This past weekend, my family and I headed to DollyWood to enjoy a nice, family-fun day! It’s October in Tennessee, and while one would think that the leaves are changing and the air is crisp, this is currently not the case. It’s hot. Like, 85 degrees hot. Add a crowded theme park and little ones to the mix, and your bound for some blood, sweat, and tears.
However in our case, there was only sweat. (okay, and maybe a few tears)
If you aren’t familiar with DollyWood, it’s a family friendly, something-for-almost-every-age-group, theme park in the heart of The Great Smoky Mountains. Dolly Parton herself is the founder, of course. If you are headed to Gatlinburg for your next family vacation, I highly recommend coming to this park. Be advised though, tickets are expensive. A one day ticket for an adult runs about $70, which is comparable to Disney World.
Here are my top 6 tips for surviving DollyWood with a baby!
1. Find the Nursing Mother’s Room.
Need I say more? There are multiple nursing mother’s rooms found within Dollywood. How awesome is that? At one point I found myself rocking and feeding my little one next to two other sweet mamas who were doing the same. One of the moms was nursing her toddler, the other was nursing her newborn, and I was nursing my 8 month old. We exchanged friendly smiles, but stayed mostly quiet, while we fed our babies. At that moment in time, three women from three different places, who knew nothing about each other, shared a sweet moment together. One of the moms ended up opening up to me, and tell me how her husband and in-laws didn’t support her breastfeeding, and how they had told her that this was “the last month” she was going to be allowed to do so. Oh how this broke my heart!
2. Enjoy the AIR CONDITIONED shows.
DollyWood is known for having many, many shows throughout the day. The performers vary from month to month, but several of them are performed inside a giant, dark, air conditioned theatre. Perfect for little babies to get out of the heat and into the dark. When we were there, we heard the neatest southern gospel band called, The Isaacs.
3. Interact with the various “Characters”
Noella met Mrs. Lillian. The banjo-ukelelin’ sanging (that’s southern for singing) lady. I was excited for my little one to get to interact with someone new. She ]sang sweet and silly songs to her. An infant can’t do much at a theme park, so this was a nice little experience for my baby. Although Mrs. Lillian embarrassed my husband to death, and tried to get him to sing Cockadoodle too, which he so graciously refused. Maybe we’ll get em’ next time, Mrs. L.
4. Get your afternoon coffee at “The Mill.”
If you’re a mom, theres a 99.9 percent chance you are now a coffee drinker. That being said, you’ll need a place to get your afternoon coffee! Well, I’m here to tell you that this is the best place to get coffee in all of DollyWood. You might have to wait in line a little while, but it will be so worth it when you taste that delicious cup-of-joe. Added bonus, there is homemade cinnamon bread you can order as well. Perfect for your sugar crash right after your caffeinated high!
5. Rides for Babies
Be sure to take your little one on the Carousel and the Train Ride. They can sit in your lap and enjoy the music of the spinning carousel and the scenery of the mountains.
6. Babies’ First Christmas Ornament
I’ve officially knocked one small thing off my Christmas to-do list….purchased a “Babies First Christmas” ornament! They had a huge selected at the gift shop you go through at the end of the park. They cost about $10, and this is including personalization.
I hope you have so much fun on your trip to the beautiful Smoky Mountains and DollyWood! Find the nursing mother’s rooms, your afternoon coffee, and you’ll be good to go.