Adriana Zoder: 6 tips to make Dollywood easier on yourself, family

Sep. 07, 2013 @ 11:47 PM

When I signed off in the last column, I promised glowing reports from Dollywood and the Titanic. Well, we have not made it to the Titanic yet, but we did make it to Dollywood. All of us had been there before except for my sister. She really enjoyed it. In fact, everybody did.

But before I go into our trip to Dollywood, let me just say a word about the Motor Nature Trail in Gatlinburg. I jokingly call it “an American walk” because getting into the car to see nature seems rather sedentary and we are a sedentary nation.

Friends of mine spotted a bear on this trail a few years ago. I have not seen any, but that’s not why we get on it now and then. We enjoy the vistas and the small waterfalls by the side of the road. We also stop at the Ogle cabin and marvel at the way life used to be. If it is raining and you want to be in the Park but you do not want to face crowds, the Motor Nature Trail in Gatlinburg is the perfect solution.

Speaking of no crowds, we found no crowds at Dollywood, even though it was Labor Day weekend Friday. I suppose it helps that we got there at 11am. No waiting in lines to speak of.

My son is tall enough to go on some roller coasters, but my daughter is not. She waited with me at the exit area, but don’t feel bad for her, as she got to ride on the bumble bees, the train, the kiddie roller coaster (which scared her), the merry-go-round and the Ferris wheel. That’s plenty of excitement for a three-year-old.

Here are 6 tips to make a Dollywood day easier on yourself and your family:

1. Apply sunscreen every two hours. Wear sunglasses and a hat, too.

2. Bring a stroller for your little ones and/or belongings.

3. Plan your wet rides in the middle of your day so you cool off after being in the sun for a few hours. On the other hand, you have time to dry off before leaving.

4. Bring a chicken along. You know, somebody who is afraid, - I am sorry, let me rephrase that - somebody who does not care to ride. That way, all your belongings and small children can stay with the chicken. In my family’s case, I am it and I’m OK with it. Adrenaline rushes do not appeal to me in any way, shape or form. I know. I’m boring.

5. Don’t wear your whitest whites, especially if you plan on riding the Dollywood Express. In one word, soot.

6. Bring a camera, preferably one equipped with a video-taking feature. I stood on the observation deck at some of the rides and captured my family’s screams – a step above a still picture.

All in all, it was a fun, but tiring day. I’m glad it’s over.

Adriana Zoder, a Gatlinburg resident, is a polyglot, writer, homeschooling mom, and book lover. She and her husband have two children. She maintains the blog www.homeschoolways.com.