Cincinnati Family Magazine

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May 27, 2024

big bear mountain and beyond

Mom Report: Big Bear Mountain and Beyond

A new ride is roaring through Dollywood, and we checked it out!

Big Bear Mountain is officially open and roaring its way into families hearts! If you are looking for a fun adventure, your family will LOVE the latest coaster offering at Dollywood Theme Park. My family had the opportunity to check it out this summer and we had the absolute best time. 

A little bit about Big Bear Mountain:

  • Debuted in May 2023 
  • Longest coaster at Dollywood (almost 4,000 feet) 
  • Lasts over a minute, around 99 – 104 seconds
  • Max speed of 48 MPH


Beyond the roller coaster stats, I would love to share with you a been-there-done-that Mom’s opinion of the new Big Bear Mountain ride and of Dollywood, overall.


A little bit more about Big Bear Mountain:

Oftentimes with a brand new ride, the wait time can be… not so great. 
First, I would definitely recommend downloading the Dollywood App, which has an interactive map that includes estimated wait times. 
Second, and I know this might sound crazy… the wait time for Big Bear Mountain is part of the experience. While waiting in line, riders can read up facts about bears (including the Big Bear) and all about explorer Ned Oakley’s field research. There are audio recordings to listen to, different posters, artifacts and maps… there is just so much to look at! Another thing I will note about the line is that 1) it is almost entirely shaded and 2) there are big fans throughout. Dollywood does family rides right – every parent knows that a sweaty and hot child is not pleasant while waiting in a line, haha! 

Our wait time estimate was shorter than expected (35 minute estimate- only 25 min wait) and after doing our “research” on Big Bear while waiting in line, we were all super excited to hop aboard the coaster. My 11 year old is an adventure seeker who didn’t bat a lash at the rides boosted launch, drops and turns. Meanwhile, my 9 year old was definitely excited but also a bit apprehensive and nervous. The ride takes off quickly, blasting riders through twists and turns in the hills of Tennessee. During the ride you can hear bear growls, feel the spray of water geysers and take in the sights of the mountains! The wait time is worth it because the coaster is long. A thought that ran through my mind during the ride was “Wow! We are still going!”. When our ride was over, my husband and I plus both of our boys gave the ride an enthusiastic two-thumbs up. I think of this ride as the perfect “big kid” or tween ride- it is plenty exhilarating but not overly intimidating. 10/10 Big Bear Mountain Rating from the Ciani Family. 

A few other tips and thoughts from a BTDT Dollywood Momma: 

  • Get your kiddos measured at the Ride Measuring Center. It is located immediately to the left as you enter the park. Kids will receive a color-coded wristband to let them know which rides they are tall enough to experience. No more waiting in lines your kiddo is too short for. 
  • Rides. There are little rides for little ones. There are medium rides for big kids and tweens. There are behemoth rides for those seeking thrills. There is a train. Wooden coasters. Metal Coasters. Upside down…. backwards… corkscrews… etc.  Choose your adventure level and there is bound to be a ride for you!
  • Each attraction has bins/lockers for you to store your goodies in while you are on the ride. I found that a fanny pack was also a GREAT option on our Dollywood day. 
  • Water is free and there are tons of water-filling stations throughout the park. We opted to buy the gigantic free-refill Big Bear Mountain mug and thought it was a good purchase based on how many refills we got during the day.  
  • Food. There is so much good food. Sit down meals. Grab and go meals. Snacks. YUM! There are homemade, hearty, country meals aplenty and there are lots of GF and Vegetarian options. And believe it or not, I found a good bang-for-your-buck kids meal that was only $4.99 + tax at The Dog House. The meal included either a PB&J Sandwich or a kids’ hot dog with applesauce, animal crackers and a drink (juice box/fountain drink). It kept my kids from getting hangry and on a budget, too. 
  • Shows. When you look at your kids and know they need to just sit quietly for a bit (or else they are going to meltdown), there are tons of shows happening each day at Dollywood. Find some shade, sit them down and let them nod off while listening to bluegrass tunes. Or they can stay awake and actually enjoy the show, too! The shows are amazing! Seriously! So much talent! But if your kids are anything like my kids, after a few hours of theme parking, they just need to sit and zone out for a bit to recharge their batteries. 
  • Stores. Of course Dollywood has the standard theme park souvenirs like keychains and t-shirts. BUT Dollywood has the most amazing craft stores as well. From candles, glassware, foods, jewelry, ornaments, carved items and so much more… you can really up your souvenir game at Dollywood and bring home something to truly treasure for years to come. 
  • Buy something kinda bulky? Don’t lug it around all day! There is a package pick-up program for any neat purchase you make. Spend $25+ and your merch will be waiting for you at the Dollywood Emporium (near the exit!) for you at the end of the day. 
  • There are many bathrooms and quite a few changing and nursing stations located throughout the park. 
  • Dollywood has a Ride Accessibility Center, which serves guests with accessibility needs. Guests with such needs will be provided with a Boarding Pass which will include rides the individual will be able to enjoy. Note on this: my son Vinny was able to utilize this service. The RAC team was so accommodating and helpful! The Boarding Pass made it so he was able to enjoy the park and its ride in a less stressful way. Need a break? The Calming Center is an amazing option. Overall, another 10/10 from the Ciani family again! Thank you, Dollywood.  

Dollywood is a special place with exciting rides, good eats, super shopping, exquisite entertainment… all nestled in a beautiful country setting. If you have been thinking about visiting Dollywood, let this be your push. Do it! Book the trip, buy the tickets, have the best time and make memories to last a lifetime. You won’t regret it. 


Dollywood is located at

2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd. in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD or CLICK HEREor more information.





Find even more fun things to do with your family this summer by CLICKING HERE!

About the Author

Amanda Ciani

Amanda Ciani lives in Northern Kentucky with her husband and their three terrific sons. She enjoys writing haiku parenting poems for her Instagram account (@cinciciani), and Twitter account (@haikuciani).