Have you visited Dollywood lately? If you have, you’ve likely seen my new favorite part of the park AND the biggest expansion in Dollywood history… Wildwood Grove! Here I’m breaking down all the rides, things to do, foods to eat, and fun to be had in this amazing, new area of the amusement park!
A few weeks ago, I had the amazing experience to see the brand new addition to Dollywood, Wildwood Grove on the day it opened to the public. This area of the park is the biggest expansion in Dollywood history. In fact, the 6 acre 2019 expansion cost more than the original purchase of Dollywood back in 1986!
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Actually, this wasn’t my very first time walking around Wildwood Grove. I was there back in mid-March and the area was, well, let’s just say a little less colorful and a lot more sticky!
There was mud, very thick mud, all around the walkways and I couldn’t imagine a full-fledged theme park area would be open in less than 2 months amidst all that mud! But here we are, less than 2 months later and Wildwood Grove has bloomed into a wonderful place of beauty!
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I don’t take many selfies, but when your ultimate dream is to take a picture with the Queen and you’re only 10 feet from her, you take a selfie. 😍 Today I attended Opening Day @Dollywood and got a sneak peek, quite muddy construction tour of the park’s newest addition, Wildwood Grove! It’s the biggest expansion in #Dollywood’s history and it’s going to be amazing! I can’t wait to see the #SmokyMountain magic they’ll create in under 2 months when it opens on May 10th! #DollyParton #Dolly #Dollywood #Dollywood2019 #WildwoodGrove
Swipe right to see behind the scenes looks at the construction of Dollywood’s Wildwood Grove.
In fact, both of my visits to Wildwood Grove were graced by Mrs. Dolly Parton herself and let me tell you, anytime you get to see the Dollywood Dreamer-in-Chief on park, it’s a magical day! During the Wildwood Grand Opening, Dolly, along with the President of Dollywood, Craig Ross, shared even more insight about this magical area of the park.
Dolly even celebrated the Wildwood Grove Grand Opening by releasing butterflies with some special young kids!
I also got to witness a super amazing exchange between Dolly and Jenna Bush Hager during an interview for the Today Show. You can watch the entire interview and video on the opening of Wildwood Grove here.
Is Wildwood Grove included in Dollywood admission?
Yes! I see this question floating around online a bit because Wildwood Grove is so big, the biggest expansion in history, and because there’s so much to do in this area alone. Wildwood Grove is definitely included within your regular Dollywood ticket!
If you haven’t bought your Dollywood tickets yet, be sure to head to this post to get ALL the tips on how to get Dollywood discount tickets OR read up on why you might want to consider purchasing a Dollywood Season Pass instead!
What’s the story behind Wildwood Grove?
If you’ve ever visited Dollywood [and if you haven’t, you’ll learn now], that everything in Dollywood fits a theme. I think this is where Dollywood stands above other theme parks, even Disney, is with theming and the amazing thought that goes behind EVERY aspect of the park.
Wildwood Grove is no exception and the story behind the newest area of the park comes from Dolly Parton herself, like so many other parts of the park! Dolly spoke about growing up in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains and even a time where she followed a butterfly out into the woods and realized she was lost. Thankfully one of her family’s cows, Ole Bessie [as recalled by Dolly], led her home.
But from this, and many other outdoor adventures, the idea of Wildwood Grove was born. The architects and imagination of the builders hit it out of the park with Wildwood Grove. When you’re in this area, you feel like you’re truly in the woods instead of inside a theme park. While all of Dollywood is “pretty”, Wildwood Grove takes it to another level with the amount of natural decoration and muted, forest colors.
Perhaps my favorite sight is the splash pad area, Wildwood Creek, looks like it’s actually being fed with water from a stream across the bridge.
Another favorite in Wildwood Grove is the Wildwood Tree. While I haven’t been able to see it at night just yet, I’ve heard it’s completely magical with butterflies lighting up the Tennessee night skies.
Where is Wildwood Grove?
Wildwood Grove is right inside Dollywood, as a part of the original park. The area adds another 6 acres making Dollywood’s total area for the park at about 156 acres. The entrance to Wildwood Grove can be found right across from the Mystery Mine rollercoaster in the Timber Canyon section.
To go into Wildwood Grove upon entrance into the park, take a left and go up the hill to the Timber Canyon area.
What rides are in Wildwood Grove?
I’ve already said that Wildwood Grove has already become my favorite part of the park and part of that is due to the rides. They are all truly awesome and not to be missed.
You can see all the Dollywood rides, as well as the height requirements and my family’s favorites, in this post.
Let’s start with our favorite, Dragonflier. It’s definitely the most popular ride in Wildwood Grove, judging the by the wait times, and for good reason. This coaster is smooth, super fun [you truly feel like you’re darting through the air like a dragonfly], and totally worth the wait. Riders must be 39″ tall and if under 48″, you must ride with someone 16 or older.
If your kiddo likes Firechaser, they’ll love Dragonflier. I would rate the thrill amount about the same.
My second favorite is The Mad Mockingbird. It might look like a small child ride, but take my word for it, this one is FUN! This ride is for anyone 36″ tall and if under 48″, you must ride with someone 16+.
Next is definitely the Great Tree Swing. Remember those pirate ships at old-school carnivals? This is even better! Take this tip though – want a milder ride? Sit in the middle! The edges are definitely more thrilling! This one is for kids 36″ and again, under 48″ need to ride with a 16+ year old.
Black Bear Trail was another favorite of mine. It’s super mild and great for the whole family to enjoy [although riders must be 36″ to ride with someone or 42″ to ride alone]. It’s a great ride for a fun photo opp too as these bears are adorable!
Treetop Tower is my least favorite ride in the area, only because the acorns are SMALL. I rode with another adult and we barely squeezed in. I was also not a fan of how fast the acorns spun at the top, which probably means I’m old, so younger kiddos will love it! There is no minimum height requirement, but riders under 42″ can’t ride alone.
Another ride with no height requirements in Wildwood Grove is Frogs & Fireflies. I haven’t ridden this one myself, but it looks fun for little ones. Riders under 36″ need someone to ride with them.
While there are only 6 rides in Wildwood Grove, there are 11 experiences and attractions and the addition of Hidden Hollow is an AMAZING one! This indoor attraction is not only a great place to escape the hot Tennessee sun or rain, if it comes, but also a great place for little ones to play while older siblings ride Dragonflier.
The theming is perfection in this space and there’s even a toddler section for the little ones! There’s plenty of seating and only one way out and in so it’s perfect for some relaxation time.
But there will be no relaxing for the kids, as there is a ton of twists, turns, slides, and climbing for them to do!
I hinted about Wildwood Creek above, but to go into a bit more detail it is a splash pad area of the park. The kids will get very wet, if they want to, so you might want to bring a towel or a change of clothes!
Shopping at Wildwood Grove
But don’t fret if you forget a towel, as Mountain Grove Merchants, the Wildwood Grove shopping experience, has you covered with towels, sandals, sunscreen and more.
They also have exclusive Wildwood Grove merchandise that you won’t find anywhere else in the park.
My favorite is this necklace and charm station. My girls had to make a necklace on their first visit to Wildwood Grove!
Making plans to visit Dollywood soon?
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Are there restaurants in Wildwood Grove?
Yes! There are a few snack stations within the area, but one restaurant that is sure to become one of my favorites, JUST OPENED in Wildwood Grove. Till & Harvest is serving… are you ready for this… Smoky Mountain Mexican cuisine!
We had a menu preview at Opening Day and it was amazing! I can’t wait to get back for a full size Burrito Bowl!
There’s also a walk-up sweet shop, adjacent to Till & Harvest, called Sweets ‘n’ Treats! This sweet shop offers plenty of options for on-the-go snacking and if you find the chocolate cake, you want to try it. TRUST ME!
Entertainment at Wildwood Grove
While there are plenty of entertainment options in Wildwood Grove, it wouldn’t be Dollywood if there wasn’t some live entertainment. I caught the Wild Roots Band right outside of Treetop Tower. They are a trio that you’ll definitely want to swing by to hear!
There is also a Wildwood Grove Character Meet & Greet! You can meet Flit & Flutter and have your picture taken with the two beautiful butterflies that fly all over Wildwood Grove.
What age is Wildwood Grove best suited for?
Making family memories has always been at the top of Dolly’s wishes for the theme park that shares her name and of the utmost importance to Dollywood staff. Wildwood Grove is the perfect expansion because it truly is a family area. Everyone in the family can enjoy these rides together. Although I’m sure if you have teenagers, they might likely take off for the most daring rollercoasters like Wild Eagle and Lightening Rod after checking out the Wildwood Tree.
All of the rides in this area are geared towards family enjoying together, with most having a height requirement of just 36 inches. The indoor play area is also a great place for even smaller children as there is no height requirement and the splash pad is another one that’s great for even smaller guests!