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 ----
(7/18/19) Rowdy Bear Ridge Opens First Attraction (MORE...)
(7/12/19) New Waterpark Coming To Area in 2020 (MORE...)
(7/4/19) New Details and Timeline For Flying Theater At The Island (MORE...)
(5/31/19) Gatlinburg Opens New SkyBridge Attraction (MORE...)
(5/4/19) New Rocky Top Mountain Coaster POV
Read Screamscape’s Detailed Attraction, Show and Resort Reviews Here!
General Area News - (5/31/19) The local news takes a look at the new Gatlinburg SkyBridge attraction, which is now open.
(5/4/19) A new flat ride has arrived at The Island in Pigeon Forge, a new spinning SBF Visa Group “Reverse Time” flat ride. A reader sent in a new picture of the ride now installed and on site just across the entry-pathway from Dick’s Last Resort.
(4/6/19) Ober Gatlinburg has announced that they will offer “Summer Tubing” runs down the mountain this summer. It wont be with fake snow, but rather the tubes will run down the mountain on 250 foot long ‘slipper lanes made of synthetic materials.” Then they’ll remove it in the fall in time for the real snow to fall for winter tubing.
(3/22/19) The local news reports that the new suspension bridge at the top of the Gatlinburg SkyLift is now set to open May 18, 2019.
(2/23/19) Lots of new attractions are coming to the Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg area this year… some are already open and some have just been announced. (Click here to see a video version of this report)
For starters a new Civil War themed theater show is set to open on March 2nd called “Buttonwillow Civil War Theater”. The show will tell the story of two East Tennessee siblings, one who favors the Union and one two favors the Confederate.
You can visit the show’s official website for information on showtimes and tickets as they become available, and from what I gather this will be a show with a concession area, but not a dinner theater. The show will be located in a the theater building across the street from the Titanic Museum.
While we’re talking about this section of the Pigeon Forge parkway, this is also the approximate location of the new National Enquirer Live attraction as well, which you can read about here. Meanwhile in the opposite direction I noticed land clearing was taking place on the site for the Pigeon Forge “Rowdy Bear” attraction back in late January, but I wasn't able to get a picture.
Meanwhile a new attraction announced to be coming to The Island in the future should get some excitement, as the popular attraction site will soon be home to a new Flying Theater attraction. You can read more about that here.
Other attractions on the way include The Mountain Mile shops, anchored by the Mountain Monster attraction tower that appears to be essentially finished and just waiting for the rest of the Mountain Mile project to catch up. The Mountain Monster will feature three attractions all attached to the 200 foot tower: the Saddle Sling, Daring Drop and the infamous Dive Ride, though I’m sure they’ll likely customize the ride names to go along with the Mountain Monster theme of the tower. You can see pictures from the site here.
Just to the left is a new attraction I had not seen before, but it looks like it opened sometime around the very end of 2018 called Pigeon Forge Snow. This an an indoor climate controlled experience that will allow guests to go snow-tubing all year round, allowing guests to pay by the hour for a snow-tubing experience, complete with a moving-walkway to get sliders to the top and depending on the capacity they need, it looked like they had designed the location to offer up to 12 designated side-by-side lanes available for tubing.
Other new area attractions we haven’t mentioned before include a soon to open Dave & Busters location in Pigeon Forge, the Crave Golf Club (with indoor and outdoor candy inspired mini-golf courses) and a new restaurant we stumbled upon across the street from the Tanger Outlets that was just incredible called the Five Oaks Farm Kitchen. It offers not only great food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but you wont believe some of the portion sizes, like pancakes that look more like a cake than a pancake. You also might want to try the honey… they harvest it fresh from their own bees they keep on site by the pond outside. Try it… you wont regret it.
A couple of new attraction are also on the way to Gatlinburg, including the Gatlinburg Pinball Museum (now open) where you can pay $15 for an all day pass to play all the pinball and retro video games to your heart’s content. Also coming soon is the new Gatlinburg SkyBridge attraction at the top of the Gatlinburg SkyLift. Set to open this Spring the SkyBridge will be the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America spanning 680 foot long. A major new nightlife location is also set to open soon called Ole Red Gatlinburg, a $9 million two-story restaurant/bar location that features a live performance stage space, dance floor and more from Blake Shelton. Look for Ole Red to host various opening week celebration events from March 11-17. Also the local Ripley’s attraction has given the attraction building one hell of a make-over to stand out from the rest of the crowd. Love it or hate it, you sure aren’t going to miss seeing it when going down the street. Meanwhile the tall mystery building going up next door has put up most of the steel framework for the tall building structure, but we still don’t know more about what might go in here.
Here is a video version of this rundown, complete with some extra graphics and photos you might enjoy!
(12/23/18) A reader has sent in a picture of a large steel framework going up next door to the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum in Gatlinburg. The site used to be a typical small single level building that featured three small shops, and behind it was a Shamrocks restaurant/bar that I’m told appears to be gone as well. The new location looks to be taking advantage of the ability to build vertically, through we don’t know exactly what it is for. Our source asked around and was told that it was expected to be another mixed-use facility, but may also contain some kind of attraction as well. More as we find out.
2019 - Mountain Monster at The Mountain Mile - (2/23/19) The Mountain Mile shops, anchored by the Mountain Monster attraction tower that appears to be essentially finished and just waiting for the rest of the Mountain Mile project to catch up. The Mountain Monster will feature three attractions all attached to the 200 foot tower: the Saddle Sling, Daring Drop and the infamous Dive Ride, though I’m sure they’ll likely customize the ride names to go along with the Mountain Monster theme of the tower.
(1/15/18) An exciting new attraction and retail center is coming to Pigeon Forge, set to open as early as June 2018. The general site is being called Mountain Mile, a large 180,000 sqft retail and entertainment complex that will feature a new unique attraction in the center of it all called Mountain Monster. Built by world famous attraction designer, Stan Checkettes, the Mountain Monster tower will include three new thrill ride experiences coming off the 200 foot tall tower. I believe the three rides, all from Stan's Soaring Eagle Rides company, will be a Saddle Sling air-launch ride, a Daring Drop tower plunge and the first tower-based installation of their "Dive Ride" concept, which I believe was first built at the Cave of the Winds canyon in Colorado under the name Terror-Dactyl. That version was built to swing you out over a large canyon, but according to comments from Stan in an interview at IAAPA with Coaster Addict (see video below), you'll rise to the top of the tower, lean out until you are looking straight down at the ground, and then get released and fly across the parking lot over the Mountain Mile. (See the second video below to see what the Terror-Dactyl is like to get an idea of what's in store for you at the top of the Mountain Monster.
Construction on the attraction is set to begin late March to early April, so if all goes well this should be thrilling guests this summer. As for the Mountain Mile complex, the website says it will ride along Teaster Lane and Jake Tomas Blvd, which I believe is the road up to the new Cal Ripken Experience baseball park and will also take over the former Belz Mall site which is already being taken down.
2019 - 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.
(11/22/18) One of our readers ventured out try the newly opened Rocky Top Mountain Coaster in Pigeon Forge earlier this morning and reports back that it as “SUPER fun! The ride lasted just over 9 minutes total, had four different lift hills, multiple tunnels, and was just pure fun. $18 for the first ride and then $9 for re-rides. Definitely worth the money. I liked it at least as much as the Coaster at Goats on the Roof and probably more but I admit it may just be that it’s new. Time will tell but they definitely have built a great new experience for the whole family to enjoy.” He also send along some fresh pics of the ride experience as well, so enjoy!
(10/31/18) A new video posted by Rocky Top Mountain Coaster to their Facebook page confirms that they intend to open the attraction somewhere between November 15th to December 1st. They also confirm that during testing that the coaster experience is over 9 minutes long, which in theory should make it longer than the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster and the Goat Coaster, which according to videos I shot of each time out around 7:45 and 5:40 respectively. (And for comparison’s sake, the Rowdy Bear Mountain Coaster in Gatlinburg only took a little over 4 minutes.
2019 - Pirates Voyage - (3/24/19) We Dolly herself had announced during a presentation at Dollywood last week that the new Pirate’s Voyage dinner theater would open on June 6th, the official website for the show is now selling tickets for shows starting on May 24th. They’ve also posted a fun videos showing off how the old set was removed and the former show stage dug up and transformed into a 15 foot deep lagoon, removing 7,500 tons of dirt.
(10/9/18) Dolly Parton is changing the former Smoky Mountain Adventures dinner theater attraction in Pigeon Forge once again. If you remember the venue itself, located next to The Island at Pigeon Forge, started off as the home to the Lumberjack Feud show under different ownership back in 2011. Dolly’s group bought it and transformed it into “Dolly Parton’s Lumberjack Adventure” for the 2016 season, only to change it again into the previously mentioned Smoky Mountain Adventures name in 2017. I didn’t catch what happened in 2018 myself, but it changed again to some strange new show called Celebrate that features a lot of Cirque style acts with a cast dressed up more as circus performers and clowns, but now that show has come to a close and the venue will undergo the biggest change yet.
In 2019 the site will become the second Pirates Voyage location. The first Pirates Voyage came into being almost a decade ago in the North Myrtle Beach area when they decided to transform the existing Dixie Stampede dinner theater into something entirely new and unique. Pirates Voyage has been wildly successful on the coast and now they have decided to bring the fun to the Pigeon Forge area next Spring.
“When complete, the 21,000 square foot arena, adjacent to The Island in Pigeon Forge, will be the stage for Crimson and Sapphire pirates to battle on deck, in the water and in the sky above their full-sized pirate ships in a 15-foot-deep indoor lagoon. Spectacular acrobatic competitions, live animals and an original music score by Parton and Mark Brymer creates an immersive adventure experience all while guests enjoy a spectacular four-course pirate feast.”
Late 2019 - ZipCoaster at Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster - (11/24/18) ZipFlyer announced at IAAPA that they would be building a new 3,800 foot ZipCoaster in Pigeon Forge at the site of the Smokey Mountain Alpine Coaster that should open sometime in 2019. According to ZipCoaster the plan is to essentially build the new ZipCoaster experience in the air directly over the existing Alpine Coaster layout.
I’ve posted a sample video showing off what the ZipCoaster technology looks like below, and under that I video I shot of the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster when it opened in 2014 to give you an idea of what the location and terrain will look like.
2019?? - August Moon Indoor Drive-In - (11/28/18) We've mentioned the Mountain Monster coming to the Mountain Mile retail and entertainment complex at Pigeon Forge in 2019, but at IAAPA we noticed something new had been added to the complex… the first August Moon indoor "drive-in” theater attraction. Previously it looked as if the first August Moon was sent to be built in Nashville, but now even the official website has been updated to say that it will open in Pigeon Forge in 2019.
If you missed our previous report on exactly what August Moon is, I’ll give you the basic rundown again on this indoor "Drive-In" Theater, Bar and Grille attraction. Keep in mind that it is "Drive-In” in theme only, as you will enter a large 40,000 sqft air supported dome structure. Inside will be a $10 million indoor themed environment that will feature what appears to be a classic drive-in theater, complete with classic cars (hopefully all convertibles) already parked in front of the screen, a simulated starry night sky above, along with fake trees, faux fireflies, grassy areas, tables, along with a full service restaurant and bar, with "artisanal takes" on great genre style burgers and milkshakes.
If sitting in a car isn’t your thing there will also be other luxury seating options, including couches in private booths, tree swings and assorted stadium-style seats scattered about. They also promise to offer the "largest non-IMAX movie screen in North America", and may also feature live performers who can interact with the audience before and after the films and possible interactions with live projections on the screen as well.
I love this idea and can't wait to see it first hand, as it will take your typical family trip to the movies and turn it into a special experience.
2019 - Now Open - National Enquirer Live - (5/25/19) The new National Enquirer attraction opened yesterday in Pigeon Forge, located across the strip from the Titanic attraction. The National Enquirer Live Museum attraction features a crazy looking themed building, so it will be hard to miss while driving by. The local news has posted a video report that gives you a small sneak peek inside. Meanwhile there is one particular display inside the attraction that quickly gained some global attention, as they offer a 3D presentation about the events that led to the death of Princess Diana.
The 3D projection shows the area in Paris where the incident occured, “it shows the pathway as she left the Ritz hotel, and the paparazzi chasing her, and the bang-flash that we think blinded the driver”. They claim it was done in good taste and doesn’t feature any blood or gore, just the crash recreated through computer animation and then the chance to the guests to vote on what they think really caused the deadly accident, along with who, if anyone, was behind it.
(2/23/19) The crazy looking building for the National Enquirer Live attraction was already well under construction when I last visited the area in late January and took these pictures. They have also just launched the official website for the attraction which lists it as opening in Spring 2019, but no further information about just what kind of attraction it will be.
(12/23/18) The former Smoky Mountain Jubilee theater building, directly across the parkway from the Titanic Museum has been demolished and a new structure is taking shape there. While there has been no official announcement, our source claims that the new building going up will be to open the new National Enquirer Museum attraction. Planning for the new attraction was recommended for approval by the planning board back in May, and I'm told the old theater structure was demolished around September.
Based on the concept art, the finished product should feature a pretty wild looking building, looking as if a small tower building had tipped over and fallen on top of a large headquarters building for the National Enquirer. All said, the attraction building themed to the infamous tabloid will be 17,760 sqft. Details about the experience are still a bit fuzzy, but since the development of the attraction is said to be coming from a former president of Ripley’s Entertainment, I would imagine the format may be similar to what you would find at a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not attraction. There is a mention of one interactive attraction that might give guests to act as a tabloid reporter or editor and come up with crazy creative headlines and images for the front page, likely with their family's own images included and then have it shared online through social media channels.
2019/2020 - Pigeon Forge Rowdy Bear Ridge - (7/18/19) The new Rowdy Bear Ridge attraction in Pigeon Forge, across the street from the Titanic attraction, has now opened. While the site is expected to eventually offer three different attractions when complete, for now they have just opened the first one, a 500 foot long year-round tubing hill slide. Riders hit speeds up to 35mph as they drop 70 feet down the hillside.
The next attraction on the way is called Flyer, a unique two-seat suspended coaster creation that will take a winded path down the hillside. I’m not sure who is making this, but they say it will be the first ride of its kind in the US. The supports for this new attraction are already in place (go to their site and check out the video) so I would expect to see it ready to open in the next month or two.
The final attraction is said to be a “World’s first all new style alpine coaster” attraction.
(10/12/18) It appears that another Rowdy Bear Mountain themed attraction is coming, this time to the Pigeon Forge area. A small sign has apparently been up for a couple of months on a large site that is currently only occupied by a single house, but has a bunch of open property behind it that isn’t far from the Titanic attraction. It seems across from the Howard Johnson hotel, located between the Memories Theater and Local Goat restaurant.
The sign on site reads, “FUTURE HOME of another Great Adventure Park by Rodby Bear Mountain, Home of the World’s First Mountain Glider”. The sign can be clearly read in Google Map’s Street View image taken back in May 2018, and a reader sent in an overhead view of the entire site to show how large it is.
The original Rowdy Bear Mountain site opened the the first phase (an Alpine Coaster) of their Gatlinburg location in mid-2017, followed by the opening of the Mountain Glider attraction in early 2018. Keep an eye on this new Pigeon Forge location going forward to spot any sign of new construction. In the meantime click here to see our POV video of the original Rowdy Bear Alpine Coaster.
2020 - Soaky Mountain Waterpark - (7/12/19) According to various news reports the owners of Wilderness at the Smokies will open a new outdoor waterpark near the resort in 2020. The new 50-acre park will be called Soaky Mountain and be located just down the street from the Wilderness resort. Groundbreaking is to be held on August 6th and the park is said to include a 35,000 sqft wave pool, a Double FlowRider, a “wave river”, several slides, a couple of large family raft slides, a pool with an inflatable obstacle course, a water coaster and kids water play areas.
The waterpark will be seasonal (roughly May through September) and while pricing has not been set, it does not sound like it will be free for Wilderness Resorts guests, though they may be offered heavily discounted tickets.
2021 - Flying Theater at The Island at Pigeon Forge - (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.
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
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 - 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.