PIGEON FORGE / GATLINBURG
Tennessee / Smoky Mountains
A dedicated news page for all the Minor Attractions and
Resort Properties in the greater Pigeon Forge / Gatlinburg /
Smoky Mountains area.
Note - For Dollywood news, see our dedicated park page here.
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(4/11/21) Ripley's Adds Yet Another Attraction To Their Collection (MORE...)
(4/9/21) Anakeesta Construction Update (MORE...)
(4/8/21) Flying Theater Construction and Ober Gatlinburg Closure
(4/5/21) Toy Box Mini Golf Update (MORE...)
(4/3/21) Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster Investigator Lists Vague Possible Accident Cause (MORE...)
(3/31/21) Rider Thrown From Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster (MORE...)
Read Screamscape’s Detailed Attraction, Show and Resort Reviews Here!
General Area News - (4/11/21) It appears that Ripley’s has bought up an existing attraction in the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg attraction’s area to add to their extensive lineup. While the majority of Ripley’s branded attractions in the area are located in Gatlinburg, with the only previous exception being Ripley’s Old MacDonald’s Farm Mini-Golf located at the entrance to the Tanger Outlets on the Sevierville side of Pigeon Forge, this new acquisition is actually one of the first attractions you see in Pigeon Forge when driving over from Gatlinburg.
Formerly known as The Track, an FEC style attraction featuring an arcade, bumper boats, some small rides and several go-kart tracks. Ripley’s has now added it to their website of area attractions where they have renamed it as “Ripley’s Super Fun Park”. The interesting thing about the new website for the attraction is that it mainly only mentions the bumper boats, games and go-karts, and barely mention the small collection of kiddie rides, which makes me wonder if that aspect of the attraction may be under review for possible upgrades over the next year or two.
(4/8/21) A quick word of warning for anyone going to Gatlinburg and wanting to ride the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tram, it is currently closed now through approximately May 28th. The rest of the facility will be open during most of this time, except for April 26 through May 6, when the entire facility will be closed for annual maintenance. The Aerial Tram however is closed right now though late May to perform some special and extensive maintenance to the attraction, which includes the replacement of the tram’s cable as well as an upgrade to the tram’s drive motor.
Fun note… the cables are said to have a 50-year lifespan, and the replacement of the 9-mile long cable will actually see the original cable from 1973 removed from service.
(4/5/21) A reader sent in a picture of a building for the new Toy Box Mini Golf attraction going up in Pigeon Forge, sort of to the left of the backside of Dolly’s Stampede, on your way to Dollywood just before your cross the bridge by the River Chase Lodge.
(4/3/21) According to a local news report, the third-party investigator for the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster incident has stated that they believe the ride was thrown due to a “seat belt issue that could not be replicated”. This seems kind of vague however, as the rider should have been strapped in with a seatbelt regardless and really couldn’t have been thrown from the moving cart with the seat-belt in place. So I guess the true question may be if the rider was strapped in with a seat-belt at all before leaving the loading station at the bottom.
For anyone wondering, the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster is from Wiegand, the same ride manufacturer who made the nearby Rowdy Bear Coaster, as well as the the three rides in Pigeon Forge at Goats on the Roof (aka: Goatcoaster), the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster and the Rocky Top Mountain Coaster. Wiegand’s Alpine Coaster attractions are renowned world-wide for their quality and safety, but despite this the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster attraction has had three reported incidents since it opened in 2014. I can’t say if there is any difference between it and the other locations, as this is the only Wiegand ride in the area that I have not ridden personally, but the other locations mentioned above all seemed to use the same basic ride system hardware.
(3/31/21) According to the local news a rider “flew out” of a cart on the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster. The Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster is the one that is located to the left of the Hillbilly Golf attraction, and not the one located to the right of Hillbilly Golf, which is the Rowdy Bear Mountain Coaster.
According to the report the rider flew out “while entering the curve just past the Kodakl camera, striking the track and traveling approximately 10 ft”. They were taken in for medical treatment for possible injuries to their wrist, ankle and head. The attraction was closed immediately for an inspection, but allowed to reopen while the state conducts their own investigation.
(3/24/21) Construction has started on another new attraction in Pigeon Forge this week, Toy Box Mini Golf. According to their posts the new attraction hopes to be open in Summer 2021 and will feature an 18-hole Toy themed Mini Golf course, a Toy Store, Laser Maze, Giant Toy Photo ops, Snacks and more. From the look of things, I believe Toy Box Mini Golf is coming to you from the same group that brought us the Crave Golf Club
(3/21/21) I’m not sure what was shown yet, but Gatlinburg’s SkyPark apparently presented their new expansion plans to the local Commission on Thursday. Based on the agenda the owners of the SkyLift and SkyBridge are not only presenting what they want to do with their new property at the base of the mountain that was formerly home to the Christ in the Smokies but they are also asking for a rezoning of a piece of residential property they own (650 Campbell Lead Road) on the top of the mountain not far close to the far side of the SkyBridge for future business use.
(2/20/21) I kind of wondered if this might be the case, and now the local news has confirmed that the lease for the property of the closed Christ in the Smokies Museum has indeed been purchased by the the owners of the Gatlinburg SkyLift / SkyBridge attraction that crosses over it, and sits right above it on the mountainside. No word on if they have also purchased the land next door that was formerly home to the Riverhouse Motor Lodge before it burned down.
Even without it, it sounds like the SkyLift people must have some wonderful new expansion plans in the works for the attraction that could bring forth some very interesting new additions in the future.
(2/3/21) Pirates Voyage has announced that they have begun final preparations to launch the show’s “third swashbuckling season” in Pigeon Forge starting February 12, 2021. The show features two dueling crews of pirates who hope to win Davy Jones sunken treasure, as well as mermaids, acrobats, birds and a “Salty” sea lion. Find out all the details about showtimes and make your reservation at the official website.
(1/19/21) While in Pigeon Forge over the weekend, the family and I dropped in for a little Mini Golf at Crave on the strip. A fun candy-land themed mini-golf world that has one indoor course and one outdoor course up on the roof. As it was very cold outside, the indoor course was a perfect choice of nighttime entertainment. I was trying out the camera on a new phone and took a photosphere of the indoor course to share, which you can see below and rotate to look all around. Crave opened in 2017 and also features a candy store, two 30-minute escape rooms (zombie and submarine themed) and a mini-bowling alley.
(1/14/21) It has been reported that the World of Illusions attraction in Gatlinburg has now closed up for good. Elsewhere he also reports that Gatlinburg’s “Christ in the Smokies” (a biblical wax museum attraction) has also closed which is a short walk down the river from Mysterious Mansion.
While it isn’t known what the future of the site will be, given that the next site over is the empty former home to the Riverhouse Motor Lodge which burned down during the wifdfires that struck Gatlinburg a few years back, the two long narrow sites along the river could be merged into one super plot for a future resort or some kind of other new retail/attraction space. The two sites also sit directly below the Gatlinburg Skylift Park / SkyBridge attraction, so it would also be an interesting expansion for that attraction as well.
(11/12/20) The local news has some new details about the planned “experiential destination” coming to a 200 acre property next to the freeway exit most take off I-40 to get down to Pigeon Forge. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians held an official groundbreaking ceremony this week for the project where they announced the theme of the first phase (of three planned phases) will have an “American road trip” theme.
Phase 1 is being called the “Roadside District” for now and will be about 60 acres in size and include a ‘travel center” along with lodging, dining and shopping opportunities, all with iconic Route 66 style icons and theming. A lot of ground work will need to take place to make the site ready for vertical construction which probably won't happen until sometime in 2022.
(9/2/20) According to the local news the “Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians” have announced plans to create a 200-acre mixed use development in Sevierville. The development will take place on land purchased for $13.5 million located just off I-40 at the Sevierville exit to the South-East of the intersection, right along the freeway.
While the exact plan is not yet set, the goal is to create an “experiential destination” that will feature “dining options, unique shopping experiences and entertainment attractions”.
2020 - Anakeesta Expansion - (4/9/21) According to a picture sent in by a reader, it looks like the new construction that was stopped taking place atop Anakeesta back in December is nearing completion with the addition of a new scenic pathway.
(12/23/20) A reader visiting Anakeesta noticed new bridge pathways being added to the park, appearing as a possible expansion to the new Treeventure Challenge Course. They even captured a couple of pictures of the new expansion going up.
(12/1/20) According to a local report Anakeesta will host their Enchanted Winter of Lights celebration event (lights, music, holiday food, decorations and hot chocolate) up on the mountain through to the end of February 2021. Follow the link for the official details and information on how you can visit.
2021 - Rowdy Bear CoasterKart - (3/15/21) A new complete POV video of the new Rowdy Bear CoasterKart attraction has been posted by Coaster Crew, which you can see below. I hate to say this... but unfortunately it does little to make the attraction actually look very fun. Unlike on an Alpine Coaster where the narrow track and high speed run through the wilderness gives the visual impression of possible danger, the coaster cart just looks to be taking a nice swift drive up and back down the well groomed grassy hillside of Rowdy Bear Ridge. If you’ve been to Disney World and have ridden Test Track, then you can imagine what a 2 passenger mini-version of that might be like if they removed the 65+ mph high speed finale.
They’re going to have to find a way to make this concept a little more exciting I think.
(3/14/21) While I did not see the new Power Coaster running at Rowdy Bear Ridge in Pigeon Forge when I drove past on Friday afternoon, a post on Instagram says that they finally were going to open the new attraction on Saturday. If anyone had the chance to ride, I’d love to hear all about it.
(1/19/21) Over the past few visits to town I’ve noticed that the CoasterKart attraction does not seem to have ever opened as intended in late 2020. Anyone know more about what the hold up has been? I can only assume that perhaps some complications arose during testing delaying the opening.
(9/7/20) While on the road yesterday in Pigeon Forge I stopped by the Rowdy Bear Ridge in Pigeon Forge to see how things were going with the installation of the world’s first CoasterKart ride system from Wiegand. If you look at the video and photos posted below from our Instagram (and please give us a follow there as well, we posted a ton of great content from over the weekend) you can see they have already fully installed the track for the CoasterKart and have one test Kart sitting on the track in the station.
I spoke with Rowdy Bear about the new attraction a little while I was there and was told that they have already been testing the kart at about half speed, meanwhile the install crew is making the final adjustments to the new track and electrical systems. If all goes as planned, Rowdy Bear says that they hope to have it open to the public in about 4-6 weeks from now, so keep your eyes peeled out for it sometime in October.
As Wiegand mentioned in their press release, this is an entirely powered ride system, with electrical bars installed into the track to power the motor on the Karts when the riders press on the foot pedal. They were not sure what the final number of Karts on the system would be at the end, but the station area was designed to hold around 12 of them at once.
If you scroll through the Instagram content below you can see the other attractions at Rowdy Bear Ridge in Pigeon Forge which is located next door to the “Local GOAT” restaurant and across the parkway from the Titanic Museum. The also feature a year-round dry tubing hill slide , outdoor Axe Throwing and the Laser Gun Coaster, a unique suspended coaster system where guests are given laser tag guns to shoot at targets placed throughout the ride that sits on the same hillside where the new CoasterKart has been installed.
(9/4/20) Wiegand, who is perhaps mostly well known in the attraction’s industry for their amazing Alpine Coaster attractions have come up with an all new creation: the CoasterKart. Based on the concept of the Alpine Coaster, the CoasterKart will feature a two-passenger vehicle, but with side-by-side seating, not unlike a car. The track will be wider and the speed of the Kart will be controlled by a foot pedal and gain speed boats via magnetic LIM motors. Even better, the idea for the CoasterKart is to combine two side-by-side tracks to allow guests to race against the car next to them.
You can see footage from the prototype track Wiegand built below, but the first official CoasterKart attraction is now set to open later this year in Pigeon Forge at the Rowdy Bear Ridge Adventure Park.
2021 - Flying Theater at The Island at Pigeon Forge - (4/8/21) A reader sent in a couple of pictures of the Flying Theater construction still taking place at The Island in Pigeon Forge. As you can see, still a lot of work left to go on the outside of the structure, and we have no idea how far along they are on the inside at this time. If I had to guess, I’d say it doesn’t look like it will be ready to open until sometime this Summer.
(1/19/21) Over the weekend Screamscape dropped in on The Island at Pigeon Forge and snapped up a few shots of the new Flying Theater attraction now under construction there from Dynamic Attractions. The walls say it should open Spring 2021 and Dynamic says it is right on schedule, so we may be looking at something ready to open around late May to mid June I suppose if all goes well.
(12/20/20) One of our readers snapped a quick picture of the new Flying Theater under construction in Pigeon Forge next to the Paula Deen restaurant at The Island in Pigeon Forge. The building, while still under construction, appears to have the entire structure now in place and walls in place. Signs out front say that the attraction should be ready to open in Spring 2021.
(10/23/20) Coaster101 posted a new picture from Pigeon Forge this week where the building structure for the new Flying Theater attraction at The Island in Pigeon Forge has now gone vertical. From the look of the location in the photo, it appears that the Flying Theater will be taking over the small parking lot that used to sit between the Timberwood Grill and Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen.
(7/4/19) BlooLoop has a few more details on the new Flying Theater attraction coming to Pigeon Forge. According to the new report this project will include a long term operating agreement and partnership with Dynamic Attractions for the attraction. This co-venture will be called Smoky Mountain Flyers, LLC and was created with equal $4 million investments from Island Flyers LLC and High Express Holdings (US) Inc. for the development and operation of the attraction. It was also mentioned that another subsidiary of Empire Industries (who owns Dynamic) named Dynamic Entertainment Group Ltd. has a 30-month option agreement to purchase all of the ownership shares of High Express Holdings. It is an interesting development that puts Dynamic into a new position as a co-owner of an attraction and not just the hardware provider. Empire says they will be looking to add more partnership opportunities like this with other world-class tourist sites across the world going forward.
As of right now the time-table for the new 39-seat Flying Theater attraction has been reset, and is now looking to open in March 2021 at The Island in Pigeon Forge location.
(2/23/19) A deal to build a new $20 million Flying Theater attraction from Dynamic Attraction was announced for The Island in Pigeon Forge, set to open in 2020. The attraction will feature a custom film to depict the natural beauty and landscape of Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains region, enhanced through in-theater special effects like wind, mist and even scents. The exact location at The Island was not given, only that it would be near the site’s current Smoky Mountain Wheel and fountain show attractions. If I had to guess, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it take over that tiny parking lot location between the Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen restaurant and the rest of The Island that has always seemed a bit out of place.
???? - Pigeon Forge Chairlift - In Development - (2/28/20) Some new concept art of that odd Pigeon Forge Chairlift proposed attraction next to Pigeon Forge Snow have appeared on their Facebook page along with an animation that shows just what I previously expected… a rather low altitude changing chairlift that goes up to a platform on the hill (with a plexiglass outer floor to walk on), where they plan to now build a 85 foot tall cylinder style observation platform with a spiral walkway from the ground up to the top level. Best to watch the video below to see what I mean, but unfortunately, I’m just not sold on the concept at all, or at least not in this location.
(1/9/20) According to this Facebook page, a new attraction called the “Pigeon Forge Chairlift” is in development. While Alpine Coasters have been all the craze in the past few years, one of the oldest attractions in Gatlinburg has been their giant chairlift ride, which has now been joined by the more modern Anakeesta attraction that lies at the top of another giant chairlift. In both cases, those Chairlift attractions are quite large and take riders up a considerable height.
Now I hate to say this, as the Pigeon Forge Chairlift, the first for the city, doesn’t really have any solid information on their page just yet, but based on the piece of concept art posted, and a photo also posted that seems to show the proposed view from the top of the chairlift… the Pigeon Forge Chairlift sort of looks… well… a little pointless.
You can see both images embedded below, and based on the concept art the Chairlift will go into the narrow space between Pigeon Forge Snow and the Mountain Mile complex. There are no details about what they are planning to put at the top, if anything, but unless it is something special, it doesn’t look like the distance traveled (or height) is much to write home about. For a real world look at the actual location, assuming the concept art and image on Facebook are accurate, click here to see a street view on Google Map with Pigeon Forge Snow on the left and we can only assume the chairlift would go into the grass on the right and head up to the top of that small, not-too-distant, hill in the background.
As I said… I just hope they are planning something spectacular to install up there to give people a reason to take the Chairlift up, otherwise I’m just not sure what the point is. In fact, I’d like to argue the fact that adding a chairlift here and going in the opposite direction would make more sense, as they could take riders from the Mountain Mile down to The Island in Pigeon Forge, connecting the two sites, or just running a transportation chairlift to move riders from The Island out to a mid-way point in the massive parking lot between The Island and the LeConte Center would also be of help to move guests around more efficiently. Currently the Pigeon Forge Chairlift hopes to be ready by the end of 2020.
New 2020 Attractions Now Open in Pigeon Forge Area -
Anakeesta Expansion - Vista Garden Observation Tower, New Sokehouse & Brewery, TreeVenture
Soaky Mountain Waterpark -
New 2019 Attractions Now Open in Pigeon Forge Area -
Rowdy Bear Ridge: Pigeon Forge - Mountain Tubing and Alpine Flyer Coaster
Beyond the Lens (formerly National Enquirer Live) - Tabloid Museum
Mountain Monster at The Mountain Mile - Three attractions all attached to the 200 foot tower: the Saddle Sling, Daring Drop and the infamous Dive Ride
Pirate’s Voyage - New Dinner Theater replacing Dolly’s Smoky Mountain Adventures Dinner & Show
Rocky Top Mountain Coaster - (5/4/19) Take a ride-along with me down the new Rocky Top Mountain Coaster in the latest POV video just shot this week. While the four separate lift-hills do break up the high-speed thrills of the experience, it also creates an interesting multi-tiered feel to the run, as you move deeper and deeper into the hidden terrain that you can’t see from the front of the attraction when you arrive. The twisted, interwoven aspect also makes this an interesting visual experience for large groups, as you can see other members of your party riding along in their own sleds at different parts of the journey, which is something you normally can't do on a typical one-lift alpine coaster attraction.
New 2018 Attractions Now Open in Pigeon Forge Area -
Anakeetsa / Rail Runner Mountain Coaster - Aerial tram to mountainside attractions area, including single-rail alpine coaster attraction, ziplines and more.
Rowdy Bear Mountain adds Mountain Glider - Zip Coaster style attraction
New 2017 Attractions Now Open in Pigeon Forge Area -
Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures Dinner & Show - Renamed and revamped version of last year’s Dolly Parton’s Lumberjack Adventure show.
Rowdy Bear Mountain - New alpine coaster in Gatlinburg opened late summer
Pigeon Forge Snow - Indoor Snow Tubing and Play Area opened in late 2018
New 2016 Attractions Now Open in Pigeon Forge Area -
Dolly Parton’s Lumberjack Adventure - Dolly bought the old Lumberjack Feud dinner theater attraction and has remade it into an all new dinner show, located down next to The Island, featuring good entertainment, good food and great fun. Read our official review here.
Top Jump - A new attraction in Pigeon Forge has opened a few weeks ago called Top Jump, featuring the largest "Clip 'n Climb" installation in the USA. They also feature a Trampoline Park (complete with Dodgeball game) a candy store and an arcade. Look for it on the main drag just before Dollywood Lane when driving in from Gatlinburg.
New 2015 Attractions Now Open in Pigeon Forge Area -
Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen / The Island at Pigeon Forge - The infamous Paula Deen has opened a Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen location in Pigeon Forge. Her new joint will be right in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, across from the new fountain display at The Island in Pigeon Forge. The food is good and the portion sizes are very large, but as you would expect the prices are a bit high as well. They do serve an interesting breakfast menu as well.
Ober Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster - Opened in August, the cost to ride will be $15 for one ride (age 3 and up) and $36 if you want to pre-purchase 3 rides (for the same rider only). However there is one more factor to consider if you want to ride this newest thriller. Walking into Ober Gatlinburg is a little difficult, as you first have to get yourself to the top of the mountain, with the primary way for most people being a $12 round-trip ride on the Aerial Tramway up from Gatlinburg proper. Note: If you can find your way, you can get directions to drive to the top of mountain and park directly at Ober Gatlinburg in the warmer months of the year, though you will have to pay $5 for parking. They claim a track length of aprox. 3750 feet (1000 feet up, 2750 feet down.
New 2014 Attractions Now Open in Pigeon Forge Area -
The Coaster at Goats On The Roof (aka: The Goat Coaster) - The Goat Coaster clocks in at 4,375 feet in length, so it's a little shorter than the nearby Smoky Mt Alpine Coaster down the road which is 5,400 feet, but it is also quite a bit longer than the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster which is just 3,280 feet. That said... I found the downhill portion of the new Goat Coaster to not only be much faster, but also a much more aggressive layout. The course weaves back and forth across the hillside, but frequently approaches the cliff-style edge of the mountain at high speed, which is a sure-fire clinch-up moment where you want to pull back on the throttle and ride the brake for a second or two... just in case.
Don't miss it! It's a blast!
Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster - The third new Alpine Coaster attraction to open in the area, but the first in Gatlinburg, located between the Davy Crocket Mini Golf and Hillbilly Mini Golf attractions.
New 2013 Attractions Now Open in Pigeon Forge Area -
Great Smoky Mountain Wheel / The Island at Pigeon Forge - It took a few years but the new retail / attraction development now known at The Island at Pigeon Forge has finally opened and looks fantastic. There are a few gift shops, the Timberwood Grill restaurant, a huge arcade and the highlight of course that you can see for miles is The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, a 200 foot tall observation wheel giving you a unique view of the Pigeon Forge / Smoky Mountain landscape. The wheel features 42 climate controlled gondolas which will make three full revolutions during your ride experience which will take between 8-10 minutes. The huge attraction is covered with a 24,000 square-foot network of LEDS that will put on a spectacular lightshow seen all around Pigeon Forge after dark.
Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster - Opened in early August, built into the mountain terrain, it is about half a mile or so off the main drag down Wears Valley Road. This is probably the most exciting attraction built in the Pigeon Forge area outside of Dollywood in years so don’t miss it.
New 2012 Attractions Now Open in Pigeon Forge Area -
Castle of Chaos & Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors - Now open next to the Hollywood Wax Museum, featuring a large mirror maze attraction and the Castle of Chaos 5D Interactive shot ‘em up haunt style attraction. Admission ticket specials are available in combinations with the Hollywood Wax Museum.
Hollywood Wax Museum - (3/1/11) According to this article the company behind the former Hollywood Wax Museum in Gatlinburg will open a new wax museum attraction in Pigeon Forge at the site of the former Dinosaur Walk Museum. The new 30,000 sqft attraction will be the largest of its kind when it opens in 2012.
Lumberjack Feud - (3/29/11) An interesting new dinner show will be opening on Pigeon Forge this June called the Lumberjack Feud, which will feature a 1000-seat arena. The show “will follow the fictional story of two families that worked together in felling the trees of the Smokies until tragedy strikes and a wedge is driven between them. The climax of the show will be a contest between the two sides to determine who gets to stay on in the mountains and who must leave.” The show also has their own Facebook page. (Now Closed)
The Smokey Mountain Opry Theater - The Smokey Mountain Opry Theater opens in March, replacing the former Miracle Theater. This new production comes from the same group behind the Hatfield & McCoy, Comedy Barn and Country Jamboree Breakfast shows.
Titanic Museum Update - The Titanic Museum will upgrade a few things this year to mark the passing of the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic on April 15th, 2012. A new exhibit about the making of James Cameron’s Titanic film will be added.
The Tomb - A new themed interactive Egyptian tomb attraction at Walden’s Landing (home of Firehouse Golf). Getting in to the tomb is easy… getting out? Not so much… Looks to be a nice unique addition to the area that would be fun to experience with a group of friends.
Wonders of Flight - (NOW CLOSED) Wonders of Flight, a large tethered hot air balloon ride will be added to WonderWorks. The balloon will be from Aerophile, the same company Disney has used in Paris and Walt Disney World, and will be able to lift 30 passengers 400 feet into the air for a view of the Smokey Mountains. (Now Closed)
Screamscape Reviews - A collection of our most recent area attraction and resort reviews
Dixie Stampede (2016)
Margaritaville Island Hotel (2015)
The Comedy Barn (2015)
Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show (2015)
The Tomb (2014)
Wilderness at the Smokies (2014)
Dixie Stampede - Review by Lance Hart
(9/25/16) While visiting Dollywood over the summer I had the chance to stop in a enjoy the latest version of Pigeon Forge's premier dinner show, Dixie Stampede. Over the years I've seen the show a couple of times... once or twice before in Pigeon Forge and I even got to see the Orlando version while it was open. The nice thing about the Dixie Stampede show is that it keeps evolving over the years, not only adding new acts to the show, but also great new technical additions to improve the overall show experience.
Case in point, the theater has added a great looking video-wall that acts as a huge virtual set / backdrop at the far end of the theater. This allows them to create some new and unique atmosphere options that were simply not possible before, which adds greatly to the show experience, without being so over the top that it takes your attention away from the performers.
In addition to incredible choreographed musical numbers, including both horse and riders, the show also features several fun musical acts, enjoyable competition elements to get the crowd cheering for their side, as well as some hairy looking stunt performances as well, including a rider who jumps through a ring of fire. On top of it all, there is the comedy elements that are just genuinely funny. In fact, it may be the comedy moments that stick with you the most, as these acts are usually headlined by the antics of "Skeeter", the lovable redneck who has just great timing with his punch lines.
As always the food is plentiful and oh so tasty, which just adds to the great value of the show itself. Plus it was great to watch my kids be enthralled by the show, the performers, animals, the music and more. Such a perfect way to end a long day in Pigeon Forge too.
The Comedy Barn - review by Lance Hart
(2/28/15) For the third part on my Pigeon Forge series I’m going to talk about an attraction that is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year… The Comedy Barn. If you’ve been to Pigeon Forge before you know you've seen it... either on the billboards or passing by the large red building in the middle of the parkway. While it sticks out, it also had an unfortunate effect to blend in with the other assorted mess of crazy shops, tourist traps and attractions. Truth be told, before my latest trip to Pigeon Forge, I had always wondered about The Comedy Barn, but I never had any serious intention to stop in and find out. I’m happy to report what a colossal mistake I had been making all these years, and one many of you are also probably guilty of.
The site itself has some history, as The Comedy Barn began with the purchase of the closed Archie Campbell’s Hee Haw Theater, which was already themed to look like a barn, so when the founders: David Fee and Jim Hedrick, bought it, they decided to run with it and renamed it The Comedy Barn Theater when it opened in 1995. A year later they had experienced almost nightly sellout shows and decided to build their own new theater in the middle of the parkway, and kept The Comedy Barn name and theme.
As the name implies, The Comedy Barn is an comedy show held in the evenings that will feature a little pre-show entertainment, some musical acts, an intermission and several different comedy acts that were all original and hysterical. There are also an assortment of comedians on staff at The Comedy Barn so who you see perform there one night may be entirely different from who you see on your next trip, which is great as it keeps things fresh for repeat visitors.
Another awesome feature of the Comedy Barn, no matter who is performing, is that the comedy is kept CLEAN. This is a family friendly show that you can feel entirely comfortable in bringing both young children and grandparents alike to come see.
Open year round, The Comedy Barn puts on one or two shows nightly and is offered at a great discount rate right how as part of a combo ticket offer for the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show, which was featured in last week’s review. One item of note... this is NOT a dinner theater. You can however buy food and snacks in the lobby before the show or during intermission. You can pull up the schedule and buy your tickets online in advance at the official website.
Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show - review by Lance Hart
(2/20/15) This second article in my series on visiting Pigeon Forge, TN will be all about another one of the area's famous dinner theaters, the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show. The Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show, located next to the Titanic Museum, is also one of the newer production in town, opening back in mid-2011. Unlike some of Pigeon Forge’s other dinner theaters the Hatfield and McCoy building is a highly themed masterpiece, with bright red and blue cartoon style colors that would look right at home within any theme park environment. The building is designed not only to stand-out, but also gives a great visual representation of the family feud story it is based on, with fun props outside as well as farm animals (Goats, pigs, chickens and big fat rabbits) on display. In addition to some fun photo spots outside with the animals, outhouses and funny signs, there is also a neat doorbell gag installed at each of the three entrances into the building, daring you to ring the bell.
Once inside, you can wander around a large gift shop area which actually has some great redneck / hillbilly themed gifts inside (beer or bacon scented soap anyone?), fun t-shirts and a very impressive fish aquarium that is themed to look like it was made from a gigantic old moonshine still. It is worth mentioning that the creation of this moonshine still themed aquarium was actually documented for a recent episode (Dec. 12, 2014) of the reality show, Tanked, which can be viewed here.
Arrive early, because you'll need to get your tickets from one of the windows and line up to go inside the theater, and it gets crowded rather quickly. Keep an eye out, because some of the characters from the show are actually wandering around in here as well, and fortunately Ma McCoy saw the confused look on my face and rushed over to welcome Kerry and I to the family reunion. After the brief welcome she took us to the right ticket window and made sure we would be sitting with the rest of her kin on the McCoy side of the theater. Apparently we were distant cousins and invited to take a quick photo for the McCoy family album (we were even given a moonshine jug and uncle Jeb’s rifle to hold) before being taken to our dinner table.
“Cousins!!” We were quickly welcomed at the table by Cousin Pee-Wee who asked what we wanted to drink and said he would be right back with some fresh Possum Soup. This was a great touch, as even the food service staff was in on the act, which only helped to make the experience even more immersive and fun. Before we knew it Cousin Pee-Wee was back with two bowls of the Southern Style Creamy Soup (minus the possum thank god!) and a basket of warm biscuits. Just as we finished the soup, he was back again with several small pots filled with awesome southern comfort food items like Corn on the Cob, Fried Chicken, BBQ Pulled Pork, Mashed Potatoes and Coleslaw. Seriously... this was a ton of food, all of it very good, and just when we were stuffed and couldn't take another bite of pulled pork, Pee-Wee was back with dessert, a chocolate Worms & Dirt style pudding, minus the worms. The food was great, the serving size was more than enough, and service was excellent! Your Tea and Soda are included with the meal but if you want something more you can flag down another one of your new cousins who are walking around with a cooler full of beer or a jar of Moonshine for an additional charge.
While all this was going on, we were entertained in the theater by some great music and small comedy bits for the pre-show, which lasts for the duration of the meal. Unlike the bigger "arena" style dinner theater shows like Dixie Stampede which need room for animals to run around, the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show is an more intimate experience with an assortment of big tables on the floor level right up next to the stage, a ring of tables around the main entry level promenade, proceeded by several levels of tiered seating beyond that. There isn't a bad seat in the house.
Once dinner is done, the show proper begins with the local Mayor hiring a new Sheriff assigned with keeping the peace in town as the local feuding families, the Hatfields and McCoys, are on their way down to a barn dance. As you can imagine, as soon as they see each other the nostrils flare, the fists begin to fly and weapons are soon brought to the ready as the hapless sheriff intervenes as best as he can.
I'm not going to give away any more of the story than that, but the rest of the show is full of action, comedy, singing, dancing, banjo dueling, the occasional bit of gunfire and a lot of laughter. The show's comedian talents are top notch at performing in front of a live audience, and the cast has a great assortment of talented musicians and dancers of all ages who all rocked the house. In short, I loved every minute of this show and would go back in a heart-beat, especially as I hear that they have a special "Christmas Disaster" show they put on for the holiday season as well that I can’t wait to see!
You can reserve your own night at the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Theater at the official website, which I recommend doing in advance as they can easily sell out a performance. They also have a great deal on their website right now allowing you to add on tickets to the group's four other sister shows for just $14.95 for adults, and free for kids which is a steal. Their other shows are the Smoky Mountain Opry, Blackwoods Morning Variety Show, Magic Beyond Belief and The Comedy Barn. (We opted for the Comedy Barn which will be the subject of our next article...)
So the next time you are in Pigeon Forge and looking for an evening of good laughs, great food and fantastic entertainment, then look no further than the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show. You wont regret it.
The Tomb - (10/8/14) An interesting article talks about the rise of “Escape the Room” style attractions where you are put in a small group and trapped within a a small environment or small room(s) and have to search through the contents within to solve riddles and puzzles in order to escape. According to the article, the attractions began appearing in Europe and Asia about a decade ago, but are now starting to appear in the US in limited form, and the article goes on to describe one in Miami Beach called Escape the Quest.
While I haven't seen that particular attraction, which is said to only have a 20% success rate, I did try a similar concept themed attraction in Pigeon Forge back in August called The Tomb. At The Tomb you are teamed up with a small group, and sent into a creepy Egyptian tomb themed experience, along with a guide, who also acts as a storyteller and aide just in case one of the puzzles is proving a little too solve.
Sections of the Tomb are dark… very dark, and you are even given flashlights to find your way in one room, all to help create a creepy, almost haunted house style atmosphere. The puzzles are not hard… but some do require a group effort while others are far more easier if a leader type is there to help direct the action, but the overall experience is quite fun and worth a try.