if you are booking Allegiant, check out how they named McGhee Tyson Airport: Great Smoky Mountains National Park/Knoxville, TN!
Rent a Car or Share a Ride
Once you are on the ground, you’re less than an hour from Dollywood! So, will you rent your own car or use ride sharing?
If you choose to rent a vehicle, McGhee Tyson offers eight rental companies: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar Rent A Car, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Payless. Here’s a link to learn more. If you want independence, this is the option I would advise.
If you want the full tourist experience, you may prefer using services like Uber and Lyft. At the airport, look for this signage which will point you in the direction to where you’ll meet your driver.
Using this type of service will cost approximately $50 one way. And, while you shouldn’t have trouble getting a ride to Pigeon Forge, it’s a little harder to find a ride share around town. But, don’t let that concern you. For a city of this size, there’s a fairly robust trolley system. As of writing this blog, you can get an all-day pass for the Fun Time Trolley for $3. See prices here. See routes here. Riding the city trolley is especially convenient if you stay along the Parkway in Pigeon Forge.
I hope I’ve convinced you to put Dollywood on your list of things to do this Christmas—even if it means you’ll have to fly to get here. It’s an easy trip and from what I can tell you, the memories you’ll make are well worth the effort!