Nestled in the Tennessee Great Smoky Mountains mere minutes from the Dollywood Theme Park and Splash Country water park is the new Dollywood resort. Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort is the ideal destination for a family-friendly adventure. Though our visit to the Dollywood hotel lasted one whirlwind weekend, we quickly tallied a ton of reasons to love the newest addition to Dolly’s slice of Tennessee paradise.
Dollywood Resort Packages
A stately white building on a hill, Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort boasts an array of packages tailored to fit any vacation’s needs. For smaller groups like ours (two childless adults), generously-sized guest rooms come with plenty of room and the comforts of home. Our “King with Bunk” room came with–you guessed it–a roomy king-sized bed, twin bunk beds (which were perfect nap nooks), a full bathroom with a tub, and a working desk.
The DreamMore Resort is perfect for extended family vacations, too, thanks to their suites. Family-sized suites sleep four to eight guests and include extra-special amenities like private poolside patios and separate sleeping quarters.
For the creme de la creme experience (honeymoon, anyone?), spring for the Dolly Parton Suite. This Dolly-inspired apartment sleeps two and is complete with luxury amenities and spectacular Smoky views.
Dollywood Resort Amenities
After we easily parked our car in the resort’s roomy (and free!) parking lot (you can also valet your car), we were greeted by a twinkling Dollywood fountain, an honest-to-God front porch with white rockers, and the sounds of the creek fountain that wraps around the building like a moat. Stepping into the lobby, we immediately felt at ease, thanks to all the cozy, Southern-chic decor, from comfy armchairs to stone fireplaces.
We ate all our meals at the resort, meaning when we parked our car, we didn’t have to use it again until it was time to go home. The DM Pantry on the lobby level is perfect for casual eats. We started both of our mornings there over Starbucks coffee, cinnamon rolls, and sausage and egg biscuit sandwiches. Later in the day, you can bring the kids back for made-to-order pizzas and scoops of Mayfield ice cream–tasty treats after a long day at the parks.
Downstairs, the restaurant Song & Hearth: A Southern Eatery is the go-to for sit-down meals. We enjoyed an a la carte lunch of hard boiled eggs on toast and fried green tomato BLTs, and if you opt for the $20 full buffet dinner, you may need someone to roll you back to your room. After noshing on pork chops, heirloom tomato salads, green beans and bread pudding with a summer berry coulis, our guest room king bed was calling our name.
Before or after a meal at Song & Hearth, or while you’re enjoying a few hours by the Swimming Hole pool, sip on a cocktail The Lounge. The knowledgeable and friendly bartender whipped us up some sweet and boozy pre-dinner drinks. My Rockytop Cooler was a refreshing blend of pineapple juice and liquor–with a cherry on top.
Take advantage of the other resort amenities, too. If it’s raining, the indoor pool will keep you and the kiddos entertained, and you can accrue a few more Fitbit steps at the serviceable gym. It’s on the small side, but it has what you need, and let’s face it: this is vacation.
True kids at heart, we really loved the game room, complete with claw machines and Pac-Man. Tip: bring some cash for this amenity, since the game machines only take tokens, not quarters.
Down the hall, DreamMore’s full-service spa will add another dash of luxury to your stay, whether you do mommy-daughter manis and pedis or a full-out Girls Weekend spa party.
If you are traveling with children, DreamMore really pulls out the stops for them with a slew of kid-friendly programming. As a childless party of two, we were wistful that we didn’t have a good excuse to enjoy the playground, the nightly story time by the fireplace, s’mores at the outdoor fire pit, or the Camp DW kids room and activities, from arts and crafts to nature walks. Let’s just say that your kiddos will not be bored during a DreamMore stay!
The amenity we enjoyed the most was the Swimming Hole, a Southern-inspired outdoor pool to be enjoyed by grownups and kids alike. The lazy river and waterfall, outdoor hot tub, zero-entry shallow end, splash pad, and presence of three lifeguards on duty left us impressed: DreamMore has nailed family fun.
What really sets Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort apart from other nearby lodging options are all the small, Southern touches and inside and outside of your room. We were simply delighted by the “Dolly’s Pink Lemonade” served in the front lobby each evening, the bluegrass trio playing in the foyer on our way to Saturday night dinner, and the couches and rockers sprinkled throughout the resort that simply invite you to relax and make yourself at home.
The Park Perks and Rides
DreamMore offers complimentary shuttle service–in a butterfly-covered trolley, of course–to and from the theme park and water park each day, and the drivers are full of friendly commentary and suggestions along the way. Rides come every 15 minutes, making it super easy to commute between the parks and the resort, which we took full advantage of for a lunch break back at the resort’s Song & Hearth restaurant after a few hours of rides.
Your stay also includes a complimentary TimeSaver, a Dollywood fast pass that allows you to reserve your place in line at select rides. Another DreamMore benefit is early Saturday morning access, meaning DreamMore guests gain entry into the park an hour before the general public does. Because we entered the park at 9:00 a.m., we hardly needed the TimeSaver, but it’s a steal of a deal, especially for later in the day and during higher traffic weekends.
The shuttle service drops DreamMore guests off at a resort-exclusive park entrance, and if you choose to arrive at the park during the early Saturday window, a select ride (which rotates each weekend) is yours to enjoy before anyone else. We started our morning off with a wild ride on the Thunderhead coaster. Turns out coffee from the DM Pantry was unnecessary–we were wide awake after that ride!
Since we had to wait until 10:00 for the rest of the theme park rides to open, we took a few minutes to hover over our map and make a game plan for the rest of the morning, which, thanks to the map’s categorization of rides as “High Thrill,” “Moderate Thrill,” or “Mild Thrill,” was easy to do.
The theme park really does offer attractions for everyone, from thrill seekers to little ones. As “Moderate Thrill”-seekers, we were able to find a “happy medium” of attractions.
Favorite Coasters: The Thunderhead had me hollering like a madwoman from the speedy twists, turns, and drops, but since it doesn’t have any loops, I thankfully didn’t lose my breakfast. We also loved the FireChaser Express–shorter, milder, and fewer screams/more laughs from me. If you’re more hardcore than me or my travel buddy, definitely take advantage of the high-thrill Mystery Mine, Wild Eagle, and Lightning Rod (the newest coaster of the bunch).
Favorite Water Rides: We first cooled off at Daredevil falls, which is your quintessentially steep water slide that ends with a big splash. The closer to the front that you sit, the wetter you get. Later, we shared a six-seater raft on the Smoky Mountain River Rampage, a river ride full of rapids and splashes that will leave your sneakers pretty soaked, so wearing sandals is a good idea.
Favorite Feel-Like-A-Kid Rides: The Village and Country Fair sections of the theme park are adorable, and I managed to convince my travel buddy to ride the Village Carousel and Wonder Wheel Ferris wheel before topping off the day with some Blue Ribbon Soft Serve.
Fun Extras: Learn about native birds in the Eagle Mountain Sanctuary, and explore the Chasing Rainbows Museum, full of Dolly lore, from press clips to costumes to awards to a hologram of Dolly herself.
Dollywood’s tagline, “Love every moment,” is right on the money: we loved every morning and hope to come back with family next summer.
Disclosure: Thank you to the DreamMore Resort for the complimentary stay. Opinions here are all my own.