Plan excursion for your family with this guide to Dollywood. Relax and enjoy yourself with this list of mom hacks designed to keep your day on track and everyone having a good time.
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Living just north of Knoxville, my family is in super close proximity to the Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, Sevierville and yes, Dollywood. I confess, we are faithful season pass holders. We LOVE Dollywood. I even love it with six children, but I do have some tricks that keep me sane while we are there.
Why would a family of 8 plus two grandparents go to Dollywood? Check out part one of this Mom’s Guide to Dollywood to find out why and how we make it work easily.
Dollywood is a super fun family theme park. The Dollywood folks go out of their way to make sure the park has every convenience to make your trip a family success. However, there are still some mom hacks that can make your trip even better! When you are prepared for every situations, you can relax and enjoy yourself with your family.
Mom’s Guide to Dollywood – Part 2 – What to Bring
The best advice I can give you about what you should bring to Dollywood is this: bring as little as possible. You will be walking all day and you will not want to carry heavy bags or excess items. I typically carry a small, lightweight, water resistant backpack that can be attached to my stroller or stowed in the cargo basket, and each of my children carries a small cinch bag style backpack. You could purchase one in the park, but it would cost more and look just like every other bag in the ride cubbies. Also, utilize any cargo space you might have in a stroller.
Take Your Own Stroller
One of the benefits of having small children is having cargo room under the stroller. The park has a stroller rental service, but those strollers have very little cargo cargo space. If you have younger children at all, I recommend taking your own stroller. No matter the number of children we have with us, we take along a double sit n’ stand stroller that has plenty of cup holders and cargo space. Another great benefit of having a stroller is using the a mom hook or other large carabiner on the stroller handle to attach extra drink mugs or souvenir bags. I also use water bottle carriers to attach water bottles to strollers and backpacks.
Consider the Weather
The weather in East Tennessee is unpredictable, so when we head out the door for Dollywood, we try to be prepared for anything. We take along disposable rain ponchos that come in small plastic pouches. They are inexpensive and take up almost no room in a backpack. I also toss a couple of small umbrellas in the stroller basket or put one in each adult backpack. We also usually wear shoes that are waterproof. Even if there is no rain, this is helpful for the water rides.
Heat and Sun
Make sure to take have plenty of sunscreen. I apply to everyone at the same time just before we go inside the park. Then I set an alarm on my phone to remind me to reapply. I make sure to take an easy face stick sunscreen that I can easily swipe over noses throughout the day. I also have everyone swipe on some lip balm with an SPF.
I ask everyone to wear a hat of some sort. For myself, I love a wide brimmed sun hat. A friend recommended this roll and go hat because it fits easily in a backpack. Even though she is under the sun shade of the stroller, I make sure our baby has a sun hat on.
During the summer months, heat is a real issue at Dollywood. Though there are misting fans blowing throughout the park, but it always helps to have a personal fan, or misting fan to stay cool. I always have one that attaches to the stroller for the little ones. Cooling towels that wrap around the neck or work as a headband also work well for the hot days.
Staying hydrated is also important. In part one of the moms guide to Dollywood, we mentioned the refillable mugs. Thought Dollywood does not allow outside food and drinks, you can bring in a refillable water bottle and fill it at the water fountains throughout the park. Plus, complimentary cups of water at all park restaurants and most food outlets.
Fall and winter are our favorite times to go to Dollywood. Sometimes my husband and I actually spend a date night walking around looking at the Christmas lights while we enjoy some Dollywood cinnamon bread and hot chocolate. When we take the family, we have to play just a little differently.
First, we dress everyone in layers. The temperature in the mountains changes quickly. What starts out as a mild fall day, turns into a cold evening when the sun goes down. We like to bring along a super light windbreaker jacket for everyone that can fit in a backpack.
When the weather is really cold, we bring blankets to cover those who ride in the stroller and we use Hot Hands hand warmer packs in pockets because they are easy to stash in a backpack until we need them. We make sure we have a stash of gloves and hats for all of the littles and some stylish ear covers for the teenagers.
Tip: We keep an extra supply of hats, gloves, hot hands and blankets in the back of our van just in case we decide to take a spontaneous outing in the winter. It is also a good idea just to have these in your car emergency kit for the winter.
If you have teens, make sure everyone has their cell phone and some way to keep it charged so you can communivate. We love the small Jackery chargers for this. You should also make sure everyone has a Ziploc bag without the slider in their backpack to keep electronics dry in the rain and on water rides.
There are several fist aid stations throughout the park, but it is a real pain to walk to one for just a bandaid or a small scrape. I created my own first aid kit with a small pouch, but you can take any pre-assembled kit just to save some steps for small injuries.
Money Storage and Safety
You will need money in the park or at least a credit or debit card. I do not like leaving these things in my backpack in the ride cubbies so, either my husband or I wear a secure passport holder under our clothes. These are light, waterproof and keep your cards and money safe.
When visiting Dollywood, if you have extra time, I recommend spending some time in Sevierville and the Pigeon Forge at some of the other fun attractions.
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