Get up early, and have the complimentary Continental breakfast provided by the hotel so that you can get to Dollywood by 9 a.m. to beat the crowds and get a prime parking space. (Check www.dollywood.com for weekday operating hours.) A couple of tips: Have your $6 for parking ready, and write down which tram stop is yours. And don't bring in food or drink.
Adult admission costs $42.40; admission for ages 4-11 is $32.35. Children ages 3 and under are free. If you have three days to devote to this attraction, your best bet is to buy a "Splash and Play" ticket, which covers three days at Dollywood and Dollywood's Splash Country water park for $66.90 adults and $51.30 ages 4-11.
June is a great time to be at Dollywood. The KidsFest is in full swing from June 18 through August 8, with an Extreme Sports Show, Perondi's Extreme Canines Show, and a Smoky Mountain Bear Jam, not to mention all the usual rides and shows.
First you'll want to hit the Tennessee Tornado, which is in the back of the park. It's a great spiral, triple-looping roller coaster that takes you through a 128-foot drop at 70 mph. And, yes, you do have to be 48 inches tall. Next, prepare to get wet on Blazing Fury, an inside roller coaster that sometimes barrels along in the dark.
If you're ready for a snack, head to the Grist Mill (a giant cookie costs $2.29). Or try the Backstage Restaurant right next to the Celebrity Theatre for some mighty fine meat loaf and vegetables for less than $10.
After a ride on the 1943 steam train, it's time to see the craftspeople. Don't miss the blacksmith, who fashions wonderful things with fire and forge (an iron door knocker sells for $50), or the leather shop, where you can pick up a nice purse for $60.
Now that the day has heated up, head on over to Splash Country water park. Choose from among such grand plunges as the Butterfly, which is one of the park's fastest slides, and the Raging River Rapids, which gives you a great family raft experience.
Worn out? Pack up the family, and head back to the hotel--by way of The Old Mill and Restaurant (traffic light 7). Enjoy a great dinner, such as fried chicken served with corn chowder, homemade fritters, all the vegetables you can eat, salad, and dessert ($14.95). Then it's time to wander back to the hotel for some much-needed rest.
For a hearty, delicious breakfast, try Flapjack's Pancake Cabin, just down the Parkway. You can't go wrong with the Old Fashioned Buttermilk Pancakes ($4.29), but the Wild Mountain Blueberry Pancakes ($5.99) are also a favorite.
For a true summertime thrill, revel in a Tennessee Smokies baseball game. The Class AA affiliates of the St. Louis Cardinals provide a good time for only $9. The excellent park is just off I-40, and you'll find a game taking place every Sunday afternoon in June. Get there early, grab a hot dog, and sing along in the seventh inning stretch. It's an all-American ending to a great weekend.
This article is from the June 2004 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change,
please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.