Synchronous Fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains 2016: Lottery for Parking Passes Opens Today at Noon


Just wanted to remind everyone the lottery for passes to see the synchronous fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains opens today at noon!  Here is how it will work.

Lottery for Parking Passes

Beginning with the 2016 season, parking passes will be distributed via a lottery. This provides an equitable opportunity for interested visitors to obtain a pass for this limited, yet high-demand event. The lottery will be open from 12 p.m. ET on FRIDAY, APRIL 29 until 8 p.m. ET on MONDAY, MAY 2.

  • Entering the lottery is free of charge

  • Lottery winners will be charged $1.50 and awarded a parking pass

  • There are no refunds, transfers, rain checks or changes to the parking pass

  • Lottery results will be announced on May 10

  • Lottery winners must occupy the vehicle and must present photo identification, which matches the name of the lottery winner, before the vehicle is admitted to the parking area

  • Only one application per household

When applying to the lottery, please ensure that the contact information on your account is correct. Your email address will be used for lottery and parking pass communications. You can create an account or update your profile here.


Synchronous fireflies (Photinus carolinus) are one of at least 19 species of fireflies that live in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and one of only a few species in the world known to synchronize their flash patterns. This insects’ reproductive display occurs for a couple of weeks every year throughout its range (southern Appalachians), and is typically in late May or early June in the Elkmont area of the park.

Titanic Museum Attraction Pigeon Forge- A Story You Should Go Hear

On my recent trip to the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge I met owners John Joslyn and Mary Kellogg Joslyn and here is one thing you should know about them; they are superb storytellers. That is at the heart of the Titanic Museum Attraction, telling the story of the 2,208 passengers and crew of the Titanic in a way that honors their lives.  The crew, the exhibits and the artifacts all come together and tell a historically accurate but engaging and moving story.  You will learn how the ship was built, how the passengers lived aboard the ships and about the night it struck the iceberg. Each guest entering the ship receives a boarding pass of an actual Titanic passenger or crew. You will discover your passenger or crew’s fate in the Titanic Memorial Room where 2,208 names line this historic wall.


As you take the self guided tour with the audio players you will also hear stories told by crew members dressed in period costumes.  (There is an adult version and a youth version of the audio tour.  The adult version gives more facts and plays interviews with actual Titanic survivors.  The youth version tells more of a story and has listeners look around rooms for certain objects.)

Unsinkable Molly Brown

Unsinkable Molly Brown

You can view over 400 artifacts while walking through various parts of the ship.

First Class State Room

Then touch an iceberg and plunge your hand into icy 28 degree water was you walk through the chilly night air.

If you are touring with kids be sure to print out the scavenger hunt for you kiddos and bring it along. You will find interactive questions like this all around the ship.



There is also an area where kids (or adults) can try to climb the deck of the Titanic as she tips.  You can try to correctly load a lifeboat, attempt to steer the ship in time to miss the iceberg and learn Morse code.

It will take you about two hours to make it through the ship and it is well worth your time.  The entire experience is well done and it is one of those rare places that the whole family can enjoy. Grandparents to kids, there is something everyone will learn and remember.

If you are planning a trip June 5 through August 14, 2016 you will get to hear the touching story of Titanic musician Wallace Hartley and see his violin that recently sold for 1.7 million dollars.

**In the interest of full disclosure- I was invited on a blogger/social media weekend where we toured Dollywood and several other local attractions, The Titanic Museum Attraction being one of them. While I was given free admission and a tour this weekend, this is not an ad and all opinions are totally mine.

Biltmore Estate: Mom’s Are FREE This Mother’s Day!



Moms enjoy FREE admission and premium wine tasting at Biltmore Estate on Mother’s Day with purchase of a youth or adult ticket at the Reception and Ticketing Sales Center.  (If you decide to go and there are more than just two of you  purchase all additional tickets at least 7 days in advance and save $10 per admission! This is listed under the Special Offers.)

 I LOVE this idea for mom!  I can  already hear the boys groaning so even more I would love to take my mom and mother-in-law. 🙂


AND  to now through July 4, 2016 the Fashionable Romance: Wedding Gowns in Film event is going on!
From grand gowns to delicate dresses, explore centuries of wedding fashion with this new exhibition of movie costumes and family heirlooms. Showcased in Biltmore House,the exhibition features award-winning costumes from iconic movies including Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Out of Africa. The exhibition continues in Antler Hill Village focusing on Vanderbilt and Cecil wedding. 




Krispy Kreme Buy One Dozen Original Glazed Doughnuts Get One Free on SuperHero Day April 28,2016


Here is a heads up so you can mark your calendar and be a superhero to you family, co-workers or friends!

Customers who buy a dozen Krispy Kreme Original Glazed® doughnuts at regular menu price will get another dozen Original Glazed doughnuts absolutely free at participating U.S. shops on April 28.

It’s a sweet way to celebrate the Super Heroes in your life! Costumes are not required, just super encouraged.

Not valid with any other coupon or offer. Valid only at participating U.S. shops. Shops NOT participating in the offer are as follows: Albany GA; Macon, GA (both locations), Walter Robbins GA; Spartanburg, SC; Anderson SC; Pigeon Forge, TN; CT shops

Ripley’s Attractions: $5 Admission for Sevier, Blount, Cocke, Jefferson or Knox County Residents May 1-5, 2016


If you live or work in Sevier, Blount, Cocke, Jefferson, or Knox counties, you can visit all Ripley’s attractions for $5 per person (per location)!! This is happening May 1-5,2016. $1 from each admission will be donated to Sevier County Food Ministries.

This $5 promo includes:

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium

Ripley’s 5D Moving Theater

Ripley’s Haunted Adventure

Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze

Ripley’s Davy Crockett Mini-Golf

Ripley’s Old McDonald Mini-Golf

Guinness World Records Attractions

Each person in the party must live or work in a qualifying county to get discount. You will need a photo ID and a pay stub (if you don’t live in one of the counties).  I know utility bills have been used in the past but I have been told they will not work this time.  You can call 888-240-1358 with other questions.

Dollywood- How to Have Your Best Dollywood Day Ever


Over 2.5 million people visit Dollywood every year.  Why? Because it consistently wins awards for its friendliness, food, rides, entertainment, Christmas events and just being an over all great theme park. From the top down Dollywood has  a deep love for families and a commitment to being a place they can enjoy together.  I got some behind the scenes access last week and so I’ll be sharing lots of what I learned over the next few week.

Here is a round up of my best tips and tricks for enjoying your day at Dollywood.


Money Saving Tips

Here are my best money saving tips, because, well everyone wants to save money. These tips are great for locals of those of you who are traveling in for some Dollywood fun.


1. Avoid Parking Fees. Parking costs $12 per vehicle or $18 for oversized vehicles. How can you avoid the standard $12 fee? Park for free at Patriot Park (186 Old Mill Avenue Pigeon Forge, TN 37863) and catch a ride on the Pigeon Forge trolley. The trolley only costs 50¢ per person (3 and under are free), and will drop you off right Dollywood’s main gate. This is a much shorter walk then if you park at Dollywood, even with the tram!

The Dollywood Trolley leaves Patriot Park and travels to and from Dollywood continuously. The Trolley runs thirty minutes before Dollywood opens and in the evening until everyone is returned to Patriot Park.

Katie’s tip (almost)-I know what your thinking fellow mamas. Folding up your stroller and loading and unloading everyone makes $12 not sound so bad. BUT, if you have to park far away you’ll do the same thing for the tram anyway…. We have not tried this but stay tuned next time we go we are going to. Five kids and a stroller and all. I will let you know how easy/hard this is and if you should brave it with your kiddos.


2. Arrive after 3 p.m. If you are staying in Pigeon Forge for a few days arrive at Dollywood after 3 p.m. your first day. March through October, if you arrive at the park after 3 p.m., the next day is free. So, you can get a few hours of sight seeing and figuring out the park so you will hit the ground running on Day two!


3. Buy a season pass. If you are local or planning to visit Dollywood more than once the best value is a season pass.  If you want to check out the park first, gauge how your family does, no worries. On the day you visit you can upgrade your one-day ticket to a season pass and your ticket price will apply to your pass! You do have to do this on the day you visit.

Katie’s tip-If you are going to visit often consider a  Gold pass for the person in your family who will always be there. For us, that is me. The Gold Pass gets you 20% off all your in park purchases and FREE parking every time you visit.

4. Military Discount Dollywood offers retired and active military, disabled veterans and military reservists, as well as their spouses and dependents, a 30% discount on Dollywood admission.


5. Water is FREE! You can stop by any food or beverage stand in the park that has a Coke fountain and ask for a cup of ice water, and it’s completely free. There are also water fountains located throughout the park near any of the restrooms.

Katie’s tip– If you are going to visit a lot and have to have a soda buy one of the refillable cups.  We bought the refillable popcorn bucket this season. It is $5.99 to purchase, then popcorn refills are 99¢ all season long. If , like us,  you have a few kids in tow this is just a good idea.  Popcorn is easy to share and for 99¢ everyone will quit saying they are hungry. 🙂

6.Pack  Your Lunch! If you are planning to stay all day and need to save money on food, one great tip is to pack your lunch in a cooler and leave it in your car! You can go to your car for lunch then return to the park. Just have your hand stamped at the exit at the Dollywood Emporium and keep your ticket so it can be scanned when you return. (Thanks for the reader tip, Charley!)

Best Days to Visit

According to Dollywood in the spring, Thursdays are less crowded. In the summer, try for Wednesday or Thursday. In the fall, you might consider weekdays. During the Christmas season, weekdays are your best bet.


What Not To Wear- Dollywood Edition

For the love of everything wear something comfortable. This is not a time to be fancy ladies, leave that to Dolly.  Comfort Over Cuteness. Say it with me, Comfort Over Cuteness.  I swear I saw more than one person limping around in heels.  Wear comfy layers (it can be chilly in the am and evening) and good shoes.  If you are planning to get wet wear clothes that dry quickly.  Sunglasses and sunscreen are a must.

General Tips You Will Be Glad You Know


Download the Dollywood App!  Use it to find your way around the park, use Friend Finder to find your friends in the park. My favorite feature when you are at the park is the Wait Time feature. This will tell you the wait times for most of your favorite rides, making it easier to plan or decide what ride to head to next.

Katie’s tip-I tested the wait time feature last week at the park. Six different times on four different rides it was correct within a minute!

Babies and Their Mama’s Dollywood is all about family so they want to make babies and their mamas comfortable too. There is a Baby Care Center on Showstreet that offers a private feeding and diapering facility. You can also find restrooms with nursing stations  in Country Fair, Jukebox Junction, Market Square, The Village and Craftman’s Valley near the Woodcarving Shop.  If you are bottle feeding, any park restaurant (not concession stands) help you warm a bottle, just ask the host that greets you.

Get Your Child Measured ONCE.  When you arrive head to Dollywood’s Centralized Measuring station located across from The Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame on Showstreet. Your child will be measured by a Dollywood Host and given a color-coded wristband which helps you and your children quickly identify which rides he or she is tall enough to ride. The coded wristbands correspond to the color-coded information displayed on signs at each ride in the Park.  No more tearful walks back through the line because your little guy is just a little too little.

Bring a Ziploc Sandwich Bag or Two. I know, I know you aren’t going to ride the water rides. Just in case you get talked into it on a hot summer day have a plastic bag to put your phone in.

Don’t Skip The Crafts and Shows- The high quality shows, amazing local artisans and master craftsmen are part of what makes Dollywood so unique and so worth a trip.  I know, I know it is hard with littles but trust me a peak at glass blowing and pottery making is totally worth it.

Big Families Tip

If you are like us and have Bigs and Littles keeping everyone together and happy can be challenging. Enter play areas like Firehouse Fun Yard, Lil’ Loggers’ Landing, Granny’s Garden and more.  These are situated near the bigger rides and perfect for you Littles to enjoy while the Bigs are riding!

What else would you add?!?!  Share yours and help other readers who are planning a trip!

I already showed you a little about Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa. Get ready for more details on that and Dollywood Cabins and Food at Dollywood (I got several reader questions about food and allergies, so I’ll post a lot about that soon.)

In the interest of full disclosure I was invited on a blogger/social media weekend where we toured Dollywood and several other local attractions. While I was given this weekend, this is not an ad and all opinions are totally mine.

Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort: Day 1, The Spa!!!

So, I’m here. Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort.   It has already been a blast!  I am just going to hit the highlights of what I did today.  It is going to be a whirlwind weekend but I am getting tons of info and tips and deal ideas so I will share them all with you as fast as I can!

First we had dinner in the barn by the pool.  Yum.


Then it was on to a tour of The Spa at Dollywood’s Dreammore Resort. It is everything you would expect Dolly’s spa to be. 🙂

The Spa at Dollywood's Dreammore Resort

It is Dolly sparkly yet warm and inviting. They have managed to create a five star spa experience steeped with Southern Hospitality. It is a place for mom or couples to relax but also a place that is about family and memories. So, THE HUSBAND and I could get a couples massage

or in a few year Baby Girl and I could get a pedi with a gorgeous view.
dollywood-pediHere’s a few tip for locals. You do not have to be staying at the resort to get spa services.  There is complimentary valet parking for spa guests.  Drive right up to the front door and the relaxation begins.  They can plan for groups or just one or two. Obviously the summer months are the busiest so book a few weeks ahead.

And did I mention the Swag Bags we got?!?!  Filled with Farmhouse Fresh (Like Oprah’s Favorite things Farmhouse Fresh) and skinauthority (like Golden Globes skinauthority) products!  These are the two product lines they use in the spa and Farmhouse Fresh is what is in your bathroom at the resort!


Tomorrow is Dollywood so I’ll be asking all your questions and sharing some great tips, ideas, deals and more!