Hey friends! I’m excited to announce I’ve been selected to be a Dollywood Insider. This means I’ll be bringing you behind the scenes, giving tips and tricks, and writing here and over at the Dollywood Insiders page. I’ll still be sharing my adventures here and on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
I’m honored to have been chosen as a Dollywood Insider, and began my tenure with a stay this past weekend at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa. My family got to play at the hotel and Dollywood’s Splash Country, and there was so much to do!
We began at the resort on Friday evening. We arrived shortly before 8 p.m., and stepping into the lobby took my breath away. I was greeted with a gorgeous view of the pool, playground, and barn, with the glorious Smoky Mountains residing in the background. Sunset was just beginning to tinge the sky with cotton candy colors. To top it all off, a piano player was serenading the lobby with a variety of music. Even my two little wild ones stopped to stare in wonder at his lovely voice paired with the beautiful sight beyond the windows.
Check in was a breeze, and we headed to our room to get settled before exploring.
Our room faced the road, but still offered a beautiful view. The sunset on the mountains is not something you want to miss! Our room was designed for a family, with two bunk beds for the kids and a king bed for the hubs and myself. Confession: I now want a king bed. Preferably the incredibly comfortable one I slept on at the resort! It was amazing. Little Brother woke up an hour after falling asleep, because #MomFail brought a new sippy cup that apparently leaks. He woke up with a wet shirt, and I was so tired after trying to do everything all the time that I cleaned him up and pulled him up into the king bed with us. The best part is that he didn’t bother me or the hubs all night long! The bed was so big neither of us suffered his back-breaking nighttime dance routine that leads to sore backs and necks the following day whenever he sneaks into bed with us at home.
The bunk beds were such a huge hit with Big Brother that he claims he’ll be asking Santa for one come Christmas. He loved the ladder, and was especially pleased with the sleeping bags attached to the bed. I was comforted by this added feature as well. Though the bunk beds had a railing, since it was his first time ever in one I was a tad nervous. The sleeping bag zipper, attached to the mattress, gave me comfort in knowing it would be even harder for him to accidentally roll off. He slept in that bed all night long, and referred to the resort as ‘our new home’ because he didn’t want to leave the bunk bed! (Or the playground, pool, fire pit, indoor pool, game room…the list goes on!)
After we tore the boys away from the coolest room they’d ever seen, we toured the resort. We walked around the pool, the boys played on the playground, and we joined story time in the barn at 8:30 for bedtime stories. We bumped into the story reading host on our way back to our room later, and she informed us that we could check out a book to read in our room to the kids and then return it to the front desk in the morning. *Tangent*: I love how much Dolly Parton has done for childhood literacy. From the Imagination Library
, that will mail your kids ages 0-5 books for free, to even having a little lending library at her resort, I just love how accessible she makes books for kids. Thank you, Dolly. *End Tangent*
When story time was over, the boys wanted to enjoy the playground some more. My husband and I only lasted so long before we were dying to see more of the resort, but we were able to entice them with checking out the fire pits. Since it’s just beginning to cool down here in the evenings (yay, fall!), it was the perfect weather to sit around the fire and chat with other guests. A fireside host was selling s’mores materials, and parents and kids alike were partaking and feeling like kids again regardless of age. No one feels old while eating a s’more!
One of the many things we loved about the resort was that although it was expansive, there were little pockets of intimacy everywhere. From the chairs around the multiple fire pits, to secluded benches, to a tucked away arbor, there was plenty of space to sit quietly and chat with your loved ones without feeling like you were surrounded by strangers.
We stumbled upon a beautiful flower garden, aptly shaped like a butterfly, with an inspirational sign:
Scattered throughout the resort were framed images of Dolly with positive, inspirational quotes. Exiting the elevator onto our floor had a grouping of 4, of her encouraging us to chase our dreams.
Everywhere you went, it was as though you were being invited to sit and relax. The flower garden held butterfly shaped benches, the porches were full of white rocking chairs, the pool was surrounded by lounge chairs and dining sets, and the fire pits offered multiple seating options as well. Everything about the resort makes you want to sit back, relax, and make yourself at home. Everything is family friendly, from the game room to the kid-sized rocking chairs to those books I won’t stop talking about. (I’d love to share adorable photos of my kids in the rocking chairs, but they were a little too into the rocking and all the photos turned out blurry.)
Once we were all tired from our explorations, we headed back to the room to get into pj’s and tuck in for the night. Even Little Brother loved his lower bunk bed, and I’ve never seen him look so sweet at bedtime.
We woke up well rested and ready to enjoy the hotel and parks. We grabbed breakfast and Starbucks coffee at the Pantry. My husband and kids spent the morning playing on the playground and at the pool while I attended my Dollywood Insiders meeting, and then we all met up at Splash Country. We spent the day at the water park, covering all 35 acres. We hit all the kid areas, and Big Brother even got to ride some of the big rides. Little Brother is an inch too short to ride the family rides, but he loved all the kid areas. He even fell asleep for his nap on my lap on the Downbound Float Trip. You haven’t felt the fear of moving a sleeping baby until you’ve moved a sleeping baby while floating down a river.
At 4.5 and 2 years old, there’s so much for these boys to do at the water park. Big Brother especially loves the Cascades area. He’s a big fan of the ‘sinking’ boat, and has played half the day there each time we’ve been.
One of my favorite things about visiting any of the Dollywood properties is how I get to be a kid, with my kids. We all get to relax and have fun together. There are even several water slides we can ride together. Bonus: it always puts my kids to sleep. Little Brother took an extra long nap and still went to bed on time, and Big Brother fell asleep on the drive home and slept for 14 hours. #Winning!
All in all, it was one of the best weekends we’ve had as a family. It’s so fun to make memories with your family that you know you’ll always cherish. Staying at the resort simplified our trip, allowing us to utilize the trolley and pick up any last minute items there (like when your toddler conveniently unpacks your hairbrush and you need to buy a comb). The 3 on-site restaurants allow you to choose what kind of meal you want. Plus, Starbucks in the morning! Yes, please.
I definitely recommend combining your visit to Dollywood with a stay at the resort. It’ll save you on tickets, simplify your trip, and give you benefits like free parking and a free TimeSaver pass for each member of your family.
Have you been to a Dollywood park or resort? What did you think?