Gatlinburg and Dollywood
Posted by eemilla on October 4, 2014
Visiting Gatlinburg is not on my list of things to do; I’ve been a few times (twice at someone else’s expense), and none of them have been very much fun. I’d also visited Dollywood as a pre-teen or maybe teenager, and I would have rather gone to Carowinds any day. Dollywood with a pre-schooler made me more receptive combined with their much improved rides since my earlier visit. Our first visit as a family confirmed the food is still the horribly overpriced junk that one expects when attending an amusement park or other captive consumer situation so we do pack a cooler and return to the car for lunch. We also pack a snack to consume at the end of the trip before we return home.
We regretted not upgrading at least one of the season passes to the Gold Pass to avoid paying the $10 parking fee, but otherwise we’ve gotten enough good use to justify renewing our passes . Unlike other parks Dollywood is open most of the year (including plenty of weekdays) which makes it really easy to come out ahead while still avoiding peak times and maddeningly long lines.
I don’t like Gatlinburg even though I tried on the last trip. Everything is so bright and loud and tacky. Both of our dining experiences were ridiculously overpriced with amateur service. After looking online at menus Mellow Mushroom and Smokey Mountain Brewery seemed like the best vegetarian options (I believe I had tried Best Italian on my prior visit with disappointing results) along with best beer selection. The Mellow Mushroom delivered its standard greasy mess of a pizza, and I was able to order a relatively local beer (out of Knoxville). I don’t want a hot glass straight from the dishwasher, but the glass shouldn’t be so cold that ice forms in the beer either. Our service was the normal slow Mellow Mushroom service. Our wait at Smokey Mountain was about 40 minutes, and our service was better than at Mellow Mushroom. However two adults and one pre-schooler somehow managed to spend too close to $100 on food that tasted like it could have come directly off the Sysco truck. On the bright side my flight of beer wasn’t served with ice. We wrapped the night up with a trip to the Donut Friar because I loved the stupid pun, and I’d had some really delicious doughnuts at a few apple orchards. The guy behind the counter was not happy to see another customer walking through the door, and I should have saved my cash rather than bother him for a few stale doughnuts.