Traveling with kids? It’s kind of my thing. I’ve been all over the world with little ones in tow and have some STRONG opinions about accommodations.
90% of the time, that preference is going to be for a vacation rental home where I cook in my own kitchen, do my own laundry, put my kids to bed in one room (bonus points if they each have their OWN rooms), and hang out with my husband in another without an 8:30 bedtime.
Writing that out makes it sound less vacation-y than it feels, but I digress …
There is one instance, however, in which I firmly believe in the value of a resort stay, and that’s when we head to major theme parks like Dollywood.
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, is no stranger to tourists, and accommodation options abound. Having stayed in both an Airbnb cabin in the mountains and at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa, there is a clear winner for me. The cabin we stayed at was lovely, but the perks and accommodations at DreamMore put it over the top.
Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa
Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa is heavenly. Evoking Dolly Parton’s signature hospitality, the resort is designed with East Tennessee charm at its forefront, complete with white rockers on porches everywhere you look. Dolly’s vision for the resort was to make families feel like she is personally welcoming them as guests in her home. While the resort is impeccable, with plenty of Dolly memorabilia peppered in for fun, it aims to ensure families feel relaxed and comfortable, especially after busy days at Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country.
In fact, everything is designed with families in mind.
DreamMore’s well-appointed rooms come equipped with my boys’ favorite thing to find in a hotel: bunk beds!
It also boasts both an indoor pool and a gorgeous outdoor water complex, complete with a hot tub for the grown-ups and a splash pad for the littles. For me, it’s truly a vacation when I can squeeze in a good spa treatment. Everyone is happy when my boys (dad included) head to the family game room for some old-school arcade fun while I sneak off for a blissful facial or massage at the Spa. At night, your family can gather around a proper Smoky Mountain campfire to roast s’mores and cuddle up to a bedtime story with Camp DW.
When tummies rumble, DreamMore has you covered.
Multiple tasty on-site dining options make feeding your family a pleasure at DreamMore. Be sure to stop in for a meal at Song & Hearth, DreamMore’s full-service restaurant dripping with Southern charm. The breakfast buffet is not to be missed, especially the Donut wall!
Quick service and grab-and-go are also options at the DM Pantry. Hit up this spot for your morning cup of joe, or grab a wood-fired pizza after a long day at the park. Also, you can find Dollywood’s famous cinnamon bread at the DM Pantry without having to brave the lines in the park. Do not skip this treat! Then, cap off your night with cocktails at the Lounge because family-friendly means catering to parents, too.
Special Perks for Resort Guests
Not only does the resort stay make your Dollywood vacation a breeze, but it also comes with plenty of perks that make it a good value. The complimentary TimeSaver Passes for each resort guest per day is our favorite perk. For better or worse, my children are tiny adrenaline junkies, and having faster access allows them to ride ALLLLL the rides. In fact, the year we stayed off-property, we wound up buying these passes outright anyway. So for us, this perk is huge.
Guests with tickets can also enter Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country an hour early on Saturdays to gain early access to that must-do ride and may get other priority access to the parks, depending on ticket type and dates. The complimentary package delivery to the resort for purchases made at the park is another fun bonus (because you know you’ll need some Dolly bling!).
Finally, and crucially, a resort stay solves the dreaded theme park transportation problem. DreamMore guests can enjoy door-to-door service on the DreamMore Trolley to and from both parks or opt to drive their own vehicles and park there for free! One less thing to worry about!
Coming soon – Dollywood’s HeartSong Lodge & Resort
If you have some patience or are planning your trip around the Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival, Dollywood’s brand new HeartSong Lodge & Resort is set to open in November 2023, offering even more resort options for families.
HeartSong will have a different feel than DreamMore. This mountain lodge-themed resort is inspired by Dolly’s beloved Smoky Mountains, where she finds her personal “heart song.” Just like DreamMore, HeartSong will feature beautiful accommodations, unique dining options, another stunning pool complex, and rooms designed specifically for families.
I’m especially excited about the fact that the HeartSong bunks are in their own bedroom, just like those vacation rental options I usually love.
A resort stay at HeartSong will also get you all of the perks that DreamMore guests enjoy, which makes this choice a no-brainer. HeartSong will begin taking reservations in June 2023, so mark your calendar!
If Dollywood is on your family’s travel bucket list (and it should be!), consider a stay at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa or Dollywood’s HeartSong Lodge & Resort, so you can enjoy all that Dollywood has to offer.