Mommin’ Galinburg and Dollywood with a toddler
For Christmas my husband asked me what I wanted and for the life of me I couldn’t think of anything! We have a wonderful home and a fantastic family so there really isn’t much that I needed. The more I thought about it the more I realized that I wanted an experience as opposed to a possession. I wanted memories! I mentioned this to my husband and he instantly said we should take a weekend trip to Dollywood! Neither of us had been to Dollywood since we were very young but we both remembered really liking it so figured why not. So began the planning process….
I am a planner so things like this really excite me but they also give me anxiety because I want everything to turn out exactly as planned and everyone to have a blast. The first thing to figure out was when we wanted to go and what exactly we wanted to do. We had heard wonderful things about the Aquarium of the Smokies so knew we wanted to stop by there. We also knew we wanted to visit Dollywood for one full day so we thought the best thing to do would be to visit the aquarium on the way in the stay close to the park. This would be a long weekend and we wanted it to be warm enough to not have to wear coats so April looked like the best time.
Anyone that has visited the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area knows there is no shortage of accommodations. After looking at some cabins, we decided a hotel would be best considering the short time we would actually be in the room. Once that was decided we started looking into Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and knew we had found the perfect place.
Located less than a mile from the parks, the DreamMore Resort and Spa is a beautiful hideaway nestled into the foothills of the Smokey Mountains with breathtaking views and fun for the whole family. They have 2 magnificent pools that are perfect for the kids as well as tons of lounge chairs for mom and dad. Next to the pool is also a playground that was perfect for my 1 year old son. Another great thing about the resort was there were plenty of options for eating onsite. When the resort was designed it was meant to evoke memories of family vacations where everyone spent hours by the campfire telling stories. This family feeling is evident from the moment you step foot in the resort.
Being a guest at the DreamMore Resort also brought with it some great privileges at the parks! All guests received a complimentary TimeSaver which allows you to skip the lines at the larger rides. They also offer a complimentary resort shuttle that takes you directly from the resort to the special resort guests-only entrance. On Saturday morning you can even enter the park an hour earlier than all the other guests! And one of the best things in my opinion, free in-room delivery for Dollywood parks’ shopping purchases. When traveling with a 10-lb diaper bag, space for shopping bags is limited so we took advantage of this all day!
So the weekend started off with a nice drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway to Gatlinburg. Wyatt decided he didn’t want to nap on the way up s when we arrived at the Aquarium, we knew our time was limited. We managed to make it through all the exhibits just in time for him to melt down. Luckily once we got him back in the stroller, he fell asleep pretty quick. This gave mom and dad about an hour to have dinner and a drink which was very needed and appreciated!
After dinner we headed over to the resort and were very happy to hear about all the activities that were waiting on us! Each night the DreamMore Resorts hosts kid-friendly activities to keep your little ones entertained. They have an adorable barn located directly beside the pool where each night at 7:30 they have story time. My son loved hanging out with the other children while one of the staff members read them a different story each night we were there. After story time was movie time in the same barn! They movies we very family friendly and you could tell everyone loved them. Last but definitely not least was the smores bar located beside the firepit. Made for the perfect end to the perfect day!
Saturday morning arrived and we were all ready to head over to the park. We grabbed a quick breakfast at the Pantry which was really good! Then hopped on the shuttle to Dollywood. When we arrived there way no waiting, just showed the gate attendant our tickets and walked right in. Dollywood has a great mobile app that you can use to navigate through the park. It tells you how long the wait is for each ride, show times, and even lets you create an agenda for your visit. Another great thing they have is called the parent swap. This allows one parent to ride while the other waits with your child then switch. Best part is the second parent that goes doesn’t have to wait in line at all.
In the park there are rides for people of all ages. My husband and I really enjoyed the roller coasters while my son loved the carnival-esque rides in the Country Fair section. He rode the Lucky Duck, the Piggy Parade, and the Lemon Twist! And of course the Village Carousel located in the Village was a favorite! The staff is great about making sure babies are comfortable and happy, even if that means mom had to ride with him (those ducks have way more room then you’d think).
We chose to bring our own stroller but the park does have ones that you can rent for a nominal fee. Another thing I was very happy to find out they had were Baby Centers located throughout the park. These were perfect for when little man got hungry and we needed to stop for a quick nursing session or when he needed a diaper change. Have to admit, I may have also used this when I needed a break from the heat 🙂
After we rode every ride and wore little man out, we headed back to the resort for some dinner then relaxing. We dinned at the Song & Hearth Restaurant and I have to say it was some of the best food I had all weekend! Wyatt loved their mac and cheese as well as their fried chicken. We were able to catch the last bit of story time then were very happy to learn that we would be able to see the nightly fireworks from the resort! The fireworks ended a little before 10 and even though it was well passed Wyatt’s bedtime, he did wonderful.
Next morning we got up and headed home. It was definitely a wonderful family trip that we will surely repeat next year. The shuttle driver was telling us that Dollywood will be adding 8 new rides and many new restaurants for the 2019 season so can’t wait to see what they have in store. I thought traveling with a toddler would be difficult but learned that is all about planning ahead. By making sure there was plenty to entertain him everywhere we went, it made for a successful weekend getaway that we will always remember!