Exploring the resort's three atriums will be the first thing your kids -- and you -- will probably want to do. And there's plenty to explore. In Cascades, be sure to take the elevator or climb the steps to the skywalk, an elevated walkway that will take you through the atrium and even through a passageway behind the atrium's multi-story twin waterfalls. In the Garden Conservatory, the winding paths and their quaint footbridges lead you to a grand gazebo and behind another waterfall that's considerably smaller than its Cascades cousin, but fun nonetheless. In the Delta, look for the resident ducks along the quarter-mile-long river and climb aboard a flatboat for a short guided cruise on the world's longest indoor river. The fountain in the Delta erupts in a colorful choreographed water show set to music four times each night, on the hour starting at 6 p.m. It is well worth taking the time to sit and watch. The climax is an 85-foot geyser that reaches for the dome in the roof. During busy times, you may want to get there a little early so you can find a seat.
Opryland offers three pools -- an outdoor pool in the Magnolia area and an outdoor pool as well as an indoor pool that are part of the Relache spa and fitness center in the Cascades area. While there is no specific kids' pool, the Magnolia pool area also features a wading pool for younger guests. Each of the two outdoor pools include a bar and grille where you can get a drink or informal meal. The indoor pool includes a designated lap lane, an open area for older kids and a large, heated whirlpool.
Family Theme Parties
Opryland offers several family theme parties throughout the year, including celebrations for Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Mother's Day, and Father's Day, as well as Memorial Day and Labor Day family pool parties. These events include music, crafts, and games for kids age 12 and under and are available only to families who buy packages specifically designed to include the theme parties.
From Memorial Day through Labor Day, Opryland offers a family-oriented SummerFest, with a different theme each year. One year, for example, the theme was entertainment, and the resort offered nightly, free line dancing lessons, Rock Band's country version, free country music Xbox competitions, live country shows on the resort's General Jackson Showboat, and the chance to rent a Gibson or Epiphone guitar for the day. VeggieTales events were added last year to SummerFest for the youngest of guests. SummerFest also includes a Kids Eat Free program at most resort restaurants, allowing kids 11 and under staying with an adult at the hotel to eat free.
A Country Christmas
Probably the most popular time to visit Opryland is during the Country Christmas celebration from mid-November to New Year's. For starters, two million tiny white lights turn the atriums into a magical landscape, and 1.5 million pounds' worth of wonderfully whimsical themed ice sculptures are on display. The event also features outdoor carriage rides, the Living Nativity with sound and lighting effects, and shows by the Radio City Rockettes, who perform at the Grand Ole Opry House next door to the resort.
General Jackson Showboat
In the grand tradition of riverboats, this 300-foot paddlewheeler plies the Cumberland River and offers music-themed cruises with a meal and a show. The General Jackson operates year-round, but the main season (when cruises are daily) is March through December. Both the buffet meal and the show offered as part of the lunch cruise is fairly informal, while the dinner cruises offer a sit-down meal with table service and a more elaborate show in a fancy two-story Victorian theater. The General Jackson doesn't offer a specific kids' menu, but the entrees are generally kid-friendly and food is served family style.