Pigeon Forge is a popular family vacation spot for those who are looking to get away without leaving the U.S.
There are dozens and dozens of parks, attractions, and activities in the Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg area, including Dollywood Parks and Resorts.
Dollywood is considered to be among the most elite theme parks globally. During TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice 2020 awards, it was hailed as the eighth-best amusement park in the world.
If you’re traveling to Pigeon Forge soon and plan on visiting Dollywood Parks and Resorts, you’re in for a whole lot of fun. Whether you’re a roller coaster junkie or a waterslide fanatic, here are 12 of the best rides, museums, attractions, and other activities you want to miss out on!
1. Tennessee Tornado
As long as your stomach can handle an abundance of loops and the sinking feeling of long drops, you’ll love Tennessee Tornado—one of Dollywood’s fastest and most difficult roller coasters to ride.
By far one of the park’s most intimidating-looking attractions, Tennessee Tornado is unmistakable with its signature rust-red finish and multiple spirals.
2. Lightning Rod
Dollywood is home to what was once the fastest wooden roller coaster in the entire world: Lightning Rod. From its inception in 2016 until 2020, it held this title—living up to its name by boasting a lightning-quick top speed of 73 miles per hour.
However, part of its wooden track was replaced by steel in 2020, so that once it reopened in 2021, it no longer qualified as a wooden roller coaster. While it no longer holds the title, the roller coaster’s stats remain nearly identical.
Designed for the true thrill-seeker, Lightning Rod is still one of the fastest and most difficult roller coasters in Dollywood!
3. Fire Tower Falls
If you like your waterslides the way you like your roller coasters—tall, steep, and fast—there’s no doubt that you’re going to love Fire Tower Falls.
This attraction arguably offers the biggest thrill in Dollywood’s water park, as it features a pair of slides that each stand at 70-feet tall and 280-feet long. Bring a friend along to experience this steep drop simultaneously!
4. Country Fair
In addition to aggressive thrills, Dollywood delivers tame activities, games, and delicious food that you’re likely to find it a more traditional carnival or fair.
If this sounds like more of your style, be sure to take a stroll through Country Fair. This area is home to at least a dozen child-friendly rides, bumper cars, and all sorts of tasty sweets!
5. Wild Eagle
Wild Eagle offers a rather unique roller coaster experience in that passengers are seated on either side of the track itself—imitating the wings of an eagle. Its design was the first of its kind in the United States.
A relatively new addition, Wild Eagle possesses the feel, build, and smooth action of a modern steel roller coaster; but that’s not to say it’s for everyone. This thrill ride delivers its fair share of high speeds and loops!
6. Blazing Fury
Blazing Fury is one of the most popular attractions within not only Craftman’s Valley but also the entire Dollywood theme park. This indoor roller coaster was built in 1978, and for over a decade, it was the park’s only roller coaster.
The premise of the ride is that you’re trying to escape a burning town. For much of the journey, you’re traveling at a relatively manageable speed; but the roller coaster’s crescendo includes fast turns and multiple drops.
Blazing Fury is a staple of the Dollywood theme park and definitely worth a spot on your running list of must-see attractions!
7. Dollywood Express
If you’re starting to feel fatigued after walking from attraction to attraction, split up your day by taking a leisurely ride on the Dollywood Express—the park’s very own coal-fired steam engine.
Not only does this train take you throughout the park but it also takes you outside the park—covering five miles of the Great Smoky Mountains in total and providing you with a stunning scenic tour!
8. Eagle Mountain Sanctuary
Did you know that Dollywood hosts the largest presentation of non-releasable bald eagles in the United States?
Witness these impressive winged creatures up close by visiting Dollywood’s Eagle Mountain Sanctuary—a 30,000-square-foot aviary that was designed to house these beautiful birds.
9. River Rampage
Particularly if you visit Dollywood during one of the hot summer months, you’re going to want to break up your day with a few water rides; and at Dollywood, there is arguably none better than River Rampage.
This ride features a six-seat raft that is pulled along a river via a conveyor belt. While the ride is relatively tame, it still manages to surprise its many riders with a few drops, spins, and splashes along the way.
10. Craftsman’s Valley Crafts
Craftsman’s Valley is home to all sorts of attractions, including roller coasters, but it also offers calmer activities for those who prefer art and creativity to exhilarating thrills.
Visit Blacksmith & Foundry to watch professional blacksmiths hand-forged steel items and gifts. Check out Old Flames Candles to design and dip your very own candles. Stop by Mountain Blown Glass to craft your very own glass ornament by hand!
If you’ve visited Dollywood in the past and want to prioritize the park’s newest attractions this time around, be sure to stop by Dragonflier.
This roller coaster was opened in 2019 and the ride features a dangling carriage and a few loops, but no sharp drops. For this reason, Dragonflier manages to be both fast and exhilarating without being intimidating. Rather, it’s a middle-of-the-road kind of roller coaster—one that you and multiple friends and family members can enjoy!
12. Chasing Rainbows Museum
To truly mark your Dollywood experience with a fitting memory, pay homage to the great Dolly Parton herself by visiting the Chasing Rainbows Museum.
It’s here that you’ll be greeted by a hologram of Dolly, view her Grammy awards and handwritten lyrics, and learn more about her illustrious music and film career!