Dollywood is a dynamic park—it’s always changing its offerings with the new seasons. But that newness can even catch Dollywood veterans by surprise. I have a roundup of tips specific to our Summer Celebration that will help you plan a repeatable experience for your family.
When to Arrive
The word has gotten out that Dollywood is the place to be. If you don’t love waiting in lines, I would encourage you to arrive about an hour before the park opens. From what I’ve noticed, it starts to get backed up between 9:30 -9:45 a.m.
If you’re not an early bird, it’s also a great strategy to arrive after lunch. This also works well if you have young children, and you don’t know if they’ll last through the fireworks and drone show. (Hint: you REALLY want them to last through the fireworks and drone show. It’s so good!)
Keeping with the theme of maximizing your time outside of waiting in lines, I want to point out a few newer offerings that will help you when it comes to breaks for food and drink. Personally, I love taking a break from the heat and sitting down inside a full-service restaurant. If you love this option, too, then be sure to plan ahead and put your name in so they can text you when your table is ready. I would give it at least an hour.
If you’d rather have a quicker meal so you can move on to more fun, then look for Picnic in the Park on Showstreet and Country Fair! You can grab sandwiches and salads and other grab-and-go options like fruit and bags of chips.
Similarly, we installed 19 water bottle refill stations around the park. You can fill up without waiting in line at a food location!
New Menu Items
When you visit Dollywood during a festival, be sure to enjoy the festival-specific elements on our menus. This summer, there’s a fun ice cream sundae (Celebration Sundae) that when you move the upside-down cone, candy pours out. It was hot, so my ice cream melted quickly, but you get the idea. It even includes a churro doughnut. Find it at Sweets N Treats.
And, who could resist our Celebration Spritzer with butterfly (yes, butterfly!) gummies?! Only at Dollywood! Like the sundae, the spritzer is available at Sweets N Treats.
I hear there’s a chicken and waffles menu item offered at Till & Harvest Food Hall. Try that and let me know what you think!
Dollywood’s Sweet Summer Nights is our brand-new multi-sensory fireworks and 3-D drone show. We are LOVING the production our friends at Intel Drone Light Shows created for us. We’re so excited, in fact, that we’re intentionally shifting host support to Wildwood Grove for the big finale each night. That means Country Fair, The Village and Owens Farm will begin to close at 8 p.m. If you are in a ride queue before 8 p.m., you will get to ride before the ride closes.
Daredevil Falls, too, will begin to close at that time, but that’s normal because it always closes at dusk.
River Rampage will close its ride queue at 8:30 p.m.
Rockin’ Roadway, Blazing Fury and Tennessee Tornado will follow suit and close at 9 p.m.
Go ahead and start moving toward Wildwood Grove. That’s where you’ll want to be! My advice is to let the kids enjoy Hidden Hollow for a little bit as you wait for the show.
All about the New Drone and Fireworks Show
Wildwood Grove is the epicenter of our nighttime entertainment. In years past, you could enjoy our fireworks from many places in the park. While that may still be the case with the fireworks, it does not work if you want to see the drones. I’ve heard there may be limited viewing ability by Emporium and in Timber Canyon, but the best opportunity is in Wildwood Grove.
Here’s what you can expect: there are two dance parties (8:45 and 9:15 p.m.). Why have one when you can have two? Seriously, though, the dance parties are a fun way to kick off Sweet Summer Nights. As more people move into the area for the show, different folks will have the opportunity to participate in round two of the dancing.
As the second dance party ends, fireworks are launched. You will ooo and ahh for just a couple of minutes before hundreds of drones appear. The fireworks pause as the drones create 3D images choreographed to upbeat music. You’ll love the moment with the Dollywood butterfly fluttering! Then, show ends with more fireworks.
One last note, traffic is routed through Timber Canyon to leave. I know you hate to leave—me, too!—that’s why I want to give you the heads up that you won’t be able to take the long way out.
I can’t wait to see you during Summer Celebration!